Day 11 of our Colombia itinerary
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Best 14 Day Colombia Itinerary With Teens (2024)

Last Updated on March 13, 2024 by Nicole

Our two week Colombia vacation with our teenagers was extraordinary. My children were 15, 13 and 11 years old and were at a great age to appreciate everything that Colombia had to offer. Over 14 days, we discovered exciting cities, untouched and deserted beaches on the Pacific Coast, explored small charming colonial towns, ate some delicious food, and had lots of adventures and cool experiences. Our kids loved Colombia and our Colombia itinerary.

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At A Glance

I know you are busy. If you only have a couple minutes to spare, here are the key takeaways from this article.

  • Colombia is a fantastic destination for families with teens.
  • Cartagena and Villa De Leyva are beautiful colonial towns with great restaurants and excursions.
  • Medellin is a cool city with lots of street art, street food and a gritty past worth exploring.
  • Nuqui Choco puts you in the jungle and on deserted beaches, discovering nature and isolated villages.
  • Bogota has superb museums that even your kids will find interesting.

If you can find more time, try to read my full article. It explains my suggestions, gives you details about experiences that you will have, and provides travel tips.

Overall Impressions From Our Two Week Colombia Holiday

Colombia offers history, culture, delicious food, friendly locals, adventure experiences, and incredible beaches. If you are looking for an amazing trip with your teenagers that they will love, this is the destination for you.

Colombia was beautiful

First of all, it is a country of extreme beauty. It is surrounded by the blues of the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, with spectacular beaches, marine life and jungle nearby.

In addition, it seems like most of the country is packed with lush green mountains barely inhabited by civilization. We took several flights while we were in Colombia – from Cartagena to Medellin; from Medellin to Nuqui Choco (on the Pacific Ocean); and from Medellin to Bogota. I was astounded by how mountainous Colombia’s terrain was.

Colombia was friendly and felt safe

Contrary to reports of random violence, every person we met was friendly and proud of their country. In Medellin, strangers stopped us on the street and welcomed us to their city. We never felt unsafe and walked happily and freely in the places we visited. The food went from inexpensive and delicious street food to sophisticated international cuisine, sometimes at ridiculously low prices.

Colombia was authentic

Most importantly, I felt that our experiences were truly authentic. Wonderfully, foreign tourism is just beginning to flourish in Colombia. In several places, we were one of only a handful of international tourists. It was amazing.

two week Colombia Itinerary
The untouched and natural beauty of Colombia on the Pacific Coast.

Important Travel Tips For Any Colombia Itinerary

I have travelled to over 70 countries. Regardless, I was surprised by a few things in Colombia. Accordingly, in another article, Colombia Holidays: 10 “Must Know” Travel Tips!, I highlight those unique travel tips that I wish I had known. They will help you arrive prepared and ready to enjoy your Colombia holiday with your family, hopefully without surprises.

Our 2 Week Vacation In Colombia With Teens

In the balance of the article, I have set out where we went and what we did each day on our 14 day Colombian trip.

Day 1 – Cartagena

Our international flight arrived in Cartagena in the afternoon. We were picked up and driven to our hotel, Arsenal Hotel (formerly Allure Chocolate Hotel). All of our transfers across Colombia were organized by The Colombian Way and their services were excellent each time.

Cartagena was the most touristy destination in which we stayed during our two weeks in Colombia. It has a cruise port and welcomes thousands of cruise passengers each year. Nevertheless, it is a beautiful Colombian city with beautiful colonial architecture, with cool restaurants, bars and shops.

For dinner, we went to La Marea by Rausch, a 5 minute walk from our hotel. We enjoyed a sophisticated meal on the water, with a stunning view of Old Cartagena. It was a wonderful night.

Day 2 Cartagena

We booked a 2 hour private bike tour. The tour took us all over Cartagena, including on top of the walls that bordered Old Cartagena.

We also biked around Getsemani, an edgy part of Cartagena next to our hotel and just outside the walled city of Old Cartagena. In this part of Cartagena, the streets were filled with astonishing graffiti art.

The bikes were very basic in quality, but the tour was a great way to quickly get a feel for the main parts of Cartagena.

A quick break on top of the walls of old Cartagena.
The entrance to the walled city of old Cartagena.
Enjoying the main plaza of Getsemani. We shared our space with some cool sculptures and graffiti art.
Another example of the amazing street art found on many walls in Getsemani.

For lunch, we went to Espiritu Santo in the walled city of Old Cartagena. This restaurant was recommended to us by a local and it was filled with Colombians. Enormous plates of traditional Caribbean food were served at very reasonable prices. I barely made a dent in my meal.

We had dinner at Cande Restaurant in the old city. This restaurant took traditional Caribbean dishes and added sophistication and flair to them. The food was absolutely delicious. As an added treat, dancers entertained us with traditional latin and indigenous dancing.  It was an amazing night.

Day 3 – Cartagena

Today, we spent most of the day in a local village called Boquilla where we spent the day learning how to fish, catch crabs and cook, all with local fishermen and their families.

Boquilla was very poor. It was a startling contrast to the wealth of Cartagena, a mere 20 minute drive away.

We spent most of the day canoeing amongst the mangroves, and knee deep in muddy water learning how to throw nets to scoop up fish, set crab traps and collect the live crabs.

Afterwards, we went back to one of their homes, and in a muddy backyard steps from the river, we watched them cook the fish and boil the crabs on a makeshift campfire. Ultimately, we ate lunch next to the fire on simple plastic tables and chairs. Incredibly, I ate some of the best fish that I have ever eaten.

This tour was a very cool experience.

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Heading out to the mangroves to learn how to trap crabs and catch fish like the locals.
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Preparing the bait and the crab traps for our fishing.
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Learning how to set traps to catch crabs.
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Cooking our fish and boiling the crabs for lunch at the fisherman’s house.

Dinner was at 1621, a restaurant at the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena Hotel in old Cartagena.

The food was exquisite. We sat at a table in their inside courtyard surrounded by plants, trees and a fountain. The setting was beautiful and the service was excellent.

Impressions And Recommendations Of Cartagena

We really enjoyed our 3 days in Cartagena. It was an easy introduction to this beautiful country and a fantastic addition to a Colombia vacation with teens. The tours were interesting and diverse, adding adventure to culture, and they fully kept my kids attention. It felt safe and was easy to explore on our own.

I liked our hotel and its location. It was a modern boutique hotel with a small rooftop pool and bar, a couple blocks from the beach and the walled city of Old Cartagena.

Originally, I was tempted to stay in Old Cartagena, however I am glad that we did not. I found Old Cartagena to be very beautiful but it was super busy with tourists.

In the end, I felt the 3 days was enough time to fully appreciate Cartagena.

Other Resources

We have had many wonderful adventures in Central And South America with our teens. For more information about other destinations and our experiences, please see:

Day 4 – Medellin

This morning, we flew to Medellin and stayed at NH Collection Medellin Royal Hotel. This was a nice hotel in the wealthy part of Medellin across from the Santa Fe Shopping Mall.  

In the afternoon, we had a private tour of La Communa 13.

Once upon a time, Communa 13 was the most dangerous neighbourhood in one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Today, it has transformed into a dynamic community with a vibrant street art and hip hop culture.

This was one of my favourite places that we visited during our two week Colombia vacation. It certainly was one of my teenagers’ favorites!

Houses were built one on top of another up a side of a mountain, a maze of concrete and wires. As we approached, I felt like we were about to enter a poor and dangerous slum. But that was far from the case.

We saw spectacular street art, seemingly on every wall and it was breathtaking. The streets were clean, brimming with adults going about their day and children playing. I watched street performers and tried delicious street food. It was a thriving happy neighbourhood.

The concrete jungle that is La Communa 13 in Medellin.
Street art along the road in La Commun 13 in Medellin.
More Graffiti art found on the streets of La Communa 13 in Medellin.
Children playing at the playground surrounded by graffiti and art.

Our guide lived in Communa 13. He was also a member of Casa Kolacho, a youth inspired art club. All money earned from the tour went to Casa Kolacho, which provided free dance, art and music classes to the community.

Download my personally crafted 14 day Colombia travel guide with my hotel and restaurant recommendations, tours and activities that I enjoyed.

Days 5, 6, 7 And 8 – Nuqui Choco

We flew one hour by twin turbo prop plane from Medellin to Nuqui on the Pacific Ocean. Then, we boarded a 20 person speedboat and for one hour, we crossed the Pacific Ocean to our lodge. During that hour, we barely saw a house or a person on the shore. We were completely surrounded by jungle and ocean.

We stayed at El Cantil Ecolodge (unfortunately it is now closed), a very small ecolodge on the shores of the Pacific, and shared one hut with two rooms. The accommodation was very basic – there wasn’t any electricity, hot water, windows, screens, or wifi. The food was simple but plentiful – fish freshly caught each day right from the shores of the lodge.

Our time in Nuqui Choco was extraordinary. Over our three days, we spent hours in a boat on the ocean watching humpback whales. We hiked in the jungle and dove into hidden waterfalls. Everyday, we swam in the ocean, surfed, and chased thousands of crabs on shore.

14 day Colombia Itinerary
One of our views from El Cantil Ecolodge.
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Humpback whale watching in the Pacific Ocean at Nuqui Choco.

A highlight of our stay was a 3 hour return walk along deserted beaches to the tiny village of Thermales where we spent time in its natural thermal springs. On our walk, we were surrounded by pristine jungle and untouched beaches, which were virtually uninhabited.

The village was made up of around twenty huts and maybe a population of 100 people. It was a remarkable walk, followed by an incredible time exploring the village and enjoying its natural thermal springs.

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Walking along deserted beaches to Thermales.
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Soaking in the natural thermal springs in Thermales.

Impressions And Recommendations Of Nuqui Choco

Exploring deserted beaches and untouched villages along the Pacific Coast of Colombia was amazing. It definitely was a fantastic part of our Colombia adventure and our teens loved it.

The flight from Medellin to the coast exposed the sheer vastness and beauty of Colombia, and also how uninhabited many parts of the country were.

It was super cool staying in a lodge in the middle of the jungle and walking for miles without another house, person, or any other sign of civilization in sight.

We delighted in the whale watching, surfing and being disconnected from the rest of the world for a few days.

Day 9 – Medellin

In the morning, we flew back to Medellin and to NH Collection Medellin Royal Hotel.  In the afternoon, we went on a private street food tour.

This was a really cool tour. We explored Medellin and learnt about its history and the significance of important buildings and sculptures. I saw more incredible graffiti and street art and we went shopping and found cool shoes and clothing.

In addition, we took local transit – trains (Transvia) and gondolas – across town and ultimately to Communa 8, another neighbourhood in Medellin transforming itself into a vibrant and safe community with innovative social programs and improved infrastructure. All the while, we nibbled on traditional street food that we found along the way.

My kids loved this tour. We met lots of very friendly people who loved sharing their traditional food with us.

Day 10 Medellin, El Penol, And Guatape

Today, we did a private day tour to El Penol and Guatape. Guatape is a municipality and town around 2 hours from Medellin.

The whole area is beautiful. We stopped at El Penol, a massive rock conspicuously jutting out of the landscape, and climbed the 784 steps to the top. The views were stunning.

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784 stairs to the top of El Penol.
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The top of El Penol and the Municipality of Guatape below us.

We continued onto the town of Guatape and toured its cobblestone streets. The houses and stores were all colourfully painted with carvings along their front walls. They either depicted the history of the building, or its current use or occupant.

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The town of Guatape and the pretty painted buildings.
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Exploring the beautiful painted houses of Guatape.

Impressions And Recommendations Of Medellin, El Penol And Guatape

Medellin, El Penol and Guatape added culture and modern history to our Colombia holiday with our teenagers. El Communa 13, its’ graffiti art, the shopping and street food offered edgy and cool experiences that my kids loved.

Visiting El Penol and Guatape, and seeing the countryside around Medellin was an added bonus.

If you can only visit one major city in Colombia with your teens, make sure that it is Medellin.

Days 11, 12, 13 and 14Bogota And Villa De Leyva

This morning we flew from Medellin to Bogota. We were collected at the airport and driven 3 hours to Villa De Leyva.

Villa De Leyva is a gorgeous little colonial town nestled between mountains and surrounded by farmland. The buildings were white washed and the streets were mostly cobblestoned.

We stayed in the center of town at Hotel Casa Terra, a small newly renovated multi-room house. This was my favourite hotel on our whole trip. The hotel was small, luxurious and welcoming. It was tucked behind low lying walls and you would never have guessed such a lovely hotel was found behind it.

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Our suite at Casa Terra in Villa De Leyva.
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The whitewashed church in the main square at Villa De Leyva.

On arrival, we explored the pretty town and had many memorable meals. The next day, we took a private tour and drove ATVs (quad bikes) in the countryside and mountains surrounding Villa De Leyva. The views were incredible and it was loads of fun.

Villa de Leyva
Enjoying the view from the top of a mountain overlooking Villa De Leyva.

After 2 nights in Villa De Leyva, we drove back to Bogota. Along the way, we stopped and explored the Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira.

The Salt Cathedral was both bizarre and amazing. You descend one km (0.6 miles) below the surface of an active salt mine, stopping at the different “Stations of the Cross” where enormous crosses have been carved from salt. At each one, you are welcome to stop and pray.

Ultimately, you reach a church far below the surface. You can watch a light show and a movie about the history of Colombia, shop, eat or go to a spa, never leaving the depths of the mine.

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Descending into the salt mine for our tour.
Day 12 of our Colombia Itinerary
One of the Stations of the Cross in the salt mine.

In Bogota, we spent 2 nights at the Sofitel Bogota Victoria Regia Hotel, a beautiful hotel in the centre of amazing restaurants and shopping. We ate dinner at the hotel and La Brasserie, a superb french restaurant mere steps from our hotel.

We spent one day on a private tour of Bogota. We went to the top of Montserrate, a mountain towering over Bogota, to see the views and visit the garden and the church.

We spent a lot of time visiting La Candelaria area which has funky streets covered in cool graffiti, local artisans and their wares, and amazing museums.

My favourites were the Botero Museum and the Museu Del Oro (the Gold Museum).

Later we visited private art galleries looking at current Colombia artists.

The top of Montserrate in Bogota.
Our walking tour of La Candelaria area of Bogota.
Cool street art in Bogota.
An exhibit at the Gold Museum in Bogota.

Impressions And Recommendations Of Villa De Leyva And Bogota

Villa De Leyva offered us a small colonial town experience and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The hotel was truly lovely, and we could easily walk into the main plaza, enjoy the people watching, and eat and drink at some fantastic restaurants.

The quad biking in the countryside and mountains overlooking the town was a nice surprise, and added a little bit of adventure to this mostly cultural experience.

Bogota is a big city with lots of areas that are not particularly pretty or interesting. However, La Candelaria was great. It offered lots of street art and street vendors, and pretty cobblestone streets to explore.

Surprisingly, we really loved the Botero Museum and the Museu Del Oro. You should definitely schedule time in your Bogota itinerary to visit them.

Last Word

We really appreciated our Colombia getaway with our teenagers. Over two weeks, we saw many diverse regions of Colombia and experienced city and rural life. We visited remote and virtually untouched beaches, jungles and communities off of the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

On several occasions, we tried delicious food from all over the country, some of it traditional street food, while others at sophisticated and luxurious restaurants.

We met incredibly friendly people from all sorts of backgrounds.

Our 14 day Colombia itinerary was filled with authentic experiences in a very exciting country that, in the world of overtourism, is yet to be discovered.

Download my personally crafted 14 day Colombia travel guide with my hotel and restaurant recommendations, tours and activities that I enjoyed.

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Colombia is a beautiful untouched country filled with culture, incredible food, beautiful nature and gorgeous beaches. Where will you go first? #travel #familytravel #travelwtihteens #ATV #Boquilla, #teen #child #kids #Botero #Caribbean #Cartagena, El Cantil Ecolodge, El Penol #fishing #Getsemani #graffiti #Guatape #humpback #whales, La Communa #Medellin #Montserrate, Museu Del Oro, #Nuqui Choco, #Pacific #Bogota, thermal springs, #Thermales, Villa De Leyva, #Zipaquira #southamerica

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    1. Thanks Jocelyn. Colombia is a wonderful, friendly exciting place to visit so I hope that you get the opportunity to get there soon!

  1. This is so awesome! A few years back when I used to hear how dangerous it was, (and it was) I was scared to ever visit. However, my inspiration to travel there has grown so much especially now that it’s getting safer. Your guide and pictures are so perfect! I know that I would truly love all the colorful streets and the vibe in Colombia. Glad you had fun with your family and that you didn’t let fear stop you from going. 🙂

    1. Thanks Edith. It is such a great time to go. People are still scared to travel there so it is still largely untouched by tourists. It won’t stay that way for long. Prices are so good too.

  2. This has to be one of the most adventurous itineraries I have seen about Colombia. First time I hear about Nuqui. The place looks so beautiful. I have wanted to visit the country for a really long time. At least, I want to visit Cartagena, Medellin and Bogota. So bad we do not have budget flights here from Los Angeles. I am glad you decided to go despite what he media says. Glad you enjoyed to the max! #WeekendWandelust

    1. Hi Ruth, We flew Jet Blue and it was really inexpensive. We flew from Chicago – not our normal hometown but we had to visit family so took advantage of the low fare from there. I think it will be only a short time before more discount airlines fly there, especially from LA. You will be in Colombia soon!

    1. Thank you! I think that you could go for a shorter time, but I wouldn’t try to see the same number of cities/areas of Colombia. My rule of thumb is to try and have three nights in each place so that I can have two full days of touring. That doesn’t always work out, or I’m not that keen to spend that much time in a particular place (for example, a flight arrives or depart from a city that I’m only slightly interested in), but if I am keen to explore that city or area, that is my goal.

  3. I have heard a lot about Colombia but never thought it would be that beautiful. I would especially enjoy the Cartagena, it looks like a great adventure

    1. It is very beautiful and yes, I think that you would enjoy Cartagena. It is a lovely colonial town next to pretty beaches.

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