The 14 best things to do in Cali, Colombia + essential travel tips
29th January, 2023
What are the best things to do in Cali, Colombia? Cali is one of the oldest cities in the whole of South America, meaning that it’s full of history and that there are plenty of things to do to suit almost anyone’s wants and needs. Read on to find out all about the best things to do in Cali, Colombia!
- Tourism in Cali
- Why visit Cali?
- The best places to stay in Cali
- Cali- essential packing list
- The best things to do in Cali
- The best things to do in Cali – further reading
Tourism in Cali
Tourism in Cali, Colombia, is very popular as Cali is such a fantastic place to visit – but more about why that is later. Cali is the third largest city in Colombia and is best known for being the centre of the sugar, coffee and textiles industry.
May tourists visit Cali for lots of different reasons, but recently medical tourism in Cal has also risen in popularity. In 2010, around 50,000 medical procedures happened in Cali – and about 14,000 were from inbound tourists. Medical tourism in Cali is so popular due to the cheap prices for surgical procedures, especially cosmetic procedures. If you’re travelling to Cali for medical tourism, then it’s highly recommended to do lots of research beforehand and to make sure you choose a trusted clinic.
The local currency is the Colombian Peso (COP $), and the language is Spanish. Colombia is a great travel destination whatever your budget might be.
There are lots of transport options available to reach Cali. The main airport is called Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport (CLO) and has many scheduled and charter flights to various destinations, mainly other places in South America as well as some to North America. Public transport in Cali is also very good. There are regular bus routes and taxi companies that offer efficient service. Additionally, there is also a cable car that operates in the Siloé district.
In Cali, the weather is usually around 23-24°C every month. Usually, the hottest month is August, with an average high of 33°C. The coldest month is often January, when it is around 15.8°C. The wettest month is April, as the precipitation is around 191.8mm. Cali does get very humid, so if you have long hair, don’t forget to use this fantastic anti-humidity spray!
Why visit Cali?
Why visit Cali? Cali has so much to offer for travellers and there are many things to do in Cali. It is a great culinary destination if you love food as there are so many different dishes to try, as well as fresh ingredients which are grown in Cali and from around Colombia. Cali is also a good destination if you really like cultural experiences, as there are lots of stunning churches with brilliant architecture and also being known as the Salsa capital of the world – so you can be sure to expect lively music and lots of dancing.
Cali is also known for being one of the more safer destinations to visit in Colombia; although crime is still prevalent here, most of it is between local gangs. In 2020, the victimization rate in Cali was the highest it had been for years; however, in 2020, there were not many tourists due to the covid-19 pandemic, which shows that tourists are not often targeted. You should be safe if you use common sense and take extra precautions such as not going into secluded areas. Just remember to try and be aware at all times.
The best places to stay in Cali
When considering the best things to do in Cali, the first decision to make is where to stay. Here are my recommendations for the best places to stay in Cali for all budgets.
- Moonshine Boutique Hostal – Moonshine Boutique Hostal is the perfect place to stay if you’re on a budget. It is beautifully decorated, and each room comes with fast, free WiFi, free bed linen and a terrace with a gorgeous city view. It’s a must-stay for any budget traveller.
- San Joaquin B&B – This B&B is a great place to stay in Cali. There is a fully equipped private bathroom, free private parking and free WiFi for all guests, as well as a garden for guests to relax in. It’s perfect for any type of traveller. Guests will also be served a hearty continental breakfast every morning.
- Hostal La Mercedes Street – Set in the centre of Cali, a stay here offers so much for guests to enjoy. There is express check-in and check-out, a shared lounge, a garden and a 24-hour reception. There are also organised tours on offer for guests to participate in, making it a great choice for solo travellers. Some rooms also have their own kitchenette if you wish to cook, but if not, then there is an on-site restaurant for guests.
- Park V – This hotel is excellent value for money as it lies in the heart of Cali and has plenty to offer. Every room has air conditioning, a flat-screen TV, a balcony, a desk and free WiFi throughout. The rooms are very safe and comfortable, so you will feel right a home with a stay here.
- Hotel Ibis Cali Granada – Located in the centre of Cali, right next to all the major attractions, Hotel Ibis Cali Granada is perfect if you want to be in the centre of the action. It is a family-friendly hotel, with facilities such as free private parking, a bar, 24-hour reception, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom in each room. A stay here is excellent value for money!
- Rossa Palma – Rossa Palma has everything you will need to make your stay in Cali exceptional. There is an on-site restaurant, outdoor swimming pool and bar for guests to use at their leisure. Every room comes with a private bathroom with a powerful shower, a comfortable seating area, free toiletries, and a flat-screen TV. There is also evening entertainment on every night for guests to enjoy.
- Now Hotel – This hotel is stunningly designed with amazing decor. You will receive only the finest treatment here, and it will be sure to make your stay in Cali extra memorable. There is a bar and restaurant which serves an American breakfast each morning, as well as à la carte dining with an amazing panoramic view of the city. Each room comes with free WiFi, an HD TV and a private balcony.
- Alko Hotel Casa Nispero – Located in the heart of Cali, this hotel has everything you need to make your stay perfect. There is a free shuttle service for guests, a 24-hour reception, and free WiFi. Additionally, each room comes with drinks-making facilities, a private bathroom with luxurious toiletries and a kitchenette if you prefer to prepare your own meals.
- Faranda Collection Cali – Promising to be one of the best stays in the whole of Cali, Faranda Collection Cali certainly lives up to that promise. It is exquisitely designed and has amazing facilities on offer, such as a gym, restaurant, bar and wellness facilities. Guests can also enjoy room services, free WiFi and a buffet breakfast served every morning to help start the day right.
Cali- essential packing list
What should I pack for Cali, Colombia? If you’re going to visit Cali, then don’t forget to pack these essential items:
- WaterWell Travel Filter Water Bottle – This ultra-sturdy water bottle is a must when visiting Colombia as the water quality isn’t always the best. It filters out 99.9% of waterborne pathogens, so you can be assured that almost any of the water you drink will be safe. It’s also very easy to use, clean and lightweight to carry around all day.
- WillWell Sport Money Belt – This money belt will keep your personal belongings safe from being pickpocketed and looks discreet. It’s made from high-quality materials and is water resistant, so you don’t need to worry about any accidental slashes as your belongings will be protected.
- Beginners Spanish Book for Adults – In Cali, not everyone will be able to speak English, so it’ll make your trip much easier by learning to speak some basic Spanish beforehand. This beginner’s Spanish book is great as it’s easy to understand and has plenty of the most useful phrases.
- Incognito Insect Repellent Spray – Stay safe from annoying insect bites with this DEET-free insect repellent spray. It lasts for up to 5 hours and is an award-winning formula that is also suitable for vegans.
The best things to do in Cali
So lets get to the important stuff- what are the best things to do in Cali? I have broken this down into handy categories for you below. I have included some useful links of where you can find out more information and but tickets.
Fun things to do in Cali
What are some fun things to do in Cali, Colombia? Here are the best fun things to do in Cali:
- Cali Small-Group Walking Tour with Transport – This small group walking tour around Cali is perfect for all types of tourists as the guides are locals who know everything about this beautiful city. As it’s a small group tour, this means that the tour will feel more personal, and you will get to ask as many questions as you’d like. It’s one of the best things to do in Cali if you want to get to know the city more.
- Horseback Riding Cali – This horseback riding adventure is a great way to explore Cali in a different way. No experience is necessary as you will be taught the basics and will even be matched to a horse to suit you. You will have two hours in total to enjoy riding your horse and exploring the valley. Once you return to the ranch, you will be served some traditional Colombian drinks and then dropped off back at your hotel. It’s a great way to spend a few hours, especially if you’re an animal lover.
- Hike to Cristo Rey – Cristo Rey is a mini version of the Christ The Redeemer statue in Brazil, but is still as impressive! It is great if you’d like to spend a few hours hiking and offers an amazing view of the whole city. There is a little cafe at the top, so you don’t need to worry about bringing refreshments up the mountain with you, and you can also buy some souvenirs from there too – don’t forget to wear good shoes for the hike these Ansbowey Hiking Shoes are brilliant.
Things to do in Cali for adults
What is there to do in Cali for adults? There are so many great things to do in Cali for adults; here are my top picks:
- Cali Salsa Tour – Have a fun day learning all about Salsa dancing and even get taught it by experts at it. If you’ve had no dancing experience, then don’t worry as you will get shown how to do each move and it will be guaranteed fun for all! Private transportation to and from your hotel is included, as well as drinks for you to enjoy.
- National Park Farallones de Cali Small-Group Hiking Tour – Be immersed in nature on this wonderful small group tour in National Park Farallones de Cali, where you will be able to escape bustling city life for a few hours. You will be guided by a local guide who will give you lots of specialist knowledge about the park, and you might even spot some animals along the way too. Additionally, you will also be served a traditional lunch, which makes it a great way to truly see and experience Cali.
- Museo de Arte Colonial y Religioso La Merced – This is one of the best things to do in Cali if you love history. The museum covers lots of different regions of Colombia and has plenty of artefacts on display to learn about. A visit here typically takes around an hour, mainly about the colonial times in Cali, the religion in Cali, and other things to learn about Colombia. What’s more, is that it’s also located in a stunning church for you to learn about too.
Things to do in Cali for kids
What are the best things to do in Cali for kids? Cali has lots to offer for kids; here are some of the best:
- Zoologico de Cali – Be amazed by the wonderful animals to spot at this zoo. Here, there are so many different types of animals, such as tigers, bears, lemurs, lions and more. There are many cafes and restaurants around the zoo to relax in, surrounded by animals. You can also watch the animals being fed at different times during the day. Furthermore, the zoo provides the animals with good enclosures, and they are very well cared for, so if you only visit ethical zoos, then this is a good zoo to visit.
- Caliwood Museo de la Cinema – This museum is interesting for the whole family! It is the only cinema museum in the country and has lots of amazing exhibitions and displays. The guides are extremely friendly and knowledgeable, so you can ask them any questions you might have. Some of the staff at the museum have even worked alongside some of the films featured at the museum, so if you have a film-loving family, then you will definitely enjoy a visit here!
- Acuaparque de Tardes Calenas Rozo – This waterpark is the perfect way to spend a few hours having fun! There are lots of different things to do here, such as ride down slides, float in the lazy river, try out kayaking, and so much more. Prices are very cheap to enter at around $10 for an adult and $3.50 for children, and there are plenty of restaurants to eat in that serve delicious food.
Things to do in Cali at night
Cali has amazing nightlife, so here are some of the must-visit places:
- Urbano Bar Restaurante – This bar and restaurant offer a perfect atmosphere to spend your night listening to the best live music. It’s perfect for travellers who are on a medium budget, but the portions you get are massive, so you will definitely get value for your money! There are different bands playing every night which play all types of music, but usually, they play traditional Colombian music for you to enjoy.
- La Topa Tolondra – If you want to have an energetic night out in Cali, then you need to visit La Topa Tolondra! Here you will be able to watch salsa dancing and participate if you’re brave enough. It is a great way to meet locals as well as other tourists. There is also plenty of security guards so you will feel very safe and can dance the night away.
- Tin Tin Deo – This place serves amazing quality drinks for cheap, as well having great music to dance to. A night here is one to be remembered as there is lots of salsa dancing involved and everyone is in a great mood. The atmosphere of the club is stunning as it is perfectly decorated with amazing neon lights.
Things to do in Cali for free
If you’re on a budget, then here are some great things to do in Cali for free:
- Pance River – This river is a must-see if you’re a lover of nature tourism as it’s located in the jungle on the outskirts of Cali. It’s a great place to go for a swim or just to explore and try to spot some of the wildlife. You can even choose to rent a bike and ride along the path if hiking isn’t your thing.
- Ecoparque de las Garzas – If you don’t want to travel to the outskirts of Cali, then this park is perfectly located near the centre. There is a beautiful lake with plenty of seating areas to eat in or simply read a book. Additionally, there are lots of animals to be spotted, such as various types of birds, turtles, butterflies and iguanas.
The best things to do in Cali – further reading
After reading this post, I hope you’ve been inspired to do some of the best things to do in Cali! Which of the best things to do in Cali is your favourite? Is there something to do in Cali that isn’t on the list but deserves to be? If you’d like to read more, then this is what I’d recommend:
- Mexico road trip: A 2 week itinerary
- Cloud Forest Costa Rica: A guide for visiting Monteverde
- The 25 best vacation spots in California