For many years, Colombia was thought of as a dangerous place to visit — and some areas still are. But as the South American nation has slowly become more peaceful, tourist numbers have increased — and it's easy to see why.
Colombia, known as "the gateway to South America" because of its location in the north of the continent, has beaches on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. But take a trip away from the water and you will also find the Mars-red landscapes of the Tatacoa Desert, the rainforests and 12,000-year-old rock paintings of Chiribiquete National Park, and the beautiful "lost city" of Teyuna, believed to have been built around the year 800.
On the Caribbean coast, Cartagena, with its famous Old Town and fortress, has been popular with visitors for many years. And further south, the capital city of Bogotá may be rainy, but it also offers lots of museums, restaurants and nightlife.
Dancing and festivals
Famous for salsa dancing, Cali is a city that dances all year round, but the fun really begins in September when the World Salsa Festival comes to town. And up north in the city of Barranquilla — birthplace of pop star Shakira — the traditional carnival is one of the largest in the world.
After all that, relax with the real taste of Colombia. West of Bogotá is an area known as Zona Cafetera — the "coffee zone." Talk to the farmers, watch them at work, and enjoy the taste of one of the country's best-known products.