Colombia, land of coffee, colourful towns and breathtaking landscapes.
We’ve put this blog together for any travellers looking to scratch their Colombia itch, whether you’re backpacking through Bogota, making shapes in Medellin or chilling in Cartagena.
Naturally you’ll want to know the best time to visit this incredible country, so we hope the blog is helpful in guiding you towards the optimal time for your trip.
Colombia’s location on the equator means that the weather varies between each region rather than varying between typical seasons that are recognised in other parts of the world and this is largely due its range of landscapes and corresponding microclimates, making Colombia a great place to visit at any time of the year.
Chilly evenings can be felt in the Amazonian highlands (which warrants packing extra layers for a comfortable experience), whilst the sun heats the surrounding area in the daytime. Consistently tropical conditions are felt in the country’s lowlands year-round, but with rain also experienced between April - June and October - November.
3 distinct regions of Colombia
The mountainous region have pleasantly cool temperatures all year round with Bogotá, the capital city, sitting at around 15°C (59°F) on average.
If you love the sun, the Caribbean Coast has a wonderful warm, tropical climate with temperatures around 27°C (81°F).
In the Amazon basin the climate is hot and humid with temperatures averaging 28°C (82°F).
The evenings can be chilly in the Amazonian highlands (so pack those extra layers if you want to be comfortable)
In the country's lowlands the conditions are consistently tropical all year round, but with rain between April - June and October - November.
Best time to visit Colombia
Colombia is a fantastic destination with a diverse range of climates, so the best time to visit depends on your preferences and the regions you plan to explore. Generally, though, the dry seasons are the best times to go.
If you're looking to explore the Andean region, including cities like Bogotá and Medellín, the dry season from December to March and July to August is great. The Caribbean coast, including Cartagena, enjoys a drier period from December to March. However, keep in mind that this is also the peak tourist season.
So lets now look at the tourist seasons:
Peak Season in Colombia ( December to February) (July and August)
The busiest time of year in Colombia is between December to February.
It is dry in the majority of areas (with the exception of the Amazon - of course). There is also a “mini” dry season in July and August which experiences much of the same conditions.
This weather is obviously ideal to experience all that Colombia has to offer, whether you are hiking through beautiful landscapes, spending time on stunning beaches, soaking up historical towns or sipping world-renowned coffee. If you plan to visit during the peak times though, be sure to book things early (there are lots of popular festivals taking place) and be prepared to pay slightly more.
Also be aware that the popular beauty spot Tayrona Park is closed during the first few weeks of February for vital restoration and clean up purposes, otherwise known as ‘Respira Tayrona’.
Things to do in Colombia during the Peak season
- Explore Cartagena's Historic Old Town by wandering through the charming cobblestone streets and visit historical sites like the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas
- Head to the Caribbean coast, where you can enjoy the sun and sea in places like Playa Blanca, San Andres Island, or the Rosario Islands.
- Hike in Tayrona National Park and experience the rainforests, beautiful beaches and unique wildlife in this beautiful national park on the Caribbean coast.
- Attend Medellin's Flower Festival if you're there in August, don't miss the Feria de las Flores, a vibrant celebration featuring flower parades, concerts and cultural events in Medellin.
- Whale Watching on the Pacific coast, you can witness the incredible spectacle of humpback whales migrating, often seen from June to October.
- Experience the lively salsa scene in Cali, known as the "Salsa Capital of the World." Join in on dance lessons and hit the salsa clubs.
- Discover Bogotá's Art and Culture and explore the capital city's museums, street art scene and historic neighbourhoods like La Candelaria.
- Visit Villa de Leyva, this charming colonial town is a step back in time with its preserved architecture and beautiful main square.
- Go Trekking in Los Nevados National Park as for adventure seekers trekking to the snow-capped peaks of the Andes in this park is an unforgettable experience.
Shoulder Season in Colombia (April to June and September to November)
During the shoulder season, typically falling between April and June, as well as from September to November, the weather is generally pleasant and there are some great things to do.
In regions like Bogotá, which has a high-altitude climate, the shoulder season occurs during the transitional months of April and October where temperatures are milder with daytime highs averaging around 65-70°F (18-21°C). However, be prepared for occasional rainfall and cooler evenings, pack layers and a waterproof jacket.
On the Caribbean coast, including popular destinations like Cartagena and Santa Marta the shoulder season falls between December and February and then again in June and July.
During these months the weather is warm and pleasant weather with temperatures ranging from 82-88°F (28-31°C), it's a great time to explore the beautiful beaches and coastal areas as they are less crowded.
In Medellín, the shoulder seasons are March and September with comfortable temperatures and highs around 75-80°F (24-27°C) during the day. The nights are cooler though making it an ideal time to explore the city and its surrounding areas.
Keep in mind that Colombia's diverse geography and microclimates mean that weather conditions can vary greatly from one region to another.
So, when planning your trip during the shoulder season, be sure to check the specific weather forecast for your chosen destination to make sure you are prepared.
Things to do in Colombia during the shoulder season
- Explore Bogotá,the capital city has milder temperatures during the shoulder season, perfect for exploring historic neighborhoods, like La Candelaria and visiting museums such as the Gold Museum.
- Colombia is famous for its coffee, and this is a great time to visit coffee farms in regions like the Coffee Triangle (Eje Cafetero)
- Hike in the Andes as with the cooler weather, trekking becomes more comfortable. Look at places like Cocuy National Park or Ciudad Perdida for an adventure with breathtaking landscapes.
- Visit Medellín. The "City of Eternal Spring" is lovely during the shoulder season and you can ride the cable cars for stunning views.
- Colombia's Caribbean coast is lovely at this time of year, places like Cartagena or Santa Marta are perfect for some beach relaxation and water sports.
- Visit the Amazon rainforest in southern Colombia as the shoulder season is a good time to spot the amazing wildlife.
- Keep an eye out for local festivals and events that might be happening. Colombians love to celebrate.
Remember, Colombia's climate can vary greatly depending on the region you plan to visit so always check local weather forecasts.
Low Season in Colombia (April to November)
The low season in Colombia typically falls between April and November, with the exception of some national holidays and festivals. You will find visiting during the low season means fewer crowds and lower prices.
Colombia's low season typically corresponds to the rainy season, which varies from region to region.
Caribbean Coast (Cartagena, Santa Marta)
The low season here is from April to November and during this time there is higher humidity and occasional heavy rainfall.
Temperatures remain warm though, with high in the 80s°F (around 30°C).
Bogotá and the Andes
The low season in this region is also from April to November. It's cooler in Bogotá because of its higher altitude, with temperatures ranging from 50-65°F (10-18°C). Rainfall is more frequent, so be prepared for occasional showers.
The Amazon experiences rain year-round, but the wettest months are from December to July. Expect heavy, regular rainfall, making it a vibrant time to explore the rainforest.
Medellín has a more consistent climate year-round. Still, during the low season months of April to November, you may get the occasional rain shower, but the temperature is pleasant, ranging from 65-75°F (18-24°C).
The low season along the Pacific Coast is also from April to November. This region has heavy rainfall and high humidity during these months, not the best time for beach activities.
Here's what you can do during Colombia's low season
- Explore Medellín and visit the "City of Eternal Spring" Explore its museums, parks, and take the cable car ride for stunning views.
- Discover Colombia's coffee culture by visiting coffee farms in the Coffee Triangle region. Learn about the coffee-making process and enjoy the wonderful landscapes.
- Take a trip to the Amazon Rainforest, which is more accessible during the low season.
- Head to the Pacific Coast for a different beach experience. Go whale watching, eat seafood and relax on the quieter beaches.
- Although it can be a bit rainy during the low season, you can still explore the history of Cartagena.
- Villa de Leyva is a colonial town and a great destination year-round but is less crowded during the low season.
- Bogotá, the capital city, can be explored with its fewer tourists. Visit museums like the Gold Museum and take a day trip to the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá.
Remember to check the weather conditions for specific regions in Colombia during the low season, as rainfall can vary. But overall, it's a great time to experience Colombia's diverse culture, landscapes and attractions without the crowds.
When is the rainy season in Colombia
The Caribbean coast sees the most rain in September and October, though it’s still pleasantly warm during this time (and safely situated south of the tropical hurricane belt). This time of year, however, is a good one to visit the Amazon -where the latter experiences low water levels which make for fantastic hiking conditions and optimal wildlife spotting.
Our experience travelling in Colombia
We visited Colombia in April (i.e the beginning of the country’s ‘shoulder season’) and most definitely experienced a wide range of weather spells.
The first 2 nights in Bogota we tried out a free walking tour that came highly recommended from other travellers we’d met and were pleased to find that the experience lived up to its expectations. Fun fact - did you know that Justin Bieber helped inadvertently make graffiti legal in Bogota when he visited the city in 2013?
For more interesting facts like these (and of course the chance to experience the buzz of this capital city on foot), we’d advocate for you to do said free walking tour too.
Primed and ready, we arrived in our rain jackets… but alas, no rain was felt, just lots of humidity with patches of sunshine occasionally breaking through grey skies.
After Bogota we flew to the famous city of Medellin - and what a place it was. We watched an entertaining football match between Atletico Nacional and Independiente Medellin one night. Ponchos were very much needed on this occasion, but fear not if you do get caught in the rain as you can buy one easily from the scouts on a mission climbing up and down the stands’ seats selling ponchos alongside ice-cream and delicious (unknowingly consumed) alcohol-free beer.
From Medellin we also did a day excursion to the delightfully colourful town of Guatape, where you can also climb a (rather large) rock otherwise known as El Penon de Guatape to get a great view of surrounding water and mini islands.
5 days later we flew to Santa Marta and transferred on to the coastal town of Palomino.
Both Santa Marta and Palomino are generally hot, but cooler and drier than the oven that is Cartagena (we’ll get onto that later). That being said, our first night proved very interesting when hours of non-stop torrential rain meant we had to trek in the dark through a flooded neighbourhood to reach a spot for dinner (100% recommend this place - Casa Cocotte –for the incredible food and the friendly pets that roam around freely).
A standout highlight from our time spent in Palomino would have to be the communal dog walk along the beach that we booked via Airbnb Activities with some of the furry friends from the local animal rescue shelter ‘Palomino Animal Soul’.
From Palomino we travelled on to the jungle, way up into highlands of the magical Minca.
As we mentioned earlier, the climate in Colombia depends mostly on the level of altitude - and in Minca you really are quite high up. Especially when you take a trip to a local coffee and cocoa factory situated on such a steep verge at the top of a mountain that the taxi can’t make it up the final stretch of road and you have to hike the rest of the slippy vertical terrain in flip flops. Stunning views were seen from the highest point of this factory turned museum though, and both the cacao and coffee we tried were also pretty special.
You can imagine how the ride back down the muddy cliff edges felt on the back of a random motorbike post lunchtime downpour. Ahhhhhh… the lunchtime downpour. A constant feature of our time in Minca. No matter how hot and sunny the morning started, come midday the heavens would open and ponchos would be whipped out quicker than you could say ‘ay caramba!’.
After Minca it was time to head to our last spot in Colombia, and a very memorable one it was indeed. Cartagena is a port city founded in the 16th century on the Caribbean coast where temperatures typically hover around the 30 degree mark all year round. Accommodation situated near a body of water is therefore a must, in our humble opinion, if you plan to venture to this interesting historical city (which you absolutely should). Make sure to plan a trip to Casa en el Agua too whilst you’re there –where a 2 hour boat trip from Cartagena’s main port will transport you to an idyllic floating hostel paradise in the middle of the Caribbean sea.
Be sure to book early to avoid disappointment!
To wrap this up, Colombia is a fantastic place to visit and is understandably loved by travellers from all over the globe. We spent the best part of a month there in April and whilst we definitely had our fair share of various weather events, we were still able to tick almost everything off our long awaited bucket list. As long as you plan your trip in advance and budget accordingly depending on the time of year, you’ll be right as rain (excuse the pun).