Welcome to Cali, Colombia, a vibrant and culturally rich city located in the Valle del Cauca region of southwestern Colombia. Renowned for its warm weather, lively salsa music, and beautiful historic architecture, Cali is a must-see destination for travelers seeking a captivating experience. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the top 10 things to see and do in Cali, immersing ourselves in its colorful colonial neighborhoods, indulging in delicious local cuisine, exploring nature’s bounties, and embracing the Afro-Colombian rhythm that permeates the city. Get ready to embark on a memorable journey through the heart and soul of Cali.
Explore the Enchanting San Antonio Neighborhood
Begin your adventure in the captivating San Antonio neighborhood, one of Cali’s most charming and picturesque areas. Wander through its narrow streets adorned with colorful colonial houses, each telling a story of the city’s rich history. As you stroll, soak in the vibrant atmosphere and immerse yourself in the local culture. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the quaint cafes and restaurants that line the neighborhood, offering a taste of Cali’s gastronomic delights. With its hostels and yoga studios, San Antonio has become a vibrant hub where backpackers and bohemian spirits converge, creating a unique and lively ambiance.
Visit the Historic Center and Downtown
Discover the architectural splendor of Cali’s Historic Center, where colonial heritage blends harmoniously with the city’s modern pulse. Marvel at iconic landmarks such as the Cathedral of San Pedro, the Church of La Merced, and the Palace of Justice. To delve deeper into Cali’s history and culture, join a walking tour that will guide you through the cobblestone streets, offering fascinating insights at every turn. As you explore, take a leisurely stroll along the picturesque Bulevar del Rio, a charming promenade that runs alongside the Cali River. Along the way, make sure to visit the iconic La Ermita Church, also known as Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, and be captivated by its architectural grandeur.
Immerse Yourself in Artistic Splendor at Gato de Tejada Park
Step into a world of creativity at Gato de Tejada Park, named after its famous cat sculpture that stands proudly at its center. This riverside park offers an oasis of relaxation and artistic expression. Find a spot to unwind, soak up the serene atmosphere, and indulge in some people-watching. The park often comes alive with street performers showcasing their talents and local vendors offering delectable food and unique souvenirs. Marvel at the open-air art show, featuring around 15 other artistically decorated cat sculptures that add a touch of whimsy and creativity to the surroundings.
Delight Your Palate with Local Cuisine
Cali is a gastronomic paradise, enticing visitors with its delicious and unique blend of flavors. Explore the culinary scene that seamlessly combines traditional Colombian tastes with African, Spanish, and indigenous influences. Indulge in must-try dishes such as chontaduro, chuleta valluna, and sancocho, or sample unique snacks like aborrajado and marranitas. To cool off from the tropical heat, sip on refreshing beverages like lulada or champus, or treat yourself to a flavorful Cholao. While Ringlete is a popular choice for traditional food, a food tour with Gastrotourcol will allow you to savor a variety of dishes, providing an immersive culinary experience that showcases the diverse flavors and culinary treasures of Cali.
Immerse Yourself in Nature’s Beauty
For nature enthusiasts, Cali and its surroundings offer a plethora of breathtaking landscapes. Explore Mariposario Andoke, a butterfly sanctuary where you can witness the vibrant colors and graceful flight of these enchanting creatures. Embark on a hike through Bichacue Yath’s trails, where you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into the mesmerizing world of “Lord of the Rings,” surrounded by lush greenery and mystical scenery. Nature lovers and birdwatchers shouldn’t miss Bosque de Niebla Birding and Nature, where you can experience the awe-inspiring cloud forests and observe a diverse range of bird species.
Support La Estrella Community Tourism Project
La Estrella, once a troubled neighborhood, has transformed into a beautiful community tourism project. By taking a tour, you can explore its vibrant streets adorned with colorful murals, visit the cultural center, and gain insight into the history and complexities of this remarkable area. Consider joining tours with Cali Elegante, Cooperativa La Estrella, or Semillas Siloe for an authentic and informative experience. To make your journey even more exciting, opt for a ride on the Metro Cable or a Guala/Jeepeto, adding a touch of adventure to your exploration of La Estrella.
Escape to the Tranquil Pance River:
Take a day trip to the Pance River, located just outside of Cali, to experience a peaceful retreat surrounded by lush vegetation. This popular spot offers opportunities for hiking, swimming, and picnicking in nature’s embrace. Enjoy the refreshing waters and the soothing sounds of the river as you relax and rejuvenate. For a truly serene experience, visit the El Nilo Pance farm, situated along the Pance River. Here, you can find tranquil areas surrounded by stunning natural beauty. Unwind, practice meditation, and indulge in wellness activities, creating a harmonious connection with nature and finding inner peace.
Visit the Cristo Rey Monument
The Cristo Rey monument is one of the most iconic landmarks in Cali. Located atop a hill overlooking the city, the statue of Christ is 26 meters tall and is made of reinforced concrete. Visitors can climb to the top of the monument for stunning views of the city and the surrounding mountains.
Dance to the Rhythm of Salsa
Cali’s reputation as the salsa capital of the world makes it a must-visit destination for dance enthusiasts. Immerse yourself in the vibrant salsa scene by taking a salsa dancing lesson at one of the many dance schools and studios scattered throughout the city. Learn the basics of this energetic and passionate dance form, and let the music move your feet. Experience the electric atmosphere of La Topa Tolondra, where you can witness incredible dancers showcasing their skills. For an unforgettable evening, attend a salsa dancing show like Mulatto Cabaret, where you can not only watch but also join in the rhythmic celebration.
Embrace Pacific Coast Culture
Discover the rich cultural heritage of Colombia’s Pacific Coast by immersing yourself in its vibrant traditions. Visit Viche Positivo, where you can sample the traditional alcoholic beverage viche and enjoy live music, including the soulful melodies of the famous marimba. To embark on a unique sensory gastronomic experience, Sensorium Experience awaits.
In conclusion, Cali, Colombia is a charming and culturally rich city that offers a wide variety of attractions and activities for visitors. It oozes afrocolombian rithym and flavors. Don´t miss out on Cali, or you´ll surely regret it!