Cali, Colombia, “the branch of heaven” is the owner of an electrifying, seductive atmosphere, and people full of enthusiasm for life that is contagious to everything and everyone. Unlike other cities, Cali’s main tourist attraction is not a place, it is sauce and the surreal atmosphere of the rumba caleña, the tastiness and the tumbao of its people are something you will never forget. If you make the effort to get to know the city you will live an incomparable experience. Incredible gastronomy, wonderful people, dancing, dancing, and dancing await you in Cali! So if you are thinking of visiting the capital of salsa, we leave you the Cali Colombia travel guide to enjoy your stay in this beautiful city.
Year after year people come from all over the world to learn to dance Salsa, “salsa caleña”. And why not? Cali is home to the best salsa schools in the world, with teachers who are multi-world salsa champions. In addition, the city lives and breathes salsa, you can practice from Thursday to Sunday in the dance halls of the city; La Topa Alondra, Zaperoco, Bailatino, and Siboney club, are some of the most popular salsa clubs in the city, but the list is long. Also, every year in the month of October Cali celebrates the world salsa festival, a week that brings together more than 4000 dancers from around the world, orchestras, and live shows, a perfect opportunity to show your new skills as a salsa dancer.
Try on beautiful outfits for your holidays in Cali! ⬇⬇
Cali is located in the valley formed between the western and central mountain ranges, in the west of the country, making it one of the cities with the greatest diversity of flora and fauna in the country. Once known as the city of the 7 Rivers, Cali lost its rivers due to exploitation, logging, and the advance of the urban center. Currently, there are only two survivors, the Cali River that crosses the city and the Pence River south of the city.
The latter has been preserved and is one of the prides of the Cali people. The plan is to find a place in the river to take an ice water bath and share “sancocho de olla” with family and friends.
You can get there by car, bike, or jogging, but we recommend you always go accompanied and if possible that they indicate safe places to swim and eat.
Enjoy a rejuvenating swim in the cold waters of the Pance River! ⬇⬇
If you are a nature and adventure lover, you will love Pico de Loro. It is a 2860 mm high mountain with 4 different thermal floors and home to more than 580 species of birds (some of them endemic) and the spectacled bear (protected and endangered species). It is located in the Farallones de Cali National Park, south of the city.
From the top, if the weather is clear you can see the entire Cauca Valley and the Pacific Ocean of Buenaventura.
The climb takes approximately 4 hours and it is mandatory to go with guides. The price of the excursion is approximately 20 thousand pesos.
Get ready for your hiking adventures at Pico de Loro! ⬇⬇
At 2 and a half hours from Cali, is the Pacific Sea and Buena Ventura. Unfortunately, the second most important port of the country is one of the poorest and most abandoned cities by the state. In spite of this, its people are strong, and brave and always have a smile on their faces and their dignity intact.
When you arrive in Buenaventura, you must buy a boat ticket to go to a hotel or hostel or to Juanchaco, La Barra or Ladrilleros (in Buenaventura there are hotels, but the tourist areas are in the sea, on islets or jungle beaches).
Once in your place of rest, you will enjoy a unique natural paradise, warm waters, amazing sunsets, and exquisite food. Between August and September, you can enjoy humpback whale watching throughout the Colombian Pacific.
Enjoy a magical dive in the waters of the Colombian Pacific! ⬇⬇
Before arriving in Buenaventura you find San Cipriano, a two-street sidewalk with mud houses that you have to reach in “brujas”, a handmade means of transportation, which runs on the abandoned train tracks. It is a motorcycle that pulls a wagon and takes you to the village.
There you will find the San Cipriano River, a natural paradise of crystalline waters in the middle of the Pacific jungle. A hidden gem that will leave you amazed by its beauty. The plan here is to go up a stretch on foot and then descend the river on floats and then have lunch with a delicious fish freshly caught from the river.
Located 2 and a half hours by car from the city, is Darien, a colonial town where an artificial lake was built and became one of the main tourist attractions in the Cauca Valley.
Thanks to its cool climate that does not exceed 16 degrees and strong winds, the lake became a privileged place for water sports, mainly Kitesurfing and Windsurfing, in the lake you can find schools of both disciplines if you are interested in learning.
The lake is perfect to spend the weekend, you can rent a place on Airbnb and enjoy a good barbecue and drinks in the company of family and friends.
It is a town 30 minutes from Cali, very busy on weekends by locals. Its main attraction? the weather and food without a doubt, Cali is a city that is around 25 to 30 degrees Celsius during the day and on the 18th, the temperature is around 12 to 16 degrees. The town is famous for its hot chocolate with arepas, marranitas and empanadas.
In the center of the city and on the banks of the Cali River, is the boulevard, a pedestrian corridor full of greenery, restaurants, and stores, which is an ideal place to go for a beer and start engines for the night. Downtown and near the boulevard are some of the busiest nightclubs in Cali, not only salsa, Reggaeton, Merengue, and Techno await you in Cali’s nights
La Tertulia and Caliwood Museum
They are part of the bohemian culture of the city. The first, located on the west side of the Cali River, is a space that brings together the community around art, film, and music. In addition to the exhibition hall, it has an open-air theater, independent movie theaters, and exquisite restaurants. Caliwood is the first cinematography museum in the country, “Conceived to show national and foreign visitors the main artifacts, elements, optical sets, machinery, accessories, filming and film projection equipment and all the objects that were protagonists in the development of cinematographic culture and its immediate ascendancy to photography”. It is located in the west, in the Arboleda urbanization, and is a must-see for movie buffs.
Think to know before to go
where to stay
Most foreigners stay in San Antonio, a beautiful colonial neighborhood full of hostels, restaurants, and bars. It is a short walk from downtown and 5 minutes from Granada and El Peñon (gourmet food and rumba areas) and 15 minutes from Menga (an industrial area where most of the nightclubs in Cali are located).
Also in El Peñon or in Granada, there is also a hotel offer but more expensive. To the south in Ciudad Jardin, there are also good options to rest and in the north, in Chipichape and Santa Monica, you can find excellent Hotels.
Is Cali dangerous?
Yes and no… As in all of Colombia, it depends on the area where you are, most people who come to Cali, do not have problems with crime, but it is true that something can happen. The best thing to do is always ask for advice in the hotels or with the locals you know, do not go alone at night to avoid any problems.
Cali is a HOT city, the heat prevails in the day-to-day, and even when it rains you feel hot. However, after 5 pm when the sun goes down, the city cools down with the winds from the mountain range and the thermal sensation decreases considerably. In Cali, almost every day is pool day or river day.
No hotel tax
Foreign tourists are free to pay the 19% hotel TAX, so take it to count, and don’t let hotel people rip you off.
Cali is a big city, not as big as Bogota, but bigger than Medellin. The best way to get around the city is by UBER, DIDI or cab. The MIO mass transit is a good option if you are going from north to south, but we recommend to use it only with someone who knows the city, you can get lost easily. Usually in the hotels, they have contacts of reliable drivers who can serve as a guide, which is another very safe option but a little more expensive.
More Colombian places you will love to know
Cartagena Travel guide
Medellin travel guide