Where Colombia fits on your South America travel calendar
From the colonial allure of the Caribbean city of Cartagena to the natural wonders of the Amazon rainforest, Colombia is a prism of many faces. The best time to visit this vibrant South American country therefore depends on your destination. Luckily, distinct wet and dry seasons and temperatures that remain steady throughout the year make it easy to pinpoint the ideal time for a Colombian adventure.
All about elevation
Temperatures in Colombia vary depending on elevation rather than by season. In and around Cartagena, a Spanish-era old town that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the average year-round temperature is a humid 87 degrees F. By contrast, Medellin, located in the Andes mountains, is known as the "city of eternal spring" largely because the average annual temperature is a comfortable 75 degrees F. Meanwhile, in the capital city of Bogota, temperatures hover around 57 degrees F. It can get chilly here at night, so pack a sweater.
Rain, rain go away
While elevation determines temperatures in Colombia, rainfall varies with the seasons. Colombia's Andean region, which includes Bogota and Medellin, experiences two dry and two wet seasons a year. Understandably, the two dry seasons – December through March and the months of July and August – are popular times to visit. This region experiences the heaviest rainfalls in October and November. The Amazon region is wet year-round.
Holidays in Colombia
Colombia comes alive with festivals during the Christmas season. Travelers wanting to spend their Noel in Colombia should therefore expect crowds of fellow revelers. Be willing to pay top dollar for accommodations during this time, especially in popular places like Cartagena and beach destinations on the country's Atlantic coast. Needless to say, booking in advance is savvy. Ditto for trips planned for Holy Week, the week right before Easter. Travelers headed to big cities like Bogota during these or other holidays, such as the country's Independence Day, should expect to find many shops, restaurants and other businesses closed.
Getting around Colombia
Travelers planning to visit multiple destinations within Colombia by car or bus should avoid the rainiest months of October and November. Flooding and mudslides can occur during this time, making the country's two-lane mountain roads difficult, dangerous or downright impossible to navigate. Generally, there's no need to make reservations for intercity buses far in advance; however, reservations are a good idea during busy travel periods such as Christmas, Easter and other big holidays. The same goes for purchasing domestic plane tickets.