When is the Best Time of Year to Visit Colombia?

When is the Best Time of Year to Visit Colombia?

One of the best things about Colombia is that it is beautiful to visit at any time of year.

With its stunningly diverse landscapes — beaches, mountains, rainforests, and even desert — and variety of distinct climates, there is no bad time of year to travel to Colombia.

But, let’s be honest: as with any destination, some times of year are better to visit than others. So we put this simple guide together to help you decide when to visit Colombia - and, just as importantly, where in Colombia to go depending on the time of year.

  photo by Jodee Debes

photo by Jodee Debes

Weather & Climate in Colombia: The Basics

First things first: forget the seasons!

Because of Colombia’s proximity to the equator, Colombia doesn’t experience four distinct seasons. Instead, the weather tends to remain relatively stable throughout the year.

On the other hand, depending on where you travel in Colombia, the weather and climate can vary dramatically.

For example, on the coast — in places like Cartagena — you can expect a sultry Caribbean climate year-round.

Similarly, the city of Medellín — located in a valley deep in the Andes mountains — is blessed with spring-like weather year-round.

Generally speaking, destinations in Colombia that are closer to the coast and lower in altitude tend to be warmer; while places deeper in the mountains and higher in altitude tend to be cooler.

Weather on Colombia’s Caribbean Coast & in the Andes Mountains

Colombia is the second most biodiverse country on earth (second only to the much larger Brazil), and within its borders there are no less than six distinct biodiverse regions - each with its own unique environment and climate.

Of course, you’re probably planning to spend a week or two in Colombia, and chances are you’ll only be visiting a couple of these regions. So here are the simple “Colombia weather basics” to keep in mind!

If you already have specific destinations in Colombia in mind, skip ahead to our weather-by-city overview below!

Weather on Colombia’s Caribbean Coast

  photo by Jodee Debes

photo by Jodee Debes

As you might expect, Colombia’s Caribbean coast — including Cartagena, Tayrona National Park, Santa Marta, and Barranquilla — is quite warm! Temperatures in this region are consistently hot and humid, with little variation throughout the year.

While the Caribbean coast is most prone to seeing rain between the months of August to November, don’t let the possibility keep you from experiencing the area. Showers in this part of Colombia often occur in quick bouts that clear quickly.

Weather in the Andes Mountains

Bogota skyline, Boutique Colombia

Weather in the mountains varies greatly depending on a number of factors -, especially altitude. If you go really high into the Andes, expect cool or even cold temperatures, as with high mountains anywhere on earth.

Fortunately for you, most of Colombia’s most well-known mountain cities — including Medellín, Cali, and Bogota — are at low enough elevations that temperatures are typically quite comfortable.

Keep in mind that there can be major variations in climate from city to city. For example, Cali (at a lower elevation than Medelliín or Bogota) is consistently hot; while Medellin almost always experiences warm, spring-like temperatures; and Bogota (the highest of the three) is typically on the cooler side, relatively speaking.

Weather & Climate in Colombia’s Top Destinations

Now that you get the basics of weather in Colombia, and how it varies from region to region, here is a more detailed overview of the weather and climate in some of our favorite places in Colombia!

When to Visit Cartagena (and Tayrona National Park)

  photo by Jodee Debes    

photo by Jodee Debes
 

Colombia’s Caribbean coast has long been a sought-after destination. However, given Colombia’s challenging past, many travelers were skeptical to visit.

Fortunately, as Colombia has made strides in recent years to progress past its old reputation, tourism has followed suit - and topping the list of the country’s most popular destinations is Cartagena de Indias.

Between the city’s cobblestones streets, historic mansions, and overflowing floral terraces, Cartagena is the colorful backdrop to your Latin American fairytale.

A perfect culmination of old charm and new appeal, spend your days traversing the Old City, brimming with colorful architecture and barricaded by walls built to protect the port city from encroaching pirate attacks. Then, spend your evenings enjoying the city’s emerging culinary scene and lively dance culture that comes alive after nightfall.

Just up the Caribbean coast is Parque Tayrona, a Colombian National Park where teal blue waters meet soft, golden beaches tucked unsuspectingly behind a shield of towering rainforests and mountain ranges (yes, it’s this awesome). Still inhabited by some of Colombia’s indigenous people, this area of Colombia is a true national treasure.

Provided you enjoy the delicious Caribbean weather, there’s truly no unappealing time to make the trip to the Caribbean coast. The temperature remains rather constant throughout the year, varying between 91 F (33 C) in the hottest months (roughly June to September), and down to the mid 70’s F (low 20’s C) in the cooler months (from around December to March).

You’ll find travel along the Caribbean coast to be consistently humid, so be sure to pack accordingly. If you’re not a fan of humidity, try and avoid October and November (which have the highest average humidity of the year), and consider traveling between December and March, when you can expect to find the air slightly less damp.

From August to November, rains are more probable - although they tend to be quick bursts, which should hopefully still allow you to enjoy your fun in the sun!

Along with August to November, another of the Caribbean’s relative off-peak seasons is the period from March through May, when there are typically slightly less visitors - making it slightly less challenging to snag rooms at the best boutique hotels!

As you can imagine, Cartagena’s peak seasons occur between June and August — prime beach weather months, coinciding with summer vacation in the northern hemisphere — and December through February (particularly around Christmas and New Year’s).

When to Visit Medellín

  Photo by Jodee Debes

Photo by Jodee Debes

The idea of visiting Medellín voluntarily might have seemed risky as recently as the 80s or 90s, but how things have changed.

Once seen as the world’s most dangerous city, Medellín is now held up as Colombia’s most incredible symbol of transformation - and revered by urban planners around the world for its inspiring and innovative infrastructure solutions.

Today, Medellín is in the midst of an ongoing renaissance, with dynamic art, design, and culinary scenes. Over the last decade or so, it’s slowly become one of Latin America’s most sought-after destinations - and when you get here, it’s obvious why!

With a stunning location deep in the picturesque Andes mountains, Medellín has what many consider the perfect climate, and thus it is known as the city of eternal spring. Temperatures throughout the year average around 75 F (24 C), with the highest average conditions hitting a peak of 83 F (28 C) in Medellín’s hottest month, July. The year-round low averages a pleasant 63 F (17 C). Yes, it’s that pleasant.

Along with its ideal temperatures, Medellín also benefits from relatively low humidity. So instead of worrying about what to pack, you can focus on more important things like what you want to do when you get here!

Is taking a day trip to a nearby coffee plantation on your to do list? Consider visiting during peak harvest season between the months of April to May or October to December.

Does the thought of frolicking through lush flower farms tickle you with delight? You’ll want to visit during the summer months where flowers are at peak bloom. Consider taking a trip during the first week of August to catch the annual flower festival, La Feria de Las Flores, for a parade of color and national pride you’ll never forget.

Tourism to Medellín tends to peak around the months of April and May, with another surge around December and January. Conversely, off-peak months tend to be July, September and October.

When to Visit Bogota

La Candelaria historical district, Bogota, Boutique Colombia

In contrast to Cartagena and Medellín, Bogota — Colombia’s capital and largest city — is not exactly a city of sun. But don’t let the lack of rays stop you from visiting.

Bogota has gradually evolved to stake its place amongst the Latin American cities regularly associated with a burgeoning creative scene, yet still allows you to feel like you’ve discovered something unique and uncharted.

Wander through one of the many galleries in the La Macarena district, take a gander at the innovate designers in the Chapinero neighborhood, and enjoy one of the many new culinary concepts opening kitchens in the Zona Rosa district. And don’t miss out on the opportunity to wander through Plaza Bolivar. Situated in the heart of the historical district, it may be a little touristy, but it’s a definite “must see” for forming a well-rounded perspective of the city.

Temperatures in Bogota do vary a bit, but hold a year-round average that comes in right about 57 F (14 C). The months from December to February see the most range in climate, seeing highs that peak at 68 F (20 C) and lows down around 45 F (7 C). Despite the cool temperatures, Bogota’s slight humidity can make the temperature feel a bit warmer than the thermometer will reflect.

April and May tend to be the most consistently “warm” months, with average highs approaching nearly 70 F (21 C) - so perhaps it’s no surprise that these relatively balmy months also see Bogota receiving the most visitors! Slightly off-peak months in Bogota occur during the months of July to October.

When to Visit Colombia’s Coffee Region (Eje Cafetero)

  Photo by Jodee Debes

Photo by Jodee Debes

If coffee is the real lifeblood that runs through your veins, you may want to spend some of your time in Colombia checking out Colombia’s beautiful Coffee Region.

But the Eje Cafetero (which translates as “Coffee Axis”) is worth visiting for much more than coffee alone. This is a place where you can immerse yourself in the rural beauty of the Colombian countryside. Spend time in quaint little villages, surrounded by lush, stunning landscapes. Enjoy an afternoon coffee, relax in a hammock, and in the evening take in the star-filled sky. Yes, there are a lot of compelling reasons to visit the Eje Cafetero, in case coffee isn’t compelling enough (for me, it is!).

Within the Eje Cafetero you’ll find the three departments (Colombia’s version of states, or provinces) of Caldas, Risaralda, and Quindio, which together make up only 1% of Colombia’s total landmass, but account for 50% of the country’s coffee production.

Nestled in the western Andes mountains, the geographical conditions allow for a unique intersection of perfect climate and fertile land that make this area rich for Colombia’s most renowned and profitable agricultural export (please, no cocaine jokes - seriously!).

If you’re eager to learn about the coffee production lifecycle, you’ll want to travel during — or just before — peak harvest, which occurs between April and May, and then again from October through December. Pack for comfortable temperatures, but also consider this area’s above-average humidity year-round.

While the average temperature in this part of Colombia is right around 75 F (24 C), peak temperatures reach an average of about 85 F (29 C) in the hottest of months (July, August, and September), with the potential for the area’s humidity to exacerbate the perceived temperature.

Dress for warm conditions, but also come prepared for precipitation which is likely in this area of Colombia, especially during the months of April, October and November.

National Holidays in Colombia

Being in a lively country like Colombia during a national holiday can be a unique and immersive cultural experience.

On the other hand, there can also be some potential downsides to traveling during national holidays, such as an increase in the number of domestic travelers (leading to crowds and lower accommodation availability), and occasional closings (as far as local restaurants and shops).

If you must travel over dates that coincide with a national holiday, go for it! But in case you have flexibility and prefer to avoid them, below is a list of national holidays in Colombia.

Colombian National Holidays in 2018

  • January 1 - Nuevo Año
  • January 8 - Dia de los Reyes Magos
  • March 19 - Dia de San Jose
  • March 29 - Maundy Thursday
  • March 30 - Good Friday
  • May 1 - Labor Day
  • May 14 - Ascension Day
  • June 4 - Corpus Cristi
  • June 11 - Sacred Heart
  • July 20 - Independence Day
  • August 7 - Battle of Boyaca Day
  • August 20 - Assumption Day
  • October 15 - Columbus Day
  • November 5 - All Saints Day
  • November 12 - Cartagena Independence Day
  • December 25 - Christmas

We hope our guide to the weather in Colombia helps you decide when to visit this incredible country!