Colombia’s magic is not just a tale to be heard, but a reality to be experienced. From the beaches of the captivating Caribbean coastline to sweeping Andean vistas to awe-inspiring emerald jungles, South America’s northernmost country offers unexpected surprises for families. Significant improvements in security and tourism infrastructure have rendered travel safe in the majority of Colombia, offering parents some peace of mind when visiting family-first cultural attractions and planning unforgettable escapades. Colombia holds plenty of space for children to let their imagination run wild and free and for the enchantment to reveal itself naturally.
Rooted in strong familial ties, almost every corner of Colombia resonates with celebrations, shared meals and a collective spirit that embraces visitors of all ages. Children are treated with special care and attention, often enjoying a VIP-like status from the moment they pass through the dedicated line for families at customs.
Is Colombia a good destination for kids?
One of the best things about traveling with children to Colombia is that it’s not hard to keep the kids actively engaged, whether they’re weaving a basket with a local artisan in the Amazon or playing in a city park with other kids. Many museums and attractions in the country offer discounted admission for children under 12 (some up to 50% off the regular price) while other museums are free. In Bogotá, there are more than 50 museums and art galleries, and most are open to the public for free or reduced rates on the last Sunday of the month.
Dining out in Colombia is often a family affair, so there are plenty of restaurants that cater to kids. Andrés Carne de Res, known for its lively atmosphere and traditional Colombian fare, has face painting and crafts, plus a petting zoo and playground at its original location in Chia. Other kid-friendly chains are Crepes & Waffles, El Corral, Frisby and Archy’s. Elsewhere, you can sometimes find a children’s menu, smaller portions, high chairs and, sometimes, activities and games. It can take a long time for food to be served, so always have snacks ready to go.
Luckily, numerous bakeries, mom-and-pop convenience stores and mobile food carts fill the gap for quick bites. Colombian cuisine balances familiar flavors and mild spices, making it accessible to young palates. Arepas (corn-flour pancakes) are a staple accompaniment at breakfast, lunch and dinner, which often includes chicken with rice and a side of crispy fried plantains. Delicious, fresh-squeezed juices served with most meals are made from the many exotic fruits grown in the country. It’s a good introduction to new flavors in a thirst-quenching form.
Where are the best places to travel in Colombia with kids?
When seeking the ideal destinations for a family getaway in Colombia, one’s focus naturally gravitates toward a seamless travel experience. The primary international gateway cities – Bogotá, Medellín, Cali and Cartagena – present a variety of cultural attractions, city parks and shopping multiplexes that make them kid-friendly. The allure of these major cities lies in their rich tapestry of history and modernity, offering a blend of educational experiences and urban entertainment.
However, Colombia’s travel experiences extend well beyond its cityscapes. Families eager to immerse themselves in the country’s remarkable biodiversity and natural wonders will enjoy venturing into smaller towns that boast adventurous pursuits and proximity to national parks. Escape the urban bustle of Medellín by heading to the colorful town of Guatapé, where fascinating architecture collides with recreational opportunities on a picturesque reservoir. From Cali, venture to San Cipriano Rainforest Reserve for river tubing and a ride along an abandoned railway in the jungle. Head east from Cartagena to visit the awe-inspiring Tayrona National Park and the world’s highest coastal mountains, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. As for Bogotá, short domestic flights grant easy access to even more remarkable destinations – whether it’s the Amazon, the Zona Cafetera (Coffee Triangle) or the Caribbean islands of San Andrés and Providencia, both geographically closer to Nicaragua than the Colombia coast.
Best things to do in Colombia with babies and toddlers
Indulge in a day – or three – of relaxation and adventure on Parque Tayrona’s beaches
Parque Tayrona, one of Colombia’s most-visited national parks, is home to some of the country’s most idyllic beaches, packed with plenty of soft sand for hours of sensory play. Encompassing nearly 100 square miles of untamed beauty, the park is filled with rewarding vistas, such as the wildly popular Cabo San Juan del Guia. That location requires a long jungle hike to reach, which may be tough while also carrying small children, their diapers, snacks, towels, toys and other beach necessities.
For a more accessible path to beachfront bliss, try Bahia Concha and Playa Cañaveral. Located at the western end of the park near Santa Marta, Bahia Concha presents a tranquil oasis in the form of a picturesque horseshoe-shaped bay. Here, the waters are gentle, perfect for a worry-free dip with your little swimmers. And for those moments when nap time beckons, rest assured that rentable tents and lounge chairs offer shady respite. And you don’t have to get out of your seat to order food and drink.
Alternatively, Playa Cañaveral, located on the eastern fringes of the park, is not just a day trip destination. Stay at Ecohabs Tequendama inside the park boundary. The decked-out huts offer the best of both worlds – proximity to the water, so close you can practically hear the waves lapping, and a level of comfort that guarantees the family’s well-being.
Take it to the streets during Bogotá’s weekly Sunday Ciclovía
Every Sunday, 128 kilometers of Bogotá’s main thoroughfares close to vehicular traffic between 7am and 2pm for the Ciclovía – a captivating car-free day that is a breath of fresh air compared to the city’s ever-present traffic jam. Families take to the streets on bikes, skateboards, scooters, roller skates, hoverboards, wagons and tricycles, weaving through the urban tapestry along these open lanes of leisure. Many of the routes link the city’s green spaces, historic sites and museums, making it a great way to check out places like the Museo de los Niños near the Parque Simón Bolivar, the graffiti of La Candelaria or the Mercado de las Pulgas, a weekend affair of crafts, food and entertainment in the affluent suburb of Usaquén.
Bike shops throughout the city rent bikes, repair flat tires and handle other mishaps during the day. Child carriers are hard to come by, though. Try Bogota Travel Tours in La Candelaria, which rents a bike equipped with a baby seat and a child-size helmet for four hours at a rate of COP $70,000 (approximately US$19). If you can’t procure a bike, it’s perfectly acceptable to head out on foot, pushing the kiddos in a stroller.
Best things to do in Colombia with kids
Explore the bountiful countryside of the world-renowned Eje Cafetero, or Coffee Triangle
While coffee might be a pleasure primarily relished by adults, Colombia’s oldest and most illustrious coffee region is filled to the brim with outdoor adventures for all ages. Embarking from one of the three cities – Manizales, Pereira and Armenia – that form the Coffee Triangle, head into the Andean landscape, dotted with sprawling coffee and dairy farms, colorful towns, hidden hot springs and verdant valleys.
Get a double shot of excitement at Parque del Café, a theme park located on a working coffee plantation. You can delve into the history and process of coffee production when not busy screaming with joy on the thrill rides, which include the longest rollercoaster in all of Colombia.
The nearby Valle de Cocora involves a 20-minute ride in an open-air Jeep Willy from the town of Salento. This local public transportation is a wild rollercoaster ride on four wheels, especially for the adventurous souls clinging to the back bumper. Once you arrive, hike or horseback ride through the valley, surrounded by wax palms so sky-high they nearly break through the clouds.
Finally, pay a visit to Termales Santa Rosa de Cabal, where nature’s hot tub is heated by geothermal activity from the El Ruiz volcano. The baths are set amid a tapestry of lush greenery punctuated by a cascading waterfall. You can even snooze at its upmarket hotel, designed to look like a Swiss chalet.
Escape to the Caribbean island of San Andrés for sun, sand and snorkeling
The island of San Andrés remains a largely off-the-beaten-track Caribbean getaway, despite direct flights from the US and mainland Colombia. It’s a great place for aspiring underwater adventurers since it sits along the third-largest coral reef in the world. Diving trips and boat excursions to Johnny Cay and Cayo El Acuario are popular, but the most accessible and kid-friendly spots to don a mask and snorkel are on the island’s rocky west side. Side-by-side waterparks, Eco Parque West View and Reggae Roots, rent gear and life vests. West View has a twisting waterslide, while Reggae Roots has a shallower spot to enter the water. From either location, fearless swimmers can swim out to the sunken statue of Poseidon resting on the sea floor, eight meters below the water’s surface. It’s an underwater destination for scuba divers or an Aquanautas helmet-diving excursion.
The island’s best beaches, such as San Luis and Rocky Cay, can be found on the eastern flank of the island, which has a wide range of accommodations for the family on or near the sand. Local bus passes frequently for ease of getting around, but it’s a lot of fun to rent a golf cart to explore the island at your leisure.
Best things to do in Colombia with teenagers and tweenagers
Get wild in the Amazon
With countless tales of untouched Indigenous communities, elusive jaguars, shockingly large snakes and rambunctious monkeys hidden deep within the jungle, it’s no wonder the Amazon rainforest evokes a sense of wonder in both kids and adults. For a truly out-of-the-ordinary experience, begin your adventure in Leticia, a steamy town bordering Peru and Brazil. At dusk, visit the Parque Santander for its nightly nature show, when hordes of colorful parrots eclipse the setting sun as they descend upon the park’s trees to bed down – accompanied by a deafening hum of beating wings and loud shrieks. Speaking from experience, bring wipes to clean up any unwanted fecal matter that lands on you.
From Leticia, voyage deeper into nature’s mysteries along the Amazon River, which winds along the southern border of Colombia for 150km on its journey from the Peruvian Andes to the Atlantic Ocean. As your boat glides along, you’ll get a glimpse of life in the tiny villages that dot the riverbanks. Plan to stay a few nights at an eco-lodge connected to one of these Indigenous communities for a feeling of total immersion. Just don’t tell the kids internet and cellular service is extremely limited or non-existent.
Lodge staff can arrange other excursions, whether you want to watch pink river dolphins frolic in the wild, go piranha fishing, participate in a traditional Indigenous dance, take a night hike for a chance to spot nocturnal creatures or visit the nearby river town of Puerto Nariño, where you can climb to the top of a look-out tower for a birds-eye view of the territory. An Amazon escapade promises unforgettable moments even if you just want to lie in your hammock at sunrise, listening to the hum of boat engines competing with the rhythms of the natural world awakening – croaking frogs, insects, birds and the sound of rustling branches bending from the weight of micos (small monkeys) grabbing for fruits and seeds in the canopy.
Feel the adrenaline rush in San Gil, Colombia’s capital of adventure sports
You don’t have to be a fan of extreme sports to fall in love with San Gil. The 300-year-old Andean town on the bank of the Río Fonce has its share of breathtaking vistas, including lush moss-covered trees thriving against a backdrop of green hills and pristine rivers carving their way through deep gorges and leaping over rock faces. However, families with the correct dose of courage and determination can take on some of the daring activities for which the Santander town has become famous.
While heart-pounding bungee jumps, exhilarating mountain-biking trails and the thrill of paragliding, caving, canyoning and torrentismo (waterfall rappelling) are all on the menu, whitewater rafting put this adventure town on the map. Experienced rafters take on the mighty and unpredictable Class V rapids of the Río Suarez or the Río Chicamocha, which delivers Class III and IV rapids as it winds through a dramatic canyon. For a more relaxing ride with kids seven and up, the Río Fonce may be more your speed.
- Broken, uneven sidewalks, cobblestone pavers and buildings without ramps or elevators make it difficult to navigate Colombia with a stroller. Bring a baby carrier for wheel-free transportation.
- Always check for discounts for children. Even if it’s not advertised, you may be able to negotiate a descuento para niños (discount for kids).
- If you’re traveling with little ones, be sure to ask to about the minimum age requirement before booking tours and attractions.
- Outside of major city shopping centers, bathrooms can be small and cramped for one, let alone a parent and child. Baby-changing stations aren’t standard, and rare in men’s restrooms.
- Attitudes about breastfeeding in public are slow to change. Bogotá’s El Dorado airport has added lactation booths throughout the terminal.
- In addition to food delivery, you can order diapers, pain relievers, groceries, clothing and toys all to be delivered to your accommodations with the mobile app Rappi. The service currently works in the cities of Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, Cartagena, Barranquilla and Bucuramanga.