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Colombiafrank’s Cali Colombia Travel Guide

Nightlife in Cali, salsa dancers

Updated on 02/15/2024

Dear readers
My name is Frank and I run a tour operator in Bogota, specializing in custom-made and Colombia luxury travel.
At the end of this guide you will find a list of many other helpful travel guides for Colombia.

Main Tourist Attractions in Cali

Below are the best places to visit in Cali.

Ermita Church

A neo-Gothic architectural marvel, the Ermita Church stands as a testament to resilience and beauty in Cali. Originally there was a church at this site, but it succumbed to an earthquake in 1925. The current structure, built in 1942, is an eye-catching symbol of the city. Its location, next to the river and a bustling pedestrian zone, adds to its allure.

The church’s striking design and historical significance make it a must-visit destination, embodying both the cultural heritage and the artistic spirit of Cali.

Parque del Gato

The Parque del Gato (Cat Park) in Cali, Colombia, is an artistic and cultural landmark that began with the installation of the sculpture “El Gato del Río” by Colombian artist Hernando Tejada. This sculpture, inaugurated on July 3, 1996, is located beside the Cali River and has become a famous city landmark. The area around the sculpture was transformed into a park featuring additional cat sculptures by various artists, known as the Parque El Gato de Tejada.

In 1996, Tejada’s bronze sculpture was created in Bogotá and transported to Cali, where it was placed on Avenida del Río in a high foot traffic area. The inauguration date coincided with Cali’s Independence Day.

In 2006, the park got even better with a special project. They added 15 new cat sculptures, all the same size and shape, but each one was painted uniquely by different Colombian artists. These sculptures, referred to as “las novias del gato” (the cat’s girlfriends), were contributed by notable artists such as Maripaz Jaramillo, Roberto Molano, Diego Pombo, Cecilia Coronel, Pedro Alcántara, and Omar Rayo. Today, more than 15 cat sculptures are exhibited in the park, with some distributed throughout the city​​​​​.

Cali’ Zoo

Cali Zoo, widely regarded as the best zoo in Colombia, was opened in 1981 and is located within the municipal forest, along the Cali River. Spanning over 10 hectares (25 acres), it houses approximately 1,200 animals across 180 species. The zoo is dedicated to improving the diet, natural environment, and medical care of its fauna and is involved in various educational, recreational, and research programs.

The zoo features diverse sections including primates, butterflies, ocean and river fish, amphibians and reptiles, and birds. Notably, it boasts over 800 butterfly species in a walk-through butterfly house (mariposario) and a specialized exhibit for owls and pacaranas, which opened in 2011. Additionally, Cali Zoo has an amphitheater (teatrino) for animal shows and roleplays, contributing to its reputation as a top attraction in the city​​​.

Market Galería Alameda

The Market Galería Alameda in Cali resembles a district more than a single market. Comprising various shops and markets, it’s known for its lively atmosphere, especially during peak hours when it often becomes a bustling hotspot.

Unlike the more orderly markets in Bogotá, Cali’s market exudes a wilder vibe. Its proximity to the Pacific means access to the freshest fish and seafood, typically delivered on Mondays or Tuesdays. A visit here is not just about shopping but also a culinary adventure, with numerous options to satisfy your hunger with local delicacies.

Museums in Cali

Salsa Museum

The Salsa Museum in Cali, founded in 1968, is renowned as the world’s oldest salsa museum. Carlos Alfredo Molina, the official salsa photographer, established it, showcasing a significant graphic collection related to salsa. The museum houses objects and memorabilia from various artists spanning Cuba, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Colombia.

Salsa music, now a vital part of Cali’s culture, had a unique journey to becoming synonymous with the city. In the 1930s, local musicians in Cali, influenced by jazz, mambo, and guaguanco, experimented with these rhythms in cabarets, marking the start of the typical Cali salsa sound.

Cali’s deep connection with salsa is influenced by factors such as its significant African heritage, industrial development, mass media impact, and similarities with Cuba. Radio played a crucial role in introducing Cuban music to Cali in the 1930s, contributing to salsa’s establishment in the city.

Cali’s music scene transformed in the 1960s after the Cuban revolution, leading to the birth of salsa. By 1968, salsa had become a permanent fixture in Cali, celebrated with artists like Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz performing at the Feria de Cali.

A unique aspect of Cali’s salsa scene is how local DJs played with the speed of salsa records, creating a distinctive danceable rhythm. Initially disruptive, this practice contributed to the development of an explosive form of salsa music in Cali, known for intense percussion and a unique dance style.

In summary, the Salsa Museum not only honors the genre but also narrates the story of how salsa became a crucial part of Cali’s identity—a tale of cultural influences, social changes, and creative adaptation.

Museum of Modern Art La Tertulia

The Museum of Modern Art La Tertulia, now known as La Tertulia Museum, is a renowned art museum in Cali, Colombia. It boasts a significant collection of American and particularly Colombian art.

The museum encompasses three buildings: a main gallery featuring 300 works by national and international artists, an art workshop for children, an arthouse theater called the Cinemateca, and a facility for printing and restoration workshops. The Cinemateca is known for hosting various film festivals, including EuroCine.

La Tertulia was established on March 9, 1956, in a house in the San Antonio neighborhood, rented by journalist Alfonso Bonilla Aragón. Initially, the museum operated discreetly, with a private school running in the mornings and art exhibitions in the afternoons. The need for a larger exhibition space led to the construction of the Foundational Building in 1968, located on the banks of the Cali River in an area known as El Charco del Burro​​​​​​​​.

Caliwood

The Caliwood Cinema Museum in Cali, Colombia, is a unique cultural destination that showcases the history of Colombian and international cinema. Opened recently, it stands as the only cinema museum in the country. The museum houses the largest collection of theater projectors, movie cameras, photo cameras, posters, and memorabilia, offering a comprehensive view of the film industry’s evolution.

Visitors can immerse themselves in the rich cinematic history and explore a wide range of historical cameras and players. The tours, conducted in Spanish, provide an authentic cultural experience for both visitors and cinema enthusiasts.

San Antonio

San Antonio, located in Cali, Colombia, is a neighborhood rich in history and cultural heritage. Founded in 1747, this area is renowned for the San Antonio Church, a historical landmark that reflects Cali’s past. Originally, the neighborhood was the chosen residence for clergy, government officials, and landowners, and later expanded to include artisans and workers, creating a diverse and traditional community.

San Antonio is characterized by its strong community bonds. The Chapel of San Antonio, built in 1747 alongside the La Merced church, is a significant architectural site, showcasing a Baroque altar and offering expansive views of Cali.

The area is also celebrated for its storytelling tradition. Local storytellers entertain with captivating performances that combine various art forms, helping to keep Cali’s oral histories and cultural memories alive.

In recent years, San Antonio has been evolving. The streets and parks now host a blend of both long-time residents and new visitors. Efforts are underway to develop it into a gastronomic and cultural hub, providing a wide array of culinary experiences, ranging from local to international flavors. Despite these modern developments, the neighborhood maintains its distinctive charm and sense of community.

Tres Cruces

The Tres Cruces (Three Crosses) are easily visible, especially at night when they are illuminated. It’s advisable to visit this prominent landmark early in the morning, as Cali’s temperatures can rise significantly during the day. From this vantage point, visitors can enjoy a spectacular view of the city. This destination is not only a cultural and historical symbol but also a popular spot for both locals and tourists seeking a unique panoramic view of Cali.

Cristo Rey statue

The Cristo Rey statue in Cali got a makeover that finished in February 2023 and is now open again for visitors. This statue is a significant cultural and historical landmark in the region, offering not only a spiritual experience but also panoramic views of the city.

As a symbol of peace and a popular attraction, Cristo Rey invites both locals and tourists to appreciate its renewed features and the surrounding natural beauty.

Jairo Valera Square and the Giant Trumpet

Jairo Varela Square, situated near the boulevard and the Ermita Church is home to the iconic giant trumpet monument. This landmark honors Jairo Varela, a renowned figure in salsa music. Below the trumpet, visitors can find inscribed lyrics from Grupo Niche, a band closely associated with Varela’s musical legacy.

The square and the giant trumpet serve as a tribute to Cali’s rich salsa heritage and its influential artists, making it a significant cultural site for both residents and visitors interested in the city’s musical history.

Plaza de Cayzedo

Plaza de Cayzedo is a central square in Cali known for its beautiful lining of palm trees. Positioned in the heart of the city, it is a significant urban landmark and a popular gathering place. I recommend exploring the square during the daytime, as the area can feel less welcoming in the evening. The plaza serves as a hub for various cultural and social activities and offers a glimpse into the daily life and history of Cali. With its historical significance and central location, Plaza de Cayzedo is a must-visit for those looking to experience the city’s essence.

Bulevar del Río

The River Boulevard in Cali is a notable urban revitalization project that began in 2011. This boulevard and pedestrian zone extends approximately one kilometer along the central part of the city, alongside the river. It has quickly become a popular meeting place for both locals and visitors, particularly in the afternoons and evenings.

This area provides a scenic and vibrant space for socializing, leisure activities, and cultural events. Its development reflects Cali’s commitment to enhancing urban spaces and promoting community engagement. The River Boulevard’s convenient location and lively atmosphere make it an ideal spot for enjoying the city’s ambiance, particularly during the more active hours later in the day.

Things to Do in Cali

Salsa schools in Cali

Cali, Colombia, known as the salsa capital of the world, is dotted with numerous salsa schools, a testament to the city’s deep love and connection with salsa dancing. Salsa became really popular in Cali during the 1950s and is now a big part of its culture. There’s a funny saying in Cali that suggests a guy needs to know salsa if he wants to get married, highlighting just how important the dance is in social life.

Among the many salsa schools, Salsa Pura in the San Antonio neighborhood is particularly noteworthy. Founded before 2011, it’s managed by Didier and Carlos, who are not just skilled salsa instructors and owners but also personal friends whom I met during my first visit to Cali in 2011. Their warm friendship and exceptional teaching skills make Salsa Pura a recommended destination for those looking to learn salsa in its most authentic form.

For visitors to Cali, including those sent from my travel agency in Bogota, a salsa class at Salsa Pura is a must. Didier, especially, has a reputation for imparting significant dancing skills in a remarkably short time. Learning salsa here is more than acquiring dance moves; it’s an immersive experience in Cali’s rich cultural tapestry.

After honing your salsa skills at Salsa Pura, it’s a great idea to visit the local salsa clubs to fully engage with Cali’s vibrant salsa scene. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced dancer, Cali’s salsa culture, enriched by the expertise and friendship of instructors like Didier and Carlos, offers a unique and unforgettable experience.

The best salsa clubs in Cali

Of course, the salsa capital of the world offers a vibrant salsa club scene. Different venues become the hotspots on specific days of the week. Here’s a guide to some of the best salsa clubs in Cali:

  • La Topa Tolondra
    • Location: Calle 5 #13-27
    • Facebook: La Topa Tolondra
    • Open: Monday to Saturday
    • Best Days: Monday and Wednesday
    • Note: Known for its lively ambiance and great music, it’s a popular choice early in the week.
  • MalaMaña
    • Location: Carrera 4 #9-59
    • Facebook: MalaMaña Salsa Bar
    • Open: Wednesday to Saturday
    • Best Day: Friday
    • Note: This club is a favorite for its vibrant Friday nights and enthusiastic salsa crowd.
  • El Rincon de Hebert
    • Location: Carrera 24 #5-32
    • Facebook: El Rincon de Hebert
    • Best Day: Thursday
    • Note: Popular for its Thursday night salsa sessions, offering a more local and authentic experience.
  • Sabaki Night
    • Open: Tuesday to Sunday
    • Best Day: Sunday
    • Note: Not just limited to salsa, Sabaki Night also features Bachata, Kizomba, and Zouk, making it a diverse dance venue.
  • Zaperoko
    • Location: Avenida 5 Norte # 16-46
    • Facebook: Zaperoko
    • Best Days: Friday and Saturday
    • Note: This club is especially lively on weekends and is a go-to spot for salsa enthusiasts.

Dance shows in Cali

Cali offers some of the best full-length dance shows in the country. If you’re planning a visit, consider including one of these renowned performances in your itinerary. Here are three of the top dance shows in Cali:

  • Delirio
    • Website: Delirio
    • About: Delirio is more than just a dance show; it’s a spectacular fusion of salsa, circus, and orchestra, presenting a unique experience that embodies Cali’s vibrant culture.
    • Note: Dates for the shows vary, so it’s advisable to check their schedule and book in advance.
  • Ensalsate
    • Website: Ensalsate
    • About: This show is a dazzling display of salsa, showcasing the talent and passion of Cali’s dancers. Ensalsate is celebrated for its high energy and captivating performances.
    • Note: As with Delirio, it’s best to check their schedule ahead of your trip to align with show dates.
  • El Mulato Cabaret
    • Website: El Mulato Cabaret
    • About: This cabaret offers a more intimate salsa experience, featuring skilled dancers and a warm, inviting atmosphere. It’s a great place to enjoy traditional and modern salsa.
    • Note: Booking in advance is recommended as this cabaret often has a packed schedule due to its popularity.

Remember to check the show’s schedules and book your tickets in advance to ensure you don’t miss these incredible experiences during your visit to Cali.

Playing Golf in Cali

In Cali, Colombia, golf enthusiasts can find exceptional 18-hole courses at two prominent golf clubs: Club Campestre Farallones and Club Campestre de Cali. Both clubs are known for their well-maintained and challenging courses, offering a great experience for both seasoned and amateur golfers.

  • Club Campestre Farallones: This club is celebrated for its beautiful and meticulously kept golf course. It provides a perfect blend of challenge and enjoyment for golfers of all skill levels. The natural scenery and serene environment add to the appeal, making it a popular choice for a day of golf in Cali.
  • Club Campestre de Cali: Known for its prestigious golf course, this club offers a high-standard golfing experience. The course is designed to challenge and engage golfers, with varying terrains and strategic layouts. Additionally, the club’s facilities and services make it a top destination for golfers seeking a premium experience.

Both clubs not only offer excellent golfing opportunities but also serve as social hubs, where members and guests can enjoy various amenities and activities. Whether you’re looking to play a casual round or engage in more competitive play, these clubs in Cali provide the perfect setting for a memorable golfing experience.

Bird Watching in Cali

Cali is indeed an exceptional destination for bird watching. The city’s unique location, being 1,000 meters above sea level and close to the Pacific Ocean, creates a perfect home for many different bird species. This makes Cali one of the top cities in Colombia for bird lovers.

The city’s varied ecosystems, from urban areas to nearby natural reserves, provide habitats for a wide variety of birds. Even in the city, you can see many bird species, thanks to the favorable climate and rich biodiversity. The surrounding areas, with their lush forests and nature reserves, make the bird-watching experience even better, offering a chance to spot both endemic and migratory species.

For anyone interested in bird watching, Cali offers not just the opportunity to observe an impressive array of bird species but also to enjoy the natural beauty and cultural richness of the region. Whether you’re a seasoned birder or a curious beginner, Cali’s birdlife will surely give you a rewarding and memorable experience.

Discovering Cali, Colombia

  • Location: Valle del Cauca department, Colombia
  • Altitude: Approximately 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) above sea level
  • Population: 2.5 million inhabitants
  • Climate: Warm and tropical climate, with temperatures ranging from 18 °C to 30 °C (64 °F to 86 °F), influenced by high altitude and proximity to the Pacific Ocean.

Important Dates & Historical Highlights

  • Foundation: July 25, 1536
  • Economic Development: Boosted by proximity to Buenaventura, a major port city.
  • Cultural Significance: Renowned as the salsa capital of the world from the mid-20th century onwards.

Key Data

  • International Trade: Benefits from its proximity to Buenaventura, Colombia’s principal Pacific port.
  • Cultural Activities: Home to numerous salsa clubs, schools, and annual festivals.
  • Tourism: Offers a variety of guided tours, ranging from cultural and historical to nature-based excursions.

Guided Tours in Cali

There is at least one tour in Cali where you can spontaneously join. It is best to clarify the details online, as this can always change at short notice.

  • City tour
  • Street food tour

Tourist Destinations and Activities outside of Cali

San Cipriano

San Cipriano is a serene and picturesque natural reserve located approximately 3 hours from Cali. This destination is renowned for its peaceful landscapes and calm river surroundings. It’s a perfect place to unwind and connect with nature, offering a break from the hustle and bustle.

Visitors can enjoy various activities like swimming in the clear river waters, hiking in the lush rainforest, and encountering diverse wildlife. A unique feature of San Cipriano is the “brujitas,” small motor-powered platforms that run on railroad tracks, providing an adventurous mode of transportation through the jungle.

The local community in San Cipriano is welcoming and shares rich cultural traditions. Interacting with locals offers insight into their way of life and their dedication to preserving the natural environment they call home. Overall, San Cipriano is a peaceful escape for those seeking tranquility and a chance to experience the beauty of Colombia’s natural landscapes, whether for relaxation, adventure, or cultural exploration.

Buga

Buga, officially known as Guadalajara de Buga, is a culturally rich city located around 90 minutes from Cali, Colombia. Known for its cultural heritage and religious significance, Buga’s main attraction is the Basilica del Señor de los Milagros, a renowned pilgrimage site that attracts visitors from across Colombia and beyond. The Basilica’s impressive architecture and spiritual atmosphere make it a central point for religious devotion and cultural tourism.

In addition to its religious importance, Buga provides a glimpse into Colombia’s colonial history through well-preserved architecture and historical sites. The city’s streets and buildings showcase traditional Spanish colonial style, offering a charming experience for history and architecture enthusiasts.

Due to Buga’s proximity to Cali, it is an easily accessible and popular destination for day trips or short visits. Visitors can explore historical landmarks, savor local cuisine, and immerse themselves in the unique blend of religious and cultural traditions that make Buga a memorable and enriching destination in Colombia.

Lago Calima

Lago Calima, or Calima Lake, is a top tourist spot near Cali, just a 90-minute drive away, perfect for a day trip or weekend retreat. Famous for its consistent winds, the man-made lake is a hotspot for water sports like windsurfing and kite surfing, ranking among the best locations in Colombia and South America for these activities.

Beyond water sports, Lago Calima offers diverse attractions. Visitors can explore horseback riding, hiking, and bird watching in the surrounding areas. The lake is surrounded by resorts, vacation homes, and camping sites, providing varied accommodation options.

With its stunning scenery and a range of activities, Lago Calima draws adventure seekers and nature lovers alike. Its close proximity to Cali makes it a convenient and appealing escape for those wanting a break from the city hustle.

Kilometro 18

Kilometro 18, commonly known as “Km 18,” is a popular area located around 18 kilometers from Cali, Colombia, en route to Buenaventura. Renowned for its cooler climate and scenic surroundings, Km 18 is a favored retreat for both locals and Cali’s visitors.

Situated at a higher elevation than Cali, Km 18 provides a noticeable temperature drop, offering a refreshing escape from the city’s warm, tropical weather. This cooler setting is perfect for nature walks, bird watching, and various outdoor activities.

The area features a variety of restaurants, cafes, and small shops, allowing visitors to savor local cuisine and enjoy refreshments amid picturesque views. Km 18 is particularly known for its traditional Colombian hot chocolate and cheese bread, locally called “pan de queso.”

Beyond leisure, Km 18 serves as a starting point for hiking trails leading into the nearby forests, providing an opportunity to explore the region’s rich biodiversity. Whether for a day trip or a brief escape, Km 18 offers a blend of natural beauty, culinary delights, and a serene atmosphere.

Farrallones de Cali Pico de Loro

Farrallones de Cali, specifically Pico de Loro, stands as a prominent mountain peak within the Farallones de Cali National Natural Park, part of Colombia’s national park system. Popular among hikers and nature enthusiasts, Pico de Loro, translating to “Parrot’s Peak” in Spanish, boasts breathtaking views and diverse biodiversity.

On clear days, the summit provides a fantastic panoramic view of the surrounding landscape, extending to the Pacific Ocean. The challenging yet rewarding hike to the peak traverses diverse ecosystems, offering opportunities to encounter various flora and fauna.

To hike Pico de Loro, visitors must register in advance to preserve the natural environment and manage the number of people accessing the area. Additionally, hiring a local guide is mandatory, ensuring knowledge of the trail and park ecology, and enhancing safety during the hike.

The Farallones de Cali National Natural Park, with Pico de Loro as a highlight, showcases Colombia’s natural beauty and conservation efforts. The adventure of hiking to Pico de Loro combines physical challenge with a chance to connect with nature, making it a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts near Cali.

Whale watching

Whale watching is a popular activity along the Pacific coast near Buenaventura, which is conveniently located just a 90-minute drive from Cali. Every year, between July and October, humpback whales migrate to the warm waters of the Colombian Pacific coast to breed and give birth, offering an extraordinary spectacle for visitors. The area around Buenaventura provides several vantage points and tour options for whale watching.

Upon reaching Buenaventura, visitors can choose from various tour operators offering whale watching excursions. These tours often travel to specific locations along the coast where whales are commonly sighted. Experienced guides accompany these tours, providing insights about the whales and their migration patterns.

Additionally, there are several destinations along the coast accessible from Buenaventura that are well-known for whale watching. These include places like Juanchaco, Ladrilleros, and Bahía Málaga, each offering unique experiences and beautiful natural landscapes.

Whale watching in this region is not only a chance to witness these majestic creatures up close but also an opportunity to explore the stunning biodiversity of Colombia’s Pacific coast. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or simply looking for a unique experience, a whale watching tour from Buenaventura is a memorable activity to include in your visit to the Cali region.

Accommodations Guide for Cali

When choosing where to stay in Cali, consider what type of experience you are looking for, your budget, and your interests. Each neighborhood has its unique charm and caters to different preferences, whether it’s cultural immersion, nightlife, luxury, or tranquility. Read the pros and cons of staying in these sectors in Cali.

San Antonio

  • Advantages:
    • Cultural hub with colonial architecture.
    • Home to various cafes, restaurants, and art galleries.
    • Offers a blend of traditional and modern lifestyles.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Can be noisy, especially during cultural events.
    • Narrow streets may be challenging for parking.
  • Suitable for: Travelers interested in culture and history.

Granada

  • Advantages:
    • Known for its nightlife and fine dining.
    • Modern amenities and upscale accommodation options.
    • Central location with good connectivity.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Higher prices for accommodation and dining.
    • Busy and crowded, especially on weekends.
  • Suitable for: Visitors looking for a lively atmosphere and upscale experiences.

El Peñón

  • Advantages:
    • Safe and upscale neighborhood.
    • Close to the Cali River and the famous Cat Park.
    • Wide range of restaurants and boutique hotels.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Accommodation can be pricey.
    • Less traditional, more modern and touristy.
  • Suitable for: Those seeking a luxurious stay and safety.

Ciudad Jardín

  • Advantages:
    • Modern, affluent area with green spaces.
    • Features high-end malls and entertainment options.
    • Quieter and more residential.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Far from the city center and traditional attractions.
    • Requires transportation for most activities.
  • Suitable for: Families and travelers preferring a quieter environment.

Centro

  • Advantages:
    • Heart of the city with historical significance.
    • Access to various cultural sites and museums.
    • Budget-friendly accommodation options.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Can be crowded and noisy.
    • Some areas may be less safe, especially at night.
  • Suitable for: Budget travelers and history enthusiasts.

Menga

  • Advantages:
    • Known for its vibrant nightlife and clubs.
    • Variety of hotels and hostels.
    • Close to industrial and business areas.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Noisy at night due to clubs and bars.
    • Not much cultural or historical interest.
  • Suitable for: Young travelers and party-goers.

Also, check out our hotel recommendations in Cali

Nightlife in Cali

Cali’s nightlife scene is exciting and vibrant, with a variety of clubs that cater to different tastes and styles. Among the best clubs in Cali are La Pergola and Espacio 1060, each offering unique experiences:

  • La Pergola
    • Location: Carrera 2 #13-42
    • Website: La Pergola
    • Highlights:
      • Recognized as one of the top 100 clubs in the world.
      • Known for its lively atmosphere and top-notch music, including salsa and other popular genres.
      • Offers a mix of dance, music, and entertainment, making it a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
    • Suitable for: Those looking for a high-energy, world-class clubbing experience.
  • Espacio 1060
    • Location: Carrera 10 #10-60
    • Facebook: Espacio 1060
    • Highlights:
      • Espacio 1060 is known for its modern and trendy ambiance.
      • This club often features live music and DJ sets, catering to a diverse crowd.
      • It’s a great spot to experience the contemporary side of Cali’s nightlife.
    • Suitable for: Visitors who enjoy a modern club atmosphere with a mix of live performances and DJ music.

Both La Pergola and Espacio 1060 are excellent choices for experiencing Cali’s nightlife. Whether you’re looking to dance the night away to some of the best salsa music or enjoy a more contemporary club scene, these venues provide the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable night in Cali. Remember to check their websites or social media pages for the latest events and opening hours.

Cultural Agenda of Cali

Cali hosts several notable events throughout the year, each showcasing different aspects of the city’s rich culture and biodiversity. Here are three major events that take place in Cali:

Feria de Cali

  • Website: Feria de Cali
  • Dates: December 25th – 30th every year
  • Highlights:
    • Known as the Cali Fair, this event is a celebration of salsa music, dance, and Colombian culture.
    • Includes concerts, dance performances, a horseback riding parade, and the famous “Salsódromo” (salsa parade).
    • Attracts visitors from around the world, offering a vibrant and colorful experience of Cali’s festive spirit.

Festival Mundial de Salsa

  • Website: Festival Mundial de Salsa
  • Dates: Every year in October
  • Highlights:
    • A world-renowned salsa festival featuring competitions, workshops, and performances by some of the best salsa dancers globally.
    • Celebrates Cali’s status as the world’s salsa capital.
    • Provides an immersive experience for salsa enthusiasts, from beginners to professionals.

Colombia Bird Fair

  • Website: Colombia Bird Fair
  • Dates: Every year in February
  • Highlights:
    • Focuses on birdwatching and the conservation of bird species.
    • Includes lectures, workshops, and guided birdwatching tours.
    • Attracts birdwatchers, photographers, and nature enthusiasts, highlighting the rich biodiversity of Colombia.

Best Time to Go to Cali

When planning a trip to Cali, Colombia, it’s important to consider the city’s climate and the activities you intend to do. Cali has a tropical climate with relatively consistent temperatures year-round, but there are variations in rainfall that might influence your travel plans.

Rainy Season

  • Cali experiences two main rainy seasons: April to June and October to November.
  • During these months, you can expect frequent and sometimes heavy rainfall.
  • If you’re planning outdoor activities or want to visit places like Lago Calima or the Farallones de Cali, it might be better to avoid these months.

Dry Season

  • The drier months are usually December to March and July to September.
  • Even in the dry season, due to Cali’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean, occasional rain showers can occur.
  • This period is generally more suitable for outdoor activities and exploring the city.

Event-Specific Visits

  • If your visit is centered around specific events like the Feria de Cali, Festival Mundial de Salsa, or Colombia Bird Fair, it’s best to plan your trip around their dates.

Ultimately, the best time to visit Cali depends on your personal preferences and the activities you have planned. The city’s vibrant culture, salsa scene, and natural beauty can be enjoyed throughout the year, with some adjustments based on the weather conditions.

Airport of Cali

Cali is served by Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport, also known as Palmaseca International Airport. It is the city’s main airport and one of the most important air terminals in Colombia due to its strategic location.

Key Features of Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport:

  • International Connectivity: The airport offers direct flights to several international destinations, facilitating travel between Cali and other major cities around the world.
  • Domestic Flights: It is well-connected domestically, with frequent flights to and from major cities within Colombia, such as Bogotá, Medellín, and Cartagena.
  • Facilities and Services: The airport is equipped with various passenger amenities, including dining options, shopping areas, and car rental services.
  • Access and Transportation: Located about 16 miles (26 kilometers) northeast of Cali, the airport is accessible via a short drive. Transportation options include taxis, buses, and rental cars.
  • Capacity and Operations: The airport is capable of handling a significant number of passengers and flights, making it a key hub for both business and leisure travel in the region.

What I like and dislike about Cali – A Personal perspective

What I Like About Cali:

  • Salsa Culture: Learning salsa in Cali, the world’s salsa capital, is a unique and enriching experience. The city’s vibrant dance scene and its significance in salsa heritage are indeed captivating.
  • Friendly People: The warmth and friendliness of the locals in Cali often leave a lasting impression on visitors, contributing to a welcoming atmosphere.
  • Delicious Food: Cali’s culinary offerings are diverse and flavorful, showcasing the rich gastronomy of the region.

Dislikes and Concerns:

  • Safety and Crime: Despite your personal experiences being positive, it’s true that Cali has faced challenges with crime and safety, often reflected in crime statistics. This aspect can be a concern for visitors, although many tourists, like yourself, enjoy their time in the city without incident.
  • Perception vs. Reality: The contrast between the city’s reputation for crime and the actual experiences of many tourists highlights the complexity of Cali. It’s a city with challenges, but also one with a lot of beauty and culture.

Colombia Travel Guides

Here you will find travel guides for the most popular regions in Colombia, which we have put together during our extensive travels around the country.

Travel Guides to Colombia’s Small Towns

Here you will find travel guides for less popular destinations in Colombia. Some of these destinations are even real insider tips and not even known to the Colombians as travel destinations.

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About Author

Frank

Frank

Hello! I'm Frank Spitzer, the founder and the heart behind Pelecanus, a specialized tour operator for Colombia travel. My journey in travel is vast and rich – I've explored over 60 countries, absorbing cultures, experiences, and stories along the way. Since 2017, I've been channeling this wealth of global experience into creating unforgettable travel experiences in Colombia.I'm recognized as a leading authority in Colombian tourism, with a deep-seated passion for sharing this beautiful country with the world. You can catch glimpses of my travel adventures and insights around Colombia on my YouTube channel. I'm also active on social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, where I share the vibrant culture and stunning landscapes of Colombia.For professional networking, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Join me on this incredible journey, and let's explore the wonders of Colombia together!

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