South America is one of the trendiest destinations globally at the minute.
Renowned for its warm, vibrant culture, affordable prices, and natural wealth, the continent often features at the very top of any adventurer’s bucket list.
With so many countries to pick from, however, which one to go for the most beautiful scenery, the friendlier people, and perhaps most importantly, if you’re traveling off your savings, less costly?
Scrap overpriced Brazil, not to mention the incredibly expensive Chile:
This is not only one of the top destinations for Americans right now but also your best bet at experiencing a truly authentic LatAm on a budget:
Colombia Is Trending Among North Americans Right Now
Though it is not the largest country and certainly not the biggest economy, Colombia is perhaps the most fascinating country in South America.
A nation with a complex yet inspiring History, it is home to a plethora of natural and manmade wonders.
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Since it reopened for tourism, Colombia has been attracting several different categories of visitors, from short-term vacationers looking for a sunny getaway to digital nomads, who often set up base temporarily in the country as they work remotely.
But why is it such an attractive destination for foreigners, in general, particularly those coming from the Northern Hemisphere?
A Vast Tourist Offer
One of the main reasons why Colombia has triumphed over other LatAm countries when it comes to booking trends is how vast its tourist offer is, as well as how hugely affordable the living standards are, markedly lower than those in the States.
When it comes to beaches, Colombia boasts an impressive 1993.3 miles of Caribbean coastline, where some of the most vibrant city breaks in all of the Global South are centered and where the soft, warm sands are interspersed with verdant marine reserves.
Inland, Colombia is made up of snow-dusted Andean peaks, unspoiled tropical jungles, including the Northeastern portion of the Amazon, and arid, Mars-like landscapes.
As you might have guessed, its geography is probably among the most diverse in the continent.
Beautiful Caribbean Beaches
If you’re a sunseeker and a tropical vacay is what you’re after, the charming colonial-era walled city of Cartagena can be a good starting point for exploring the Colombian Caribbean.
Though municipal beaches are far from spectacular, and Cartagena’s main appeal is its traditional architecture and historical Spanish ramparts, the islands off the mainland are simply paradisaical.
Isla Baru is a trendy beach hotspot known for its white-sand beaches and bounded by crystal-clear waters. Local hotels and guesthouses have more of a rustic atmosphere, and the island municipality is yet to be ruined by overtourism.
The top-rated stay is Hotel Las Islas, perhaps the best-equipped on the island; it features a private beach, a restaurant, and acclimatized rooms, with overnight rates starting at $434, though cheaper options are also available, starting at only $27 for a shared room at the Isla Luna Beach Hostel.
Beyond Baru lies the Islas del Rosario, an archipelago dotted with smaller Caribbean islands and islets, still only 20 km from the Cartagena coast, and one of Colombia’s most prized national parks.
Cartagena – and the wider Colombian Caribbean – can be exceedingly hot, with temperatures soaring above 86°F irrespective of season.
The Athens Of The South
If you need to escape the heat, perhaps a couple of days exploring Bogota, Colombia’s high-altitude, sprawling capital, could do you some good.
Dubbed the ‘Athens of the South’, it has a high concentration of museums and stately government buildings.
Climbing up the Monserrate hill, you will be met with a sweeping panorama of Bogota and its tall skyscrapers, which agglutinate around the cobbled old center and its electric display of lights post sundown.
Other than the cultural aspect, Bogota’s cityscape nightlife is truly unmatched: it is home to the Theatron, the largest gay-themed venue in Latin America; Chapinero, your go-to spot for partying, where you’ll find plenty of clubs; and La Candelaria, a historic Bohemian district filled with bars.
Looking for another taste of Colombia’s vibrant culture? Head next to Medellin, the second-largest city and arguably the country’s leading tourist destination.
South America’s Digital Nomad Capital
The capital of the mountainous Antioquia province, the City of Eternal Spring has a temperate year-round weather, with cable cars that span skyscraper districts and more humble barrios scattered across a scenic Aburrá Valley.
Medellin is Colombia’s cultural capital, as it provided the stage for several of the country’s defining moments, including the rise of Pablo Escobar.
It is particularly favored by long-term visitors and digital nomads, who are drawn to a thriving expat community despite the lower safety levels.
Medellin is the best place to base yourself as a remote worker due to the wide availability of coworking spots in the city center, visitor-friendly cafes with lots of vegan options for those with dietary restrictions, and a lively social scene.
The Most Affordable Tourist Destination
Colombia is currently the most affordable international destination in the world, which is partly why North American visitors are flocking to the country.
According to BudgetYourTrip, you should plan on spending on average $43 per day on your trip to Colombia, including food and transportation.
Based on other travelers’ expenses, you should set aside roughly $11 for meals every day – though you can surely go well above that when eating at mid-range or high-end restaurants – and $7.48 on local transportation.
Numerous Nonstop Flights From The U.S.
It is also easy to reach from the U.S. as a flight from Miami to Medellin takes only 3.5 hours to complete, and several other short-haul nonstop routes to Colombian destinations are available.
Bogota hosts nonstop service from cities like Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami, while Cartagena welcomes passengers from New York, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami.
Medellin is also served by New York, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami flights, while the island getaway of San Andres offers flights to and from Miami.
When it comes to safety, Colombia is listed as a Level 3 destination by U.S. authorities, with cities like Medellin and Cali in particular being affected by a higher rate of crime compared to other parts of the country.
Officially, the U.S. advises its citizens to ‘Reconsider Travel’ to Colombia due to the deteriorating security situation, though it’s worth noting the vast majority of visitors fulfill their trips hassle-free and leave Colombia with nothing but fond memories of the country.
You should still bear in mind visiting Colombia is no walk in the park, as you will be required to familiarize yourself with the safety advice of different cities you visit and avoid certain high-risk areas where being a foreigner in itself places a target on your back.
As long as you do not flash unnecessary signs of wealth, such as wearing jewelry when out, using your expensive iPhone on the streets or leaving it on tables as you dine alfresco, and stick to well-lit, well-frequented streets, chances are you will be just fine.
Source : Travel of Path