25 Things Colombia is Known and Famous For

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Some people might hesitate to travel to Colombia because of its reputation, but the country has come a long way in recent years. While it’s true that Colombia is known for having a turbulent history and negative things like crime and drug cartels, there’s much more to this vibrant South American country than meets the eye. In fact, Colombia is now one of the most popular tourist destinations in South America.

What Is Colombia Known For?

Colombia is famous for its aromatic Arabica coffee, superior quality emeralds, and exotic fruits. The Latin American country is also known for having a knack for throwing the best parties and its passionate people. From its stunningly beautiful beaches to its fascinating history and culture, Colombia is a traveler’s paradise waiting to be explored. Here are a few of the things that Colombia is known for.

Food Colombia Is Famous For


Bandeja Paisa

This dish is a calorie overload and not for the faint of heart, but it’s worth every artery-clogging bite. It’s a dish that originated in Antioquia (the department where Medellin is located) and consists of beans, rice, carne asada (steak), chicharron (pork skin), chorizo, avocado, a fried egg, arepa (corn cake), and plantain.

Most restaurants will serve this platter with soup or salad on the side, but it’s really not necessary. You’ll be so full from just the main dish. In case, you are given a self-service salad buffet, make sure not to overstuff yourself before the Bandeja Paisa comes.



Arepas are one of Colombia’s most ubiquitous snacks, and you’ll find them being sold on every street corner. They’re made of cornmeal dough that’s been flattened into a disc and then grilled or fried.

Speaking of arepas, these corn cakes are a national obsession and can be eaten at any time of day. They’re usually served with cheese (arepa con queso), but can also be filled with meats, vegetables, or eggs. You really can’t go wrong with an arepa no matter what time of day it is.



Ajiaco is a soup that is popular in Colombia, as well as other countries in Latin America. It’s typically made with chicken, potatoes, corn, and a variety of herbs and spices. The dish is believed to have originated in the city of Bogota.

While Ajiaco is definitely tasty, it’s also known for its supposed medicinal properties. It’s often consumed when someone is feeling under the weather, as it’s thought to help boost the immune system.

But even if you’re not sick, Ajiaco is still worth trying. It’s a delicious and hearty soup that will warm you up on a cold day. Find out more about traditional Colombian food to try when you visit the country!


Colombian Coffee

Coffee is huge in Colombia. In fact, it’s one of the few places in the world where you can find high-quality 100% Arabica coffee. The country is one of the top producers of coffee in the world.

Besides being delicious and aromatic, Colombian coffee is also some of the strongest you’ll ever drink. A lot of this has to do with the unique climate conditions (2,600 ft above sea level with a lot of rain) and the traditional way coffee is produced.

A visit to a coffee plantation is a must while in Colombia, even if you’re not a coffee drinker. These trips and tours are popular amongst tourists because it provides a chance to explore the natural landscape, a significant part of Colombian culture, and also taste some amazing coffee.

You can even indulge in some tasty Colombian desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth.

History, Culture, And Traditions Colombia Is Known For


Exotic Fruits

Colombia is known for being a fruit paradise. You’ll find fruits here that you’ve never even heard of, let alone seen before. Some of the more exotic fruits include lulo (a citrus fruit with a sour taste), granadilla (a passion fruit with black seeds), guanabana (a white fruit with large seeds), and tumbo (a yellow fruit with a sweet taste).

Colombia is also famous for its exotic flowers, especially the orchids. You can find these beautiful flowers all over the country, but they’re most prevalent in the city of Medellin.

The Emerald Isle

Colombia is famous for its emeralds which are some of the finest in the world. Interestingly enough, most of the emeralds found in Colombia are a deep green, with bluish hues.

The Muzo mines, which are located in the Boyacá department of Colombia, have been producing emeralds for over 500 years and are some of the most prolific mines in the world.

Colombia is the only place in the world where emeralds are found in commercial quantities. These beautiful green gems have been coveted by royalty and aristocrats for centuries, and today they remain just as popular.

If you’re interested in purchasing some emeralds while you’re in Colombia, be sure to do your research first and buy from a reputable dealer.


Beautiful and Artistic Graffiti

In many cities around the world, graffiti is seen as an eyesore. But in Colombia, it’s considered to be art. This is especially true in the city of Medellin, which has been transformed by street art and graffiti.

What was once a city riddled with crime and poverty has now become a hotspot for tourism, thanks in part to the amazing graffiti. You’ll find murals and street art on just about every corner. It is a form of expression for the locals and has helped to beautify the city.

If you’re interested in seeing some of the best graffiti in Colombia, be sure to check out Comuna 13, a neighborhood in Medellin that was once considered one of the most dangerous places in the world. Now, it’s a mecca for street art lovers from all over the globe.

Drug Cartels and Trafficking

Unfortunately, Colombia is also known for its drug cartels and trafficking. This has been a problem in the country for many years, and it’s something that the government is working hard to combat.

While drug trafficking is a problem in Colombia, it’s important to remember that not all Colombians are involved in this illegal activity. The vast majority of people are good, honest, hard-working citizens.

Do not let the fear of drug cartels and trafficking deter you from visiting this amazing country. Just be sure to exercise caution and use common sense, and you’ll be fine.


Folkloric Festivals

Colombia is a country with a rich cultural heritage, and this is reflected in the numerous folkloric festivals that are held throughout the year. Some of the more popular festivals include El Carnaval de Barranquilla (the Carnival of Barranquilla), The Festival of the Flowers in Medellin, and The Diablada in Pasto.

These festivals are a great opportunity to see Colombia’s traditional dances and music, as well as the colorful costumes that are worn. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to participate in some of the festivities.

Colombian Carnival

While not as prominent as the Brazilian Carnival in Rio, Carnival in Colombia is still a huge deal. So much so that it’s widely considered the second-largest carnival in the world after Brazil.

The biggest Colombian carnival takes place every year in the city of Barranquilla, located on the Caribbean coast. The festivities start on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday and go all the way until the following Tuesday.

This is a massive party, with over 400,000 people descending on the city to take part in the festivities. There are parades, live music, dancing, and a whole lot of costumes.

Colombians know how to party. You will really get to feel the passion and energy of the country in the celebration, not to mention the colorful traditional costumes. It’s an event that Colombia is known for and not to be missed.

Sports And Dance Colombia Is Famous For


Fútbol (Soccer)

Fútbol (soccer) is by far the most popular sport in Colombia. The sport is played everywhere, from the streets to the professional level. Colombians are passionate about their fútbol and have a lot of pride in the national team.

If you’re a fan of the sport, watching a game in Colombia is a must. The atmosphere in the stadiums is electric, and you’ll quickly see why Colombians are so passionate about fútbol. Even if you’re not a fan of the sport, it’s still worth checking out a game to experience the culture.



Colombia is becoming an increasingly popular destination for cyclists. Foreigners are often surprised to see how many locals get around on two wheels. This is likely because of the hilly terrain in many parts of the country, as well as the widespread use of motor taxis (motorbike taxis).

However, the real draw for cyclists is the breathtaking scenery and diverse terrains. With coastlines on both the Caribbean and Pacific oceans, as well as the Amazon rainforest and Andes mountains, there is no shortage of picturesque places to ride.

Colombia is also home to some of the top cyclists in the world, including Egan Bernal, Rigoberto Uran, and Nairo Quintana. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or someone who just wants to enjoy a leisurely bike ride, Colombia is a great place to do some cycling.

Game of Tejo

Tejo is a traditional Colombian sport that is played with explosives. No, really.

The game is played on a small dirt court where players take turns throwing metal discs at a target filled with gunpowder. The goal is to hit the target and set off the gunpowder.

Tejo originates from the time of the Muisca people, an indigenous group in Colombia, and it is still popular today. It’s a fun (if somewhat dangerous) way to spend an afternoon with friends, and it’s definitely something that Colombia is known for.


Salsa Capital of the World

Colombia is widely considered the salsa capital of the world. This popular Latin dance originated in Cuba but really took off in Colombia, specifically the city of Cali. Many international travelers come here to get some salsa lessons.

Now, there are salsa clubs and festivals all over the world. But if you want to experience the best of what Colombian salsa has to offer, you need to go to Cali. This is where you’ll find the best dancers, the liveliest clubs, and the most passionate enthusiasts.

Even if you don’t know how to salsa, you can still enjoy watching others dance. It’s truly a sight to behold and something that Colombia is known for.

Cities And Travel Destinations Colombia Is Famous For


Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon rainforest is the largest tropical rainforest in the world, and Colombia is home to a large portion of it. In fact, about 10% of the Amazon rainforest is located in Colombia.

This massive rainforest is home to an incredible array of plant and animal life, including more than 2,000 species of birds, 400 species of mammals and 1,500 species of fish.

There are also countless trees, vines, and flowers. The Amazon rainforest is truly a sight to behold.

If you’re interested in exploring the Amazon rainforest, there are plenty of tour operators that offer jungle treks and riverboat cruises. This is a great way to see some of the amazing wildlife that calls the rainforest home.



Cartagena is a coastal city located in the north of Colombia. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, thanks to its stunning beaches and colonial architecture.

Cartagena is also a major cruise ship port, so there are often many tourists in the city. This can make it quite crowded, but it also means that there is a lot to see and do.

There are plenty of hotels, restaurants, bars, and clubs to keep you busy. The city also has many museums, parks, and other attractions. If you’re looking for a lively and vibrant city to explore, Cartagena is definitely worth a visit.

For a nice, sandy beach to relax on, head to Playa Blanca. This gorgeous stretch of white sand is located just a short boat ride from Cartagena.



Bogota is the capital of Colombia and the largest city in the country. It is a sprawling metropolis with a population of more than 8 million people.

Bogota is located on a high-altitude plateau in the Andes Mountains, making it one of the highest capital cities in the world. If you are coming from sea level, you want to take it slow to acclimatize before indulging in this lively and cultural city. The city has plenty to see and do, as well as a thriving nightlife scene.

If you’re interested in exploring Colombian culture, Bogota is a great place to start. The city is home to many different museums, including the Gold Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of pre-Columbian gold artifacts.

Bogota is also a great place to shop for Colombian souvenirs. You’ll find everything from hand-crafted jewelry to traditional Colombian clothing.



Medellin is the second-largest city in Colombia and is located in the mountains of the Andes. It is known as the City of Eternal Spring because of its temperate climate.

The city is also known for its hilly terrain and is home to both an impressive cable car transport system and efficient metro. Medellin has grown to become a prominent digital nomad hub in South America, thanks to its affordable cost of living and fast internet speed. It is also a popular destination to participate in Spanish language programs.

There are several museums and cultural centers, as well as art galleries and theaters. The city also has a lively nightlife scene, with plenty of bars.

Famous People From Colombia


The superstar singer Shakira was born in Barranquilla, Colombia in 1977. Her unique style of Latin pop and belly dancing has made her one of the most popular singers in the world.

She has sold over 70 million albums and has won numerous awards, including two Grammy Awards, eight Latin Grammy Awards, and seven Billboard Music Awards.

Shakira is also well-known for her philanthropic work. She has founded the Pies Descalzos Foundation, which provides education and nutrition to children in Colombia and other parts of Latin America.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a Nobel Prize-winning author who was born in Aracataca, Colombia in 1927. He is best known for his novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, which tells the story of seven generations of the Buendia family.

Garcia Marquez is considered one of the most important authors of the 20th century. His work is often referred to as magical realism, and he has influenced many other writers.

If you’re interested in reading Garcia Marquez’s work, reading the One Hundred Years of Solitude is a great place to start.

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Paintings by Botero

Colombia is home to one of the most famous artists in the world, Fernando Botero. His distinctive style, which is characterized by exaggerated proportions, can be seen in his paintings, sculptures, and public artworks.

Botero’s work can be found all over the world, but Colombia is the best place to see it. His hometown of Medellin has a number of his sculptures on display, and there’s also a museum dedicated to his work in the city of Bogota.

Pablo Escobar

Unfortunately, Colombia is also known for being the country of Pablo Escobar. The most notorious drug lord in history called Colombia home and wreaked havoc across the country during his reign.

For a long time, this was the only thing people could think of when they thought of Colombia, and it is a painful history that locals rather not be reminded of when they are welcoming you to their country. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case.

Now, people are beginning to see Colombia for what it really is: a beautiful country with a lot to offer tourists. From its stunning landscapes to its rich culture and friendly people, there’s a lot to love about Colombia.

Architecture And Landmarks Colombia Is Famous For


Cocora Valley

The Cocora Valley is one of the most beautiful places in Colombia. This valley is home to the tallest palm trees in the world, known as wax palms. These trees can grow up to 200 feet tall and are truly a sight to behold.

The Cocora Valley is located in the Los Nevados National Park, which is also worth exploring. This national park is home to several volcanoes, as well as hiking trails and scenic lookouts.

Whether you’re a nature lover or just looking for some amazing photo ops, the Cocora Valley is definitely worth a visit.

Islands of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina

The islands of San Andres, Providencia, and Santa Catalina are located off the coast of Colombia in the Caribbean Sea. These idyllic islands are known for their stunning beaches, crystal clear waters, and laid-back atmosphere.

San Andres is the largest and most developed of the three islands, while Providencia is smaller and more rustic. Santa Catalina is the smallest and most remote island.

The islands are a popular tourist destination for Colombians and foreigners alike. They offer a chance to relax and enjoy the Caribbean lifestyle, with plenty of opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, diving, fishing, and more.


La Tatacoa Desert

This desert is located in the department of Huila and is one of the most unique landscapes in Colombia. The Tatacoa Desert is actually a dry forest, and it’s known for its red clay soil and unusual rock formations.

Despite being a desert, the Tatacoa Desert is home to a variety of plant and animal life. There are various species of birds, as well as snakes, lizards, and rodents. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a wildcat.

The Tatacoa Desert is a great place to go hiking, camping, and stargazing. With very little light pollution, the night sky is absolutely breathtaking.

Many More Things Colombia Is Known And Famous For

What comes to mind when you think of Colombia? The coffee, the emeralds, the cocaine? These are just a few of the things that Colombia is famous for. No matter where you go in Colombia, you’re sure to find something that will surprise and delight you.

From the country’s stunning scenery to its rich cultural heritage, there’s something for everyone in Colombia. If you’re looking for your next adventure, don’t let Colombia’s past reputation deter you. Give the South American country a chance and you are bound to uncover the amazing things that Colombia is known for.



Book Your Flight

I usually use a combination of 2-3 of the following search engines to find cheap flights: Skyscanner, Momondo, Google Flights

Find Your Accommodation

Booking.com is my usual platform for finding accommodation options as they have one of the largest selections. Hostelworld is great for booking hostels. For more private or long term accommodation, Airbnb is my go-to platform.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is important for to protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances. I usually look at a few insurance companies depending on my travel needs.
  • SafetyWings for Travel Health Insurance
  • IMG Global for added Insurance when doing activities outside of usual coverage
Packing for your trip? Check out the packing list for ideas on what to bring

For more travel resources, check out my resources page for best platforms and companies to use when you travel.

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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.


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