Colombia has a rich tapestry of incredible landmarks, from cultural attractions to ancient natural wonders, and let’s not forget about its impressive coastline, which features both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Colombia, for years, has attracted travel enthusiasts who want to dig deeper into the culture of Colombia and discover the many hidden gems it offers.
Beyond its vibrant cities like Medellin, Bogota, Cartagena, and lush rainforests, Colombia boasts many fascinating landmarks that could have you exploring the country for months or years. Colombia offers a treasure trove of landmarks that entice people with all interests, whether archaeological finds or remarkable landscapes; this country is waiting to be discovered.
In 2021 alone, Colombia welcomed 2 million tourists, making it the 6th most visited country in South America. That number is significantly growing, with it being a popular destination for both tourists and overlanders driving the Pan American highway. So, if this vibrant, culturally rich country is on your bucket list, let us share the most famous landmarks in Colombia that you cannot overlook.
The 20 Most Famous Landmarks In Colombia
Tayrona National Park is a paradise on earth and one of the landmarks that proves just how diverse Colombia is. This is undoubtedly one of the most tranquil coastal regions imaginable and features lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and ancient ruins; plus, it is a haven for hiking and wildlife spotting.
When seeking a fascinating opportunity to step back in time, you cannot miss the Pueblito ruins archaeological site, which beautiful forest trails can reach. This stunning coastal national park is famous because of its rich biodiversity, comprising two incredible ecosystems.
One of the most famous landmarks in Colombia is Corcora Valley, which boasts the world’s tallest palm tree, called the Quindio wax palm. This is an incredible place to go hiking, and the valley is part of the larger Los Nevados National Natural Park, with trees reaching an incredible 60m (200ft) tall.
The Cocora Valley is ideally situated in the heart of Colombia’s famous coffee region (don’t worry, coffee lovers, we will get to that later), making it a fantastic area to combine with some coffee farm tours or a visit to the idyllic town of Salento.
Medellin is known for being home to one of the most dangerous neighborhoods worldwide, and for this reason, Colombia was a destination many feared until recent years. Communa 13 has transformed into a vibrant, artistic community with plenty of local walking tours to embark on to discover more.
This is a fantastic place to discover murals, grab a delicious coffee at one of the many hip cafes, or learn more about Colombia’s dark history, including the endeavors of its former resident drug lord, Pablo Escobar. Thanks to a community-led project, this city is one of the coolest places you will see in the country.
Colombia is not just known for its incredible landscapes; its diversity is mind-blowing. On one trip, you can visit the turquoise beaches of the Carribean coast, the Amazon rainforest, and even coffee farms, but the Tatacoa Desert is by far one of the most famous landmarks in Colombia.
So, what is it? The Tatacoa Desert is one of the most impressive landscapes in the country, and its remote location and undiscovered nature make it alluring to tourists. It features grey and red soils, which add to this otherworldly visual, and this is an excellent place for star gazing since there is no light pollution there.
5. Guatape Rock
Also known as Piedra del Peñol or the Peñon de Guatape, this incredible natural landmark is one of Colombia’s most visited natural wonders, and it’s not hard to see why. This 220m (650ft) high monolith is a sight to see, and from the top, the view from the top makes this already famous landmark extra special.
The rock was climbed for the first time in the 1950s, and it took a whopping five days to reach the top; however, these days, you can reach the summit by taking the 715 steps if you are brave enough. Located just a few hours from Medellin, the Rock of Guatape attracts plenty of tourists, but you can beat the crowds if you arrive early (before 10:30 a.m.).
One of the most famous landmarks in Colombia, and one of the most unique, is the Zipaquira Salt Cathedral, a mesmerizing place to visit. Not only is this an incredible place to see, but it is family-friendly, and they even allow your dog to join you on the tour of this fantastic attraction in their very own pet car.
This majestic monument was declared the First Wonder of Colombia – a title which is well deserved. It attracts thousands of tourists each year, who are eager to discover the salt cathedral and its sculptures, which are 200m (660ft) underground. Here, you can witness the largest underground cross in the world, and during Holy Week, this is one of the major spots for Colombians to gather – 10,000 of them at once!
Cartagena is one of Colombia’s most vibrant, tropical, and bustling cities, where music plays, the sun shines, and everyone smiles. One of the reasons this city is one of Colombia’s most famous landmarks is its fascinating history, which can be seen throughout the city.
In 1984, Cartagena’s colonial walled city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and today, it remains one of the top cities to visit in the country. In fact, Cartagena is the center for Colombia’s cruise tourism industry and saw over 300,000 passengers (about half the population of Wyoming) arrive annually in pre-pandemic times.
Cano Cristales is a feast for the eyes and a fascinating find for nature lovers. Not only are the vibrant colors of this natural wonder what makes it so attractive to visitors, but the Serrania de la Macarena National Park, in which it is located, is filled with beautiful flora and fauna, which add to the charm.
This Colombia river gets its unique colors from the Macarenia clavigera in its riverbed, which has resulted in its name, ‘The River of Five Colors.’ June to December is the best time to visit this area since water is abundant, and the colors are even more striking than usual.
Coffee lovers rejoice: Colombia is one of the world’s most famous producers of coffee, and this is an excellent country to visit coffee farms, learn how it is cultivated, and try a variety of blends. The Coffee Triangle is one of the most famous regions visitors flock to to discover everything there is to know about Colombian coffee.
The most visited cities in the area are Manizales, Armenia Pereira, and Ibagué, but there are many more off-the-beaten-path places to discover, too. Colombian coffee is so special because it uses 100% Arabica coffee beans and combines with the traditional art of growing and processing, resulting in the region being given the UNESCO World Heritage prestige.
10. Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City)
Eat your heart out, Machu Picchu, because Colombia is home to Ciudad Perdida, which offers just as fascinating insight into the past. Deemed ‘the lost city,’ this has become one of the most famous landmarks in Colombia for its historical significance and stunning setting amidst the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains.
Having been founded in 800 CE, this incredible archeological site predates Machu Picchu by 650 years, and to see this with your own eyes requires a four-day trek. Some say this is the Inca Trail of Colombia, and along this strenuous trek, you will meet locals and witness unimaginable views of waterfalls, jungle, and rivers.
Colombia boasts some of the best beaches since it has its section of the famous Caribbean coast. To discover pristine beaches, tropical surroundings, and the clearest water, you will want to visit one of Colombia’s most famous landmarks, the San Andres archipelago, close to Nicaragua.
These islands are further than Colombia than you might think but are well worth the trek to get there since they are well known for their excellent diving opportunities, coral reefs, and reggae music. San Andres is the larger and busier of the two, while Providencia offers a laid-back, relaxed vibe.
If you fancy visiting one of Colombia’s awe-inspiring landscapes, Chicamocha must be on your bucket list. It’s not just a famous place to visit for its incredible landscape, but it holds the title of the second-largest canyon in the world, so if you are inspired by nature and awe-inspiring natural wonders, then this won’t let you down.
With a maximum depth of 2,000m (6,600 ft) and an area that expands 108,000 hectares (270,000 acres), the canyon is an impressive sight to see. Since it is located not far from San Gil, a popular destination for backpackers, the canyon has become increasingly popular as a day trip. It is one of the top attractions in the country.
For those visiting the capital city of Bogota, Monserrate is one of the top attractions you cannot miss – literally. The mountain is visible from many parts of the city, and a cable car and hiking trails take you to the summit, where the view is undeniable – on a clear day.
Situated 133m (436 ft) above Bogota, the mountain features a 17th-century church, many eateries, and local shops selling colorful and quirky Colombian souvenirs. Visiting here at sunset is a must, and since this is the most popular time to go, you can expect crowds, but seeing the lights of Bogota glisten from above is pure magic.
One of the most famous landmarks in Colombia and perhaps one of the most beautiful examples of architecture you will see in the country. Las Lajas Sanctuary has long been a pilgrimage destination for Colombian and Ecuadorian Christians due to a Marian apparition that is said to have taken place here in the 18th century.
The building and location are outstanding, as well as its fascinating religious significance as part of the Roman Catholic church. The Neo-Gothic Catholic church is built into the Guaitara River canyon and is said to be one of the most beautiful churches in the world, which is why this sanctuary needs to be seen to be believed.
When visiting famous landmarks in Colombia, you won’t want to miss this UNESCO World Heritage Site because, with a title like that, it must have something great to offer. Yes, San Agustin Archeological Park is well worth a visit for several reasons, but the main reason is that it is considered the largest necropolis in the world.
There are a series of archeological sites to discover, and here, you can witness the biggest and largest religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in Latin America. This important place was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, and while the carvers of these impressive monuments remain unknown, so too does the rest of the site, which is still unexcavated, adding to its overall mystique.
16. La Chorrera Waterfall (Choachi)
If you are a fan of extraordinary nature, you won’t want to miss seeing Colombia’s tallest waterfall, La Chorrera. At a height of 590m (1940ft), La Chorrera is an impressive sight to see. One of the most common ways to visit it is to take a hike from Choachi, yet this day trip is just 90 minutes from Bogota, so it is easily accessible for those wanting to discover the nature surrounding the capital.
One of the most extraordinary things about its location is that despite its proximity to the country’s capital city, it feels a world away, with abundant surrounding farmland, fresh air, and minimal noise pollution. Since the hike can get very muddy on wet days, it’s best to plan to embark on this adventure when you have dry weather and take plenty of water for the journey.
17. La Candelaria
One of the most famous landmarks in Colombia is situated in the heart of its capital city, Bogota, and is comprised of the neighborhoods of La Catedral, La Concordia, Las Aguas, Centro Administrativo, Egipto, Belén, San Francisco Rural, Nueva Santa Fe and Santa Bárbara. The vibrant district of La Candelaria is one of the best places you can visit to discover colorful houses, fantastic murals, cobbled streets, and steep hills, all of which make this a picture-perfect location.
This is one of the top places for visitors to the capital to explore, and the vibes are undeniable. With the smell of coffee in the air, fruit stands galore, and quirky coffee shops playing upbeat tunes, La Candelaria is an unmissable part of Bogota. Plus, this historic quarter has a lot of stories to tell, so if you want to dig deeper into Bogota’s past, it’s worth stopping off here.
As you might have guessed, it’s clear that Colombia is home to some of the world’s best landmarks, so much so that many of them are recognized by UNESCO, including Chiribiquete National Park. This national park is not just famous because of its impressive group of isolated table mountains and cascading waterfalls. Still, it is also the largest national park in Colombia and the world’s largest tropical rainforest national park.
Not only does this park have an area of 43,000 km2 (17,000 sq mi), but this is the place to discover ancient rock art, the oldest of which dates back 20,000 years. Its remote location within the Colombia Amazon adds to its air of mystery, and it is one of the bucket list destinations for many exploring the country. One of the most intriguing aspects of the park is that it is home to indigenous peoples who have been uncontacted and live in isolation.
19. Rosario Islands
As you might have guessed from the San Andres archipelago, the most tropical part of Colombia lies on the Caribbean coast. The Rosario islands are one of the most famous landmarks in Colombia, attracting plenty of locals and tourists to its glorious shores, located just 20km from Cartagena.
This is one of 46 national parks in the country and is the ultimate place to relax and unwind or undertake activities like snorkeling, swimming, and boat trips. The islands are well known for their protected coral reefs and ecosystems, which make them so special, and have become popular as a day tour from Cartagena the notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar had his very own Caribbean getaway on Isla Grande.
One of Cartagena’s most famous ancient landmarks is San Felipe Castle, which is certainly an unmissable attraction for history buffs. This iconic attraction is located on top of San Lazaro hill and is considered one of the most remarkable of the seven wonders of Colombia.
It is not only a tourist attraction but also used for important events and social gatherings. In 1984, UNESCO included the historic center of Cartagena, the set of its fortifications, and the San Felipe de Barajas castle on the list of World Heritage Sites.