The Most Overrated Country in South America – It Might Surprise You!

Sometimes a place really takes you by surprise.  Sometimes it’s amazing – filled with unexpected highlights and memories that will stay with you forever.

And sometimes you get to Colombia and just don’t understand what the fuss is all about!

Having travelled from Chile and Argentina, heading North over five months, it felt like all we heard people talking about was Colombia.  Though I didn’t realise it at the time, looking back I realise most people couldn’t really tell us what they liked about Colombia, just that it was awesome.

After all of the hype, was it really as incredible as its reputation suggested?

In our opinion, no.

Why We Thought Colombia was Overrated and Our Least Favourite of the Seven South American Countries We Visited

Let me start by saying, we’re certainly not hating on Colombia.  Parts of the country are absolutely breath-taking and, as in all of the South American countries we visited, we met some friendly people and ate some pretty yummy food.

We just didn’t think it lived up to the hype – largely because there was just so much of it – anywhere would have a hard time meeting those high expectations!

Maybe we were tired at the end of our trip.  Maybe we’d been spoilt by visiting places like Patagonia, the Galapagos Islands, the Amazon and Machu Picchu in Peru.  Maybe nowhere could really live up to what we’d been told to expect.

I think in retrospect, every other country we visited whilst on our travels had something ‘big’ to see.  Whether they be salt flats, impressive world-renowned hikes or ancient sites, each country had something specific to look forward to.

Don’t get me wrong, of course we spent more than enough time just milling around, taking in the culture and language as we went, but for us, Colombia was lacking a particular place that was crazy impressive.

As I said though, we’re not here to hate on Colombia though – there were in fact a number of spots there that really caught our attention.

The Our Favourite Parts of Colombia


A beautiful little town, square in the middle of the country’s coffee, cocoa and wax palm tree plantations, Salento ended up being a surprise highlight in Colombia for it.  It’s a quiet spot with a lot of character and definitely somewhere you’ll want to spend some time!

Get there with our Salento transport guide and enjoy the Cocora Valley hike whilst you’re there.


This Colombian city was once known as the most dangerous city in the world, but without doubt, it’s a city reformed.  With stunning tree-laden streets, affordable cafes and a fabulous buzz, Medellín makes Colombia worth a visit alone!

Still Worth a Visit Whilst in South America


Though not quite up there with Salento, should you find yourself in Northern Colombia, Minca is worth a detour.  Easily the highlight of Northern Colombia for us (though we didn’t see much, to be fair), it’s a tiny mountain town.  With hummingbirds, tropical trees, a slow pace of life and countless waterfalls, it’s not a bad place to spend a week relaxing.


Like the Cuba of Colombia, Cartagena has a distinctive look.  The striking old buildings that make up the old town make for an awesome afternoon of wandering and though we enjoyed our day there, you really don’t need much more time than that in the city.

Would We Recommend a Visit to Colombia to Other Travellers Heading to South America?

You bet!

Though it wasn’t our favourite country, we definitely enjoyed our time there.  In retrospect though, I wish we’d started our trip there rather than ending it.

The Spanish spoken in Colombia is much easier to understand (instead we started in Chile and Argentina, where it’s most difficult!) and it’s perfectly suited to just spending time immersed in local culture.  By the end of our trip, we’d had plenty of opportunities to ‘just be’ and probably would have enjoyed a few last moments of excitement to really see our trip off with a bang.

The biggest lesson for me though?  Don’t automatically buy into the hype and go in with eyes wide open, ready to enjoy a place for what it really is, not what you’re hoping it will be…

Viva Colombia!

12 thoughts on “The Most Overrated Country in South America – It Might Surprise You!

  1. Rachael says:

    Interesting! Colombia is somewhere I’ve been itching to go but I’m actually not entirely sure why! haha It still sounds great and your photos are awesome, so it still makes me want to visit but maybe I’ll start there first just in case I’m disappointed like you guys were!

  2. Frank says:

    I don’t really understand this post. You say it was your least favorite country, then list your favorite places and say “you bet” to anyone thinking of going to Colombia. So what is your issue with Colombia? What places did you NOT like?
    I personally love Colombia having been twice. Cartagena and the Zona Cafetera were highlights but I enjoyed much of Colombia, every area is different and people were friendly. We haven’t done much travelling in South America but we much prefered it to Brazil (where we didn’t find the people very friendly. But we both speak Spanish and not Portuguese so maybe that was a factor…)

    • Sarah - Exploring Kiwis says:

      It was our least favourite country of the trip but that doesn’t mean that we didn’t enjoy elements of it. We just didn’t think it generally lived up to the hype we continually heard about it.

      We spent six months travelling through Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and finally Colombia and yes, Colombia was our least favourite.

      We didnt really rate the Northern coast and thought the beaches were frankly disappointing. We thought that, as a country, ut lacked the ‘big stuff’ that the other countries offered.

      We listed two places that we did enjoy and two that we’d consider worthwhile but not really standout.

      I guess we didnt find it as diverse as youre suggesting – Peru and Chile on the other hand were incredibly varied.

      Different strokes for different folks though. The point of the post was never to hate on Colombia (as we didn’t hate it), just to question the hype we hear.

  3. theworldonmynecklace says:

    It was my favorite country in South America because of the incredible and diverse scenery, I liked the food the best and the people were great. We started there and nowhere else lived up to it as a whole. I didn’t make it to Patagonia though and I think once I go there then Argentina might bump it off the top spot

  4. Dedre says:

    We felt like this about Bolivia. Although it had some cool places and experiences, we really did not like it at all. Everyone told us Colombia was their favourite. We are still here and love it because it is different than anywhere else in South America. We loved Patagonia and Chile for example, but we feel like Chile and Argentina are very modern amd much more European. I guess it depends what you like, we like authentic and different and Colombia is like that for us.

  5. Sam says:

    what a strange post. Perhaps Colombia was towards the end if a big trip and you were just a bit jaded? You say people say they loved it but couldn’t describe why so here’s a few reasons:
    – Incredibly diverse landscapes, cultures and people.
    – You say it has no ‘big’ things – what about Cocora Valley, lost city hike
    – Cheap including cheap flights so there is no reason to spend all day on bus
    -The modern history and the feeling that by being a tourist in places like Medellin you are truly part of the transformation of an entire nation
    – The authenticity and friendliness of the locals

    Also, you don’t even mention Bogota which is definitely one of the coolest cities in Latin America

    • Sarah - Exploring Kiwis says:

      Hey Sam, please don’t get me wrong – I didn’t say that we didn’t like Colombia, just that we didn’t think it quite lived up to the hype. I agree on a lot of your points but I also think that many of them span multiple South American countries. Peru and Chile were both incredibly diverse. Peru and Bolivia were both cheap. We loved the Cocora Valley but I wouldn’t put it up there with the Galapagos, MP or Patagonia in terms of ‘big stuff’ personally and we found locals to be friendly most places we visited. I think what your comment shows is that everyone has a different perspective – we enjoyed Bogota but it was far from one of the coolest cities in SA in my option – we loved Rio, Medellin and Lima and were surprised by Santiago. I rated Cusco much more than I’d expected and liked La Paz too – for us though, Bogota didn’t compare. Our visit was towards the end of a big trip and I don’t doubt that plays a role in our thinking, but likewise, it seems to be at the start of many other trips and I think that also is a consideration 🙂 we went on to other spots that we loved too, so we weren’t entirely jaded. Either way though, we didn’t dislike Colombia for a second, we just wanted to share another perspective on the hype we’d been hearing. Appreciate you sharing yours too!

  6. Amanda says:

    I absolutely love your take on your travels, guys. After all you can only comment fro your own personal tastes after all!

    Hubby and I are traveling to Columbia this July. We are traveling across with another couple. While we all are great mates, we travel very differently.

    They are all about hikes and exploring. I am the polar opposite.
    I see there is a lot to appeal to them, but what there would you recommend for someone like me who isn’t about an active adventure type holiday climbing mountains, and more about relaxation, and low key exploration. (Insert – I love food and art)

    I’d so love any pointers for a lazy bones like me.


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