These are some of the recommended places for short trips outside the capital.
This town offers a tropical climate within only a few hours of drive of Bogotá. It is a popular destination during weekends and there are many fincas to rent in the area.
A nice long weekend destination in Santander.
A favourite for short day trips. Lunch (Hungarian goulash!) at the Swiss Hot Hike in the paramo en-route. Go beyond Choachi to valley bottom and walk along river near town found there.
- Eje Cafetero
This is a longer road-trip (about a week-long). Go via Armenia, return via Manizales and Honda in a big circle embracing Pereira along the way. Find the smaller roads and the smaller towns: Filandia and Salento in particular, Valle de los Cocoros and Parque del Cafe. Coffee plantation lodge, late 19th century near Calarca (just before Armenia) is excellent. Biggest highlight: Parque Nacional de los Nevados. Climb to the glacier on Nevado de Ruiz. Refugio el Sisne for those spending a few days – high elevation day hikes.
- Facatativa and the Piedras del Tunjo
Archaeological site are just 45 minutes away and well worth the visit.
Go beyond the excellent experience of the walk to La Laguna Sagrada del Cacique de Guatavita (El Dorado) and stop for lunch at Sesquile – a town just before that small road flows into the main highway north to Tunja. Restaurant south of Sesquile on east side of the road offers excellent trout while the traditional ajiaco is worth stopping for.
Bogotá’s port on Rio Magdalena. It is an ancient, hot and historic spot. There is a nice hotel with a water park. It is however too far for a day-trip.
- Laguna (embalse) de Neusa
Excellent walks along the shore, nice lodging and great trout lunches!
- Leticia (by plane)
The capital of the Amazonas province, Leticia, is at the crossroads point where Brazil, Peru and Colombia meet. It is a good base for exploring the Amazon basin.
Old, small, other worldly, in the Magdalena river valley. The drive onwards (upwards!) to Manizales is spectacular.
- Medellín (by plane)
Known as the City of Eternal spring and for its most famous son, Pablo Escobar, Medellín is also the third most popular tourist destination in Colombia. It was voted as the most innovative city in the world in 2013. Sample the many fine restaurants and bars and stroll along the city’s Milla de Oro.
- Melgar and Girardot
Both of these are in Tierra Caliente and have hotels and fincas for rent. Girardot has a complex with water park/waterslides nearby.
- Nemocon is another smaller salt mine.
- Nobsa for great ceramics.
Paipa offers an old but interesting spa with natural hot springs. Get muddied up and ensure a camera is at hand.
- San Francisco and Tobia
San Francisco is a small village off the road, en-route to Tobia, west and north towards Villeta dropping as if destined to the Rio Magdalena. Make sure you get off Tobia and not Tabio.
Beyond Paipa, a lake and archaeological site.
Close to Bogotá with great handicrafts.
- Villa de Leyva and Raquira
Villa de Leyva is a great location for horse riding, buying wool blankets and walking around to enjoy the colonial architecture. There are many museums and churches. On the way there, you will come across a place called Raquira with many stores that sell arts and crafts. The archaeological site, Valle de los Penes, some kilometres outside of town is not to be missed.
A must-see is the zoological park Ocarios. Eat chiguiro on the grill. There is a hotel/finca and outdoors activities at Puerto Lopez, a community further east.
More than just the salt mine! The town plaza is unique with nice restaurants surrounding its beautiful courtyard. For a more interesting experience, take the train from Usaquen near Santa Ana Mall on the weekends to Zipaquira. The details can be found here: http://www.turistren.com.co/
In addition to hotels, ‘fincas’ or country homes are available for rent all over Colombia. For information, check out the following websites:
- Contact Amanda Wild at firstname.lastname@example.org, www.casastropicales.com for high end homes to rent for a short time.
- Website for rental homes/apartments all over the world including Colombia: www.vrbo.com
- For hot springs close to Bogota, go to: http://www.termalessantamonica.com/home.htm