06 Jan 2023

Explore Colombia with Emerald Cruises


aerial view of a skyline of the city of Cartagena, in Colombia with turquoise blue water, and boats sailing aerial view of a skyline of the city of Cartagena, in Colombia with turquoise blue water, and boats sailing

Yacht Cruising 

Caribbean & Central America

Excursions and Experiences

A stunning and vibrant country, Colombia is creating a name for itself as a must-visit travel destination. With luscious landscapes and locals with a zest for life, it’s hard not to fall for the charms of this Caribbean paradise.

There’s so much to experience when you explore Colombia, from the UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites of Cartagena to the calm and serene beaches of Cabo de la Vela. Below, we highlight key locations to enthral modern explorers and take a closer look at how Colombia began its rise to prominence. 

What is Colombia famous for?

Colombia is a beautiful country that’s well known for its: 

  • Rich and decadent coffee
  • Bountiful emerald mines
  • Cultural festivals
  • And for being the birthplace of the pop icon, Shakira.  
The nation has taken great strides to improve its image and reputation over the last three decades, moving away from its turbulent past and becoming a hotspot for travel and tourism.  

Standing as testament to just how much Colombia has reformed its image, one of the latest Disney films, Encanto, is based in Colombia, with the Cocora Valley and surrounding villages heavily inspiring the main setting for the family-friendly movie.  

It has taken a monumental effort to steer the country into a more refined place, one where tourism can thrive. With a strong focus on the arts, a festival atmosphere, and the mesmerising landscape, Colombia is now famous for being a much-loved gem across the Caribbean & Central America.  

What to see in Cartagena

Cartagena, Colombia Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena, Colombia
Located on the coast of the Caribbean Sea, Cartagena de Indias is considered one of the most beautiful cities in all of Colombia to explore. A historic site integral to the cultural identity of Colombia, Cartagena is superbly preserved, with the Port, Fortresses, and Group of Monuments achieving USECO World Heritage-listed status.  

Simply walking through the Old Town provides an intimate snapshot into the way of life in Cartagena. The stunning colonial architecture meshes wonderfully with the more modern approach the city has adapted to.  

Being home to a major port and the fifth largest city in Colombia, well-travelled visitors the world over flock to Cartagena, meaning it’s become a hub for guests looking to sample authentic Colombian cuisine and those searching for a good place to grab a drink while taking in the views.  

For fans of history, the city has plenty of it, which you’ll learn more about in great detail as you visit museums such as the Palace of Inquisition, displaying artifacts from Cartagena’s colonial past. And, despite the Caribbean Sea being a pirates’ playground between the 1500s and 1830s, Cartagena was one of the few defensible cities able to keep ocean-faring marauders at bay.

What to see in Bogotá

The capital city of Colombia, Bogotá is also the country’s largest city and home to a plethora of sights, sounds, and experiences.  

A highly revered location during the Spanish Colonial era, Bogotá was rich with gold and inspired the legend of El Dorado, in part due to the stunning Muisca Raft, an artifact depicting a gold offering ceremony to the gods.  

Today, the Bogotá Museum of Gold holds over 34,000 gold artifacts that date pre-Colombia - including the Muisca Raft - and houses the largest collection of pre-Hispanic goldwork in the world.  

For those who love nature, Bogotá offers a unique difference to most capital cities. Green spaces can be found almost everywhere in Bogotá, with the Botanical Gardens playing host to 20,000 regional plants. The mountain of Monserrate dominates the city skyline and is certainly worth a climb; great views and a 17th century church await you at the top.  

Art aficionados may recognise the name of Fernando Botero, one of Colombia’s most famous leading artists. His artwork certainly leaves an impression on those who have seen it, and guests coming to Bogotá can view hundreds of his pieces for free at the Museo de Botero. 

What to see in Cabo de la Vela

Cabo de la Vela is a calm and serene paradise located in the desert region north of Colombia’s La Guajira Peninsula. The cape and its neighbouring fishing village are considered the country’s best kept secret, as the area sees much lower tourist numbers than other highlights in Colombia.  

For those simply wanting a day away from the hustle and bustle, where relaxation is essentially guaranteed, Cabo de la Vela will provide everything you’re looking for. Take to the beach and let the sound of the gentle waves wash over you while the soft sea breeze cools you from the heat of the tropical climate.  

When you’re ready to take a break from soaking in the sun, head to one of the cape’s quiet restaurants where you’ll enjoy some of the freshest fish dishes you’re ever likely to taste. Cocktails expertly made with chirrinchi, a traditional liquor in the region made from sugarcane, are also a must-try.  

A staple in La Guajira, the Wayuu people who call the peninsula home believe chirrinchi has medicinal properties and it’s often drank to commemorate the dead and celebrate weddings. It’s also believed to ward off bad luck, but drinking a large amount of this strong liquor could have an adverse effect—especially if you plan on joining one of the kite surfing classes along the coast after enjoying a shot or three.

What to see in Salento & the Cocora Valley 

Mirador Alto De La Cruz, Salento Mirador Alto De La Cruz, Salento
Mirador Alto De La Cruz, Salento
Salento and the neighbouring Cocora Valley have been transformed over the decades, pushing the more turbulent past of Colombia out of the equation and becoming one of the most beautiful and inspiring destinations in the country for guests to visit.  

Even the directors of the Disney hit Encanto were truly captivated when they came to explore Colombia and toured the scenic region, basing the fictional village of Encanto on the valley landscape.  

Hikes through the Cocora Valley are not to be missed, but they do require a moderate level of fitness, as the hills and paths can be very steep. A guided tour taking you along the gentler inclines may be preferable if witnessing the luscious green forestry is high on your list.   

Once you’re back from exploring the valley, Salento has some of the best coffee in all of Colombia for you to try. There are various coffee farms in the region, so you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting a farm and relaxing with a good cup in hand.  

If coffee isn’t your thing, you can opt to tour a cocoa farm instead!

What to see in Santa Marta   

When you explore Colombia, a visit to coastal city of Santa Marta is a must. The oldest city in the country, dating back to 1525, Santa Marta has perfectly balanced its historical roots, natural beauty, and the modern expectations of visitors looking to enjoy the sun-drenched shores next to the Caribbean Sea.  

The neighbourhood of Rodadero is right on the beachfront, making it the ideal place to settle down in your sun lounger and soak up some rays. It’s also where you’ll find some of the most popular bars, restaurants, shops, and street music in the city.  

For those who want to dive a little deeper into Santa Marta, the surrounding waters are crystal clear and perfect for scuba diving to spot an array of tropical fish and brightly coloured coral reefs. Depending on where you choose to dive, you may also catch a glimpse of turtles and dolphins gliding their way through the sea. 


Need a little more information before you decide to explore Colombia? Here are some of the most frequently asked questions:

When is the best time to visit Colombia?

The best time to visit Colombia is between January and March if you’re looking to enjoy the best weather. It's warm and dry in the region between these months, and you’ll have escaped the rainy season. However, if you plan on exploring the rich and luscious rainforests, remember it can be wet all year round.

Is Colombia friendly to tourists?

Colombia thrives on tourism and you’ll find most of the country very welcoming to tourists. There are plenty of festivals to take part in throughout the year, and you’ll love exploring the sights and sounds of the country’s rich culture.

What language is spoken in Colombia?

Spanish is the most widely spoken language in Colombia, with it being the native tongue for over 99% of the country’s population. Rest assured, the more tourist-centric areas have a higher understanding of English, so you’ll have no problems communicating.

Book your Colombian adventure 

Colombia’s natural beauty, rich culture, and vibrant locals make the country an idyllic paradise, whether you’re a modern explorer seeking out a great adventure or simply looking for a laid-back destination to relax and unwind.

When you sail the Caribbean Sea and explore Colombia with Emerald Cruises, you’ll enjoy an array of excursions that showcase the real people and cultures of the country.

And, when it’s time to make your way back on board, you’ll revel in the luxurious amenities and generous inclusions that come as standard on our small ship yacht cruises.

Download your free luxury yacht cruise brochure to learn more about Colombia and the other exciting destinations you’ll visit during your cruise through the Caribbean & Central America.

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