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Colombia travel guide with 2 kids

Colombia is a beautiful country in itself and so convenient for foreign travelers. Add two little kids to the mix, you of course will have a little pleasant vacation than anticipated.


Before I dive into the travelogue of Colombia, first and foremost - Yes, it's entirely safe to travel and explore this beautiful country with kids. Of course, use your basic discretion just as you would in any foreign place. Colombia has transformed and has come a long way and our trip was nothing short of a memorable experience. 





The post is dedicated to an overall take on my trip to Colombia with kids. I will be talking about



Why Colombia?

After visiting some of the beautiful towns in Brazil, I couldn’t get enough of them! I scoured the internet for the best places to visit with kids in South America with similar vibes and Colombia came up time and time again.

Given, it was just a 5-hour flight duration from Dallas, I locked it in.


There were many locations that most travelers suggested- Cartagena, Bogota, Medellin, Coffee Axis, and Parque Nacional Tayrona. I decided on Medellin and Coffee Axis to be our two main spots.


Best time to travel: December to March / June to September (driest times)

Language - Spanish 

Currency - Pesos 





Itinerary Overview: 

Below is the itinerary that I did with my two kids (then 2 yr and 4 yr) during the month of April flying from Dallas. We covered two places Medellin and Salento (in the coffee axis) 

Day 1

 Fly from Dallas to Medelin, Colombia. Overnight Medelin 

Day 2

 Medelin neighborhood 

Day 3

 Day trip to Gautape 

Day 4

 Medelin 

Day 5

 Fly from Medelin to Pereira. Stay in Salento (booked Avianca) 

Day 6

 Cocora valley hike 

Day 7

 Filandia and neighborhood 

Day 8

 Fly from Pereira to Quito, Ecuador via Bogota (See my Ecuador itinerary for its travel plan) 



Local Guides/Tours

I scoured several TripAdvisor forums and many DMs to find the right local guide that worked for a family of 4 and was safe. 


Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to purchase something, travelmumoftwo may earn a commission. Thanks


Guides:

We had an airport pickup directly booked from our hotel (we had to pay separately for it). 

For excursions around the city, I found an amazing (an understatement) guide, Ricardo Medina who showed us around the area and drove us from multiple locations. I would want everyone’s experience to be as amazing as it was for my family. 

Another highly recommended guide was Hugo Caliz. Although his availability didn’t match our timings, he suggested so many tips to fix our itinerary with kids. 

For Salento, our hotel provided airport pickup and dropoff (we had to pay separately). 


Tours:

> Communa Tour- Highly highly recommend Carilyn Aza for providing us the most immersive experience. She invited us to her home for a warm cup of coffee. The barrio view from her house was just beautiful. 


Please DM for their contact information.




Accommodation 


Experience- The view from our rooms was amazing. They have multiple breakfast options (buffet style) along with a lunch/dinner menu. The cat and the swimming pool in the hotel kept my kids busy for hours! The pool itself has amazing views of the hilly Medellin I came all the way for. What's best is you can order drinks at your pool. 

Travel Tip- The travel agent at the hotel provides expensive tours, I would suggest booking directly via Tripadvisor or booking.com for a cost-effective experience.



  • Other highly recommended accommodations with kids: 


Experience- This place was the highlight of our trip to Salento with our two little kids. After a tiring day of hiking, one can use their outdoor private hot jacuzzi (that we used everyday!)- So relaxing, the views from our room were amazing. Breakfast included delicious fruits (mango or pineapple), orange juice, french toast, areppa eggs etc. Special mention to Luis who helped us plan our days and shared so much information about the place and Colombia. I would recommend this place to anyone who is looking to add luxury to their trip without breaking the bank. The center is just 2 blocks from this place. The hotel is very close to two amazing restaurants- Bhumi (fusion food) and Acaime (Must Try) 


  • Other highly recommended accommodations with kids: 


8 must-haves packing list for kids

Of course, there are must-have travel things we all plan for our kids – games, their special lovey, snacks, etc. ( See my blog post of Top travel essentials to pack for kids) This one is specific to Colombia: 


  1. Raincoat light – It can rain anytime!! 

  2. Light jacket – After rain, the weather gets slightly chilly. So a light jacket is a must. 

  3. Sunscreen – The heat itself can feel so harsh. 

  4. Comfortable running Shoes (that doesn’t get wet) – see point 1 

  5. Full sleeves shirt mostly with a few half sleeves for late morning to afternoon time 

  6. Caps - it could get hot in the afternoon 

  7. Aloe Vera gel, Benadryl gel (for any insect bites or boo-boos) – here are mosquitoes that can come uncalled

  8. Peri bottle - for on-the-go bathroom breaks. 


Mobility with kids 

With much and trial, we learned a couple of things the hard way. So, here is my review on what options should be used when you have small kids: 

Medellin Places

Stroller

Carrier

Botero park

Y

Y

Communa tour

N

Y

Purbelito paisa – small stopover

Y

Y (recommended)

Parque Arvi

Y

Y (recommended especially for the cable car




Salento places

Stroller

Carrier

Salento plaza

Y (can ask nearby stores to hold the stroller for you)

Cocora valley 

N

Y

Coffee tour

N

Y



Restaurants Recommendations 

Although most of our food was quite good, few were memorable and I would love to recommend it to anyone planning to visit Colombia. 


  • Medelin 

  1. Alambique - perfect for dinner 

  2. Restaurant Abbiocco 

  3. Hija Mía Coffee- for coffee and pancake

  4. PERGAMINO Café Oviedo- try their coffee 


  • Gautape


  • Salento

  1. makau

  2. bhumi restaurant - Try their recharging tonics and trout

  3. Concreto cafe - Their coffee was lit!

  • Filandia 

Demystifying some myths:

There are so many stereotypes or assumption related to the place that i have to debunk some of the common myths


  1. It's dirty and unhygienic - There are parts of the area that have poorer neighborhoods, but even in those areas the streets are very clean. I didn't see any garbage on the road. Especially Medelins metro which was so clean and organized. 

  2. It's unsafe- Nope! not even once I felt unsafe (that's coming from a mom). People come up to you and you say no, and then they don't bother. Of course, just coz I didn't experience it, doesn't mean things don't happen. Be cautious of your surroundings. Take the precautions that you would take anywhere in the world while traveling.

Some truth to Rumors:

I read so many reviews from travelers after visiting Colombia, here is my take on some of the truth in those rumors


  1. Coffee- Yes, their coffee is not just amazing but it stimulates the palate and senses! Given, Colombia is perfect for growing Arabica beans, which are known for their high quality and excellent flavor profiles.

  2. Traffic- Going from one place to another in Medellin is no joke especially if you are using a taxi, renting a car, etc. You will find traffic in most areas. So, ensure your plans are slightly flexible and not based on exactly what Google Maps shows. 

  3. Rain- Rain in Medellin wasn’t just light drizzle.. it was heavy rain with loud thunders. You better stay indoors than walk around in that rain. Luckily we were either in the car Or at a restaurant when that happened. So carry a raincoat or rain cape that’s easier to stuff in your bag. 


Tips from first-hand experience – Overall

  1. Don’t forget to complete the check mig form “before” you depart from your port of origin. We made that mistake, and it could have cost us missing our flight. Let’s just say we were the last to board our flight. It’s a straightforward form that requires information for all travelers. Ignore all third-party applications that ask for money to complete the form. Go to the official site. 

  2. You do not need an adapter if coming from the US.

  3. Side note- I was so impressed by the Bogota airport. It reminded me of the vast London airport. So clean, has different departure terminals, is very modern, lesser foot traffic. 


  1. Although you will find people who will speak English, there is nothing Google Translate cannot do. By the end of the trip, I could converse in broken Spanish with the locals. 

  2. Easy to find fruit juices, ice creams, and mangoes (almost everywhere)- so kids can be fed on the go. Our kids weren’t really eating much of Colombian food, so most places that did serve pasta helped us a lot. 

  3. You can order food at your hotel from the food app- Rappi- (just like Doordash) - after our Guatape full-day tour, we were too tired to go out and eat. We simply ordered food on Rappi from an Indian restaurant on our way to hotel. The food came super hot while we were laying in our pajamas and dozed off instantly.  

  4. You don't need to carry your car seat. Just hold your baby when in Uber or taxis. The drive isn't rash for you to worry about the safety


Tips from first-hand experience – Medellin 

  1. Taxi from the airport to our hotel took around 45 min. It’s an interesting ride- we went through probably the longest tunnel ever- over 7 km! The kids got excited, but given it was so long, they got tired after some time. 

  2. Communa tour- is a must!! Definitely try the local street snacks there. They have recently raised prices though, but you can negotiate. People there are so warm, you wouldn’t want to do that though. Lol. 

  3. El penol- my older one ran upstairs with no worries. It was slightly steeper stairs so hubby was on watch. I tried taking my little one on carrier until 304 steps and was feeling uneasy throughout, so climbed back down and didn’t go up. I would say for kids who are smaller and you need to carry them, skip it, the view is pretty much similar on the lower level or around restaurants as well. 

  4. For Medelin, def carry a light jacket. I was wearing mostly shorts, kids’ long pants, and half sleeves. 

  5. Currency exchange- airport rates are super expensive. Our hotel gave us the best rate. They even called the person at the hotel to do the exchange. You can check exchange places in El Pablado or park Lleras area- we tried 3 places until we got the best rate. So, in short, you’ll find enough places. They usually ask for a passport number, so have a picture of your passport to have the information handy. 

  6. Medelin has super clean metro stations and metro. Def take the trip and travel like a local. 

  7. Going up parque arvi is a view not to be missed. The landscape changes from a city view to a tropical forest all around. You’ll hear different birds chirping- it’s so serene. It’s an easy 10-minute ride up to the park from the time you change for Parque Arvi. 

  8. The influx of oxygen when you get to Parque Arvi is unbelievable. Go in the morning as it usually rains in the afternoon - we reached here by 11 am. Around 12ish it started to get little chilly and you could see Grey clouds bearing on top.

  9. Parque Explora, a science museum, is all covered, thank god, we were right on time before it started raining crazily. There are so many things for kids here- aquarium, dinosaur exhibition, play area, theatre, musical experience et al. Perfect place to let kids be kids.. and sit back and relax. There is a food court there, so you can have food here or at the mall right opposite for local Colombian food. See my honest review of Parque explora blog post


Gautape 

  1. Route to Gautape usually takes around 2 hours. Since it’s split between the farm, the rock, and the town- you wouldn’t feel while going, though coming back you’ll be tired and would feel the 2 hours. For kids, I ensured I had a tablet, and some games stuff to keep them busy. And some snacks. Going in Medellin was way too much traffic, which extended our time even more. 

  2. Take a mini chiva (motor car) to parade around Gautape, its an experience in itself. My kids loved it. 

  3. Parque Infantil del malecon- There is a small playground 2 blocks from the umbrella passage in Gautape. After a tiring day, my kids found their kind of spot :) 

  4. Drivers in Medellin- Ricardo helped plan our days. He sent Alejandro a great guide, who speaks in English. Highly recommend him. DM for his contact information

  5. We tried two amazing desserts at the gautape area- delicious. Postre Marajuca, postre lemon. Dulce . My husband ate in one breath.

Tips from first-hand experience – Salento


  1. Cocora Valley- There are two hiking options- a short loop and a long loop. We did the short loop and I carried my 2-year-old in a baby carrier all the way up. It did test my stamina, but the views from up are breathtaking. Just sit down and take it all in. Read my detailed travelogue for hiking in Cocora valley with kids.

  2. There are coffee tours that you can take directly from Willy for different fincas. You don’t need to book in advance. The coffee here is definitely something special. Carry your mosquito repellent if you are wearing shorts when visiting the farm. 


Filandia 

  1. it’s a very small town. It was raining the day we went. Don’t waste your time if you are planning to see Encanto for your kids here. It’s literally nothing. You pay for small walls with no characters anywhere. Just the heart picture with viewpoint- which I feel in Filandia you can easily find better views. 

  2. What to wear- anything light with a light jacket and a raincoat. It didn’t get chilly- but somewhat cooler after the rain or in the evening. 


Salento 

  1. Would def recommend makau, bhumi restaurant in salento. Both have amazing trout. They have fusion foods. Bhumi even has some amazing recharging Tonics. 

  2. Definitely go to the Quindo river. Sit down and have some coffee or hot corn. You can even find some nice cabanas around the area to stay. Salento is just 5 min from there. 

  3. To see the viewpoint Mirador Alto de la Cruz & Mirador de Salento, there are lot of steps (180) to take, if you wish not to take them, there is an alternate route to walk up instead. It will take the same effort though with good views lol. Take a left from the stairs area and then right up to the viewpoint. 

  4. we left our stroller at one of the stores before going up the stairs to see the viewpoints. 

  5. Panaca - It is closed on Mondays. Please check the day before making a trip there. 


Highlight of Trip


This hike was unlike any other ones that i've completed in the past with kids. The Cocora Valley is lush – the hills are bright, unbelievably green – and at certain times of the day, the cloud forests in the mountains attract a low-lying fog that only serves to enhance the scenery.

The primary reason I wanted to come here was the giant Colombian wax palms. They’re incredibly tall, skinny palm trees that grow up to 180 feet tall! They also happen to be Colombia’s national symbol.



Day by Day itinerary









Day 1

Fly from home (for me it was Dallas) with a total of 8-hour flight via Miami. Almost an hour's drive from the airport to our hotel. See accommodation details above. 


Day 2

  1. We started our day with the Communa 13 tour - It’s a MUST!! Taking the tour allowed us to learn about the history of the city, try the local food, and not miss any of the best sights. My kids’ favorite part of the tour was stopping at the slides built to memorialize a five-year-old lost to violence

  2. El Pueblito Paisa - A little mock village on a hill for a 360-degree view of the city. 

  3. Plaza Botero - A large plaza home to many sculptures by famous Colombian artist Fernando Botero. Kids loved exploring the different shapes of these robust statues, and there was plenty of room to run around. 


Day 3 – Day trip Gautape and El Penol 

After breakfast, we went for a day trip to Gautape with our amazing guide Alejandro. The trip itself is 2 hours. 

  1. We stopped at an animal farm, that I would highly recommend. My kids still remember that small stopover. The farm has Alpacas (Yes! We are not in Peru), llamas (omg!) and emus, pigs, sheep et al. 

For a small amount, you can feed carrots to Alpacas and Llamas. It was the highlight, let’s just say that. My happiness was on cloud 9. It started raining after some time (Colombian rain, so could not move out of course). We stayed in, all the animals ran inside to be saved from the rain. It was just us and them and some hot coffee with rain pouring heavily outside. It was the sight most only dream of. 

  1. We then drove to El Penol for hiking up. El Penol itself has around 708 steep steps. My 4-year-old climbed up with no issues. It was 20 minutes climb to the top. 

  2. Gautape- it's such a small vibrant colorful town that’s not to be missed. Every door, restaurant, and store was so picturesque, The photo ops are just everywhere, from Umbrella Alley to its sheep icon. 


Day 4 - 

  1. Parque Arvi- We went to Parque Arvi using both the local metro and the efficient cable car of Medellin. We took the metro from university station then de-boarded at Acevedo station- took the cable car up until santa domigo after 3 stops changed for parque arvi cable car. You see the city and its neighborhoods through the cable car system. As soon as you enter the Parque, you can get fresh strawberries and their famous Marajuca. We had some snacks and got a wine souvenir for home before entering. There was a corporate event happening that day with lots of obstacle games. Of course, i had to participate. Everyone was too sweet and made me part of their event. Blindfolded, barely understanding the language, i completed the obstacle course. my daughter was proud.

  2. Parque Explora - Oh how I loved this science museum. There was a kids play area, a dinosaur exhibition with the cloudy view of the city! I wish they made museums this interactive in US. This gained 5 stars from me. See my honest review of Parque Explora blog post for more information.

  3. Santa Fe- I was in awe of the shopping malls when I visited Santa Fe. They had a massive bouncy house spanning 4 stories with ball pit for the kids in the center. You can even head up to the 4th floor for a bowling alley, movie theatre, and arcade called Happy City that will keep even the littlest ones entertained for hours. There was a sand pit on the 3rd floor that kept my 2-year-old busy for an hour. 


Day 5- Travel day

Travel day from Medellin to Pereira from flight then almost 1.5 hr journey to Salento. The views are just beautiful. See accommodation details above. 


Day 6- Cocora hike 

  1. We had planned for our cocora hike, and it started to rain. Wearing our raincoats and carrying my little one on my back, we headed towards the city center to catch the Willy. Willy takes you to the starting point of the cocora valley. Once you reach it, you’ll know what the entire fuss is about this place! It was MAGICAL!! I have never seen such a beautiful and raw place (and i have visited Switzerland).  Read my guide to hiking Cocora Valley with kids. 


  1. Coffee tour- Once we came back to the city center and had our lunch. We took another Willy for the coffee tour. You can choose any finca depending on the time and book it at that time itself. 

Day 7- Filandia 

  1. Panaca- It was a good stopover (closer to 1.5 hr from Salento). The kids pet and fed the animals there

  2. Filandia- A less touristy town. We visited Mirador de Filandia for the viewpoint. 

  3. Quindo river - Beautiful end to our day was sitting by the river and eating hot corn on the Cobb. 

Day 8 -Travel day

Fly from Pereia to Ecuador via Bogota. 

See my Ecuador travelogue for more information at Dimple Verma 


Special mentions 



HAPPY TRAVELING!!






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Guest
Apr 18
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

This is such a detailed and informative travel post. As a mother I’m always hesitant to travel far but after reading this post, I might have to! I love the way you broke down each place you went and if you could have a stroller or a carrier with you. So thoughtful to add! The coffee tour sounds amazing! I’m going to add Columbia to my dream vacation spots. Thanks for sharing!

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Thank you so much. I am glad you will be adding Colombia to your vacation spots in future.

To stroller or carrier, was always my number one question whenever I would look for any destination. A mom gotta be prepared! If this is something that is helpful, ill ensure i add it to all the destination blogs :)

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Apr 18
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Oh my goodness! I can't imagine traveling with little kids is easy, but so rewarding for them. I loved Colombia when I visited Cartagena years ago but didn't make it to Medellin or Salento. Such a beautiful country, so I will definitely be going back and put these cities on my list. Such a great guide you provided with thorough details and your pictures are gorgeous. Thank you for sharing!

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Thank you so much for your love.

I missed exploring Cartagena in the last trip, will go there someday. Both Medellín and Salento were such pretty additions to our Colombia trip, which honestly, i wasn't expecting. Kids had the most fun, with of course some hard moments :) When you plan your trip, I'd be happy to suggest some hidden places that are worth going.

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Apr 18
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Wow, this is a very detailed article about a trip to Columbia with kids. I have never been there, but I would like to visit one day. Thank you for the inspiration!

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Glad this inspires you to visit the place some day. It was a wonderful experience with kids.

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Guest
Apr 17

Nice guide for visiting Columbia with little ones. Thanks for sharing!

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Glad you liked it, Thank you

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Apr 17

Saving this post. Thank you so much for this post. :)

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Glad you liked it.

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