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The Best Things To Do In Cali, Colombia


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Julieta Blaney



Welcome to Cali, Colombia! Nestled in the heart of the Valle del Cauca region, Cali is a vibrant and energetic city that offers a myriad of experiences for travelers seeking to immerse themselves in the rich culture and history of Colombia. From its pulsating salsa clubs to its picturesque colonial architecture, there is something for everyone in this colorful city.


Situated in the southwestern part of the country, Cali is Colombia’s third-largest city and is often referred to as the “Salsa Capital of the World.” But Cali is much more than just salsa – it is a city steeped in history, with a rich tapestry of traditions and a fusion of indigenous, African, and European influences.


As you wander through the streets of Cali, you will be greeted by the warmth and friendliness of its people, known as Caleños. Explore the historic district, where you can admire the grandeur of the city’s colonial past. Take a trip to the iconic Cristo Rey statue, which stands tall atop the hills, offering breathtaking views of the cityscape. And of course, no visit to Cali is complete without indulging in the lively and infectious rhythms of salsa music.


In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the best things to do in Cali, ensuring that you make the most of your visit to this captivating Colombian city. From exploring the historic district to discovering hidden gems, we will take you on a journey through the city’s vibrant neighborhoods, cultural attractions, and natural wonders. Whether you are a history buff, an adventure seeker, or a lover of all things salsa, Cali has something to offer everyone.


So put on your dancing shoes, taste the flavors of Colombia, and immerse yourself in the magic of Cali. Let’s explore the top 10 things to do in this lively city that will leave you captivated by its charm and hospitality.


Explore Cali’s Historic District

Cali’s historic district, also known as San Antonio, is a true gem for history and architecture enthusiasts. This charming neighborhood is characterized by its colorful colonial buildings, narrow cobblestone streets, and beautiful parks. As you wander through its streets, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to a bygone era.


Start your exploration at the iconic San Antonio Park, a picturesque square adorned with vibrant flower gardens and a grand fountain. Here, you can sit on one of the benches and soak in the tranquil atmosphere while admiring the surrounding architecture. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the San Antonio Church, a stunning example of colonial architecture with its white façade and intricate details.


Continue your stroll along the Callejón San Antonio, a charming street lined with boutique shops, art galleries, and quaint cafes. This lively street is the perfect place to browse for souvenirs, grab a cup of Colombian coffee, or indulge in some delicious traditional snacks.


Take a detour to the Paseo de la Huerta, a tree-lined alley filled with vibrant murals that showcase the creativity and artistic spirit of the city. This is a great spot to capture some Instagram-worthy photos and immerse yourself in the local art scene.


As you explore the historic district, make sure to visit the Nicolas Domingo del Castillo Palace, a beautiful colonial building that now serves as a museum. Inside, you’ll find a collection of artworks and historical artifacts that offer a glimpse into Cali’s past.


After a day of exploring, head to the viewpoint of Tres Cruces to get a panoramic view of the city. This hilltop location offers breathtaking views of Cali’s skyline, especially during sunset when the city is bathed in warm hues.


Whether you’re an architecture aficionado or simply someone who appreciates the charm of historic neighborhoods, Cali’s San Antonio district is a must-visit. Immerse yourself in its history, soak in the vibrant atmosphere, and let the magic of the past transport you to a different time.


Visit the Cristo Rey Statue

Perched on a hill overlooking the city, the Cristo Rey Statue is one of the most iconic landmarks in Cali. Standing at a towering height of 26 meters, this statue of Christ is not only a religious symbol but also a symbol of peace and unity for the people of Cali.


To reach the Cristo Rey Statue, you can embark on a short hike or opt for a taxi ride up the hill. As you ascend, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the cityscape, with the Andes Mountains providing a stunning backdrop.


Once you reach the statue, take a moment to admire its grandeur and the spectacular panoramic views that stretch out before you. The statue itself is an impressive piece of art, with intricate details and a serene expression that exudes tranquility.


Aside from its religious significance, the Cristo Rey Statue also holds a special place in the hearts of Caleños as a symbol of hope and strength. It was erected in 1953 in honor of the completion of the restoration of the Catholic Church in Colombia after a period of religious persecution.


Many visitors choose to visit the Cristo Rey Statue in the late afternoon to catch the stunning sunset views. As the sun dips below the horizon, the city is bathed in a golden glow, creating a magical atmosphere that is truly unforgettable.


If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also participate in the traditional Climb to Cristo Rey, an annual event held in August. During this event, participants hike up the hill in a symbolic journey of faith, culminating in a mass celebration at the statue’s feet. It’s a unique experience that allows you to connect with the local culture and witness the devotion of the people of Cali.


Visiting the Cristo Rey Statue is not only a spiritual experience but also an opportunity to marvel at the natural beauty of Cali’s surroundings. So, make sure to include this iconic monument in your itinerary and prepare to be awe-inspired by its grandeur and the breathtaking views it offers.


Salsa Dance the Night Away

When it comes to salsa, Cali is the place to be. As the self-proclaimed “Salsa Capital of the World,” the city pulsates with the rhythms of this energetic dance and music genre. Whether you’re a seasoned dancer or a beginner, a night of salsa dancing in Cali is an absolute must-do experience.


Cali is home to countless salsa clubs, each offering its own unique atmosphere and style. From lively venues with live bands to intimate clubs where you can take salsa lessons, there’s a spot for everyone to unleash their inner dancer.


If you’re new to salsa, don’t worry – Cali is the perfect place to learn. Many salsa clubs offer beginner lessons, allowing you to brush up on your moves before hitting the dance floor. With experienced instructors guiding you, you’ll soon find yourself twirling and spinning to the infectious beats of salsa.


One popular spot for salsa enthusiasts is Tin Tin Deo. This iconic club has been a pillar of Cali’s salsa scene for decades, attracting both locals and tourists alike. The lively atmosphere, live music, and expert dancers will inspire you to dance all night long.


Another must-visit salsa hotspot is Zaperoco. Located in the San Antonio neighborhood, this vibrant club features talented musicians and skilled dancers who will surely leave you in awe. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself dancing until the early hours of the morning at Zaperoco – the energy and excitement are contagious.


For a more authentic experience, venture off the beaten path and soak in the salsa vibes at La Topa Tolondra. This hidden gem is a local favorite, with its underground setting, live music, and passionate dancers. Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere and let the music guide your every move.


Keep in mind that salsa is not just a dance – it’s a way of life for many Caleños. It’s a celebration of their culture, their history, and their joyous spirit. So, embrace the rhythm, let loose on the dance floor, and allow the infectious energy of salsa to sweep you away.


Whether you’re a seasoned dancer looking to perfect your skills or a curious beginner eager to learn, dancing salsa in Cali is an experience you won’t want to miss. So put on your dancing shoes, feel the heat of the music, and salsa dance the night away in the vibrant heart of Colombia.


Take a Trip to Gato de Tejada Park

Gato de Tejada Park, or Cat Park as it is affectionately known, is a delightful and whimsical public park located in the heart of Cali. This unique attraction is a must-visit for cat lovers and art enthusiasts alike.


As you enter the park, you’ll be greeted by a collection of colorful and intricately designed cat sculptures. These sculptures, which vary in size and style, have become iconic symbols of the city. From feline figures reading books to cats engaging in playful antics, each sculpture tells a story and adds a touch of charm to the park.


The park offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, with its well-manicured gardens, shady trees, and benches where you can sit and relax. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a leisurely stroll or have a picnic with friends and family.


Don’t forget to bring your camera along as you’ll surely want to capture photos of the unique cat sculptures. The park provides a picturesque backdrop for memorable snapshots, and you’ll find yourself wanting to discover every nook and cranny in search of these feline works of art.


Besides the cat sculptures, Gato de Tejada Park is also an outdoor art gallery, featuring rotating exhibitions of contemporary art pieces. Local artists display their creative works, adding a touch of culture to the park and allowing visitors to immerse themselves in Colombia’s vibrant art scene.


Adjacent to the park, you’ll find Casa Proartes, a cultural space that hosts art workshops, exhibitions, and cultural events. Be sure to check if there are any events happening during your visit, as it’s a great opportunity to engage with the local art community and learn more about Colombian art and culture.


Whether you’re a cat lover, an art enthusiast, or simply looking for a tranquil place to unwind, Gato de Tejada Park is a hidden gem in Cali. So, be sure to pay a visit, bask in the whimsical atmosphere, and let the art and sculptures captivate your imagination.


Discover the Magic of San Antonio Neighborhood

The San Antonio neighborhood in Cali is a vibrant and bohemian district that exudes charm and character. As you wander through its streets, you’ll be captivated by the colorful colonial houses, picturesque plazas, and an artsy atmosphere that permeates every corner.


Start your exploration at San Antonio Park, the heart of the neighborhood. This cozy square is adorned with blooming flower gardens, a beautiful fountain, and inviting benches where you can relax and soak in the ambiance. Take a moment to admire the San Antonio Church, an architectural gem with its white facade and intricate details.


Stroll along the Callejón San Antonio, a narrow street lined with boutique shops, art galleries, and cafes. This lively street is a haven for artists and artisans, offering a wonderful array of handmade crafts, paintings, and unique souvenirs. It’s the perfect place to find a one-of-a-kind keepsake to remind you of your visit to Cali.


Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Museo La Tertulia, located on the outskirts of San Antonio. This contemporary art museum houses an impressive collection of modern and contemporary Colombian artworks. Explore the galleries and immerse yourself in the vibrant artistic expression of the region.


As you wander deeper into the neighborhood, you’ll discover hidden alleys and streets adorned with colorful murals and street art. These artistic expressions reflect the creativity and vibrancy of the local community, and provide a unique backdrop for memorable photos.


San Antonio is also known for its delightful restaurants and cafes, offering a variety of culinary delights. Enjoy a leisurely meal or sip on a cup of coffee while soaking in the bohemian atmosphere of the neighborhood.


For a panoramic view of Cali, climb up to the viewpoint of Sebastian de Belalcázar. From here, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the city, including the iconic Cristo Rey statue in the distance. It’s a perfect spot to witness the sunset and marvel at the beauty of Cali’s skyline.


The San Antonio neighborhood is a true treasure, filled with history, art, and a sense of community that is palpable. It’s a place where tradition blends seamlessly with creativity, resulting in a magical atmosphere that enchants visitors. So take your time to wander through its streets, embrace the bohemian spirit, and discover the hidden gems that make San Antonio an unforgettable part of Cali.


Experience the Thrills at Caliwood Museum

If you’re a film enthusiast or simply appreciate the magic of the silver screen, a visit to Caliwood Museum is a must. Located in the heart of Cali, this unique museum is dedicated to showcasing the history and art of Colombian cinema.


Caliwood Museum is named after Cali’s nickname, “Caliwood,” which refers to the city’s influence on the Colombian film industry. Inside the museum, you’ll find a fascinating collection of vintage film equipment, costumes, props, and memorabilia that tell the story of Colombia’s cinematic evolution.


As you explore the museum, you’ll learn about the pioneers of Colombian cinema and their contributions to the industry. From early black and white films to modern and internationally acclaimed productions, Caliwood Museum offers a comprehensive look into the rich history of Colombian cinema.


The museum also houses a screening room where you can watch classic Colombian films, documentaries, and short films. Immerse yourself in the stories unfolding on the big screen and gain a deeper appreciation for the art of filmmaking in Colombia.


For a truly unique experience, consider attending one of the museum’s interactive workshops and classes. Learn about the different aspects of filmmaking, from scriptwriting to editing, and get a hands-on experience in creating your own film. It’s an opportunity to unleash your creative spirit and dive into the world of cinema.


Additionally, Caliwood Museum hosts regular film screenings, presentations, and exhibitions that celebrate Colombian cinema and its impact on the cultural landscape. Check their schedule to see if there are any special events happening during your visit.


As you leave the museum, take a moment to appreciate the role that cinema plays in shaping culture and capturing the essence of a society. Caliwood Museum provides a fascinating glimpse into the world of Colombian cinema, and it’s an experience you won’t want to miss.


So, whether you’re a film buff or simply curious about Colombian culture, make sure to include a visit to Caliwood Museum in your itinerary. Step into the world of Colombian cinema, learn about its rich history, and immerse yourself in the artistry and dedication behind the silver screen.


Indulge in Colombian Cuisine at Mercado Alameda

No visit to Cali is complete without indulging in the delicious and diverse flavors of Colombian cuisine. And there’s no better place to experience the gastronomic wonders of Cali than Mercado Alameda.


Mercado Alameda is a vibrant and bustling market located in the Alameda neighborhood. Here, you’ll find a wide array of stalls and vendors offering a mouthwatering selection of Colombian dishes and ingredients. From fresh fruits and vegetables to traditional street food and local delicacies, Mercado Alameda is a food lover’s paradise.


As you walk through the market, your senses will be delighted by the aroma of freshly cooked empanadas, the sizzle of meats grilling on open flames, and the vibrant display of colorful fruits and vegetables. It’s an immersive experience that showcases the diverse culinary traditions of Colombia.


Don’t miss the opportunity to try some of Cali’s iconic street food. Sink your teeth into a crispy arepa, a corn dough patty filled with cheese or meat. Sample the irresistible chuzos, skewered meats that are grilled to perfection and served with tangy salsas. And of course, savor the flavors of an authentic bandeja paisa, a hearty dish featuring red beans, rice, fried plantains, avocado, and a variety of meats.


For seafood lovers, Mercado Alameda offers a delectable selection of fresh seafood dishes. Indulge in ceviche made with locally caught fish, or try a traditional cazuela de mariscos, a rich seafood stew brimming with shrimp, octopus, and crab.


After satisfying your savory cravings, don’t forget to indulge your sweet tooth. Sample a variety of traditional desserts such as postre de natas, a custard-like dessert made with milk and sugar, or try the famous Cali-style flan, a creamy caramel custard that will melt in your mouth.


Mercado Alameda is not just about the food – it’s also a place to soak in the lively atmosphere and connect with the local culture. Engage with the friendly vendors, learn about their culinary traditions, and immerse yourself in the vibrant energy of the market.


So, come hungry and leave satisfied as you indulge in the flavors of Colombian cuisine at Mercado Alameda. It’s a gastronomic experience that will tantalize your taste buds and leave you with a deeper appreciation for the culinary heritage of Cali.


Shop for Local Handicrafts at La Ermita

If you’re in search of authentic Colombian handicrafts and unique souvenirs, look no further than La Ermita. This vibrant marketplace, located in the heart of Cali, offers a plethora of locally crafted goods that reflect the rich cultural heritage of Colombia.


As you step into La Ermita, you’ll be greeted by a colorful and bustling scene. The market is filled with rows of stalls and shops, each offering a wide range of handicrafts, textiles, jewelry, and artwork. From hand-woven textiles to intricately carved wooden figurines, you’ll find an abundance of treasures to take home.


One of the highlights of shopping at La Ermita is the opportunity to interact with skilled artisans and craftsmen. Many of the vendors are the very individuals who create the items they sell. You can watch them demonstrate their techniques, learn about the cultural significance behind their craft, and even request custom-made pieces.


Support local artisans by purchasing traditional Colombian textiles, such as colorful woven blankets, ponchos, or mochilas (handmade bags). These vibrant textiles are not only beautiful but also serve as a reminder of the indigenous heritage of the region.


Explore the stands filled with a wide variety of handmade jewelry, ranging from delicate silver pieces to beaded bracelets and earrings adorned with colorful semiprecious stones. Each piece tells a story and showcases the incredible craftsmanship of Colombian artisans.


For art enthusiasts, La Ermita offers a diverse selection of paintings, sculptures, and ceramics created by local artists. From contemporary works to traditional folk art, you can find pieces that capture the essence of Colombian culture and add a touch of artistic flair to your home.


Don’t forget to sample the delicious treats and snacks available at the market. Taste the exotic flavors of Colombian coffee, try traditional sweets like arequipe (caramel) or panela (raw cane sugar), or savor the rich flavors of locally produced chocolate.


With its vibrant atmosphere and wide array of offerings, La Ermita is a shopper’s paradise. Immerse yourself in the cultural richness of Colombia, support local artisans, and take home a piece of Cali’s creative spirit.


So, whether you’re seeking a unique gift, a beautiful piece of artwork, or simply want to browse through the local crafts, a visit to La Ermita is a must when in Cali. Discover the intricate beauty of Colombian handicrafts and embrace the creativity of Cali’s artisans.


Relax in the Natural Retreat of Farallones de Cali National Park

If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in nature, a visit to Farallones de Cali National Park is a must. This expansive natural park, located just outside of Cali, offers a peaceful retreat with its lush greenery, cascading waterfalls, and diverse wildlife.


Farallones de Cali National Park is a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The park boasts an impressive range of ecosystems, including cloud forests, páramo (high-altitude grassland), and rivers teeming with biodiversity. As you explore the park’s numerous trails, you’ll encounter breathtaking landscapes and encounter incredible flora and fauna.


One of the park’s highlights is the San Jorge River, which winds its way through the heart of the park, creating stunning waterfalls along the way. Take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear pools beneath the waterfalls, or simply relax and marvel at the beauty of nature surrounding you.


For hikers, Farallones de Cali offers a variety of trails that cater to different skill levels. From leisurely walks through the forest to challenging hikes up to the park’s highest peaks, you’ll find a trail that suits your preferences. Keep an eye out for the diverse bird species that call the park home, including colorful toucans and hummingbirds.


To gain a different perspective of the park, consider embarking on a guided horseback riding excursion. Ride through the park’s scenic trails, soaking in the serenity of the surroundings while enjoying the companionship of these majestic animals.


Farallones de Cali is not only a natural paradise but also an important conservation area. The park plays a vital role in protecting the region’s biodiversity, including endangered species such as the Andean condor and spectacled bear. Visitors to the park can learn about these conservation efforts and gain a deeper appreciation for the importance of preserving our natural heritage.


Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or simply a connection with nature, Farallones de Cali National Park offers it all. It’s a place to unwind, rejuvenate, and embrace the beauty of the natural world.


So, pack your hiking boots, grab your camera, and escape to the tranquil retreat of Farallones de Cali National Park. Immerse yourself in the splendor of the Colombian wilderness and create memories that will last a lifetime.


Immerse in Coffee Culture at Hacienda El Paraíso

Colombia is renowned worldwide for its exceptional coffee, and a visit to Hacienda El Paraíso allows you to immerse yourself in the rich coffee culture of the region. Located just outside of Cali, this historic coffee plantation offers a captivating experience where you can learn about the art of coffee production and indulge in the flavors of Colombian coffee.


Hacienda El Paraíso is a picturesque estate with sprawling coffee plantations, surrounded by lush green hills and breathtaking scenery. As you step foot onto the plantation, you’ll be greeted by the sweet aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans, setting the stage for an unforgettable experience.


Embark on a guided tour of the hacienda, where knowledgeable guides will take you through the entire coffee production process. Learn about the cultivation of coffee plants, the importance of harvesting the ripe cherries, and the intricate methods of processing and roasting the beans. It’s a fascinating journey that unveils the dedication and expertise behind every cup of Colombian coffee.


No visit to Hacienda El Paraíso is complete without a tasting session. Sit back and savor the distinct flavors and aromas of Colombian coffee as you indulge in a cup brewed from the finest beans. Learn about the different notes and profiles of coffee, and discover what sets Colombian coffee apart from the rest.


After the tasting, take a leisurely stroll through the beautifully maintained gardens of the hacienda. Marvel at the vibrant colors of tropical flowers and appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds you. You’ll also have the opportunity to visit the on-site museum, which showcases the history of coffee production and the legacy of Hacienda El Paraíso.


If you’re looking to deepen your coffee knowledge, consider participating in a barista workshop or a coffee cupping session. These hands-on experiences allow you to refine your coffee brewing skills and gain a deeper understanding of the intricacies of coffee flavors.


Before you leave, make sure to stop by the plantation’s gift shop, where you can purchase freshly roasted coffee beans to bring home. Support local farmers and savor the flavors of Colombia even after your visit to Hacienda El Paraíso.


Immersing yourself in coffee culture at Hacienda El Paraíso is a truly enriching experience that allows you to appreciate the art and science behind Colombia’s famous coffee industry. It’s an opportunity to connect with the heritage of Colombian coffee and deepen your appreciation for this beloved beverage.


So, embrace the aromas, savor the flavors, and let Hacienda El Paraíso take you on a captivating journey into the world of Colombian coffee.



Cali, Colombia is a city that captivates the senses and immerses visitors in a world of vibrant culture, rich history, and breathtaking natural beauty. From exploring the historic district to dancing the night away to the infectious rhythms of salsa, Cali offers a plethora of experiences that showcase the heart and soul of Colombia.


As you wander through the streets of Cali’s historic district, you’ll be transported back in time, marveling at the colonial architecture and soaking in the charm of San Antonio neighborhood. The iconic Cristo Rey Statue stands tall, offering panoramic views of the city, while the vibrant Gato de Tejada Park captures the whimsical spirit of the city.


For those seeking cultural immersion, Caliwood Museum showcases the history and art of Colombian cinema, while Mercado Alameda provides a culinary adventure with its diverse flavors and local handicrafts. Nature lovers can find solace in the tranquil retreat of Farallones de Cali National Park, while coffee enthusiasts can indulge in the flavors and aromas of Colombian coffee at Hacienda El Paraíso.


But beyond the attractions, it is the warmth and friendliness of the Caleños that truly make Cali a special place to visit. The locals’ love for salsa pulsates through the streets, inviting visitors to join in the festivities and dance the night away. The vibrant energy, lively music, and spirited atmosphere create an unforgettable experience that will stay with you long after you leave.


As we conclude this guide to the best things to do in Cali, we invite you to embark on your own journey of discovery in this captivating Colombian city. Immerse yourself in the rich culture, engage with the local community, and create lasting memories that will forever remind you of the magic of Cali.


So pack your bags, put on your dancing shoes, and get ready to experience the vibrant rhythm of Cali. From its historic neighborhoods to its natural wonders, Cali awaits with open arms, ready to share its vibrant spirit and unique charm with you.