So you’ve decided on taking your next vacation to Colombia? Congratulations and bienvenidos! You’ve already made a well-informed decision to visit a vibrant nation brimming with history, culture and passion that is guaranteed to provide an experience you and your travel crew will remember for a lifetime.
We think you deserve some recognition because by this point, you’ve already made it through the hardest part of vacation planning - deciding on “the where”. Now it’s time to decide the second most critical decision - “the when”.
So when is the best time of year to visit Colombia?
Colombia Weather: The Need-to-Knows
Colombia has six, distinct biodiverse regions with drastic changes detectable between regions depending on where you’re planning to visit. Due to this, no matter what time of year you’re thinking of jetting to Colombia, you’ll be able to find an area that’s in the midst of experiencing peak travel conditions.
While the country’s close proximity to the Equator keeps many parts of Colombia relatively stable throughout the year, the most accurate predictor of weather patterns actually relates to your altitude level and proximity to the coast. This differs greatly from the idea of “seasons” that is heavily utilized in the Northern Hemisphere as the main predictor of an area’s conditions.
We’ve designed this guide to give you the most comprehensive idea of the destinations we travel to so that you can make the most informed decisions about when and where you’d most like to travel. Ready to jet? ¡Vamos!
Colombia's Caribbean Coast: The Best Time to Visit Cartagena
Colombia’s northernmost coastline has long been recognized as an idyllic oceanfront destination by those familiar with South America. However, given the country’s notorious past, many prospective travelers looking to book a beach retreat have been skeptical to put Colombia at the top of their lists.
As Colombia has made strides in recent years to progress past its reputation, we’ve seen increases in tourism to the nation follow in its tracks. In the past year, Colombia has seen a 13% increase in tourism to the nation with no indications of slowing down.
Why Visit Cartagena?
Cartagena de Indias, more commonly known as Cartagena, has become a coveted location for travel as this historic coastal town has been gaining major traction over the past few years.
Often revered for its bright splashes of color on the city's buildings and in the blossoming florals that never seem to go out of season, Cartagena offers travelers seeking to experience Colombia the perfect mix of old and new. Cartagena manages to display its historical significance while still embracing forward progression, allowing the city to have a distinctly cosmopolitan air that breeds a raw energy unlike anywhere else in the nation.
The city’s major draw is its coastal location, although you may be disappointed to find that the beaches in Cartagena proper are not worth the hype. For the best seaside experience, travel a bit further to the nearby Islas de Rosario where the water glistens and the beaches are coated with a fine, warm sand your body will sink into during a blissful day under the sun.
Best Time to Travel to Cartagena
You’ll find temperatures that stay continuously hot throughout the year due to Cartagena’s short distance from the Equator. The average temperature in Cartagena sits right around 83°F (28°C) all year with its hottest months from June to September peaking in the low 90s (about 31-33°C). In Cartagena’s “cooler” months of December to March, you’ll be met by comfortable lows that measure in near 75°F (24°C).
You’ll also want to consider humidity, which has the potential to make temperatures that may not sound intolerable particularly brutal. When packing, you’ll want to fill your suitcase with light layers and breathable garments (and of course, plenty of bathing suits!) that will make the unfamiliar conditions a little bit easier on your body.
If humidity is a major concern, you’ll prefer to travel between December to March where the “feels like” temperature is at its most agreeable measures. You’ll also want to avoid the months of October and November, where humidity tends to rank higher than at any other point in the year.
If your main objective is to travel affordably, then consider traveling during the months from August to November where rain is more likely, but shouldn’t affect your beach plans. Cartagena’s “rainy season” is similar to many other parts of the Caribbean, occurring in short spells periodically but offering dry conditions the majority of the day.
The months ranging from September to November and March through May are considered Cartagena’s low seasons, leaving you the best possibility to book low priced airfare and room rates. Predictably, Cartagena’s peak tourism season occurs between the prime beach weather months of June and August, with a second wave of tourists taking advantage of the reduced humidity between December through February.
Colombia's Capital City: The Best Time to Visit Bogota
Why Visit Bogota?
If you enjoy acquainting yourself with a country in its most modern context, consider visiting Colombia’s capital city of Bogota. While you’ll be surrounded by the city’s colonial architecture and museums that boast Colombia’s rich history, you’ll find this all to exist within a culture that respects its past but is firmly grounded in the present day.
Bogota is currently undergoing an artistic renewal, with many of the country’s young creatives flocking to the city to take part in its exciting development. During your time in Bogota, leave plenty of time to wander the various districts as new concepts are constantly popping up across the sprawling city. Pay a visit to Museo de Arte Moderno (Mueseum of Modern Art) to check out their current installations and work up an appetite walking into the Zona Rosa district to taste some of the best new restaurants continuously opening their doors.
Amongst all of this newness, Bogota still maintains a deep appreciation for its heritage with traditional landmarks, such as the Museo de Oro (Museum of Gold) and the classic colonial architecture within its historical center. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a hike to the top of Montserratte to take in the city’s most stunning view from a 10,400 foot (3,170 m) elevation and maybe even get inspired to take part in a Catholic mass service at the mountain’s pinnacle. (Okay, okay – We'd recommend the hike but you can take a cable car as well!)
Best Time to Travel to Bogota
While there can be slight differences in temperature depending on when you travel, expect to encounter a temperature that’s close to 57°F (14°C) no matter when you book your trip. Weather tends to be the most unpredictable between December to February where you could be met by temperatures that range anywhere from the high 60’s to mid 40’s ( or within 20-7°C).
If you want to take advantage of Bogota’s warmest weather months, make realistic expectations about what “warm weather” means in this area of Colombia. Even at its peak temperatures in the months of April and May, the city's temperatures rarely climb over 68°F (20°C).
However, note that these are also the months that see the highest rates of tourism, so expect to pay top dollar for flights and accommodations. To minimize expenses, consider traveling during the lesser populated months of July, September, or October to make sure you have the most money while traveling through.
Colombia's Most Notorious City: The Best Time to Visit Medellin
Why visit Medellin?
Once seen as the world’s most dangerous city, Medellin is now held as Colombia’s beacon of change and revered worldwide for its booming economy and innovative solutions to infrastructure.
The Medellin of today is a city that’s aware of its history, but has worked tirelessly to make a new name for itself. The city’s optimistic renaissance is due in large part to Medellin’s people who channelled their grief for their lost city and loved ones to improve their community. This has allowed for today’s Medellin to be the ideal destination for those looking to experience the excitement of a city’s forward movement.
Today’s Medellin is so much more than its past, so skip the Pablo Escobar tour and instead, honor its progress. Take a walk through Medellin’s Comuna 13, once the city’s most violent neighborhood that has since transformed into a safe haven for the community’s youth. Cloaked in colorful and symbolic graffiti art created to inspire its citizens, you’ll find children playing and musicians practicing their craft, a far cry from the reality of the area just a few decades ago.
Best Time to Travel to Medellin
Whenever you decide to make the trip to Medellin, you’ll be met by idyllic conditions that have the region dubbed “the city of eternal Spring”. Year-round temperatures stay close to about 75°F (24°C) with temperatures seldom exceeding 83°F (28°C) in even the hottest month of July. In short, the best time to travel to Medellin is anytime.
Pack in light layers and refrain from bringing anything too heavy as you’ll never see temperatures that measure at lower than 60°F (17°C) at any point during the year. We weren’t kidding, Medellin is truly as eternally spring as it gets.
Humidity is less of a factor in Medellin so don’t worry too much about this while planning your trip. Instead, plan your trip around peak seasons to indulge your personal interests.
Love flowers? You’ll want to visit during the months from April-August to catch the farms at their fullest and brightest. Or maybe you consider yourself a coffee connoisseur? Instead, you’ll want to travel during the months of April or May to enjoy a day trip to a nearby coffee crop in Colombia’s “Coffee Axis” or Eje Cafetero to learn more about the area’s unique coffee harvest.
Tourism to Medellin is most prevalent during the months of January, April and May, so avoid travel during these months if you’re generally a cost conscious traveler. Tourism into the city takes a dip during the months of July, September and October, so consider traveling during these times if you’re looking to save a buck.
National Holidays in Colombia
In general, national holidays are always a more expensive time to go abroad due to the uptick in domestic travel and consequently, a minimized labor force during that time. As a general practice when traveling internationally, try to avoid national holidays if you’re looking to minimize costs. Below are a list of Colombian national holidays that you’ll want to consider planning to attend (or to avoid) depending on your personal travel objectives.
Colombian National Holidays in 2018
January 1 - Nuevo Ano
January 8 - Dia de los Reyes Magos
March 19 - Dia de San Jose
March 29 - Maundy Thursday
March 30 - Good Friday
May 1 - Labor Day
May 14 - Ascension Day
June 4 - Corpus Cristi
June 11 - Sacred Heart
July 20 - Independence Day
August 7 - Battle of Boyaca Day
August 20 - Assumption Day
October 15 - Columbus Day
November 5 - All Saints Day
November 12 - Cartagena Independence Day
December 25 - Christmas
As you plan your trip to Colombia, we hope you found this guide to be a helpful resource to inform your decision making. El Camino Travel was founded on the mission to break down international barriers constructed by stigmatization to bring tourism into misunderstood or underrepresented destinations in the industry.
Small Group Travel or Private Travel to Colombia with El Camino
Our company is proud to be built from the ground up by a Colombian-American female with strong ties to her heritage and a deep passion for sharing its culture with travelers that seek to experience a destination with an open heart and mind.
If this sounds like you, get in touch to see how we can help you plan your Colombian vacation. Our new private trip services now offer travelers the flexibility to pick your own travel dates and from either a 5-day or 9-day option to fit your schedule and location interests.
Alternatively, join one of our classic group trips to share your experience with rad, new people while enjoying the perks of traveling with a private photographer. Free yourself of the incessant need to document the moment, but instead, give yourself to the moment entirely.
No matter how you ultimately decide to travel, feel confident in your decision. You’re about to experience a unique culture brimming with creativity, compassion and perseverance.