7 Reasons to Visit Cali, Colombia | Two Wandering Soles (2023)

Cali, Colombia is known as the salsa capital of the world. People from all over the world flock to Cali and many stay longer than they expected. This is what happened to our friend, Courtney, and she shares why Cali draws in people and makes them fall in love with this place.

7 Reasons to Visit Cali, Colombia | Two Wandering Soles (1)

By Guest Author:Courtney Vondran

I’ve traveled almost all of South America, went to Machu Picchu, Tayrona National Park, and Uyuni Salt Flats — all of those special places South America is famous for. You know the place I cannot stop thinking about?

Cali, Colombia.

I’ll admit, it’s not the most tourist-friendly place I’ve ever been. And it’s not the most beautiful. But damn, it is special.

It has a completely different vibe than the Caribbean city of Cartagena and the digital nomad favorite: Medellin.

I’ve compiled a list of 6 reasons why Cali is one of the best cities in Colombia. I’m sharing what makes this such a magical city you should NOT miss, followed by a few things to do in Cali and some travel tips for when you get there!

1. There are lots of things to do in Cali

7 Reasons to Visit Cali, Colombia | Two Wandering Soles (2)

Go hiking

An “easy” hike within the city is Cerro de las Tres Cruz. It takes about an hour to hike up and there’s fresh juice at the top. My friend was able to sprint up, but I had to take a couple breaks. I blame the altitude.

Many locals hike up daily for exercise. I recommend hiking up early between 5 a.m. and 1 p.m. when police are on duty, anytime after locals warn it is dangerous. Remember to wear sneakers or hiking boots.

Experience Colombian cuisine

Eat your way around the best restaurants in town or take a cooking class and really delve into Colombian cuisine.

Try salsa dancing

As the “capital” of Salsa dancing, you have to give it a try while you’re here. More recommendations on where to try it below!

Practice your Spanish

With affordable course options and a fun place to base yourself, Cali makes a great hub for learning (or improving) Spanish.

2. It’s the capital of Salsa Dancing

7 Reasons to Visit Cali, Colombia | Two Wandering Soles (3)

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Cali is the salsa dancing capital of the world and boy, does it live up to it’s name. It is absolutely incredible. I am a dancer, my passion is movement.

I’ve danced in cities all across Latin America and the United States. Never have I ever witnessed dancers with such passion and rhythm in my entire life. The locals dancing in the famous clubs of Tin Tin Deo and La Topa Tolondra give every last drop of energy to the dance floor. I can’t stop smiling just thinking about it.

I took 4 weeks of private salsa classes at Salsa Pura. I highly recommend classes with Dalia (pictured above), but all of the instructors are fantastic. I learned the unique salsa Caleña style. It’s worth taking private classes.

I also took group classes at Salsa Pura and Arrebato Caleño. If you are intermediate, I recommend Arrebato for their challenging group class twice a week.

3. It’s the perfect place to improve your Spanish

If you’re taking salsa classes, might as well learn some Spanish while you’re here.In my opinion, it’s the perfect combo. I took classes at Viva La Lingua, the more classes you take, the cheaper they are. I believe the classes are around 55.000 pesos/hour. It includes activities, a school and resources. I really enjoyed my time there.

If you want to save a bit of dinero, I highly recommend Linda. She was my teacher at Viva La Lingua, but has recently become independent. After one month, I was able to lead a yoga class in Spanish and converse with locals on a higher level.

Her classes are very engaging and less expensive than going to a Spanish school. I can honestly say I was never bored in her class (which is a problem for me)

Contact info: Linda Monsalve +57 319 7650862 (WhatsApp)La Pro de Espanol (Facebook)

4. Cali is Cheap

7 Reasons to Visit Cali, Colombia | Two Wandering Soles (4)

Just about everything is cheap in Cali. Accommodations and food are super cheap, if you know where to go. Upon arrival, we stayed in a simple private room through Airbnb for $10/night (Click here for$55 off your first stay on Airbnb).

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We eventually rented a centrally located furnished studio apartment for $300/month. If you are traveling solo, there are many cheap hostels in San Antonio. I recommend El Viajero hostel.

We have loads of info on how to book Airbnbs, red flags to watch out for when booking, and our favorite Airbnbs in ourAirbnb article. Plus, we’ll give you our Airbnb coupon code for up to $55 off Airbnb.

And who doesn’t love cheap delicious food? A lunch menu is around 10.000 pesos ($3.50). I recommend Pita Majita, El Buen Alimento, and Vegetariano Flor de Loto for cheap vegan/vegetarian food. If you’re in the mood to treat yourself, go to Pão for a yummy cold brew with almond milk.

5. There are awesome day trips from Cali

I’ll be honest, I did not leave Cali while I was there. I did not want to miss out on any dancing! Here are three day-trips my lovely Spanish teacher, Linda, recommends:

San Cipriano

A small peaceful village with a beautiful crystal clear river, waterfalls, and nature walks. She recommends getting up early, leave Cali around 6 a.m. It takes about 2.5 hours to get there, but is worth the visit.

Pance River

A popular place for locals for swimming and leisure activities.There are various points: Chorro de Plata, La Voragine, La Chorrera del Indio, etc. The river is about 2 hours from Cali depending on which point you visit.

Pico de Loro

If you’re up for the challenge, Pico de Loro is one of the most recommended hikes around Cali. The mountain is viewable from Cali. It’s possible to do in a day trip or as a 2 day hike, depending on your level. A guide is required and only a certain amount of people are allowed to hike per day, so it is recommended to arrive early.

Next Read: Guide to Salento: A Colombian Town with Culture, Coffee and Charm

6. The people (and dogs!) in Cali are friendly

7 Reasons to Visit Cali, Colombia | Two Wandering Soles (6)

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In Cali, I befriended the neighborhood juice lady.She hit on my boyfriend and we laughed about it every time I would see her on my way to school.

One day I sat for hours talking with the owner of a small panaderia (bakery) in San Antonio. I met a neighbor and sat in his living room chatting about life in Colombia for 2 hours.

Darien and I spent many of our nights sitting in the main park of San Antonio where families, friends, and lovers gather to eat and socialize. The locals have magnetic, friendly personalities. They made me feel at home.

7. You won’t want to leave!

7 Reasons to Visit Cali, Colombia | Two Wandering Soles (7)

Okay, I think I should warn you. You may get stuck here. My partner and I spent a month and a half in Cali pondering whether we should end our trip, buy a house, retire at the age of 27 in Cali, Colombia.

It was within hours of being in San Antonio, the touristy neighborhood of Cali, that I just knew I wanted to stay here. The city holds a warm energy that filled my soul.

We weren’t the only ones. Travelers and locals I met often joked about how people say they are only going to stay for a week, but then end up staying for months, even years.

Travel Tips for Cali, Colombia

Get out of your comfort zone: If you feel like doing something a bit out of your comfort zone/want to practice your Spanish skills in a different way, I recommend going to a pole or twerk class at Vertical Pole. The owner and the instructor’s are kind and will make you feel at home!

Safety in Cali: Be extra careful with belongings(especially at night). There is a high rate of theft on the streets. I encountered many travelers who had gotten their phones and wallets stolen. Be aware of people on motorcycles. I was on high alert most of the time, but felt safe walking alone at night in San Antonio.

My name is Courtney Vondran. I’ve been living as a nomadic human for the past 5 or so years wandering mostly in Latin America because salsa dancing is life. I am currently on an 8 month trip throughout parts of South and Central America with my beautiful partner, Darien.

I enjoy writing about embarrassing travel stories, rare vegan finds, and sex/relationships abroad. If you have questions or would like to chat about travel or life, let’s connect!Contact me through Instagram @courtneytheexplorer or check out my blog Courtney the Explorer.

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You might also like…

  • Salento: In the Heart of Colombia’s Coffee Region

  • Medellin Colombia

  • Border Crossing: Colombia to Ecuador

  • Valle de Cocora: Hiking in the Clouds

  • 7 Best Hostels in South America

Planning a trip to Cali? Save this post to Pinterest!

7 Reasons to Visit Cali, Colombia | Two Wandering Soles (9)

7 Reasons to Visit Cali, Colombia | Two Wandering Soles (10)

We want to hear from you!

Have you been to Cali before? What do you think of the place? Comment and we’ll do our best to get back to you!


Why you should visit Cali Colombia? ›

Cali is surround by mountains, forest and nature parks, a popular escape for locals to cool off on weekends. Río Pance, in the south of the city, is a great place to swim in clear waters, hike lush trails, birdwatch and spot wildlife.

What is special about Cali Colombia? ›

A city full of rhythm

Cali is known by the rest Colombia as the "Rumba Capital" and by the world as the "Salsa Capital", thanks to its characteristic street parties and dance.

Is Cali in Colombia worth visiting? ›

Cali is known for having the best nightlife in Colombia; clubs open until 7 am with all different kinds of music. The best part is that Cali is notably cheaper than Medellin or Bogota! Apart from salsa, Cali has gorgeous weather, perfect for lazing by the pool after a sweaty night of dancing!

Is Cali Colombia beautiful? ›

Cali, Colombia is quickly becoming one of the most popular vacation destinations in Latin America. This energetic city pulses with culture, great food and beautiful landscapes. Read on to explore why a trip to Cali should be at the top of your list for your next vacation getaway.

When should I go to Cali Colombia? ›

The best time to go to Colombia is in December to March, when the Andes are drier. September to October are the wettest months, but it's all relative – the rainforest can be wet all year round, and the coast is seriously hot. Read on to find out about our top Colombia activities and tips from our vacation companies.

How many days should you spend in Cali Colombia? ›

A great trip to Colombia requires at least five days to get a taste of one big city and its surrounding areas. The more days you can add the more opportunities to explore different pockets of the country - eight or nine days is enough for two or three regions.

What does Cali mean? ›

Cali is a gender-neutral name with Latin origins meaning “cup,” “fairest,” “beautiful,” or “lovely.” This name is often used as a short form of Calista but has since become a name in its own right.

What are people from Cali Colombia called? ›

People hailing from the city of Cali are Caleños.

Which country is called Cali? ›


Which is safer Cali or Medellin? ›

Medellín ranked much higher than Cali in a recent survey of 12,548 in Colombia in terms of citizens feeling safe in their barrio and city.

Is Cali Colombia safe for solo female Travellers? ›


According to World Nomads, women can safely travel solo to Cali, Colombia. You will do better there if you speak the language and avoid vulnerable situations. This means you should always stay aware of your surroundings.

How do people dress in Cali Colombia? ›

There are no rules in general for dressing in Colombia, however to avoid sticking out it is recommended men wear trousers and closed-toed shoes, especially at night. For the girls opt for skinny jeans, a pretty shirt, sandals (not flip-flops), flats and heels if you fancy dressing up your outfit.

Where should I live in Cali Colombia? ›

The best neighborhoods to stay in Cali are: Centro, el Peñón, San Antonio and San Cayetano, San Fernando – Parque del Perro, and Granada, Versalles and Juanambú. In terms of vacationing in Latin America, Colombia rarely tops the list of hot spots, and Cali doesn't even top the list in terms of Colombia.

How do you get around in Cali Colombia? ›

How to Get Around Cali
  1. Public transportation – MIO is the name of Cali's public bus network, and it takes you anywhere you need to go in the city (there is no subway system here). ...
  2. Taxis – Taxis are cheap in Cali and you can use the EasyTaxi app to order a safe, metered taxi.
13 Feb 2022

Can you drink the water in Cali Colombia? ›

Good thing in most Colombian cities you don't need to worry about this at all: You can drink the water in the major Colombian cities. Yes, pour yourself a fresh glass of water straight from the tap in Bogota, Cartagena, Cali, Medellin, and drink it down. It is perfectly safe.

Is it safe to travel to Cali Colombia now? ›

Reconsider travel due to crime and terrorism. Exercise increased caution due to civil unrest and kidnapping. Some areas have increased risk.

Is Cali hot all year? ›

Weather & Seasons

Much of California has a Mediterranean-like climate with warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters. On the coast, the average daily high temperature hovers around 70°F and up, but can occasionally spike to 80°F or more on hottest summer days; freezing temperatures are rare, even in winter.

How can I spend 5 days in Colombia? ›

Colombia 5-Day Tours & Itineraries
  1. Best of Cartagena - 5-Day Itinerary. ...
  2. Cartagena & Tayrona Park - 5 Days. ...
  3. Cartagena & the San Bernardo Islands - 5 Days. ...
  4. Cartagena Family Adventure - 5 Days. ...
  5. Explore Zona Cafetera - 5 Days. ...
  6. Bogotá & the Amazon Adventure - 5 Days. ...
  7. Medellín & the Wild Pacific Coast - 5 Days.

How can I spend 10 days in Colombia? ›

3 Amazing Itineraries for 10 Days in Colombia
  1. Want to make the most out of your trip? ...
  2. Days 1–5: Explore Cartagena and its nearby towns.
  3. Days 6–8: Relax in the Rosario Islands.
  4. Days 9–10: Tour Tayrona National Park.
  5. Days 1–5: Discover Medellin.
  6. Day 6: Get outdoors in Guatape.
  7. Days 7–10: Visit the coffee triangle and Salento.
25 Mar 2020

What can you do in Colombia in a week? ›

Colombia Itinerary: One Week in Colombia
  1. Day 1: Bogota's fantastic neighborhoods.
  2. Day 2: Dive into Bogota's rich culture.
  3. Day 3: Day trips and tejo!
  4. Day 4: Travel to Medellin and take in some culture.
  5. Day 5: Explore Medellin.
  6. Day 6: Travel to Cartagena and wander through Old Town.
  7. Day 7: Have a relaxing end to your stay.
19 Mar 2020

What is a unique female name? ›

If you would like a name with a pretty sound, these unique girl names surely fit the bill.
  • Annalise. A combination of the name Anna and Lise, this name is simple, pretty, and unique.
  • Brigitta. ...
  • Charmaine. ...
  • Constance. ...
  • Geneviève. ...
  • Larisa. ...
  • Lorelei. ...
  • Lucinda.
11 Feb 2022

Can Cali be a boy name? ›

Cali Origin and Meaning

The name Cali is both a boy's name and a girl's name .

Is Cali a real word? ›

No, cali is not in the scrabble dictionary.

How do Colombians say hello? ›

The common verbal greeting is “Buenos dias” (Good day), “Buenas tardes” (good afternoon) or “Buenas noches” (good evening/night) depending on the time of day. The formal title to greet people is 'señor' (mister) for men and 'señora' (missus) for women.

What do you say to a Colombian girl? ›

Colombia is salsa, good coffee, beautiful people, culture, and amazing biodiversity.
Living and Loving In Colombia.
¡Qué bonito(a) eres!How cute you are
Me gusta tu sonrisaI like your smile
Me gustan tus ojosI like your eyes
¡Bailas muy bien¡You dance very well
6 more rows
14 Sept 2022

How do Colombians say goodbye? ›

Adios: Goodbye. Chao: Bye. Chao, cuidate: Bye, take care.

Is Cali a drug? ›

The Cali Cartel (Spanish: Cartel de Cali) was a drug cartel based in southern Colombia, around the city of Cali and the Valle del Cauca Department.
Cali Cartel.
FoundedCali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia
ActivitiesDrug trafficking, bribery, money laundering, racketeering
6 more rows

What is it like in Cali Colombia? ›

Being at around 1,000 meters above sea level Cali tends to have warm midday and afternoon temperatures with nice Pacific Ocean breezes, and cool nights. As the only major Colombian city with access to the Pacific Coast, Cali is the main urban and economic center in the south of the country.

Is Cali in Mexico? ›

California was under Mexican rule from 1821, when Mexico gained its independence from Spain, until 1848. That year, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed (on February 2), giving California over to United States control.

What can you not bring to Colombia? ›

Vegetables, plants and plant materials are banned from entry. Meat and animal based foodstuffs are also banned from entry. Guns, explosives and ammunition are prohibited from being imported to this country without stated permission from Colombian authorities.

Is Colombia safer than Mexico? ›

In some respects, Colombia is slightly safer than Mexico. In others, Mexico may be slightly safer than Colombia. But overall, as long as you're following the safety tips recommended here, and using the same common sense you'd use anywhere else, you'll be okay.

Should I visit Cali or Bogota? ›

Culture: If you like to learn about history and culture, then you must head to Bogota. Nightlife: Don't hesitate to stay in Cali if you're attracted by the world of Salsa. Otherwise, you will fall in love with Bogota – if you know where to go. Choose Poblado in Medellin if you don't speak a word of Spanish.

Where do girls go in Columbia? ›

Medellin: By far, the most commonly traveled to city in Colombia. It has gorgeous mountain scenery (similar to Los Angeles), cool sightseeing, and overall the hottest girls in the country (also similar to Los Angeles).

Is Colombia safe in 2022? ›

The latest Global Peace Index ranked Colombia 144th out of 164 countries, citing high levels of access to weapons, homicides, internal conflict, and displaced people.

Can I use US dollars in Colombia? ›

US dollars and Euros are widely exchangeable. Credit and Debit cards are widely accepted in Colombia but use with care and keep receipts. When using an ATM, try to do so during business hours inside a bank, supermarket or large commercial building.

Do people call California Cali? ›

“Cali” is an abbreviation of “California” that only non-Californians use. Nearly every other U.S. state calls California “Cali,” but Californians hate this. Avoid using “Cali” if you want to seem like a native Californian.

Where should I live in Cali Colombia? ›

The best neighborhoods to stay in Cali are: Centro, el Peñón, San Antonio and San Cayetano, San Fernando – Parque del Perro, and Granada, Versalles and Juanambú. In terms of vacationing in Latin America, Colombia rarely tops the list of hot spots, and Cali doesn't even top the list in terms of Colombia.

When was Cali Colombia founded? ›

Cali is the capital of the department of Valle del Cauca and it is the third most populated city in Colombia. It was founded on July 25, 1536 by Sebastián de Belalcázar, which makes it one of the oldest cities in America.

How do you pronounce Cali? ›

How to Pronounce Cali - YouTube

Do Californians say dude? ›

3. “Dude” While this might seem like something everyone in California says, you're far more likely to hear it as a term of endearment down South. Up North, I found that people would say “man” instead.

Do Californians say yall? ›

It's actually much more nuanced than all of us using that. California English, which is the defacto standard for broadcast purposes, follows the BBC model of using “you” for both singular and plural. Some people in Pennsylvania use “yinz” instead of “y'all”.

Do Californians say hella? ›

Many Bay Area residents and Californians believe that hella — and its G-rated equivalent “hecka” — are Bay Area slang. The words, which mean “very” or “a lot of,” can be used multiple ways. You can say “I'm hella stoked” or “There were hella people at that party last night,” or even, “I was doing it for hella days.”...

Where do the rich live in Colombia? ›

Rosales is a wealthy neighborhood of Bogotá, Colombia. The neighborhood is known for brick high rises which are found from Carrera Séptima (7th Avenue) to Avenida Circunvalar.

Where do the rich live in Cali Colombia? ›

In the city of Cali, the Ciudad Jardín neighborhood is located, this place is characterized by a high range of nature, this site has commercial areas. Buying a home in this place is a luxury, a house can be obtained at an average of $ 950 million, there are even houses that can reach 3 billion pesos.

What is the crime rate in Cali Colombia? ›

Crime rates in Cali, Colombia
Level of crime81.25Very High
Problem people using or dealing drugs74.38High
Problem property crimes such as vandalism and theft71.43High
Problem violent crimes such as assault and armed robbery82.01Very High
Problem corruption and bribery86.25Very High
8 more rows

Where is Cali located in USA? ›

California is a state in the Western United States, located along the Pacific Coast.

Which country is Colombian? ›

Colombia is located in the northwest corner of South America and is the continent's most populous Spanish-speaking nation. Roughly twice the geographic size of France, Colombia is bordered by both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, as well as Panama, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador.

Is Bogota close to Cali? ›

Cali, the salsa capital of the world, and Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, are around 288 miles (463 km) apart. The best way to travel between the two is by plane. There are several direct flights each day that will take you to Bogotá in one hour.

How do you say Colombian? ›

How To Say Colombian - YouTube

How is Columbia pronounced? ›

Columbia pronunciation - YouTube

How do you pronounce Callie? ›

How to Pronunce Callie in English - Voxifier.com - YouTube


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