Monument to the dance and music of cumbia in El Banco.

Top Things To Know About Colombian Music

One of the top things to know about Colombian music is at present it is represented internationally by the artist Shakira. But what she has provided for the world is just a glimpse the totality. There is much more to the sounds and songs that hail from this part of the globe. And you’d be surprised at how impressive and entertaining local renderings are than what has been shared in mainstream media.

Monument to the dance and music of cumbia in El Banco.

Monument to the dance and music of cumbia in El Banco.

Top things to know about Colombian music is that it is an expression of the country’s culture; a reflection of its history. And as colorful as both are, music from Colombia is also multidimensional, with styles differing between regions. Much of the variety comes from its African, Indigenous, European, American and Caribbean influences, not to mention Cuban and Jamaican. And although one cannot truly say that there is a distinct musical signature to the sounds and songs produced within the country as the same characteristics are shared with other Latin American nations, there are, however, plenty to appreciate about them.

The music of Colombia is usually upbeat and accompanied by string and percussion instruments. But if you study them closely, you’d discover layers of complexity. Traditional Colombian music, for instance, can be classified into four distinct zones – the Atlantic/Caribbean, Pacific Coast, Andean and Easter Plains. And they typically convey unique attributes. Caribbean music, for example, pulsates and vibrates while Pacific music is more percussive and reflective of its Spanish ancestry. Andean music, meanwhile, is often sad and slow, whereas music coming from the Eastern Plains are more melodic.

Two of the musical rhythms that have conquered majority of the country include salsa and vallenato, which are both Caribbean. Salsa music was first born out of Puerto Rico and Cuba. But it eventually spread to Colombia and is now widely practiced and enjoyed. In fact, salsa bands are a very common sight in bars, clubs and restaurants around Colombia. And salsa music is a major influence among contemporary musicians. Vallenato, contrary to salsa, is a music that was discovered out of the country’s very own farmlands. And it actually literally means “born in the valley”. It is specifically played with an accordion and has its own local festival, celebrated during April.

Other than the aforementioned, there are additional top things to know about Colombian music that you should explore.  However it would be more of an experience if you travel there to actually hear them instead of read about them on the internet.

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The main park in Ibagué, named after Simón Bolívar.

Top Tourist Attractions In Ibague

The top tourist attractions in Ibague offers people an eclectic vacation experience as it is one of the primary destinations in the continent. Also known as the “Musical City of Colombia”, this town provides not only provides musical education at its finest but also an abundance of musical events that should keep you excited every time you come. As an added bonus, Ibague also hosts majestic natural sights, stunning architectural landmarks and impressive commercial facilities. So you are bound to have a good time here, no matter what your pleasure is.

The main park in Ibagué, named after Simón Bolívar.

The main park in Ibagué, named after Simón Bolívar.

Among the most celebrated top tourist attractions in Ibague is the annual Folk Festival, which is launched just before the feasts of Saint Peter and Saint John. During this time, tourists get treated to the best of the Andean folklore and rhythms with sanjuaneros, bambucos and pasillos. You will see people dancing and parks as well as plazas transformed into musical stages. And of course, the streets will also be filled with beautiful women dressed in flamboyant outfits.

But if you are not that interested in such events, there’s San Jorge Botanical Garden and Foundation Orchids that provide you with a closer encounter with nature and a better appreciation of the beauty of Colombia. San Jorge is found at the edge of the city and boasts of over 500 species of plants, accommodated within 7 kilometers of land. Visitors who come here can tour the place through several trails. And they could also take picnics in designated areas. Foundation Orchids, meanwhile, as a nature reserve presents an impressive collection of orchids, both foreign and locally endemic, including Colombia’s natural flower, the endangered Cattleya trianae. And it also highlights interesting and challenging trails for park visitors to enjoy.

Panoramic view of the city of Ibagué from Parque Botanico San Jorge

Panoramic view of the city of Ibagué from Parque Botanico San Jorge

Another one of the top tourist attractions in Ibague is La Martinica, an ecotourism landmark that affords people a venue for camping, wildlife immersion and plain old rest and relaxation. It is adjacent to the River Combeima, which gives folks a refreshing outlet to enjoy. There’s also spa treatments and horseback riding amenities for those who are interested. And depending on the season, this area can be a great place for a myriad of extreme sports activities.

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The City of Pereira

Top Tourist Attractions In Pereira

The top tourist attractions in Pereira are composed of many delights. And if you are a big fan of Colombian coffee, then you must definitely spend some time as this small valley town serves as the center of the traditional coffee growing in the region. It is in close proximity to Bogota, Cali and Medellin as well as located smack in the middle of the country’s main highways, so you can easily access it from any direction.

The City of Pereira

The City of Pereira

If you ever find yourself going here, then you should definitely spend some time visiting the Matacena City Zoo, which is basically 17 hectares of farmland which houses a collection of 800 animals, differentiated into 150 species, which hail from Asia, Africa, and the Americas. The place also has a beautiful botanical garden and a playground on site. So if you have children with you, then it will definitely be worth the travel.

If you are on your own or with friends, it’s highly advisable that you check out Lake Otun, in the Nevados National Park which is just a few kilometers away from Pereira. Here, you can engage in some recreational fishing as it contains a large population of rainbow trout. Furthermore, you could do some bird watching as it is the breeding ground of a number of threatened and endangered Colombian bird species. Just be careful about how you treat your waste in this area because among all the top tourist attractions in Pereira, this one serves as a source of drinking water. Now, while in the area, you might also want to visit Santa Isabel, which is a shield volcano, located southwest of Nevados, in the Tolima department of Colombia.

Lions at the Matecaña City Zoo, Pereira.

Lions at the Matecaña City Zoo, Pereira.

In the city, you could spend some time in the Technological University of Pereira and their planetarium, which has been highlighted as an otherworldly experience. Or you could seek out the remnants of Spanish occupation in some of its colonial structures, starting with The Cathedral of Our Lady of Poverty and ending with the Museum of Art Pereira and Jaime Mejia Archeological Museum. After sunset, make sure you also check out the bars as the top tourist attractions in Pereira includes its flamboyant and energetic club scene, to which it attributes its title as the “night city”.

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Metro de Medellín (Colombia)

Top Things To Know About Colombian Transportation

The top things to know about Colombian transportation is that it is similar to other South American countries.  And they are pretty much reflective of their Spanish roots as well as the lifestyle they have been accustomed to. If you are curious about how to get around the country, then you’ve come to the right post. But you need to first determine where your intended destination is before you actually figure out what you ride in.

Metro de Medellín (Colombia)

Metro de Medellín (Colombia)

If you are just traveling within the cities, then you’ll most likely encounter buses, motorcycles, trains, taxis and car rentals as your primary mode of Colombian transportation. If you are not as familiar with the environment, it would be best if you take advantage of taxi services. They are pretty common in larger areas like Bogota, Medellin and Cali. And they are typically colored yellow so they are not hard to miss. The fare will differ of course, depending on how near or far your destination is. But the minimum charge is usually set at $3,600 Colombian peso.

If you are on a budget though, you could take cheaper transportation options like Bogota’s TranMileno and Cali’s MIO, which is a system of bright red buses that look like a train. They are usually traveling in one lane so they do not catch any traffic. They travel by route so you can’t expect to be taken to where you exactly want to go. But if you plan your route carefully, you can avoid encountering any issues along the way.

Only Medellin features an actual train station in all of Colombia and it charges about $1,400 for one way ticket prices. They do offer discounts for students and senior citizens. So you have to carry your identification with you all the time. The train runs to famous tourist attractions in Medellin too, so that should be an added convenience. And from there, you can easily transfer to the MetroCable and enjoy stunning views of the city.

If you are traveling between cities, you might have to get a rental car since no public Colombian transportation provides that much coverage. If you are headed to port towns like Cartagena or Puerto Bolivar though, you could check out seaports for scheduled ship transports. However, if you have enough money to support a plane fare, then you should go for this convenience since it should only require you a few hours.

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River Magdalena Delta

Top Tourist Attractions In Soledad

If you want to know more about the top tourist attractions in Soledad, then you’ve found the right reference. And you’d be glad to know that you are making the right choice by planning a short vacation to this Colombian town. Founded back in 1598 and just lying 18 miles from the mouth of the Magdalena River, Soledad is regarded as one of the most commercial and industrialized metropolitans in the country. And since it is accessible by highway and merely a 3 mile drive from Barranquilla’s Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport, foreign visitors will not have any problem getting their way here and its main tourist spots.

Soledad

Soledad

One of the things Soledad is famous for is the local Aeronautical Museum, which features an important collection of aeronautical history and other technologically related displays, mixed with a little science. It is interesting to note that it is the only the one of its kind in the country. And if you are lucky, you might even be able to catch a guided tour. Another one of the top tourist attractions in Soledad is its colonial architecture, which is proudly represented by the Church of Soledad. But walking through the surrounding streets should already give you a sneak peek into how life was during the Spanish occupation.

Now, once you’ve covered this part of the top tourist attractions in Soledad, then you should arrange for yourself a boat tour of the Magdalena River, which is typically provided by either tourism companies or locals. The amenities will not be as fancy as what you would experience in more experienced cities. But the view you see, especially during sunset, will be well worth the compromise.

River Magdalena Delta

River Magdalena Delta

For dinner, you might want to order a serving of Soledad’s famous butifarra (a dried Catalan sausage), which can only be found and eaten here, with yucca, fried arepa and caribanola cassava. If you are lucky enough to come during the Mecumbre Festival or the National Festival of the Cumbia and the Cumbiana, then you’d have plenty of alternative fishes and celebrations to partake in. Nonetheless, for ordinary days, you could still have a great time hanging out in local bars within the area or its neighboring municipalities.

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Sebastian de Belalcazar monument

Top Tourist Attractions In Cali

The top tourist attractions in Cali, Colombia are mostly comprised of historical and cultural landmarks such as the Sebastian de Belalcazar monument and the neighborhood of San Antonio. But there are a few natural and modern tourist spots you can also indulge in during your stay. So you do not have to worry about your itinerary being too limited.

Sebastian de Belalcazar monument

Sebastian de Belalcazar monument

Santiago de Cali, as it is otherwise known, offers a lot of interesting sights and activities as it is one of the fastest growing economies in Colombia. And with a geographical location close to mountain ranges and prominent South American rivers, there is very little doubt of having quite a vacation experience in this place.

One of the most worthwhile top tourist attractions in Cali is the Artisan Park Loma de la Cruz, which was opened back in 1990. Here, visitors can find dozens of craftspeople displaying and selling authentic Colombian handicrafts at affordable rates. But what is most fascinating about the place is its legend. In one version, it is said that the park is haunted by the ghost of a slain black slave who was mutilated by his patron for marrying another slave. And in another, that slave was supposedly hanged for murdering his mother or wife.

Another great place to visit while in Cali is the local zoo, which comes fifth among all of Latin America’s zoos. This attraction has been managed by a foundation since 1981 and it encompasses about 10 hectares of habitat for 1,200 animals. The zoo has five sections for different kinds of species and each category houses hundreds at a time; which is not at all surprising given that Latin America is one of the most bio diversified places in the world. But of course, there are also other foreign animal species mixed in with the continent’s prized natural treasures. And anyone from a 5 year old kid to a 40 year old man would surely enjoy seeing them in action.

Farallones de Cali

Farallones de Cali

But if you are into a different kind of rush, you should check out Farallones de Cali National Natural Park and try out the variety of activities it allows people to experience. This national park is actually the largest in Colombia and it has more than 30 rivers and four types of natural vegetation. Thrill seekers who come here usually do to paraglide while nature lovers take advantage of its trekking trails and lush ecosystem. Those who are just looking to chill out enjoy visit this place for its cool weather.

Alternative modern top tourist attractions in Cali include Parque del Perro, which has a line-up of restaurants and bars, and Juanchito, which has a lot of Salsa discotheques.

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Cartagena, Colombia

Top Reasons To Visit Colombian Nightlife

The top reasons to visit Colombian nightlife are just as exciting as its natural landscapes. In fact, it is one of its best tourist attractions. So if you are ever in the country, you should not miss out on experiencing what this flamboyant and exciting place has to offer.

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena is one of the cities that you can count on for a lively and entertaining club scene. But you have to be mindful of the options it provides since some of the clubs in the area can be a bit expensive. The good thing about them though is that you do not have to abide by a dress code. Jeans and a clean shirt would do. And girls can wear casual clothing if they wish. Some of the recommended hotspots within the vicinity are Café del Mar (situated on the great fortified wall of the Old City), Café Havana (which features live Cuban jazz music) and Babar (located at Plaza de Santa Teresa in El Centro).

If you are in Bogota, however, you could enjoy top reasons to visit Colombian nightlife through venues like Zona Rosa. This attraction actually hosts a lot of bar options like La Villa, Armando Records and Maroma. If you wish for a more swanky hang out though, your best bet would be to visit Parque 93 and its line-up of Spanish clubs including 6L6, La Puerta Grande, and Galeria Café Libro.

Cali, Colombia

Cali, Colombia

But the fun does not stop there. In Cali, Colombia, you could also check out four areas so you could mingle with your friends and perhaps meet a person of interest. La Sexta is the main bar and club strip in this city and it gathers a lot of people during weekends. So you have to come early if you want to reserve a seat. Granada is only a few blocks away though. So you can count on a back-up destination just in case things don’t go as planned. But it is a smaller place, with fewer Colombian nightlife options to choose from. Menga is quite popular among those who like to salsa. And Parque de Perro in close by San Fernando is a famous haunt for younger party people.

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Cartagena

Top Reasons To Visit Cartagena

An experienced traveler knows that there should be top reasons to visit Cartagena other than its main attractions. After all, there is more to traveling than just sightseeing. Your overall experience as a tourist must be taken into consideration such as where you’ll be staying, what facilities are available to you, the kind of activities that await you, and of course, the weather. Cartagena, Colombia is a complete package in that it has all these under one roof.

 Santa Cruz Manga Island, Cartagena

Santa Cruz Manga Island, Cartagena

The weather in Cartagena has minimal seasonal variation so you don’t have to wonder when it is best to travel there. Regardless what time it is of the year, you are free to visit this city. Also, Cartagena enjoys one of the best climates throughout Colombia. On sunny days, temperatures often get hot but this is negated by the cool breezes which frequently pass the city. Nights in the city are cooler and more pleasant.

When it comes to accommodations, there is enough variety for travelers with different budgets. The wide range of accommodations is one of the top reasons to visit Cartagena. If you’re willing to splurge for a more comfortable stay, there are plenty of luxury hotels in the city. Travelers who want to stretch their limited budget have more affordable hotels and hostels.

San Diego Square

San Diego Square, Cartagena

Truthfully, Cartagena is a beautiful city and is appealing in many ways. Some of its old neighborhoods have Spanish colonial architecture. Pedestrian-friendly streets run throughout the city, allowing you to explore many of its attractions by foot. Walking around for hours will take you to different sights, including the 400 year-old stone walls which surround the colloquial city. Besides sightseeing, Cartagena offers beach activities and horse-driven taxi rides among all the activities you can enjoy there.

When the sun sets, your day is never truly over unless you experience local nightlife. An active nightlife scene is one of the top reasons to visit Cartagena. You can dance with the locals in public squares and outdoor plazas when live music is often played by bands. Dining and drinking in local restaurants and bars is also recommended. Once you’ve had a taste of Cartegana’s nightlife, you can call it a night and retire at your chosen place of stay.

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Medellin

Top Tourist Attractions In The City Of Medellin

The top tourist attractions in the city of Medellin are mainly related to business and medical treatment, largely due to the fact that it hosts facilities that would ably cater to these intents. For instance, there’s the International Center Conventions and Exhibitions, otherwise known as Plaza Mayor, which has an area of 50,000 square meters and is perfect to hold conventions and conferences in. And it also has the Pablo Tobon Uribe Hospital which has helped the city earn its reputation as being one of the best when it comes to transplant procedures. But those looking for a good time won’t be disappointed in what this place has to offer as well. Here are some of the interesting sites in Medellin you should check out.

Medellin

Medellin

First up is the Medellin River. This tourist spot has bared witness to the metamorphosis of Medellin and in itself, presents tourists with a transformation every night as its banks are overrun by colorful lights, especially during Christmas. Also called Porce River, the Medellin flows through the city and is a tributary of the Nechi River, which then turns into the Cauca River. For years, the locals have struggled with preserving its beauty and bringing it back to its prior glory. And although much still needs to be done to accomplish that, people will still enjoy visiting this place when they are in town.

Second, there’s the Museum of Antioquia. As a cultural landmark and one of the top tourist attractions in the city of Medellin, this particular establishment houses a large collection of artworks done by native artists Pedro Nel Gomez and Fernando Botero. But that’s not all people can look forward to seeing. It also presents pre Colombian and Colonial displays as well as contemporary art, distributed among 17 rooms. The Museum of Antioquia is actually among the oldest museums in Colombia and it is conveniently located near the Parque Berrio metro station, so tourists will not have a hard time checking it out.

San Ignacio Square

San Ignacio Square

Of course, it is important to highlight the Arvi Ecotourism Park. It is one of the most visited sites in Medellin and it covers the entire territory of the village of Santa Elena. That is about 20,000 hectares of trails, forests, streams and lakes, which runs between Bello, Envigado and Copacobana. It is perfect for folks who enjoy spending time in nature, without having to travel far from city conveniences. It is a perfect location for activities like camping, biking, swimming, trekking and picnics. And it even provides tourists with rental fishing, boating and horseback riding gear so that they get to complete their nature escapade.

Aside from the three top tourist attractions in the city of Medellin that were mentioned, people can also visit the Metropolitan Cathedral, Botanical Gardens and Orquideorama, Biblioteca Espana, and the Pasaje Urbano Carabobo while they are staying in the metropolis.

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The Muisca raft is the main piece in the Offering Boat Room, Gold Museum.

Top Tourist Attractions In Bogota

Due to the aggressive campaigns of the top tourist Attractions In Bogota, inbound tourism have increased dramatically beginning 2000. And with infrastructural improvements in place, people will have more to look forward to when visiting this historical city. Bogota is the capital of Colombia and it is also its largest metropolis, which fairs with 30 others in the continents. Given its collection of universities and libraries, it has also been herald as “The Athens of South America”. But for tourists, it is more known for the subsequent attractions.

The Muisca raft is the main piece in the Offering Boat Room, Gold Museum.

The Muisca raft is the main piece in the Offering Boat Room, Gold Museum.

First up is the Gold Museum. This particular point of interests provides visitors with an extraordinary display of pre-Hispanic gold work, the biggest in the world at 55,000, in all three floors, together with other textile, wood, shell, stone and pottery pieces that represent the country’s indigenous culture. The museum’s collection was started back in 1939, with the Porporo Quimbaya. And from there, it grew, encompassing some of the nation’s most prized possessions. Guided tours are available daily from 11:00 am to 4 pm, except Tuesdays. And there are cafes and restaurants in the vicinity for those who are hungry.

The second popular destination in Bogota is the Torre Colpatria. This 50-story skyscraper is the tallest building in Bogota and the second tallest in all of South America. It was constructed back in 1978 with a total height is that of 643 feet. And it is illuminated by thirty-six color  changing Xenon lights every night. If you wish to enjoy a panoramic view of the city, then you have to go to its 49th floor observation deck, which is usually open during weekends.

Another place worth mentioning is La Candelaria. This section of the city serves as home to several top tourist Attractions In Bogota given that it is the historical center. Here, tourists can delight in the sight of old Spanish Colonial and Baroque houses, with several libraries, museums, churches and universities to boot. You can spend a day walking along its streets and be treated to a Colombian cultural immersion with destinations such as the Botero Museum, Luis Angel Arango Library and University of the Andes.

Street of La Candelaria.

Street of La Candelaria.

Finally, there’s the Simon Bolivar Metropolitan Park. This famous tourist spot in Bogota is named after the Latin American liberator Simon Bolivar and is popular for its live concerts and events. Adjacent to it is another greenspace that’s occupied by amusement rides and recreational facilities. And there’s also a lake where people could rent paddle boats and just hang out.

Now, these are not the only top tourist Attractions In Bogota. Take note that there are 62 art galleries, 161 national monuments, 44 handicraft shops, 94 shopping centers and 45 stage theaters you could check out when you’re here.

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