If you’re itching to see South America and want to know the best things to do in Cali Colombia, here are 11 ideas to get your juices flowing.
It’s a shame that Colombia has a bad reputation for crime because it’s actually a vibrant, friendly city with so much to offer. One of the best things about Cali is that it’s not very touristy, so you get immersed in the city’s authentic culture if you do visit.
The problem is, with so much to do and see in Cali, it’s hard figuring out how to fit it all into one trip.
If you’re on your travels and you’re considering visiting South America, here are eleven things to do in Cali Colombia.
1. Go Trekking
One of the best things to do in Cali Columbia is to hike!
The Parque Nacional Natural Farallones de Cali is a beautiful place to go hiking if you love the outdoors. In the national park, you’ll find the Pico de Loro trail, which is a really tough out-and-back hike that isn’t for the faint-hearted!
The trek takes about seven hours to complete, and you’ll probably need hiking sticks to help on the slippery rocks and steep inclines (picture a 9km stairmaster). You also need a reservation and a guide to take on this trail, but it’s well worth it for the incredible views.
2. Explore “La Galeria” local market
You can’t visit Cali without exploring the rather chaotic food market. It takes up an entire block, and you’ll find authentic food, herbs, all sorts of meat, and fresh flowers.
The market also has some intriguing stalls where indigenous women sell alternative medicines and even love potions.
Many of the food stalls sell specialties, like champus, and the locals are always happy for you to try samples.
3. Visit salsa clubs
We couldn’t make a list of things to do in Cali Colombia without mentioning Salsa. Salsa originates in Cali, so it’s almost a given to visit a salsa club while you’re there.
Salsa music plays all over the city, and you’ll find plenty of venues that offer lessons for beginners.
Tin Tin Deo, La Topa Tolondra, and Zaperoco are some of the best spots if you want to learn from the pros. All the locals are incredibly welcoming to newcomers, and they’ll be happy to show you the ropes.
If you happen to visit between Christmas and New Year, you’ll get to see La Feria de Cali – an incredible salsa parade that takes over the streets.
4. Relax at Chorrera del Indio
Chorrera del Indio means “Indian Spring”, but it’s actually a scenic waterfall with spectacular views. This is one of the most beautiful places you can visit near Cali, and it’s usually pretty quiet if you visit on a weekday.
It’s about 35 minutes outside of the city, and there’s an 8000 peso entrance fee to get in. But it’s worth the effort and money to relax in this magical place – definitely one to add to your bucket list.
5. Take a stroll at The Río Cali
Just north of the city, you’ll find the Río Cali. All along the banks are paths for walking and cycling, as well as plenty of shady areas to stop and relax.
Along the Río Cali, you’ll also find the famous Cat Park, El Parque del Gato de Tejada. This was an improvement project done by the city and is home to a three-ton bronze cat statue. It was donated to the project by Hernando Tejada, who was a Colombian artist.
Since his donation, 15 more modern art cat statues have been added to the park and painted by local artists. Taking a stroll around to see all the statues is a great way to spend an afternoon, and you’ll find plenty of street vendors selling ice cream and raspados on your walk.
6. Go Bird-Watching
Cali has the highest bird diversity of any Colombian city, with 561 species reported in the area. That is a quarter of all the bird species in Colombia and 5% of all known species on Earth.
Finca Alejandria is the best place for close-up bird watching near Cali. With over 20 hummingbird feeders and large banana tables, you’ll see plenty of beautiful hummingbirds and tanagers.
La Minga, near Dapa, is another popular spot for bird watchers and is only about an hour outside Cali.
Tanager, Toucanet, and Red-headed Barbet are all regulars to the feeders, but if you’re really lucky, you might spot an elusive Crested Quetzal lurking in the trees around the lodge.
7. Head out to Río Pance
No 7 on our list of the best things to do in Cali, Colombia is to head out to Rio Pance.
Locals love this place for cooling off on the weekends. There are clear waters, pretty hiking trails, and great opportunities for spotting local wildlife.
Buses regularly go back and forth to Río Pance, so it’s easy to get to. Don’t forget to pack a picnic and some swimwear for a dip in the manmade lake. Pance EcoPark has restrooms and food vendors, making it a great spot for families.
If you’re looking for panoramic views, head to La Voragine a little further up. The crowds thin out, and the views are breathtaking. There’s also a cute little restaurant that services sancocho that you can sip while looking out at the river.
8. Taste local cuisine at Parque Artesanal Loma de la Cruz
We can’t have a list of the best things to do in Cali Colombia without including the local cuisine!
You can’t miss visiting Parque Artesanal Loma de la Cruz for an authentic taste of Cali. In the park, there is a range of cheap bars and restaurants serving some of the best food in Cali.
You’ll also find artisan shops where locals will make things for you to buy and plenty of space to sit and relax.
In the evening, the entertainment starts with salsa dancing, live music, storytelling, and even guinea pig gambling if you’re into that.
9. Hike Cerro de las Tres Cruces
No matter where you are in Cali, you’ll be able to see Cerro de las Tres Cruces (which translates to the Hill of the Three Crosses).
It’s a tough hike to take on, but the views from the top are out of this world, and you’ll burn some serious calories.
Locals like to climb the hill on Sundays, so you’ll have plenty of company on this day. If you’d prefer a quiet hike, it’s best to go during the week.
At the top, there’s an outdoor gym if you still have the energy to burn. But most people just bring a camera for the wonderful views.
It takes about an hour to climb to the top, and the path is well-marked throughout. It’s not very shady, though, so don’t forget your sunscreen and plenty of water.
10. Zoológico de Cali
Cali Zoo is widely known as the most beautiful zoo in all of South America. If you ask anyone who has been to Cali, they’ll recommend a visit.
You’ll feel like you’re in the middle of the jungle as you walk around the large enclosures and organized exhibits. The zoo is home to a huge collection of animals that are native to South America, as well as tigers, kangaroos, and lions.
The Cali River runs right through the zoo, where you’ll find free-roaming iguanas, peacocks, and plenty of other birds.
It’s easy to spend an entire day at the zoo, and it’s a firm favorite with families and kids.
11. Watch Delirio
If you’re lucky, Cali’s famous circus, Delirio, will be in town when you visit. The dancers travel across the world performing Cirque du Soleil and cabaret, with an enchanting mix of salsa and music.
The shows are performed in giant circus tents on the last weekend of every month, so try to plan your trip accordingly. The dancers are incredible, and the crowd is encouraged to get up and dance in between performances. It’s quite a tourist attraction but a must-see for salsa lovers when you’re in Cali city.
11 Best Things to do in Cali, Colombia –Conclusion
As you can see, there are plenty of things to do in Cali, Colombia, and there really is something for everyone. The locals are welcoming, the food is delicious, and the scenery is incredible.
Whether you’re looking for a holiday or you’re a digital nomad looking for an adventure, Cali is certainly a place to add to your bucket list!
The author is the founder and creator of Your Lifestyle Business. A blog dedicated to helping digital nomads, solopreneurs, and long-term travelers to create a location-independent income that funds their ideal lifestyle and gives them the freedom to live and work from anywhere in the world.