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Things to Do in Colombia - page 4

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Salitre Mágico
1 Tour and Activity

One of Bogota’s top family attractions, Salitre Magico is an adventure theme park with around 40 attractions suitable for a variety of age groups. Rides include classics such as roller coasters, bumper cars, flying swings, a carousel, and a mini­wheel, along with high­ octane rides such as the Tornado, the Double Loop, and the Screw.

In addition to rides, there are also various shows, activities, and places to eat and drink within the park. Those looking for an action­packed family­friendly day out can visit Salitre Magico as part of a half­ or full­day tour that includes the Children’s Museum of Bogota, the Maloka Museum, and the Mundo Aventura Theme Park.

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El Castillo Museum (Museo El Castillo)
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3 Tours and Activities

Visitors to Poblado, a wealthy area in the green hills of Medellin, are in for a surprise. Behind heavy iron, Gothic gates and amid trees covered in Spanish moss, there’s a 17th-century castle in the style of those in France’s Loire Valley.

Built in 1930, it was later bought by Diego Echavarria and his wife. This wealthy family’s passion for art and culture is obvious in their home, where French and Spanish artwork lines the walls. But the story behind the castle is even more interesting than the building itself. On free tours you will learn about the family’s history, including the death of their daughter and the kidnapping and death of Echavarria himself shortly after.

After these tragic events, the house and possessions were donated to the city of Medellin, and the castle was opened to the public as a museum in 1971. Everything has been preserved just as the family left it, and tours include glimpses of the bedrooms, the dining area with a 10-seat dining table and porcelain dishes, the library with all of the family’s books and many other personal items.

Outside, the immense garden has fountains, exotic plants and wildlife, and a view of the city of eternal spring with its mountainous backdrop. The museum also serves as a cultural center for dance, music, crafts and arts.

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Cartagena Museum of Modern Art (Museo de Arte Moderno de Cartagena)
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3 Tours and Activities

Discover paintings and sculptures from Colombia and beyond during a visit to the Cartagena Museum of Modern Art, or the Museo de Arte Moderno de Cartagena. Located within the 17th-century Royal Customs House, this museum is home to both a permanent collection and rotating exhibitions featuring young artists from around the world.

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Gabriel García Márquez Cultural Center
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7 Tours and Activities

Located in the historic neighborhood of La Candelaria in downtown Bogotá, the Gabriel García Márquez Cultural Center is a modern addition to the area, having opened its doors in 2008. The center naturally pays homage to Colombia's most famous author from which it takes its name, but in fact hosts a whole range of cultural events that is not limited to purely literature. The complex features an auditorium, a temporary exhibitions space, an expansive bookstore, a restaurant, and a Juan Valdez cafe.

In order to get a good sense of Bogota’s history and culture, many choose to visit the Gabriel García Márquez Cultural Center as part of a La Candelaria and Monserrate walking tour, which also incorporates the attractions of the Plaza de Bolívar and Chorro de Quevedo, as well as including a trip to the summit of Mount Monserrate for sweeping views across the city.

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Villa de Leyva
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4 Tours and Activities

Situated far from any major trade routes in a high-altitudevalley, the colonial town of Villa de Leyva has seen little development over the last 400 years. As a result, it is one of the few towns in Colombia that has seemingly frozen in time, with much of its original style and architecture still intact; its streets are paved in stone and many of its whitewashed buildings date back to the 16th century.

While this photogenic town remains a sleepy and traditional place during the week, in recent years it has attracted an influx of tourists and expats on weekends. As a result, a number of hotels, restaurants and tourist shops have sprung up, and the town’s narrow alleys become abuzz with day-trippers from Bogota each Saturday and Sunday.

Most people tend to visit Villa de Leyva on a day trip from Bogota, but to fully appreciate this charming colonial town, join a three-day tour instead.

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Mirador Torre Colpatria
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Towering 50 storys above downtown Bogotá, the Colpatria Tower (Torre Colpatria) was once the tallest building in Colombia and remains a key Bogotá landmark. Now clocking in at fourth tallest in the country, each night visitors can admire the impressive LED light show or ascend to the 49th floor observation deck for 360-degree views over the capital on select days.

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Marine World Aquarium (Mundo Marino Acuario)
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With more than 200 species on display, Santa Marta’s Marine World Aquarium (Mundo Marino Acuario) is a must for nature lovers of all ages. Discover sharks, turtles, starfish, octopuses, seabirds, and more, while learning about conservation efforts in the region.

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Popayán
1 Tour and Activity

The former regional capital of Popayán is best known for an abundance of whitewashed buildings, earning it the nicknameCiudad Blanca (White City). Popayán is among Colombia’s best preserved colonial cities, and is home to one of the country’s oldest, most prestigious universities, which counts 16 Colombian presidents among its alumni.

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Bioparque Los Ocarros
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3 Tours and Activities

Located in Villavicencio, Bioparque Los Ocarros is a nature reserve dedicated to protecting the flora and fauna of the Orinoquia region of Colombia. Spanning 14.3 acres (5.8 hectares), the biopark is home to more than 190 species and 1,900 specimens of mammals, reptiles, birds, and fish, many of which were rescued.

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Taganga
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1 Tour and Activity

Taganga is a sleepy fishing village and beach town near the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and Tayrona National Parks. The view from Taganga’s coast is spectacular, as are the sunsets. The small town has just a few paved roads and the rest are dusty - or muddy – depending on the season.

Taganga is next to the stunning Tayrona National Park, though it’s a bit of a trek getting there. If you’re interested in visiting the beaches at Tayrona, it takes an hour by bus to get to the park, followed by a couple of hours of hiking through the national park to get to a beach. Another option is to get a boat directly from Taganga to the beaches of Tayrona.

Both diving and getting a diving certification are inexpensive, which draws diving enthusiasts to Taganga. Many of the activities that can be booked in Santa Marta can also be booked from Tayrona. This is the place to head out not only to The Lost City and Tayrona National Park, but also farther east to La Guajira. Or go take a short hike over one of Taganga’s hills to Playa Grande.

With a number of beach bars and a few discos, the nightlife is often considered to be better in Taganga than Santa Marta, attracting both Colombians and foreigners. Even if your travels take you away from the town during the day, head back to Taganga in time to watch the sunset and join the rumba (party) on the beach.

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More Things to Do in Colombia

Paleontological Research Center (Centro de Investigaciones Paleonlógicas)

Paleontological Research Center (Centro de Investigaciones Paleonlógicas)

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2 Tours and Activities

Learn about marine dinosaurs that inhabited prehistoric Colombia and modern paleontological research techniques at the Paleontological Research Center (Centro de Investigaciones Paleontológicas). A modern research facility, CIP also houses a large collection of fossils from the Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic eras.

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Medellín Metropolitan Cathedral

Medellín Metropolitan Cathedral

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Officially called the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the Medellín Metropolitan Cathedral is one of the largest brick buildings in the world and the largest cathedral in South America. Designed by French architect Emile Charles Carré and completed in 1931, the tawny towers took 56 years to construct.

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La Reserva Biopark (Bioparque La Reserva)

La Reserva Biopark (Bioparque La Reserva)

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At Biopark Reserve (Bioparque La Reserva) outside Bogotá, get up close and personal with animals rescued from illegal trafficking, while immersing yourself in several unique and varied Colombian ecosystems. Visitors can learn about the importance of conservation and sustainability at this family-friendly animal sanctuary.

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Santo Domingo Savio Library (Biblioteca de España)

Santo Domingo Savio Library (Biblioteca de España)

1 Tour and Activity

Medellin has been declared one of the most innovative cities in the world, and a project that demonstrates that innovation is the Santo Domingo Savio Library(Biblioteca de España).

North of town, up in the hills, a neighborhood called Santo Domingo Savio experienced an amazing change from one of the most economically depressed areas of the city to a prospering one, all because of a project to build a library.

More commonly known as the Spain Library (Biblioteca España), because it was built with a grant from the king of Spain, it is composed of three modern, black cubist buildings. Inside, the library not only has books but also computer rooms with free Internet and library assistants to provide help. This has given the local residents a space for social gatherings and access to information that was formerly unavailable.

This library, now an icon of cultural revival, has changed the reality for area residents. The access to information and education has meant more development, more locally owned businesses and more opportunities. The library is fully supported by the community and is kept in spotless condition. And one of the great things about this library is that you get there by Metrocable, the cable car that is the extension of the public transportation metro system, designed to join the poorer sections of Medellin to the rest of the city.

Please note The Santo Domingo Savio Library is currently closed indefinitely for renovation.

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Manoa Parque

Manoa Parque

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1 Tour and Activity

Located outside of Paipa, Manoa Park (Manoa Parque) is an adventure theme park for the whole family. Choose to suit up for the ziplines and ropes courses, or opt for a ride on horseback or via electric car, motorcycle, train, or boat. There's also a giant chess board, inflatables, and large labyrinth.

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Ostrich Farm (Granja de Avestruces)

Ostrich Farm (Granja de Avestruces)

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Get close to and learn all about ostriches at the Ostrich Farm (Granja de Avestruces). Located outside of Villa de Leyva, this ecological farm is home to more than 120 ostriches and a handful of other farm animals that visitors can interact with, including llamas, horses, sheep, goats, cows, and buffalo.

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Cartagena Cruise Port

Cartagena Cruise Port

Situated on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, Cartagena Cruise Port welcomes 30 different cruise ship lines and features several attractions that reference the country’s natural resources—before exiting, pass through a replica emerald mine and an aviary with birds such as flamingoes, peacocks, and parrots.

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Nabusimake

Nabusimake

Deep in the heart of the Sierra Nevada Park in northern Colombia, there is a green valley surrounded by mountains that is home to descendants of the Tayrona people, the Arhuac. Nabusimake is the spiritual center for the Arhuac people, the place where they say the sun was born.

Visiting this indigenous tribe in their own village is an adventure. The only road to get there is from Pueblo Bello, and is a rough trip even in the toughest off-road vehicle. The roads to get there are in bad shape, there are no signs indicating the way to the town, and there are no hotels for visitors. Strange as that may seem, it is no doubt partly due to the Arhuac’s lack of interested in having outside visitors in order to protect their culture and way of life.

But entering Nabusimake is stepping back in time to a different world. Walk around the peaceful village and see the variety of plants, flowers and birds. The thatched roof huts and clay walls house the Arhuac, who wear traditional white tunics, tall coned hats and woven bags. Men and women alike have long hair long, and women use colorful necklaces.

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National Palace

National Palace

A National Monument and among the city’s most impressive buildings, the National Palace is one of Cali’s most photographed attractions, demanding attention from its perch at the head of the central Plaza de Caicedo. Built in 1928, the Palace’s French-influenced Neoclassical design was the work of Belgian architect Joseph Martens and the four-story building is unmissable, with its ornate chalk-white façade capped with a slate-grey roof and dome.

Today, the National Palace serves as the Administrative Court of the Valle del Cauca and Cali High Court, as well as housing a small museum dedicated to the regional production of sugarcane.

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Buga

Buga

Founded by Sebastian de Belalcázar in 1555, Buga (or Guadalajara de Buga) was among Colombia’s first colonial cities and the historic town is now both a National Monument and one of the top attractions of Valle del Cauca. The undisputed star attraction of Buga is the magnificent Basilica del Señor de los Milagros (Basilica of the Lord of Miracles), which draws more than 3 million annual pilgrims and is famous for its cast iron statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Visiting the sacred site isn’t the only thing to do in Buga, though. Visitors can also admire the architecture of the Cathedral of St. Peter and the Church of Santo Domingo; take in the views from the hilltop Mirador Al Derumbado; or escape the city for the surrounding countryside – canoeing and bird watching in the Laguna de Sonso Natural Park, swimming beneath the Los Pailones waterfalls and hiking or biking in the El Vínculo forest all make popular side trips.

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Patio de Tango

Patio de Tango

You don’t have to go all the way to Argentina to experience the passion of tango. Tango’s second city, Medellin, where the famous tango singer and musician Carlos Gardel died in an airplane accident, keeps the seductive art form alive.

One of the main stages for tango in Medellin is the Tango Patio (Patio del Tango), one of the most emblematic restaurants that showcases this music. The steakhouse does indeed feel like a patio, and the decoration is typical of a Buenos Aires tango dive. Artwork on the walls shows tango dancers from Buenos Aires, and of course, Carlos Gardel.

There are live shows Thursday through Saturday nights with singers, guitarists, dancers and quartets with various instruments performing on the small stage.

At this restaurant, steaks take first place, but don’t miss the delicious desserts such as flan and tiramisu. While you’re in Medellin, visit the Tango Patio to get a feel of the city, known for its passion for tango.

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La Rueca Restaurant

La Rueca Restaurant

La Rueca Restaurant offers a taste of Argentina in the heart of Medellin. Although it serves sizzling Argentine barbecue all week, the restaurant really comes alive Thursday through Saturday, when live tango shows are performed by some of the best musicians, singers, and dancers in the city. hot spot

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San Antonio Plaza

San Antonio Plaza

The expansive San Antonio Plaza, which overlooks the mountains of Medellín, was inaugurated in 1994 as a cultural center. The plaza was struck by tragedy the following year when a bomb detonated during a concert and killed innocent people. Today, the square functions as an important memorial to Medellín’s turbulent past.

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Puente de Occidente (Bridge of the West)

Puente de Occidente (Bridge of the West)

Surrounded by the green mountains and the bright blue skies of Antioquia, the 984-foot (300-meter) Puente de Occidente (Bridge of the West) spans a vast river that once divided the region and tells a story of ingenuity, creativity and the strength of the human spirit.

The Cauca River divides the area and impedes access to other parts of the country, long isolating the inhabitants of the area. In the late 1800s, the need for a bridge was obvious, and the suspension bridge that was built over the river is considered one of the most important civil engineering projects in America at the time it was built.

Colombian José María Villa studied engineering in the United States and later participated in the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. In the early 1880s, he returned to Colombia and decided to take on the task of building a series of bridges. One of those was the Bridge of the West. Construction started in 1887 and lasted five years.

The problems Villa faced and the creative ways he solved them show the extraordinary vision of the engineer. With limited technical resources and many challenges due to the mountainous terrain, he came up with a design that overcame all the difficulties.

Colombia lists the bridge on its UNESCO World Heritage tentative list due to the value of Villa’s design, which was one of the most advanced projects in Latin America at the time, combining sound construction with a particular beauty. Originally one of the longest suspension bridges in South America, it played a key role in the development of the region and the country.

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