Though Colombia is filled with incredible adventure from trekking through the Amazon Rainforest to climbing the peaks Andes, the country is also the perfect place to enjoy resort-town life, with dozens of quaint towns, coastal cities, and quaint getaways to enjoy for those looking to enjoy laid-back luxury at one of the many resort towns in Colombia.
Wander through cobblestone streets and marvel at Spanish colonial architecture on your way to sip a cup of coffee, bird-watch, or soak up the sun over the sun-drenched balcony of your boutique hotel. Sound like a plan? Here are six resort towns in Colombia for small-town exploration, sunbathing, and enjoying a slower pace on your luxury tour to Colombia.
1. Cartagena, Colombia
Colombia’s Caribbean coast makes for the perfect destination for couples looking for some sun and sea, and Cartagena de Indias is its crown jewel. The romantic coastal city will woo you with its stunning colonial architecture, picturesque white sand beaches, and narrow cobbled streets.
The walled city has so much to do from dining, shopping, history, mixology, culture, and nightlife both in the daytime and in the evening. Cartagena also has a variety of luxury offerings for couples looking for an upscale honeymoon experience – from high-end restaurants to five-star hotels – this Colombian city has it all for those looking for a luxury honeymoon in South America.
Beyond the city, visiting Cartagena’s most idyllic beaches by boat is an easy feat with a private boat charter, which will take you to the Colombian coast’s many spectacular beaches including The Islas de Rosario and San Bernardo Archipelago. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphin sightings along the way!
– Where to stay: Casa San Agustin
An upscale colonial hotel in the heart of the walled city, surrounded by many of the city’s best shops and restaurants. Amenities consist of a bar and an upmarket restaurant, along with a chic spa, a terrace, and an outdoor pool.
– Where to dine: Celele
Since its opening, Celele has become the jewel in the crown of Cartagena’s burgeoning culinary scene, winning the Gin Mare Art of Hospitality Award in 2021. Diners can choose from the à la carte menu, but for the full experience, a 10-course tasting menu explores everything the Caribbean coast has to offer, accompanied by a thoughtful drinks flight of regional craft beers, cocktails made with Colombian fruits, fermented spirits, and wines.
2. Santa Marta, Colombia
Beachside Santa Marta is an established port city on the Caribbean coast that blends together indigenous, Spanish, and African cultures to create one of Colombia’s most interesting cities.
The city was established in 1525 by the Spanish and is one of the oldest cities in the Americas, seen in the old cobblestone streets and architecture, which to this day has been well preserved in most areas of the city. Within Santa Marta, travelers can find local markets, whitewashed cathedrals, and endless opportunities to explore nature such as the Caribbean’s best beaches, hiking trails, and the famous Tayrona National Park nearby – a Colombian gem that is teeming with wildlife, gorgeous beaches and some of the best opportunities for adventure on the Colombian coast.
– Where To Stay: Hotel Don Pepe
Restored in 2013 from one of the oldest buildings in Santa Marta, Hotel Don Pepe has 12 stylish rooms in a renovated colonial building. The central courtyard is dominated by a small but satisfying pool. Cool tiled hallways and stairways lead to upper levels with the hotel’s Sol y Mar bar and an award-winning spa. Operated by Pevonia from France, the spa offers a wide range of massages and facials. After a hot day of exploration in and around Santa Marta, this hotel is a friendly, rejuvenating haven close to restaurants.
– Where to Dine: Ouzo Restaurant & Bar
Just a few blocks from Santa Marta’s stunning malecon, near the Parque De Los Novios, is a can’t-miss dinner spot in Santa Marta. The chef at Ouzo is an expert at finding the region’s freshest ingredients whether it be meat, seafood, fruits, or vegetables. The restaurant delivers a blend of Mediterranean cuisine met with coastal Colombian ingredients, and flavors to bring coastal cuisine to life in this quaint beachside town. Guests can enjoy dishes like pan-seared octopus with feta cheese, “Arni Sto Fuorno” (greek roasted lamb with orzo), succulent pork with pepperonis and capers, or an original pizza cooked in their hand-built wood-fired brick oven. Combine this with the relaxed atmosphere and attentive service, and Ouzo brings a wonderful dining experience to the table.
3. Isla Baru, Colombia
Just an hour away from bustling Cartagena by ferry or taxi is Isla Baru, one of the most popular day trips from Cartagena that visitors take when they are looking to enjoy the beautiful turquoise waters of the Caribbean. Isla Baru is not just a day trip destination, however – famous for its white sands, crystal blue clear water, and ample wildlife native to the Colombian-Caribbean, Isla Baru is a perfect getaway for those yearning for a relaxing beach vacation, as well as those looking for a little adventure in paradise.
Whether you’re laying back and enjoying the food, drinks, and conveniences of a luxury beach club like Nena Beach Club, trying your hand at watersports like jet skiing and paragliding, or experiencing an out-of-this-world adventure seeing bioluminescent water at the swamp of Cholon, Isla Baru.
For those looking for an even more remote experience, from Isla Baru, visitors can take a boat to the incredible Islas del Rosario, an archipelago of islands surrounded by the peaceful turquoise sea and one of Colombia’s 46 national parks filled with unique wildlife. Located near Isla Barú and about 100 km from Cartagena, they are home to Colombia’s central, and most beautiful, coral reefs.
Popular beaches in Isla Baru include the world-famous Playa Blanca, Bendita Beach, and Isla Grande.
– Where to Stay: Hotel Las Islas, Isla Baru
Let yourself be soothed by the serenity of eco-luxury in its purest form. Just a 45-minute boat ride from Cartagena transports travelers to Hotel Las Islas, an oasis in the Caribbean paradise of Baru. Treetop bungalows and private villas elegantly decorated with Colombian flair are surrounded by lush vegetation. An over-water restaurant and beach bar offer seaside dining at its best. Spend time on the island’s white sand beaches, explore the fascinating coral and marine life with a dive into the sea, or view a breathtaking sunrise from your treetop hideaway.
4. San Andres, Colombia
Though closer to Central America than it is to Colombia – San Andres’ Afro-Colombian culture, remote location, and stunning cays, rays, reefs, atolls, and sandbanks make you feel as though you are in a completely secluded part of the world. Located 750 kilometers north of the mainland, it boasts beautiful beaches, a Caribbean culture, and activities to fill a tropical holiday for days. San Andrés was chosen as the World’s Top Sun and Beach Destination in 2014, 2015, and 2019 at the World Travel Awards. Its award-winning beaches like Sound Bay, Rose Cay, and Cocoplum are the perfect spots to watch hundreds of tropical fish swim by, soak up the sun, and enjoy a little island paradise away from it all.
If you’re in the mood to shop – you’re in luck. The island is a Duty-Free zone and has plenty of boutiques, high-end shopping, and authentic craft stores. Nestled between the most gorgeous beaches on the island you’ll find Spratt Bright, located in the shopping district of San Andrés. Flanked by a promenade full of restaurants, hotels, bars, and shops.
San Andres was declared a UNESCO World Biosphere Site in the year 2000, for its Seaflower Biosphere Reserve. The reserve site is not just the islands and their outlying cays; it also takes in 10% of the Caribbean Sea, covering an expanse of over 300 thousand square kilometers.
What’s been a well-known vacation spot for Colombians for decades, San Andres is becoming known as a destination you can’t miss when you visit this South American country.
– Where to Stay: Casa Harb Hotel Boutique
Casa San Agustin draws on Asian influences seen through the natural materials and feng shui atmosphere of the hotel.
Large floor-to-ceiling windows in the lobby overlook the small colonial-style courtyard and pool, its pristine white walls and balconied windows contrast to the azul-colored water below. Bright fuchsia flowers cascade down the sides of the courtyard creating a welcome shade over the pool’s corner and views of the sea are visible through the wall’s arches.
The hotel has five suites that are individually decorated and wildly different. A beautiful canopy bed in one is replaced with a large wicker bed frame in another. Casa Harb’s restaurant, located in an intimate annex off the lobby, offers a range of Caribbean fusion dishes for lunch and dinner. The atmosphere is distinctly romantic, created by the low lighting and chunky wooden furniture; all overlooking the mesmerizing poolscape.
5. Guatapé, Colombia
The pleasant holiday town of Guatapé is located on the shores of the Embalse Guatapé, a sprawling lake that has become a popular getaway for locals and tourists alike. It is known for its colorful, brightly painted traditional houses, surrounding turquoise lakes, and gorgeous mountain scenery.
In addition to visiting the town, visitors can explore the nearby lake by kayak or with a luxury boat trip for picture-perfect views of the houses, flora, and fauna that surround the gorgeous lakes not to mention the incredible mountain landscape. For unparalleled views from an aerial view, climb the nearly 700 steps up to Piedra El Peñol, a massive rock-turned viewpoint that offers panoramic views of the area.
Guatapé makes a great day trip from Medellín, but there is enough outdoor adventure here to keep you entertained a bit longer if you fancy a peaceful break from the city. Visit on the weekend if you want to experience the festival atmosphere when the town is packed with Colombian tourists, or come during the week to explore the surrounding nature at a more relaxed pace.
– Where to Stay: Boato Hotel
For true over-the-lake luxury, book a stay at the Boato Hotel, a luxury eco-lodge that comes complete with panoramic lake views, and prime access to water sports facilities in Guatapé. Each room has a large terrace to enjoy the picture-perfect views. The Boato hotel also has an onsite restaurant, bar, and garden as well as transportation to and from the airport, and breakfast included. Each room also comes with a kayak and paddle board to venture out to the multitude of small islands and a campfire to relax by after exploring the picturesque town of Guatape. The resort is committed to being carbon-neutral, making this a perfect place for eco-conscious travelers.
6. Villa De Leyva
One of the most well-kept Colombian secrets is the colonial city of Ville De Leyva, which has been a long-standing popular weekend destination with Bogota natives, with its proximity to Colombia’s capital. With picturesque postcard views, cobblestone streets, and colonial charm that will transport you centuries back to a simpler time, this town is a charming break from city life. For those looking for a traditional taste of Colombia, from the food to the architecture and the old town square – Plaza Mayor – which is the largest old town square in South America – this 16th-century city gives travelers a taste of the traditions, architecture, and life in colonial Colombia. Around the area, travelers can head out of the town to hike or cycle through the forests of Iguaque National Park. There is also an El Fosil museum, which houses pre-colonial artifacts including fossils found in the area, such as a 120-million-year-old skeleton of a dinosaur.
– Where to stay: Casa Terra
A short stroll from Villa De Levya’s historic center is Casa Terra – a boutique hotel with seven bright rooms filled with local Colombian artwork. Tucked away off a quiet street, with stunning gardens and gorgeous colonial architecture – this hotel makes for the perfect spot to enjoy a peaceful few days in the quaint Colombian town of Villa De Leyva.
Local materials were used in the construction of the building, preserving the original architecture and maintaining features such as stone walls, wooden beams, and clay tiles. Some of the doors and windows were rescued from a convent in the nearby town of Chiquinquira.
There is a small lounge area where you can enjoy a glass of wine while leafing through the many books on Colombian culture and nature. The hotel staff is attentive and incredibly friendly but discreet, so guests can properly relax and enjoy soaking in the atmosphere of this charming town.
Visiting Resort Towns in Colombia With Kuoda
From the coastal paradise of Santa Marta to the gorgeous colonial city of Villa De Levya – Colombia’s many resort towns are the perfect getaway for those looking to lay back and enjoy a trip of culture, relaxation, and stunning views. Let Kuoda plan your luxury tour to Colombia today – learn more about a luxury Colombian vacation with Kuoda.