Many of the things you’ll learn about Colombia trace their origin to family legacies: practices that have been conceived, admired and therefore passed down from generation to generation over time. Knowing so undoubtedly makes the experience of visiting Colombia and learning about authentic Colombian pride and warmth all the richer.
Here are 10 things you’ll definitely learn when visiting Colombia:
1- Coffee is the most welcoming beverage on Earth
Colombia’s the most welcoming place on Earth, Colombians are the most welcoming people you could meet, so it stands to reason that the country’s flagship product, that famous beverage, should be the most welcoming on Earth, too, right? After all, it’s the go-to thing you offer when greeting someone at your place, it’s the perfect excuse to catch up, we’ve all said and heard it: “Wanna grab a cup of coffee?”
Coffee is more than just a drink, it’s a warm moment to share with someone, an opportunity to talk to a friend, to close a deal, to welcome someone, it can even be the initial invitation that can end up changing your life.
2-The respect they have for nature.
It’s a deep respect that’s taught in every home and has been passed down over the years. Colombians’ deep relationship with nature comes from the fact that the country is one of the world’s most biodiverse – the second overall and the most by square km, to be precise.
The warmth of Colombians can be felt in this staunch protection of the biodiversity and beauty of their land, something they take upon as a dutiful honor. The people of Colombia all share a sense of responsibility towards protecting the present and future of both human beings and natural resources.
At the same time, you’ll also be able to observe and learn about the deep love Colombians have for the ocean and how they seek to share it with visitors. It should be noted oceans cover over two thirds of our planet’s surface and are key to making it inhabitable – they’re to thank for the existence of all living beings on Earth and they affect all of our lives, so caring for them so deeply is another example of Colombians’ warmth towards life and the world.
3- The kindness of the people
There is a lot to learn from people who take the time to make you feel good and that truly care for you, even if you’ve only just met. This kind of friendliness is especially precious when it breaks with a daily routine that can often bog people down. Even a tiny smile is a shared sign of warmth that can uplift others in ways we can’t begin to imagine.
You’ll find that Colombians are more than ready to be at every foreigner and tourist’s disposal, hoping to make their visit the most wonderful ever, regardless of nationality, belief or language. You’ll also notice the way Colombians try to tailor every last detail to their guest’s unique taste in order to render their visit of each town, city or region the best experience of their lives.
4- Expressions used by Colombians
Colombian Spanish goes well beyond random slang words making up a particular jargon, it’s rather a shower of terms, expressions and accents that’ll put you under any Colombian’s spell.
There are countless expressions that perfectly exemplify Colombians’ warmth, which is why you should learn them before your trip – but no pressure, they’re so common you’ll surely end up using them after spending some time with locals. Some of these are berraco, bacán, parcero, and more. Find out what they mean!
5-Their supernatural ease to turn good music into great moments
Music is one of the languages through which those born and raised in Colombia communicate their empathy and kindness.
Did you know Colombia is nicknamed “the country of a thousand rhythms”? That’s right, Colombian musical diversity stands out with its over 1,025 distinct rhythms. Each region boasts numerous co-existing dances, melodies, instruments and more, like the Greater Colombian Caribbean, where you’ll dance to cumbia, mapalé, bullerengue, porro, vallenato, and calypso to name a few.
“To the rhythm of drums that sound like Colombian cumbia, the sound of an accordion that leads the way to some classic vallenatos, the beat of the timbal of Colombian salsa, the cheerful and festive rhythm of Colombian porro and the fusion of Caribbean rhythms that are translated in champeta, in Colombia we invite you to dance all year around”.
6-The different stories behind each meal.
Gastronomy is an art in Colombia, and with it, its people also honor family traditions that have existed for decades across towns, cities and entire regions: the different typical dishes that stand out in Colombia’s culinary offer explicitly connect those who prepare them with their memories and cultural heritage. They make up a gastronomic culture that fills the world up with flavor.
Fish, vegetables, coffee, chocolate, dairy products, affordable fresh meats, and even more than 360 distinct fruits make up the long list of Colombian flavors that lead to the most representative regional dishes. Among them, you’ll find ajiaco santafereño, bandeja paisa, mote de queso, lechona tolimense, mamona or ternera a la llanera, mute santandereano, tamal and delicious fish preparations, the latter especially in coastal regions.
7- Traditions and festivals
It’s when vibrant festivals fill up the streets with joy, colors, rhythms and flavors that some foreigners feel the most dazzled by the most welcoming place on Earth.
Among Colombia’s main festivals and carnivals, you’ll find the likes of the Blacks and Whites Carnival, celebrated on the first week of January in Pasto; the Carnival of Barranquilla, a tradition that celebrates the cultural diversity of the Greater Colombian Caribbean; and the Easter processions of Popayán, one of the most popular religious events in Colombia. All of these have been declared intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO and manage to attract large numbers of foreigners each year.
8- Sharing unique experiences with locals
The kindness and friendliness with which locals invite newcomers to experience the country is something truly unique. As Colombians always say: “To host means to share our warmth so that everyone may feel at home.”
The idea of enjoying destinations by coming into deep contact with locals is an increasingly popular tourism trend that also invites residents to help create a so-called “local experience” that allows visitors to take it all in at their own pace.
Not only is Colombia not an exception to this trend, but the warmth Colombians are used to greeting foreigners with makes them true naturals at creating experiences that will make visitors feel like part of the country, be it by merely hitting the beach or strolling the city as they could’ve easily done by themselves.
9-You’ll learn all about Colombian forests
Did you know about 53% of Colombia is covered by forests? Among the countless things this country has to offer, exploring its greenery is one of the most wholesome experiences you can enjoy.
The Amacayacu National Natural Park is home to more than 5,000 species of plants and to the greatest biodiversity of primates in the world, for example. Cueva de los Guácharos, Colombia’s first ever National Park, is also highly recommended. Not to mention the Otún Quimbaya Fauna and Flora Sanctuary, a must-visit destination for those who’d love some ecotourism in the Coffee Cultural Landscape
10-A must visit to all museums
A guaranteed way to make travelers feel like the doors are open for them to learn about Colombia’s history and culture. Locals will tell you this is a great way of better understanding the country as it is today.
When in Bogotá, we recommend you start with the Gold Museum – with the largest pre-Columbian gold collection in the world and around half a million visitors a year, it’s one of the most visited tourist attractions in the country – and the Botero Museum, where you’ll admire some of the famed Colombian painter’s finest works as well as one of Latin America’s most important international art collections.
You should also definitely visit the Museum of Antioquia, home to artwork by the department’s most influential artists (including Botero himself), and the La Tertulia Museum of Modern Art in Cali, often regarded as the first museum of modern art in Colombia and which boasts the most important collection of paper art in the country.
Ready to learn more about Colombia? An entire world of color, flavor and culture awaits!