Last updated on June 23rd, 2023 at 01:55 pm
My name is Frank and I run a travel agency in Bogota, Colombia. Have fun while reading!
Travelers often ask ‘What is Colombia known for’? Here is all you need to know! The South American jewel Colombia draws millions of tourists around the year and boggles each one of them with its raw beauty and ingenuity.
Rugged topography, crazy festivals, epic biodiversity and scenic beauty-what more can a traveler ask for? This legendary country has it all! Read on to discover 23 amazing -and not so amazing- things that set Colombia apart. Also interested in the most important cities of Colombia?
Colombia is a country with a rich blend of ethnicities and traditions, shaped by time and history. But that’s not all – Colombia is also proud to be the second most biodiverse country in the world, with an incredible diversity of life per square foot!
From tropical rainforests like the Amazon and breathtaking beaches to various ecosystems, mountains, and seas, Colombia is a stunning display of natural beauty.
If you’re planning on bird watching, this country hosts over 200 species of birds, including some of the most stunning feathered creatures found nowhere else on the planet. The diverse flora and fauna in the region are also worth appreciating.
The country of year-around festivals
Colombia is known for its vibrant celebration of life, diversity, heritage and culture. With over 18 public holidays and 150+ festivals, there is no other place in the world that celebrates as hard as Colombia! These festivals attract spectators, artists and tourists from all around the world.
From the World Salsa Festival to the second largest festival in the world – the Carnaval de Barranquilla – to the unique and stunning Medellin Flower Festival, every city and region in Colombia is renowned for a celebration of a lifetime.
For more information about festivals in Colombia, visit Festivals in Colombia here
World’s best coffee
Prepare to taste the best brew in the world, only in Colombia. This country is known for producing some of the world’s best coffee thanks to the ideal weather conditions and geographical location of the fertile Coffee Triangle nestled between the Andean ranges.
The best news? You can book a coffee tour where you can see the process live! Growing coffee in the country is also the source of the largest rural employment.
Beautiful National Parks
Colombia is home to some of the world’s most picturesque National Parks. With over 58 protected areas and National Parks, it boasts a diverse range of ecosystems and topography, including the Andes Mountains, the Amazon rainforest, deserts, and ancient ruins.
Thrill-seekers will find paradise in Tayrona National Park. Declared a National Park in 1964, it features over 400 species of birds, mischievous monkeys, and stunning beaches with plenty of adrenaline-inducing activities.
For those who love the tropics, Amacayacu National Park sits on the Amazon River and offers a stunning display of flora and fauna, a view of pink dolphins, the heat and humidity distinct to the Amazon, and luxurious lodges on the river. It truly is heavenly.
A notoriously wild yet exciting history
If you enjoy learning about legendary figures who have shaped history, both good and bad, then you must visit Colombia. It is home to the infamous drug lord and narcotics godfather, Pablo Escobar Gaviria, who is an unforgettable part of Colombia’s violent history.
Despite its notorious drug history, Colombia has come a long way and has managed to emerge as a very safe and secure country where violence is hardly evident.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a celebrated storyteller and Nobel Prize laureate, was also born and raised in Colombia. His literary works continue to resonate with people around the globe to this day.
Producing 70% of the world’s purest cocaine on more than 200,000 hectares of crops is a sad reality in Colombia, often avoided in conversations. However, it is important not to stereotype all Colombians as drug users, as this can be a sensitive topic to address.
When it comes to Salsa, no one does it quite like Colombia. The Colombian city of Cali is known as the Salsa capital of the world, and for good reason. With over 200 academies and 40 clubs dedicated to this fiery dance, Cali hosts the world’s biggest and best Salsa Festival every year in September/August.
Salsa caleña is Cali’s unique take on Salsa, featuring a glorious fusion of fast steps, unique choreography, and vibrant costumes. The festival draws dancers, professionals, musicians, and trainers from around the world and is a true celebration of art and dance, even in the contemporary era. The festival is a must-visit and truly makes Colombia the Salsa king!
The amazing Bogota
A true tribute to the old and the new, Bogota is the perfect city for those who have their hearts and minds in two epochs of time. The capital city of Colombia sits perched on a high plain in the Andes Mountains and is home to over 8 million people.
Bogota is a beautiful amalgamation of the old and the new. Modern, chic areas and towering skyscrapers stand in stark contrast to old churches and buildings dating back to the colonial era. The original inhabitants of the area still farm the land and tend after their cows and cattle in various city sectors.
For more information on what to do in Bogota, check out our Bogota Travel Guide.
The charming and historic Cartagena
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, this city has a charm unlike any other in the country. The walled city center and old buildings drenched in their own old-school rustic charm are worth exploring on foot. History speaks through cobblestone pathways, dainty cafes, and architecture dating back to the colonial era.
The old town features a huge fortress, Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, that is worth visiting if you ever set foot in this city that will warm your heart immediately. Feast your eyes on the beautiful and vibrantly painted historical buildings sprawled across the city.
For more information about what to do in this beautiful city, check out our Cartagena Travel Guide.
The modern metropolis: Medellin
Medellin, the “City of Eternal Spring,” is a contemporary beauty surrounded by mountains. It boasts moderate temperatures, incredible nightlife, towering buildings, and all the amenities you could ask for.
Additionally, it has impressive industry and commerce. Let this city transport you to another world with its infamous discos! Party and relax in this gorgeous city with ragged peaks as its backdrop.
For more information about what to do in the “City of Eternal Spring,” check out our Medellin Travel Guide.
Colombian craftsmen are truly out of this world! With impeccable craftsmanship, unmatched quality, and hard work, they set themselves apart from the competition – the Italians better watch out!
Colombia is home to many local brands, such as Las Malo, which takes inspiration from the beautiful country itself to curate timeless statement pieces and accessories that are appreciated around the world.
Exotic fruits and good food
Colombia is a haven for foodies who love exploring farmer’s markets and trying new exotic fruits. The country is known for a variety of fruits that are unique to the region, such as custard apples (cherimoya), the sought-after passion fruit known as ‘maracuyá’, and the gulupa.
Colombian cuisine is diverse and delicious, thanks to the range of climates and multicultural influences. The national dish, bandeja paisa, is a mouth-watering combination of grilled steak, fried pork rind, fried egg, avocado, beans, rice, and sausages. It’s a must-try for any food lover visiting Colombia!
The rainbow river- Caño Cristales
Hidden away in the Serranía de la Macarena mountain range lies one of the most spectacular natural wonders – the river of five colors! This liquid marvel is a natural phenomenon, made possible by the “Macarenia clavigera,” a red plant that creates this stunning display of colors.
This rainbow river bursts into a kaleidoscope of colors – bright yellow, lush green, brilliant blue, traces of black, and red, leaving you awed by its beauty. It’s an experience that’s worth traveling to Colombia for!
Tejo –the unique national sport of gunpowder and beer!
Colombians have their own way of doing things, and their national sport, Tejo, is a perfect example. Originating from the indigenous community over 500 years ago, this sport involves steel projectiles, gunpowder, and, of course, beer! It is named after the town of Turmequé, which is now located in the Boyacá department.
Tejo is best played in noisy bars or outdoor buildings, and preferably after consuming some alcohol. Players take turns throwing heavy steel disks or pucks weighing up to half a kilogram at a board 18 meters away. Crazy? We agree!
Amazon wonders – rainforest and the river
Colombia is home to two Amazonian wonders: the Amazon Rainforest and the Amazon River. The river offers views of three countries: Peru, Colombia, and Brazil, and is rich in flora and fauna. The rainforest boasts the most diverse ecosystems in the world and is on the top of everyone’s bucket list!
Are you a fan of trying new foods? Try rare dishes originating in indigenous cultures, such as the “mojojoy” larva served grilled, fried, or even filled with meat, or the “iyuco,” a broth made with fish, ants, seeds, and wild leaves. Wildlife, culture, and adventure await your arrival in the Colombian Amazon!
Gold and Emeralds!
Marvel at the world’s largest collection of pre-Hispanic gold at Bogota’s most famous museum to truly appreciate the laudable talent and craftsmanship of indigenous workers. Alternatively, visit the emerald mines in the Andes Mountains.
Colombia is known for its emeralds, as almost 70-90% of these gemstones come from here! These highly-priced and coveted stones make stunning jewelry and are worth the investment.
Colombia’s internal armed conflict involving the government, leftist guerrillas such as FARC and ELN, right-wing paramilitary groups, drug cartels, and criminal bands started in the 1960s and gained worldwide notoriety. As a result, the country has a reputation as an unsafe place to visit.
However, the signing of a peace treaty with FARC in 2016 was a significant step toward ending the conflict, and tourism rates have been increasing ever since.
It is often said that Bogota, the capital of Colombia, has the best-spoken Spanish, but we cannot verify this claim. There are various accents and dialects of Spanish spoken throughout the country.
However, what we can confirm is that there are approximately 68 native languages spoken in Colombia by nearly 850,000 people! Thanks to the diversity of ethnicities and cultures, you can encounter several languages that are quite different from Spanish. These include indigenous tongues, Creole spoken in San Andres and Providencia islands and the Atlantic coast, and Romani spoken by gypsies. You might want to learn them all!
Great art and famous artists
Colombian art is as varied as the country’s biological diversity. Each visit to the country reveals new and exciting art, with influences from Spanish, African, and indigenous cultures. From ancient pottery and pre-Columbian goldwork to stonecutting, modern sculpture, colorful knitting, amazing paintings, and more.
Colombia is the birthplace of world-famous artists such as Fernando Botero, Doris Salcedo, Débora Arango, and Alejandro Obregón. The country has also produced successful music, literature, and film artists. Have you heard of Shakira, Juanes, Carlos Vives, Toto la Momposina, or reggaeton singers J Balvin and Maluma? What about TV star Sofia Vergara, film producer Ciro Guerra, or Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez?
Colombia is well-known for the top performance of its athletes. Cycling is one of the highlights, with Nairo Quintana, Rigoberto Uran, and Egan Bernal winning classic world competitions such as the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France, and the Vuelta a España.
Car racing also has a Colombian representative: Juan Pablo Montoya, who has won several prizes and is most known for his triumph in Formula 1 and NASCAR. The female quota is represented by Mariana Pajon and Caterine Ibarguen, world leaders in BMX and athletics, respectively.
And how could we forget about football? James Rodriguez and Falcao Garcia are perhaps the most famous Colombian players of this time (without mentioning Pibe Valderrama). However, there are tons of youngsters trying to improve their lives in this country through football, the sport that Colombians are passionate about!
Colombia is often stereotyped as a country with breathtakingly beautiful women. While beauty is subjective, Colombia has had great success in international beauty pageants, winning Miss Universe twice and having four runners-up.
Beauty is celebrated throughout the country, with most festivals including a beauty contest in their schedule.
Who doesn’t love the beach? Colombia not only has one ocean, but two – the Atlantic and the Pacific. With 1,760 kilometers of coastline on the Caribbean Sea and 1,300 kilometers on the Pacific, Colombia is among the select group of 21 countries with access to two oceans.
Each ocean hosts diverse wildlife and accompanies different cultural traditions, so visiting both regions is necessary to truly experience what this country has to offer.
If you arrange a meeting with a Colombian, be prepared to wait a few minutes for them to arrive. Traditionally, Colombians take 5 to 15 minutes to get to an appointment, depending on the type of appointment and the person in question. Don’t get upset about it, just keep it in mind when you visit.
Colombia has a myriad of scenic wonders, friendly people, and architectural beauty, making it one of the most visited getaways today! If you’re interested in traveling to Colombia, check out my Colombia travel guide for the most interesting destinations in the country.
As a travel company in Bogota, we’re happy to offer travel suggestions as well.
Colombia Travel Guides
There is much more to see in Colombia, you can find everything in my travel guides.
- Colombia Travel Guide
- Bogotá Travel Guide
- Medellin Travel Guide
- Santa Marta Travel Guide
- Cartagena Travel Guide
- La Guajira Travel Guide
- Llanos Travel Guide
- Providencia Travel Guide
- Coffee Triangle Travel Guide
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