How Much Time Should I Spend In Medellin and Bogota?

TL;DR: Five days between both cities is more than enough time if you’re on a short trip.

When traveling to Colombia, you’re likely going to end up in Medellin, Bogota, or both at some point during your stay. They’re both interesting cities worth visiting, and there’s a lot to do both in the cities and the surrounding areas.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of amazing places that are farther away as well, so you have to decide how much city time you want during your stay.

However, rest assured that you can see much of what both cities and surrounding areas have to offer even if you’re limited on time.

 

How Much Time Should I Spend In Medellin?

We spent six months in Medellin, but we also had friends and family visit Colombia while we there.

Some of our friends stayed in Medellin for five days, and our family stayed in the city for three days. Based on our long-term experience and their shorter experiences, it seemed that three days was plenty for those on a shorter trip.

In those three days, you can:

Although there’s more to see and do around the city, those are the highlights that you really need to see as a tourist.

Once you’ve done that, it’s easy to get to get a flight to Cartagena or a bus to Jardin. If you only have 10-15 days in Colombia, there isn’t much reason to stay longer than those three full days.

 

Medellin day trip to Guatape

 

How Much Time Should I Spend In Bogota?

During our time in Colombia, we spent a weekend in Bogota (arrived late Thursday and left Monday afternoon) and found it to be more than enough time to explore the city, see the sights, and enjoy the nightlife.

Bogota is a big, crowded city and doesn’t have the nicest weather because the high altitude makes it chilly and rainy year round. 

Although it’s interesting and definitely worth seeing, I wouldn’t recommend spending more than two days here if you’re on a time limit.

In that time, you can:

  • Visit the colorful La Candelaria district
  • See the imposing government buildings
  • Enjoy the sweeping views from Monserrate
  • Have a wild night out in Zona Rosa
  • Visit Catedral de Sal de Zipaquirá

Unless you really like crowded streets and crazy nights out, you’ll soon be ready to move on to the jungles, beaches, and more the Colombia has to offer.

 

View from Monserrate in Bogota

 

Wait, What Else Can I Do In Colombia?

If you’re on a 10-15 day trip to Colombia, that still leaves you with 5-10 days to visit other parts of the country. You could easily fit in the chilled out coffee districts of Salento and Jardin if you want to be out in an authentic small town with plenty of nature, or you could go spend time in Cartagena (or even San Andres Island) if you want a sunny beach and colorful old town.

Although it really comes down to you and your own preferences, I definitely wouldn’t spend more than five days between Medellin and Bogota if you’re on a shorter trip in Colombia.

There are just too many other amazing things to see throughout the country.

 

If you have any questions or opinions, let me know in the comments section below!

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Mexico vs. Colombia: Which Should You Visit?

I love Latin America.

The people, the culture, the nature, the language; all of it is amazing.  

We spent almost all of 2017 (and the beginning of 2018) traveling in Colombia, Peru, and Mexico, and I hope that we can return someday to see even more of both South and Central America.

Unfortunately, what many people have to base their opinion on when deciding where to travel in Latin America is what they see in the media.

While there certainly are places that you probably shouldn’t visit in both Mexico and Colombia if you value your life, the reality for both countries is much different than what you might expect.

So, let’s take a look at traveling in Mexico vs. Colombia to see which option might be better for you.

 

Tourist Attractions

Although I don’t feel the need to seek out every tourist attraction that a city or country has to offer, I do enjoy seeing the sites as time allows.

If there’s one thing missing for tourists in Colombia, it’s probably a wide range of true tourist attractions as compared to other countries in Latin America. Some of the most popular are…

While there are certainly other things to do, these are the ones I found that most people tend to visit.

 

 

If tourist attractions are your thing, you won’t be disappointed in Mexico.

Some of the most popular are…

  • The beaches and islands of Quintana Roo (Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, etc.)
  • Mayan ruins like Coba, Chichen Itza, and more
  • Underground Cenotes
  • Colonial cities like Taxco, Puebla, and San Miguel de Allende
  • Laguna Bacalar
  • Boat cruises and scuba diving
  • Many national parks

I had to really limit myself on the Mexico one just because there’s so much to see. For me, their list of tourist attractions beats Colombia’s any day. 

Mexico vs. Colombia Tourist Attraction Winner: Mexico

 

Ease of Tourism

Because of the sheer volume of tourist attractions in Mexico, there are a ton of different choices for all types of travelers. Whether you want to do everything on your own or do an organized/prepaid tour, there are always options available to you.

Since Colombia is still in the earlier stages of its tourism industry, everything can be just a little bit more difficult to figure out. There isn’t always a ton of information about what to do, and there aren’t many of easy options for organized tours if that’s what you’re looking for.

Mexico vs. Colombia Ease of Tourism Winner: Mexico

 

Infrastructure

Latin America isn’t exactly known for having the easiest infrastructure to navigate, but I found Colombia and Mexico to both have pretty good infrastructure for whatever you need.

In the bigger cities, you can almost always find nice grocery stores, access to public transportation (Mexico City and Medellin both have metros), modern highways, shopping malls, taxis, Uber, and options for quality healthcare.

Mexico vs. Colombia Infrastructure Winner: Tie

 

Nature and Hiking

Both Mexico and Colombia are beautiful countries with a lot of nature to see.

However, what I found in Colombia (at least in Medellin) was that the nature was a bit difficult to access if you didn’t have a car. With that said, there are plenty of really nice places around the country for you to enjoy. Whether you visit Santa Marta, Jardin, or Salento, there’s a lot of beautiful scenery.

The main advantage that Mexico has is that the country is significantly bigger than Colombia, so there are just more options. We swam in cenotes in Tulum, spent days on the beaches of Playa del Carmen, relaxed at Laguna Bacalar, and hiked near active volcanoes in Izta-Popo National Park. Overall, the nature in Mexico is way more varied, interesting, and accessible than it is in Colombia.

Mexico vs. Colombia Nature and Hiking Winner: Mexico

 

girl on water swings in laguna bacalar

 

Nightlife

Colombia is famous for their nightlife scene. No matter what city you’re in, you can find wild bars, clubs, or parties to go to. This is especially true in the cities that tourists tend to go to, Medellin and Bogota.

Poblado has the best nightlife in Colombia, but you can find one just as good in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Additionally, Mexico City is one of the biggest cities in the world, so you can find whatever you’re looking for there as well. They also have a much better rising craft beer scene in Mexico City, which I enjoyed taste testing during our trip.

Both countries have great nightlife, but Mexico just comes out ahead on this round. 

Mexico vs. Colombia Nightlife Winner: Mexico

 

Safety

Both countries have been plagued by drug violence over the years.

However, Colombia has managed to reduce it significantly (at least anywhere that you will likely see), and there’s no question that it’s an incredibly safe country for you to visit as long as you’re smart.

On the other hand, Mexico is still fighting its war on drugs. With that said, the violence tends to be concentrated in specific areas of the country that you can easily avoid. We never felt the least bit unsafe at any point during our two months in Mexico, even while visiting a city (Taxco) in one of the states (Guerrero) that the United States has on its no travel list.

In both countries, common sense prevails. If you’re seeking drugs, prostitutes, or any other nefarious activities, all bets are off.

Mexico vs. Colombia Safety Winner: Colombia

 

Food

I love food, and it’s one of the most important things to me when I’m traveling.

There’s a lot of good Colombian food (bandeja paisa, anyone?), and there’s also quite a few different international options for you if you’re in the bigger cities. Even in the less touristy neighborhood of Envigado in Medellin, there were definitely some really good restaurants.

However, for me, Colombian food doesn’t come close to Mexican food. Being from the United States, I’ve always enjoyed Mexican food, so it was pretty great to be able to get really amazing and cheap Mexican food wherever I went. There’s also a ton of really great options for international food as well in Mexico City, which sealed the deal.

Mexico vs. Colombia Winner: Mexico

 

shrimp tacos in playa esmeralda

 

Overall Winner of Mexico vs. Colombia

There’s really no question for me when it comes down to which country I would recommend visiting. Although I loved the time that I spent in Colombia, Mexico is the clear winner for me.

Whether you’re a long-term traveler or someone looking for an easy 10-day trip, Mexico has it all.

Agree? Disagree? Think I’m an imbecile?

Let me know in the comments!

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18 Travel Photos from 2017 That’ll Make You Book a Flight Right Now

2017 is coming to a close, and I can’t believe it. In the past year, I have…

Lived in 3 Countries
Visited 9 New Cities
Spent 6 Months in Colombia
Spent 4.5 Months in Peru
Took 17 Flights (and countless more busses)
And started my travel blog, Slight North!

This blog was started based on two principles… to showcase gorgeous photos, and write simple, helpful, and honest travel articles. This past year has been a dream, working for myself, exploring the world, and documenting it all. Now, looking back, I can’t believe all the beautiful places I was able to visit!

It was a hard choice, but here are my top 18 travel photos from 2017… I guarantee they are all the inspiration you need to book your next flight today!

 

Guatape Medellin, Colombia
read more

 

Machu Picchu Cusco, Peru
read more

 

Girl in a waterfall

Arenales Waterfall Medellin, Colombia
read more

 

Misti Volcano Arequipa, Peru
read more

 

girl laughing on door step

Walled City Cartagena, Colombia
read more

 

Poblado Penthouse Medellin, Colombia
read more

 

Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Jardin, Colombia
read more

 

Rainbow Mountain Cusco, Peru
read more

 

Humantay Lake Cusco, Peru
read more

 

Misti Volcano Arequipa, Peru
read more

 

Misti Volcano Arequipa, Peru
read more

 

sitting on terrace, grey goose, city view

Boutique Penthouse Medellin, Colombia
read more

 

Laguna 69 Huaraz, Peru
read more

 

Spratt Bight Beach San Andres Island, Colombia
read more

 

Santa Cruz Trek Huaraz, Peru
read more

 

boat and beach

Playa Blanca Cartagena, Colombia
read more

 

Huacachina Oasis Ica, Peru
read more

 

Nevado Mateo Huaraz, Peru
read more

 

Which one is your favorite? Stay tuned for more travel photos from 2018, from Mexico, the US, and many more countries TBD (I really need to get to that whole planning thing…) Thanks for reading, commenting, and coming along with me this year. It’s been a pleasure to share my travels with you and I can’t wait to see what’s next 🙂

All my love,
Di

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DIY Guide for the Best Poblado Bar Crawl

Alright. I lived in Medellin for 6 months, so I had plenty of boozy weekends to put together the perfect night out in Poblado. You probably don’t have as much time in the city as I did, so I created this guide to help you hit up all my favorite places in one night.

Follow these suggestions for the ultimate Poblado bar crawl because whether you’re into craft beer, shots, classy establishments or clubbing all night, this list has it all.

 

Dinner

Every one knows you can’t go out on an empty stomach, so you need to start your Poblado bar crawl with dinner. What’s your budget?

Bonhomia is the best restaurant in Poblado. It serves amazing charcuterie platters, fresh baked bread, and papas bravas. A meal for two here will run you about $25. They also have a fancy cocktail menu with drinks around $8 each. I recommend this restaurant if you have money to blow and want to check out their awesome patio and chill ambiance.

If your budget is a little lower, then definitely hit up Querido Food and Love. This place is a gem. Its cute and classy, but meals will only run you about $5 each, and glasses of wine are only $3 more. I recommend the spinach and artichoke dip and truffle pizza. Yuuum.

 

Happy Hour

Are you ready to get f*cked up? If you answer yes like any backpacker should, then the only next logical stop on the ultimate Poblado bar crawl is the Happy Buddha Bar.

A lot of people know this is a major party hostel, but most people don’t know that the cocktails are 2 for 1 between 6pm and 8pm. Thats two mojitos, gin and tonics, or whatevers for $4. And they’re strong too.

Happy Buddha Bar is also great because it is on a second level open air balcony, has pool tables, and usually some interesting people hanging around. It’s also right across the street from Querido. If you hit up this happy hour, I guarantee you’ll start your night off right.

 

Craft Beers

Craft beer is my favorite part of the night!

So, the happy hour ended at Happy Buddha, and you’re probably more drunk than you should be. No worries, just cross the street and take a seat at the Brew House.

This place is run by a Colombian American who is pretty much always drunk and giving out free shots of Jaegar. The bar has beer pong, darts, and best of all: their own craft beer. At $5 for a pint, escape the clutches of Club Colombia and splurge on something new. Plus, the owner told me they’re working on a house brewed cider coming soon… my fav!

 

Shots

If you manage to leave the Brew House (most times we went we ended up staying and drinking with the owner and his friends after closing) then continue your Poblado bar crawl at Shupa Shots.

This is a small bar right near Parque Lleras with an insane shots menu. They have candy shots, coffee shots, and literally every flavor under the sun. They also have alcoholic slushies, hats and costumes to dress up in (why?) and a giant shot wheel to spin and see what you should order next. The two deadliest shots here are definitely the Heroina shot (served in a giant syringe the bar tender empties into your mouth) and the Gasolina shot that tastes absolutely awful but gets the job done.

The shots cost around $4 each and one shot here is more than enough, you’ll feel the effects hit you almost immediately. They are strooooong.

 

The Last Stop

Ok, I have two great choices for the last stop on your Poblado bar crawl, depending on what you’re into.

First, there’s the classy stop. Walk to Panorama Rooftop Bar. This bar has multiple levels and different balconies. It’s open air, has tons of greenery, is always packed and has a great vibe. It’s a little expensive ($5 or $6 for a glass of wine) but a great place to relax, chill, and end the night right.

Second is for people who want to dance all night. Although I don’t club much, there’s a great one next to the Happy Buddha Bar on the left side… but I forget what it’s called and can’t find it online. It was fun when we visited and had great music and lots of dancing. If you want to walk a little further, the Sixxtina club in Poblado is popular too and has good reviews online.

 

Medellin is a can’t miss stop on the gringo trail through South America because it has some of the best nightlife on the continent. No matter what you’re into: shots, clubs, craft beer, or chill nights out, this ultimate Poblado bar crawl guide has it all. If you have any more suggestions to add to the list (if you can remember them that is) then comment below and let me know!

Ally my love,
Di

PS Don’t miss our guide to craft beer in Medellin to visit more of our favorite hotspots in the city! 

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Collect memories, not things. 

Colombia vs. Peru: Which Should You Visit?

South America.

It’s one of the most diverse continents in the world and a great destination for travelers of all types.

Two of the most popular destinations on the continent are Colombia and Peru. To give you a bit of background about my experience with the countries, we spent six months in Colombia in the first half of 2017 and spent four months in Peru.

To be honest, I ended up there because I compared prices for flights on Skyscanner and they were the cheapest destinations… but in the end I sincerely loved both.

However, when people are deciding to visit South America, Colombia vs. Peru is one of the most common comparisons. While I definitely recommend that you visit both if time allows, that just isn’t an option for a lot of people. Let’s take a look at which one might be for you.

 

Tourist Attractions

If you’re a backpacker on a long-term trip, this one might not matter as much to you as it might for someone on a shorter trip. However, tourist attractions are fun for everyone, no matter what type of traveler you are.

During our time in Colombia, I found that tourist attractions weren’t really that big of a thing. Some of the most popular are:

  • The Walled City of Cartagena
  • Anything Pablo Escobar
  • Tayrona National Park
  • Monserrate in Bogota
  • Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira
  • Medellin Cable Car

While there are certainly others, these are just some of the most common that tourists tend to visit. We spent most of our time in Medellin, though, where there is very little in the way of tourist attractions.

Read: What to do in Medellin

After spending six-months in Colombia, landing in Peru was like landing in a tourist wonderland. It seems like everywhere you go there are a ton of different options for tourists. I could list tourist attractions in Peru for days, but some of the most popular are:

And the list goes on.

There’s really no question about who has the better tourist attractions since Machu Picchu alone blows away everything that Colombia has.

Colombia vs. Peru Tourism Winner: Peru

 

Infrastructure

Infrastructure is particularly relevant for those traveling long-term.

I’ll start by saying that Colombia has a metro. That alone is something special in South America. They also have nice shopping malls, high-quality medical care, modern highways, a range of grocery stores, and easy access to cheap flights ($45 USD round trip between Medellin and Bogota).

Peru isn’t quite on that level.

While I love Peru, the infrastructure just isn’t there yet. Although there are some cheap flights available, busses are the most common mode of transportation for most people, including tourists. From what I’ve seen, the roads, malls, and grocery stores are all a little bit lower quality in Peru as compared to Colombia.

Colombia vs. Peru Infrastructure Winner: Colombia

 

Ease of Tourism

Like I said about Colombia, there just isn’t a whole lot in the way of tourism. I think a lot of that is due in part to the fact that they are still coming out of one of the longest civil wars in modern history.

Having spent six months based out of Medellin, I can tell you that there aren’t many options for people looking for tours. There are very few tourist agencies, and those that do exist are usually expensive. Most of the tourist stuff that you do in Colombia is stuff that you just do on your own.

In Peru, the tours never end. We spent two months in Cusco and didn’t even get to all the tours that we wanted to do. You have several options for treks to Machu Picchu, Rainbow Mountain, the boleto touristico that gets you into multiple ruins and museums, the Sacred Valley, Huchuy Qosqo, and more.

That’s not even getting into everything else in the country, like climbing mountains in Huaraz, visiting Lake Titicaca, and more. There’s no question on this one.

Colombia vs. Peru Ease of Tourism Winner: Peru

 

Nightlife

One of the most attractive aspects of Colombia for many is the thriving nightlife. After spending time in Medellin, Bogota, and Cartagena, I can say that the reputation is well-deserving. Tourist hotspot Poblado in Medellin has the most active nightlife that I’ve seen all year, with bar crawls, craft beer, and plenty of nightclubs.

In Peru, I’ve found the nightlife to be lacking a little bit. Although there are a lot of great bars, night clubs, and breweries, I just haven’t seen anything yet that even comes close to a Friday or Saturday in Poblado or Zona Rosa in Colombia. Drinks are also generally more expensive in Peru than they are in Colombia.

Colombia vs. Peru Nightlife Winner: Colombia

 

Nature and Hiking

Before I went to Colombia, I thought that I was going to have easy access to all kinds of beautiful nature. Unfortunately, that just wasn’t the case in Medellin. Although it’s a beautiful city, the only real option to escape city life is Parque Arvi. Of course, there are other amazing parks and hiking in Medellin, but I just didn’t find it all to be as accessible as in Peru.

In Peru, going on anything from a day hike to an extended trek is super simple. There are countless agencies willing to take you out and provide all the gear, and most of them are reasonably priced. We’ve gone on a trip just about every weekend that we’ve been in the country. From walking through easily accessible ruins to scaling 19,000 ft. volcanos, there’s something for everyone in Peru.

Colombia vs. Peru Nature and Hiking Winner: Peru

 

Food

Much of my opinion about food in Colombia is colored around our stay in Medellin. There’s a lot of good Colombian food (especially the Bandeja Paisa), but there are a ton of really good international restaurants in Medellin as well. We could find everything from Vietnamese food to pizza to charcuterie to typical American fast food in Medellin. There was always something really great to eat no matter where you were in the city.

In Peru, I don’t think the food has been as good. Although I haven’t spent much time in Lima yet (one of the food capitals of the world), I think that there were just a few more good options in Colombia.

Colombia vs. Peru Food Winner: Colombia

 

Overall Winner in Colombia vs. Peru…

Although we end up at a 3-3 tie, I weigh some of these categories a bit heavier than others. For me, the outdoors and ease of access categories weigh heavily, and for that reason I choose Peru over Colombia.

If you’re someone who wants to have a wide range of activities at a very reasonable cost, there’s no question that Peru has more to offer than Colombia at this time.

PS still not sure of your decision? Visit the Colombia and Peru pages to see budget breakdowns, destination guides, restaurant recommendations, and more. 

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Craft Beer in Medellin: It’s Better Than You Think

Pablo Escobar. Cocaine. Drug cartels. The next big craft brew scene?

Colombia is a country of several faces, and its world reputation suffered significantly during the drug wars. Unfortunately, many people know it to be a dangerous place.

However, the Medellin, Colombia that I came to know during my six-month stay couldn’t be further from that perception.

Finally able to breathe again after years of suffering, Colombia is experiencing a wave a foreign visitors as it has never before seen. In fact, tourism in Colombia has exploded by 250% since 2006. And those visitors have helped to bring something beautiful to the country.

Craft beer.

I’m talking IPAs, chocolate stouts, coffee stouts, cannabis pale ales, amber ales, and several other incredibly delicious brews. Although it may not be the first thing that you think about when you think Colombia, it should certainly be on your radar. Let’s take a look at what I found in Medellin.

 

A Scene in its Infancy

Since I wasn’t old enough to experience the craft beer boom in the United States in the late 1990’s, being in Medellin gave me a taste of what it must have been like when the scene was in its early stages.

For example, we checked out the La Toma Cervecera craft beer festival in Medellin. Although we were only expecting a few different beer booths and some people hanging out, we showed up to a fifteen-minute long line just to get in the warehouse/brewery.

Once we paid for our tickets and got our mug/requisite palate cleanser (sliced chorizo), we walked into a surprisingly poppin beer festival. It was complete with multiple different independent beer companies, small booths serving artisanal food, a guy giving beer tattoos in the middle of the party, and the classic industrial layout (think exposed beams, open roof, beer tanks, and everyone sitting at wooden pallet tables).

With all of the different options to try, it was difficult to decide where to start (luckily we had time for several). The difference that stood out to me the most about many of the companies is that several of them were clearly just some friends that got together to brew some craft beer.

For example, we stopped at one booth, and the poor guy’s bottles were just exploding and overflowing one after another (we finally got a decent kiwi IPA off of him). Although not every beer that we tried was excellent (in fact, most were not anywhere close to what you might find in the US), it was pretty awesome to witness the beginning of the craft beer boom in Medellin.

With all of the different companies that showed up, you might think that it’s easy to find craft beer in Medellin.

Unfortunately, that leads me to my next point.

 

A guide for glasses for craft beer in Medellin

Photo Credit: La Toma Cervecera

 

Hard to find in Stores

If you’re from a craft beer-loving country such as the United States (sorry Europeans/Aussies, the beer in the US is the best), you’re going to find it quite difficult to track down a good brew in the city. In the supermarkets (yes, even in Carulla), the best that you can find is Club Colombia (not a bad beer in its own right), a few iffy imports, and some Bogota Beer Company (pretty solid, actually).

For the good stuff, you’ll have to track down the few places in the city that stock craft beer in the bar. Luckily, if you’re a tourist, that shouldn’t be that hard to do. Some of the best places for craft beer in Medellin that we found were the following places:

  • The Brew House in Poblado: Carries a decent selection of their own craft beers and several other local beers. Plus, the owner is a nice guy and great to drink with. He’s always there and will probably have a drink with you if you strike up a conversation.
  • La Cerveceria Libre in Poblado: About a 5-7 walk from Parque Lleras. It’s a bit away from the more touristy stuff, but the beer selection here is good.
  • Ragazzi Pizza and Pastas in Envigado: Although not everyone has enough time in the city to make it out to the suburbs, this is one of the best restaurants in Envigado. Their prices are excellent, their food is great, they always have several craft beers available, and the owners are super friendly.
  • The Beer Store in Poblado: This one ‘s hard to miss. It’s directly in the center of Parque Lleras, but they have a pretty good selection of beer. It’s the only place that I could find the BBC IPA in Medellin.

Although there are certainly a few other places to get craft beer in Medellin (in Poblado and elsewhere), these are just a few of the better places that I found during our stay in the city.

As Colombia continues to prosper and experience influence from people all over the world, I imagine that the craft beer in Medellin is only going to get better. Whether you have two days or two months in the city, be sure to experience the scene for yourself.

PS for more suggestions don’t miss our DIY Poblado Bar Crawl Guide to visit all our favorite Medellin hot spots in one night!

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