Colombia is a backpacker’s dream. Lively cities, Caribbean beaches, fantastic nightlife, adventure sports, and incredibly low prices all add up to create an amazing travel experience. Backpackers love the big cities, especially Medellin for it’s fantastic night life and fun walking tours, but the real highlights of Colombia lie in it’s small towns and villages – and below you’ll find four of the best backpacker towns in Colombia.
Thanks to the country’s amazing diversity, all these towns are popular for very different reasons. From action-packed adventure sports, to stunning mountain scenery, to beautiful beaches – a trip around Colombia can feel like a tour of dozens of different countries. But wherever you travel, you’ll find welcoming locals, amazing food, and a real sense of fun and adventure. Don’t miss these four backpacker highlights…
One of my favourite backpacker towns in Colombia has to be Minca. A small village in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Minca feels wonderfully cut off from the real world – despite being just an hour’s drive from Santa Marta. Amazing hikes through cloud forest and lush jungle, stunning waterfalls and natural swimming pools, and fabulous sunsets over the not-too-distant ocean almost every night. Not to be missed!
Colombia’s north coast is all about beaches. While the beautiful old city of Cartagena draws the major tourist crowds, backpackers prefer to head to Santa Marta and the surrounding region for a cheaper and more chilled vibe. The small town of Taganga, just next to Santa Marta, has a small beach with a great atmosphere and plenty of budget beach bars. Tagana’s nightlife is great, and the town’s hippy vibe attracts plenty of backpackers, but the beach isn’t all that stunning. For true tropical paradise, head into nearby Tayrona Park – where you can trek through jungles, spot monkeys and other wildlife, and camp on some of the best beaches in Colombia.
Incredible mountain scenery, lush green valleys, sublime peace ,and seriously chilled out vibes make Salento is a must-visit for backpackers. Stay in one of the hostels just outside of town, like lovely Yambolombia, for a more relaxed experience. Salento is all about the countryside, from exploring the local coffee farms to horse riding through Andean valleys. The stunning Valle de Cocora national park – home to the world’s tallest palm trees – offers numerous trekking routes with the chance to see hundreds of beautiful, brightly coloured hummingbirds.
In the Santander region between Bogotá and Santa Marta, San Gil is an ideal way to break up the lengthy overland journey to the north coast of Colombia. It’s also the capital of adventure sports. You can try your hand at white water rafting on rapids up to class 5 (the safety maximum), or go mountain biking and trekking in the incredible countryside. The big draw, though, is the paragliding – which can start from as little as $30 for a tandem flight. An unmissable experience in Colombia.
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