EER145: Colombia Travel - Things to Do in Cartagena, Things to Do in Medellin


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Things to do in Cartagena. Things to do in Medellin, and adventures in Bogota. Once considered one of the most dangerous regions of the world, the country of Colombia has come a long way. There are loads of things to do in Cartagena and Medellin for curious travelers. But is Colombia safe to travel? We discuss that today.

Colombia: Things to Do in Cartagena, Things to Do in Medellin

From cartel HQ to an up-and-coming travel destination, Colombia has a lot to offer. There are beautiful beaches and verdant mountain towns. Family travel in Colombia is growing in popularity as well. Today we'll talk to Jade Shannon about her recent trip to Colombia with kids under 5. We talk food, internet and her tips for things to do in Cartagena and Medellin.

Much more below.


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  • 05:50 Why Family Travel in Colombia?
  • 07:29 Planning Family Travel in Colombia
  • 08:53 Is Colombia kid appropriate?
  • 12:45 7-10 day Colombia itinerary: things to do in Cartagena & Medellin
  • 14:40 Medellin VS Cartagena
  • 16:15 Things to do in Cartagena
  • 18:47 Food in Cartagena
  • 22:44 Phone/Power/Internet in Cartagena
  • 23:47 Things to do in Medellin
  • 26:25 Museums in Medellin
  • 31:42 Tours in Medellin
  • 37:17 Guatape: Day trip from Medellin
  • 40:57 Challenges in Colombia
  • 46:02 Bogota Drama


  • Names: Jade Shannon, her husband, and sons (5 years and 8 months old)
  • Hold passports from: Canada & Australia
  • Type of travel: Short-term & Long-term travel
  • A few places they've been: Jade has been to 60 countries. On this 5-month trip, they visited Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, and Panama.



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Why Travel in Colombia? Why Visit Cartagena and Medellin?

When asked about why she chose family travel in Colombia, Jade admits that Colombia was on her husband's bucket list. Jade was still on maternity leave for their 8-month-old son, so they planned a 5-month trip in Latin America. Why not? Her family travel in Colombia was memorable in many ways. Her favorite things to do in Medellin were museums and tours. What were her favorite things to do in Cartagena? Walk around, mostly, because it was such a beautiful place. Then again, her tips for travel in Cartagena are great for anyone considering a trip.

Is Colombia Safe To Travel?

When most people think of Colombia, they think of Pablo Escobar and the ruthless drug cartels. One must remember, however, that this was decades ago. Is Colombia safe to travel? The answer is both yes and no. Jade considered safety in Colombia when planning her trip.

With this in mind, they chose to fly between cities instead of taking buses through remote parts of the country. If you ask Jade "Is Colombia safe to travel?" Her answer might be conflicted. On one hand, they had an amazing five months in Latin America. On the other hand, just before the trip ended, her husband was mugged in Bogota. More on that later.

Things to Do in Cartagena Colombia

For Jade, Cartagena was the best city in Colombia to explore. The buildings are colorful, the streets are secure, and the weather is warm. The food in Cartagena sounds great, too: lots of seafood, chicken & rice and other dishes and drinks flavored with coconut. One of their favorite things to do in Cartagena was eating avocados: the best they've ever had.

As for Cartagena attractions, Jade talk about visiting the fortress. It was here that they protected the city from actual Pirates of the Caribbean. Her 5-year old loved the cannons.

Overnight & Day Trips from Cartagena

Another of the best things to do in Cartagena we discuss is visiting the islands near the city. Jade and her family spent some time on Baru Island, which is the only island connected to the mainland by a bridge. While beautiful, it isn't for everyone. For example, there is no running water, and power only at night. Power outages also make it a challenge. When looking for things to do in Cartagena, consider this. Then again, a day trip is also possible.

Cartagena VS Medellin Colombia

Another interesting place to visit in Colombia is Medellin, which contrasts Cartagena in many ways. For example, while Cartagena is on the coast, Medellin is in the Andes. Where Cartagena is tropical, Medellin is high-altitude, with spring-like weather year round.

Things to Do in Medellin Colombia

When I first asked Jade about things to do in Medellin with kids, she said that there wasn't as much for kids. Yet as we spoke, there were several places that I knew my kids and I would like to visit. From museums to exotic fruit, Jade talked about some great things to do in Medellin Colombia.

Museums in Medellin

Jade mentions two museums that she thought were great things to do in Medellin. The Museo de Antioquia is home to much of the work of Fernando Botero known. Best known for his paintings and sculptures of strangely obese figures, Botero grew up in Medellin.

Then there is Parque Explora. This interactive children's museum sounds like Jade's favorite thing to do in Medellin with kids. Listen in to the podcast for more detail.

Tours in Medellin

Jade and family also took some interesting tours in Medellin. One of them was called the Barrio Transformation Tour. This Medellin tour showed them how a mountain of trash in the city became an actual neighborhood.

The Medellin tour that I am most interested in, however, is the exotic fruit tour. Here they went with a guide to local markets to sample over a dozen fruits that you won't find in any conventional supermarket. There were a few we know such as dragonfruit and passionfruit (Colombia has many kinds). Then there were others with names like "tree tomato" and "lulu."

Overnight / Day Trips from Medellin

One of the day trips from Medellin Jade's family took was to Guatape, a small, colorful village with a system of lakes. There was also a large rock they climbed with over 750 steps!

Challenges of Family Travel in Colombia

Jade and family had a great time exploring things to do in Cartagena, Medellin and elsewhere. That said, there were some challenges along the way. Various members of the family got sick here and there, most likely from food or water. For example, since Jade was breastfeeding, she drank lots of fresh juices on Baru Island, where potable water is brought in. Her husband? He drank beer. Who got sick? Not her husband.

Then there were the power outages here and there. Baru island was a challenge, but being able to snorkel with phosphorescence made up for it.

Trouble in Bogota (Is Colombia Safe Part II)

That was not the only challenge they faced in Colombia. While in Bogota at the end of their trip, her husband was mugged at knifepoint. He was unharmed and very little was taken, but the assailants got away with his phone and wedding ring. This was on a busy street in the tourist section of town at 8 pm. Filing a police report isn't one of the best things to do in Colombia for travelers, but that's what happened at the end. And it turned out that this was not an uncommon occurrence. After five months exploring South and Central America, this was the first time anything like this had happened. She goes into more detail in the podcast.

What Do You Know About Travel in Colombia?

Do you know of good things to do in Cartagena? Any tips on things to do in Medellin? Where else should we go when we visit Colombia? Tell us your tips in the comments below!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you, we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help your travel in Colombia. If you know fun things to do in Cartagena and things to do in Medellin, let us know! Is Colombia safe? Tell us about your travel in Colombia!

Full-on family travel fundamentals. Epic Education Radio is interviews, stories and advice for people who decide to make travel a priority in their family's life...and for those who want to. Tune in each week to hear stories and advice from new traveling families, and hear how they've handled various family travel-related issues like education, socialization, working, budgeting, accommodation, road-parenting, safety, technology and more. We talk gear, websites, apps and other resources for traveling & nomadic families, and answer questions from those who would like to do something similar.

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