Colombia is full of adventure, natural beauty, and colorful culture that wows tourists and makes locals proud to call this South American country home.
If you’re planning to go soon, you need to know the best time to visit Colombia for the best weather, lowest prices on travel, and fewest crowds to get the ideal Colombian experience.
Consider us your travel guide as we outline some of the most attractive reasons to visit Colombia, the best time to visit for your trip goals, and helpful travel tips to make the most of your stay.
You’ll be an expert on what to expect in Colombia by the end of this guide – get ready to plan the ideal Colombian trip at the perfect time of year!
Why You Should Visit Colombia
What makes Colombia worthy of a visit? This South American country has a lot going for it and something to offer every type of tourist.
Whether you’re itching to explore the rich culture of the major cities here, get out into the rugged wilderness of the Andes Mountains, tour the muggy, lush Amazon Rainforest, or hike your way through Colombia’s national parks, you’ll find there are endless outdoor activities to appreciate here.
Colombia’s Cities and Culture
Colombia’s cities are packed with history, lively culture, and unique restaurants and shops that will make your visit worthwhile.
From the capital Bogota high up in the mountains to friendly, bustling cities like Cartagena, Barranquilla, Cali, and Medellin, you’ll find lots of urban and rural areas to help you get acquainted with the culture and vibe of Colombia.
Tourists typically stick to the main populous centers where there are plenty of activities, museums, restaurants, and events happening.
The culture of Colombia runs deep with history since its discovery by Spanish conquistadors in 1499. Choco, the first city established by explorers here, still runs along Colombia’s northern Pacific coast up to the border of Panama.
The Spanish influence made Roman Catholicism the main religion here, and today, that’s still the case. Religious celebrations are huge events in Colombia and if you don’t mind crowds, we recommend arriving in time to experience Semana Santa (Easter or Holy Week) or Christmas here.
You’ll find examples of Colombia’s rich culture in the music, dance, food, coffee, and celebrations (carnavals) held in the cities and villages.
Delicious Food, Coffee, and Flavors
Colombia’s Spanish and Latin American influence are apparent in the cuisine and dishes this country is famous for. Colombian food is similar to Mexican food, though not as spicy. It’s heavy on rice, meat, potatoes, and plantains.
Arepas – circular cornmeal breads eaten alone or piled high with toppings – are a staple here.
The national dish is the filling bandeja paisa, which is really a feast for a king with ground beef or sausage, steak, fried pork skins, rice and beans, eggs, avocado, arepas, and plantains on a single plate.
Hearty soups and stews with meats and seafood, deep-fried empanadas, rich Colombian coffee (often considered the best in the world), and sweet desserts are other Colombian cuisine highlights.
Do yourself a favor and eat with an open mind while you’re here – you’d be surprised how great unexpected ingredients and flavor combinations can taste!
Unrivaled Adventure and Scenery
Colombia is packed with the perfect terrain and landscapes for adventurous activities and gorgeous, tropical scenery. If you want a vacation that’s less about relaxing on the shore and more about getting out and experiencing the wonder of the wild, this is where you need to be.
From touring the Amazon rainforest via trails or boat (you’ll visit from Leticia, Colombia’s southernmost city) to spelunking the country’s vast network of limestone caves, you’ll find nonstop adventures awaiting you here.
Surfing, world-class fishing, diving and exploring coral reefs, hiking Colombia’s national park trails, kayaking and white water rafting, paragliding, exploring ruins, and rock climbing will keep even the most hardcore adventurer occupied in Colombia.
Serene Relaxation on the Beaches
And if fast-paced adventure isn’t really your speed, you’ll still appreciate a visit to Colombia for its peaceful, stunning beaches. Colombia is the only South American country that borders 2 oceans with coastline on both the Atlantic Ocean/Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean.
On the tourist haven Caribbean side, the waters are warmer, while on the more rugged Pacific side, the waters run cooler and deeper. The “old town” of Cartagena and the port of Santa Marta boast some of the most popular and beautiful beaches here.
Colombia has 74 tropical islands with pristine, sandy beaches of their own. San Andres and Providencia are the most popular, but Gorgona, Malpelo, and Tierra Bomba are other beautiful options for island-hoppers who want to avoid the biggest crowds.
Colombia Is a Year-Round Destination
It’s challenging to point out the best time to visit Colombia as a whole because the country has several different climates due to its variable elevation and terrain.
Since Colombia is so close to the equator, there’s not a lot of seasonal temperature changes that would make one season better to visit than another. In fact, it’s safe to say that you could visit Colombia at nearly any time of year and have a wonderful visit with great weather.
This is one of those year-round locations that you’ll enjoy no matter when you go!
However, it becomes easier to see the best time to visit Colombia when you factor in rainfall, the number of visitors arriving at different times of year, average travel prices for each season, events and festivals going on, and slight shifts in temperature that make certain periods better for, say, visiting Colombia’s beaches or the Llanos Orientales Region (the Eastern Plains).
Let’s get to it – below, you’ll find the best time to visit Colombia overall, the period with the cheapest travel and accommodations prices, and the least busy time of year to go.
Overall Best Time to Visit Colombia
- December-March, June-September is the best time to visit Colombia
- Colombia’s 2 high seasons for tourism with great weather, little rain
- Perfect conditions for beaches, hiking, touring the Amazon, and cities
December-March is usually the driest period of the year for Colombia, while June-September sees little rainfall and is the most popular for tourists arriving at Colombia’s beaches and major cities.
December-March is the best time to visit Colombia’s beaches (also great for surfing) as locals desert the cities to take vacations of their own.
Visit the Caribbean islands of Colombia during this period to avoid the rains and experience ideal beach, swimming, and diving conditions.
From June to September, you’ll run into bigger crowds and higher prices as kids are out of school and summer vacations result in huge numbers of tourists arriving. But it’s a great period for dry weather and sunny skies throughout most of the country.
This is a good time to visit Colombia’s beaches, hike through the national parks, and explore the bustling cities that are packed with tourists and non-stop events.
Hiking in the Andes and exploring the national parks is ideal at this time of year because there’s little rain to keep you off the trails.
It’s the perfect time to walk and sightsee in Colombia’s bustling cities as well. Expect rainy weather in the Amazon in December-March with better, drier conditions for tours from June to September.
If you’re out to spot Colombian wildlife, July-September (extending into October) is an ideal time to see humpback whales migrating from Colombia’s northern coast (Choco).
Cheapest Time to Visit Colombia
- September-November is typically the cheapest time to visit
- Perfect period to visit the Amazon Rainforest and beaches
- Mountainous regions + the Caribbean coast are rainy and wet
The best time to visit Colombia on a budget is September to November, which is part of the off-season here. You’ll find lower prices on flights to Colombia and cheaper rates on hotels and accommodations during this part of the year.
Resorts are known for offering low-priced packages and deals to entice visitors during the off-season, and September-November is the peak for cheap prices.
You’ll find that this is one of the ideal times to tour the Amazon Rainforest via boat or trails (with a guide, of course). Lower water levels at this time of year leave the trails through the Amazon dry.
During the wetter parts of the year, trails are covered by the swollen Amazon River. With the waters receded, wildlife is abundant and easily spotted during rainforest tours. From sloths and snakes to colorful birds and crouching cats, there’s a lot to see at this time of year.
Colombia’s beaches are also prime for visiting at this time of year, with fewer visitors crowding the sandy shores of mainland Colombia and the many islands and islets off the coast.
If you visit the Pacific coast, you’ll have the chance to spot the end of humpback whale migration! It’s not a great time for the mountainous regions, which are battered by intense rains and even flash floods that wash out mountain pass roads at this time of year.
The Caribbean coast sees a little more rainfall as well, but the showers tend to take place in the afternoons so you can time your beach visits to avoid them.
Least Busy Time to Visit Colombia
- April-June, August-October is the least busy time to visit
- Off-season periods mean fewer tourists, lower prices
- Rain can complicate outdoor activities
The best time to visit Colombia without large crowds is April to June and August to October. These are generally rainier periods than the rest of the year for most of Colombia, which explains why fewer tourists are traveling here at these times.
But there are plenty of options for adventure and activities when you visit during these low-season lulls if you know where to look!
These 2 periods see the most rainfall on average, making them less popular months to visit Colombia with one exception: Semana Santa (Holy Week surrounding Easter).
Things get busy, expensive, and more crowded, especially in Popayan, Pamplona, Tunja, and Mompox. The Amazon is difficult to tour and explore from April to early June as the increased rain makes the river swell and cover many of the trails through the rainforest.
Mid-June is when the waters of the river finally drop and leave trails clear and dry, and conditions are ideal for Amazon tours and exploration until November.
It’s also a great time to visit San Gil, the adventure capital of Colombia, for white water rafting on the fast-flowing rivers, paragliding, and spelunking in Colombia’s caves.
Prime surfing and fishing conditions in Nuquí and Buenaventura are another plus for visiting during April, May, and June.
More Things to Consider
You know the best time to visit Colombia for great weather, outdoor activities and Amazon tours, city exploration, and cheap prices. What else should you know to make your Colombian visit perfect?
Here are some helpful travel tips to consider as you start planning your stay:
- Choose the right region to visit. Colombia is made up of 5 geographic regions: The Pacific coast, Atlantic/Caribbean lowlands, Andean region, the Llanos Orientales (tropical grassland plains), and the Amazon rainforest. It’s easy to narrow down where you should visit by considering your goals for the trip. The Pacific and Atlantic/Caribbean coasts are best for beachgoers and the Amazon rainforest and Andes Mountains are perfect zones for thrill-seeking adventurers. Wildlife lovers need to visit the tropical Llanos region during the dry season, where hundreds of species of colorful birds, mammals, and reptiles can be spotted.
- Eat like Colombians do. In Colombia, there’s a saying: “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a beggar.” Breakfast is typically the biggest meal of the day, with lunch and dinner portions becoming progressively smaller and lighter. This can take some getting used to for visitors, but it’s a great way to feel connected with the culture when you eat as the Colombians eat!
- Fly throughout the country on the cheap. Colombia is a large country, so if you’re planning to explore different regions during your trip, you could spend 10+ hours in the car each way. Budget domestic flights through VivaAir or Avianca are cheaper options (tickets as little as $20-$30) for cross-country travel. You’ll save time without traveling by car so you have more time to enjoy Colombia! Print your tickets in advance as there’s a $20 print charge if the airline prints it for you.
- Be safe during your stay. While Colombia had a poor reputation for violence, drugs, and cartel activity in decades past, the country has worked hard to clean up its reputation and become a safer place for international visitors. Pickpocketing is one of the more common crimes now, so keep an eye on your belongings, don’t accept gifts or food/drink from strangers, and keep your wits about you if traveling in cities after dark. Don’t travel alone if you can help it – it’s just another way to stay safe while traveling abroad!
- Spanish is the official language. About 99.5% of Colombians speak Spanish, which is the official language here. English-speaking tourists will appreciate that English is widely spoken in some of the more popular tourist zones in Colombian islands, like Providencia, San Andres, and Santa Catalina. Brush up on common Spanish phrases to more easily communicate when you’re out and about in Colombian cities – it will make your stay go a lot smoother!
So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Colombia?
Overall, the best time to visit Colombia is during the high seasons of December-March and June-August. These are ideal for tourists who want to spend time on the beaches, exploring the Amazon, hiking in the national parks, and traversing the cities.
There are lots of tourists during these periods and prices are a little higher, but it’s the best time to experience Colombia at its best.
For a more budget-friendly trip, the best time to visit Colombia is from September to November. While the Andes Mountains and Caribbean coast receive more rain at this time of year, weather is ideal for touring the Amazon and spending time on the beaches here.
If you want to avoid the big crowds of the high season, plan your visit during April-June or August-October. April-June is perfect for outdoor adventures like white water rafting, fishing, surfing, and paragliding.
August-October is better for Amazon rainforest tours. Avoid the week of Easter, when big crowds arrive in time to celebrate Holy Week.
With so much diverse terrain, city-wide celebrations, and outdoor activities to enjoy, Colombia makes a great place to visit for the entire family. Consider your goals for the trip to determine the absolute best time to visit Colombia.
If you want your trip to go smoothly, get familiar with Spanish before you travel and decide which region(s) you want to spend your stay exploring.
With so much delicious food, lively culture, and things to do in this adventurous South American country, you’ll leave with a new appreciation of nature and Colombian history after your stay.
If you’re not sure which South American country to visit, consider Argentina. It’s known for its rugged natural beauty and similar but uniquely spiced and flavored cuisine. Check out The Best Time to Visit Argentina in 2022 next!