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19 Must-Buy Travel Souvenirs From Colombia – Cheap & Expensive

Updated on 02/27/2024

Dear reader,
I would also like to recommend our Colombia travel guide, which provides a perfect overview of the tourist attractions in Colombia. Enjoy reading it!

Content

What products should you buy in Colombia?

When visiting Colombia, there are several unique products that make perfect souvenirs and gifts, capturing the essence of Colombian culture and craftsmanship:

  1. Aguardiente: A traditional Colombian spirit.
  2. Avocado: Colombia is known for its delicious avocados.
  3. Bocadillo: A sweet guava paste treat.
  4. Chamba Ceramics: Traditional Colombian pottery.
  5. Hammock: Handwoven and perfect for relaxation.
  6. Headgear: Including traditional hats like the ‘Vueltiao’.
  7. Coffee: World-renowned Colombian coffee.
  8. Ceramics from Ráquira: Colorful and artistic pottery.
  9. Cow’s Foot Bottle: Unique leatherwork.
  10. Crafts: Diverse and colorful Colombian handcrafts.
  11. Miniature Chiva Bus: A popular Colombian cultural symbol.
  12. Fashion Items: Reflecting Colombia’s vibrant fashion scene.
  13. Panela: Unrefined cane sugar.
  14. Ruanas: Traditional Colombian ponchos.
  15. Rum: High-quality Colombian rum.
  16. Jewelry: Including pieces with local designs.
  17. Chocolate: Colombian chocolate is rich in flavor.
  18. Emerald: Colombia is famous for its emeralds.
  19. Shoulder Bag: Handmade bags with unique designs.

These items not only serve as great mementos but also offer a glimpse into the rich culture and traditions of Colombia.

Aguardiente: The Essence of Colombian Festivity

Cultural Significance of Aguardiente

In Colombia, Aguardiente is as essential to a celebration as holy water is to a church. This spirit is a staple at every festival, often enjoyed in small plastic cups. The drinking ritual, involving Aguardiente, is a continuous and integral part of Colombian festivities.

Characteristics of Aguardiente

  • Alcohol Content: Typically around 30% alcohol.
  • Flavor Profile: Distilled from anise and sugar cane, its taste is akin to French Pastis.
  • Production Regions: Various regions in Colombia produce Aguardiente, with Aguardiente Antioqueño being notably famous.

Availability and Pricing

  • Packaging Options: Available in different sizes, including Tetra Pak.
  • Average Price: Prices range from approximately $5 for a small 375ml bottle to $10 for a regular 750ml bottle. Larger “garrafa” sizes (2L) can cost up to $25.

Aguardiente is more than just a spirit in Colombia; it symbolizes celebration, unity, and cultural heritage, making it a unique and meaningful component of Colombian social life.

Alcohol drinks from Colombia

Joseescobar2012 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Avocado: A Staple of Colombian Cuisine

Popularity of Avocado in Colombia

Avocados are a ubiquitous part of Colombian food culture, reflecting a global trend that has seen a surge in popularity for this fruit. In Colombia, avocados grow abundantly and are easily found on street corners, markets, and in various dishes.

Varieties of Avocado

  • Large Green Avocado: Known for its size, comparable to a football, this variety has a more watery taste.
  • Smaller Green to Black Avocado: The smaller variant, ranging in color from green to black, is known for its more intense and richer flavor.

Avocados are not just a food item in Colombia; they are a symbol of the nation’s rich agricultural diversity and culinary heritage, playing a significant role in the everyday diet of its people.

Typical food from Colombia

Taken from: https://www.piqsels.com/

Bocadillo: A Sweet Delight of Colombia

Introduction to Bocadillo

Bocadillo, a beloved Colombian sweet, is commonly enjoyed with soft cheese, offering a unique taste experience.

Making of Bocadillo

  • Main Ingredient: Made from guavas, a popular fruit in Colombia.
  • Preparation Process: Guava pulp is cooked with Panela (unrefined sugar cane) until it reaches the right consistency.
  • Forming Bocadillos: The paste is then molded into blocks or bars.

Industrial vs. Handmade Variants

  • Packaging Differences: Handmade Bocadillos are often distinguishable by their packaging, sometimes wrapped in natural leaves, which is a tradition in some regions.

Bocadillos are a testament to Colombia’s rich culinary traditions, blending the natural sweetness of guavas with the cultural practice of artisanal food preparation.

Souvenirs from Colombia

momentcaptured1 / CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Chamba Ceramics: A Colombian Heritage Craft

Origin and Production

  • Location: Chamba Ceramics are crafted in La Chamba village, Tolima department, Colombia.
  • Historical Legacy: This pottery tradition dates back over 300 years.

Global Recognition

  • Products: The range includes pots, dishes, and other items.
  • Worldwide Distribution: Chamba ceramics are sold not only in Colombia but internationally.

Cultural Significance

  • Women Artisans: Production is predominantly managed by women.
  • Design Preservation: While some original indigenous patterns have faded, the classic shapes and styles have been meticulously preserved.

Chamba ceramics embody Colombia’s rich cultural heritage, representing centuries of artisanal skills passed down through generations.

Handicrafts in Colombia

Hammocks in Colombia: The Art of Relaxation

Ubiquity and Regional Variations

  • Common in Accommodations: Hammocks are a staple in hotels, hostels, and Fincas across Colombia.
  • Regional Designs: Different regions produce distinct hammock styles.

The Chinchorro: A Masterpiece

  • Craftsmanship: Made by the indigenous Wayuu people in La Guajira.
  • Production Time: Handcrafted over 3 weeks to 3 months, based on size.
  • Sizes Available: Single, double, and family.
  • Unique Artistry: Each Chinchorro boasts unique colors and embroidery patterns, making every piece a one-of-a-kind work of art.

The Chinchorro, revered as the epitome of hammock craftsmanship, is not just for relaxation but a symbol of Colombian art and culture. As a proud owner of a Chinchorro, I can attest to its unparalleled quality and comfort, perfect for daily siestas.

Souvenirs of Colombia

Headgear in Colombia: Sun Protection and Cultural Symbolism

Regional Varieties of Headgear

  • Llanos Cowboy Hat: Popular in the Llanos region, known for cowboys and cattle breeding. As a symbol of the cowboy lifestyle, it’s a personal favorite for those who admire the cowboy culture.
  • Vueltiao Hat: Originating from the Caribbean coast, this hat is crafted from a native grass. It’s deeply rooted in indigenous culture and is recognized as a national symbol of Colombia.
  • Aguadas Hat: Resembling the Panama hat, it’s typically white or beige with a black band, crafted from the Iraca Palma.

Headgear in Colombia is not only practical for sun protection but also carries significant cultural and regional importance. Each style reflects a part of Colombia’s diverse heritage and lifestyle.

Typical hat from the Colombia llanos

Colombian Coffee: A World-Renowned Delight

Quality Over Quantity

  • Global Recognition: Colombian coffee is renowned not for the quantity produced but for the quality of its beans.
  • Altitude for Growth: It thrives at altitudes between 1,000 and 2,000 meters above sea level.

Arabica: The Choice of Colombia

  • Exclusive Cultivation: Colombia primarily grows Arabica coffee, known for its superior taste.
  • Manual Process: The cultivation and harvesting processes are manual, often in remote areas.

Taste Profile and Gifting Coffee

  • Flavor: Colombian coffee is famous for its mild taste.
  • Gourmet Coffee: Ideal as a gift, it is best purchased as whole beans for prolonged freshness.
  • Buying Tips: Avoid cheap, pre-ground coffee in supermarkets; instead, opt for gourmet coffee from local cafés or directly from a Finca after a coffee tour.

Colombian coffee offers a unique blend of rich flavor and cultural significance, making it a perfect souvenir for coffee lovers.

Ceramic from Ráquira: A Colorful Tradition

Ráquira’s Ceramics Industry

  • Location: Ráquira, near Villa de Leyva, is known for its vibrant ceramic production.
  • Diverse Offerings: The village’s shops are filled with a wide array of ceramic items, all characterized by their colorful designs.
  • Popular Items: Among the various ceramics, pig figurines emerge as a particularly popular choice among customers.

Ráquira’s ceramics not only reflect the artistic skills of the local artisans but also add a unique, colorful touch to Colombia’s rich craft heritage.

Handmade ceramics of Colombia

Cow Foot Bottle: A Unique Colombian Artifact

Overview

  • Availability: Cow foot bottles are a unique item available in various places and souvenir shops across Colombia.
  • Mystery of Origin: The specific background and cultural significance of these bottles remain somewhat elusive.

Despite the lack of detailed information about their origins, cow foot bottles remain an intriguing and distinctive aspect of Colombian craftsmanship. They symbolize the diverse and unique nature of Colombian artisanal products.

Handmade bottle from Colombia

medea_material / CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Handicrafts: The Artistic Heart of Colombia

Diverse and Rich Craftsmanship

Colombia’s handicrafts, created across various regions and by numerous indigenous tribes, showcase the country’s rich cultural heritage and artistic diversity.

Whether you are an enthusiast or a casual admirer of handicrafts, Colombia’s vast array of artisanal products offers something for everyone, reflecting the skill, tradition, and creativity of its people.

Handicrafts Raquira

Miniature Chiva Bus: A Symbol of Colombian Culture

Iconic Representation

  • Cultural Symbol: The Chiva Bus is a quintessential emblem of Colombian culture and lifestyle.
  • Usage: Still operational in many regions, these buses transform into moving discos in urban areas.

Colorful and Varied Miniatures

  • Variety: Available in different sizes and vibrant colors.
  • Perfect Souvenir: A miniature Chiva Bus serves as an excellent memento of the Colombian experience.

The miniature Chiva Bus captures the spirit of Colombia, making it a delightful souvenir for anyone wishing to take home a piece of Colombian tradition and color.

Souvenirs from Colombia

Ramiro2 / CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Fashion in Colombia: A Hub of Style and Creativity

Fashion Industry and Textile Production

  • Latin American Leader: Colombia stands out as a major producer of textile products in Latin America.
  • Specialization: Notably known for its export of underwear and beach fashion.

Colombian Designers and Custom-Made Fashion

  • Local Talent: Numerous Colombian designers create unique and stylish fashion items.
  • Affordability: These high-quality fashion items are available at relatively low prices compared to other countries.
  • Customization: Tailor-made fashion is also a great value in Colombia, with entire streets and districts dedicated to fashion stores.

Caution with Outlets

  • Quality Concerns: It’s advised to be cautious when shopping at outlets, as some may sell lower quality products made specifically for outlet sales.

Colombian fashion offers a blend of style, quality, and affordability, making it a paradise for fashion enthusiasts.

Panela: A Sweet Staple of Colombian Cuisine

Essential in Colombian Diet

  • Made from Sugar Cane: Panela is a natural sweetener integral to Colombian culinary practices.
  • Popular Drink: Agua Panela, made with water, Panela, and often lime, is a refreshing traditional beverage.

Traditional Production Process

  • Juicing and Boiling: Sugar cane is pressed to extract juice, which is then boiled to a thick consistency.
  • Block Formation: The viscous mass is shaped into blocks for ease of use and distribution.

Local Manufacturing

  • Smoke as a Signal: In rural areas, the smoke from burning car tires, used in the production process, can lead one to local Panela production sites.

Panela production and consumption are deeply ingrained in Colombian culture, offering a glimpse into the country’s agricultural practices and traditional flavors.

Sugar cane process

Geovanyme / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Ruana: A Warm Embrace from Colombia

The Colombian Poncho

  • Origin: Ruanas hail from the cold region of Boyaca.
  • Material: Crafted from thick sheep’s wool.

Function and Cultural Significance

  • Warmth and Comfort: Designed to provide immense warmth, making them ideal for cold climates.
  • Local Usage: Regularly worn by the local population as both a practical and cultural garment.

A Ruana is not just a piece of clothing; it’s a symbol of Colombian heritage, especially from the colder regions, embodying both functionality and cultural identity.

Souvenirs from Colombia

Geovanyme / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Rum: A Taste of the Colombian Caribbean

Colombia’s Rum Production

  • Caribbean Influence: As part of the Caribbean, Colombia has a rich tradition of rum production.
  • Sugar Cane Base: Colombian rum is crafted from locally grown sugar cane.

International Recognition

  • Award-Winning Spirits: Various Colombian rums have garnered international acclaim in recent years.

For rum enthusiasts, Colombian rum offers a delightful exploration into the country’s adaptation of this classic Caribbean spirit, now standing as a competitive and esteemed choice in the world of spirits.

  1. Dictador 2 Masters Royal Tokaji: Aged 12 years in American oak barrels, then finished for two years in Tokaji wine casks. Flavor notes include oak, vanilla, spice, and dried fruits. Priced at approximately $150.
  2. La Hechicera: A blend of rums aged 12 to 21 years, matured in Barranquilla. It features notes of roasted coffee, chocolate, and tobacco. Available for around $100.
  3. Dictador Best of Extremo: A blend of rums aged up to 12 years with flavors of honey, caramel, and spice. Priced at about $75.
  4. Dictador Episodio 1 Sherry Cask: A blend of rums aged up to 12 years and finished in sherry casks, offering notes of raisins, prunes, and nuts. It costs around $125.
  5. Dictador 20 Years: Aged for 20 years in American oak barrels with vanilla, oak, and spice notes. This rum is priced at approximately $200.

These premium rums reflect the rich heritage and diverse flavors of Colombian rum production.

Typical drinks from Colombia

Joseescobar2012 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Jewelry: A Glimpse into Colombia’s Golden Legacy

Historical Significance

  • Centuries-Old Tradition: Gold mining and crafting have been integral parts of Colombian culture for centuries, with indigenous people creating remarkable gold artifacts.

Contemporary Craftsmanship

  • Blacksmithing Traditions: These historical practices continue today, particularly in certain regions where traditional blacksmithing is still prevalent.
  • Shopping in Bogota: The center of Bogota is a hub for jewelry enthusiasts, boasting a range of stores that showcase Colombia’s rich heritage in jewelry making.

Colombian jewelry, deeply rooted in its historical gold craftsmanship, offers both a piece of art and a fragment of the country’s rich cultural tapestry.

Souvenirs of Colombia

Chocolate in Colombia: A Growing Delight

Transformation in Chocolate Industry

  • Recent Development: Since 2015, Colombia’s chocolate selection has significantly evolved, especially in the realm of dark chocolate.

Cocoa Production and Personal Experience

  • Cocoa Cultivation: Various regions in Colombia cultivate cocoa, contributing to the diversity in chocolate production.
  • Personal Involvement: I have had the experience of making chocolate myself, witnessing the process firsthand.

While Colombian milk chocolate may not yet be at the peak of global acclaim, the country’s dark chocolate offerings showcase its potential and growing prowess in the world of fine chocolates.

Colombian chocolate

Taken from: https://www.needpix.com/photo/245430/cocoa-man-colombia-peasant-hand

Emeralds: Colombia’s Green Treasures

Global Significance

  • Major Producer: Colombia is estimated to produce 70-90% of the world’s emeralds, making it a significant player in the global market.

Buying Emeralds

  • Availability: Emeralds are widely available in Bogota and Cartagena, with Bogota hosting a specialized street market and an emerald museum.
  • Buyer’s Caution: It’s crucial to be well-informed before purchasing, as there’s a high risk of overpaying.

Colombian emeralds are renowned for their quality and are a symbol of the country’s natural wealth. However, purchasing these gemstones requires careful consideration and knowledge to ensure authenticity and value.

Emeralds from Colombia

Taken from: https://pixabay.com/es/photos/gema-esmeralda-piedras-4014145/

Shoulder Bags: The Wayuu Mochilas of La Guajira

Distinctive Regional Craft

  • Variety by Region: Mochilas vary in design and color across different areas of Colombia.

The Wayuu Mochilas

  • Craftsmanship: Made by the indigenous Wayuu people in La Guajira.
  • Unique Features: Known for their vibrant colors, intricate decorations, and embroidery.
  • Durability and Practicality: These shoulder bags are not only visually appealing but also incredibly sturdy.

Personal Experience in Riohacha

  • Encouraging Purchases: On a visit to Riohacha, I urged my employees to buy various bags, which proved to be both functional and fashionable.
  • Customization Idea: Adding a zipper to these bags can enhance their functionality.

Wayuu mochilas represent a fusion of practicality and traditional Colombian artistry, making them a perfect accessory for everyday use or as a unique gift.

Traditional Bags of La Guajira Colombia

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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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