Cali is a city in the south of Colombia and the capital of the Valle del Cauca. Things to do in Cali Colombia;
- San Antonio old town (and view of the city)
- Salsotecas – Cali is the home of salsa
- El Gato del Rio
- Ermita Church
- Cali Zoo
- Chipichape Shopping Mall
- Cali Tower
- Cristo Rey
- Day Trip to Parque Del Cafe
Firstly, Cali is a spread out city therefore you must use public transport to get around. Hotels in Cali Colombia are good value and many tourist choose to stay in San Antonio.
How to Travel around Cali
Getting around Cali is very easy, there is a system called Masivo Integrado de Occidente, or MIO. This is a bus system which has a separate lane to the cars and only stops at specially built stations that you need a ticket to get in. There are lots of taxis in Cali, normally the drivers are listening to salsa music whilst driving around the city. It’s easy to get a taxi, they are all metered and the driver will nearly always put on the meter without being prompted.
San Antonio Old Town
To familiarize yourself with Cali I would recommend a visit to San Antonio, the Cristo Rey and the Cali Tower. All these places offer great views of the city. San Antonio is a historic neighborhood of Cali with Spanish colonial buildings and lots of good value restaurants / bars. It’s probably the best value area to stay in Cali.
Salsotecas – Cali is the home of Salsa
Cali is the Colombian city most famous for salsa dancing. If you want to learn salsa dancing, Cali is the place to learn. Even as a novice watching on in any of the famous salsa bars of Cali, you’ll be able to appreciate that Cali’s salsa dancers are the best! Lastly, In San Antonio there’s a hostel called El Viajero Hostel which offers free salsa dancing lessons everyday.
El Gato del Rio
Something rather strange you’ll come across in the city is Parque de los gatos (El gato del rio). These are large sculptures of cats designed and made by local artist, Hernando Tejada. If you have some time to kill or you’re a cat enthusiast then this place is worth a visit.
An Instagram worthy Gothic Church is not what you’d expect to see in Colombia! The Ermita church challenges Seville Cathedral for its beauty. An interesting fact about the Ermita church is that is has a musical clock which was manufactured in Amsterdam.
Cali is home to the best zoo in Colombia and it’s in the city, so normally a short ride away. My favorite animal is the sloth and there are a couple in this zoo. The sloths take a bit of finding though. For this reason you’ll probably need to ask someone and even then, they take a bit of finding!
Chipichape Shopping Mall
Other places worth visiting in Cali are the historic center and also the Chipichape shopping mall. I would recommend the restaurant Leños y Carbon in the mall. If you enjoy steak, you’ll love this restaurant. Additionally, be sure to check out the Juan Valdez coffee shop. As a matter of fact, even if you’re not a coffee drinker, you’ll appreciate a Juan Valdez coffee! I recommend the Nevado de Arequipe, it’s not good for you but it’s delicious!
The tallest building in Cali is the 183 meter tall Cali Tower. It is possible to ascend for wonderful views of the city. Finally, if you wish to sleep in this iconic Cali landmark, you can book a night in the Torre de Cali Plaza Hotel.
If you have no plans to go to Rio, Brazil to see Christ the Redeemer, there’s also one in Cali! In my opinion, the Cali version is much better as there are not thousands of tourists visiting it with you. As a matter of fact you might have the Cristo Rey of Cali all to yourself!
Day Trip to Parque del Cafe
It’s possible for you to go on a day trip from Cali to Parque del cafe in Armenia. This is a coffee plantation and also a theme park so it makes a great day trip. The coffee plantation is sponsored by Juan Valdez. You’ll learn how coffee is grown and every process along the way to being served in Juan Valdez.
How to get from Cali to Bogota by Bus
Bus from Cali to Bogotá, 10 hours, 57,000 pesos
There are many different bus companies serving Bogotá from the terminal de transportes in Cali. The journey takes around 10 hours through the mountains. I would recommend a Bolivariano service which are quite regular from Cali. There are a few other good bus services leaving from Cali, it’s a popular route. You should pay around 57,000 pesos for the service, this is negotiable.
I have been learning Salsa back in the UK so this sounds like the place for me to learn a little bit more. I think it is the best to learn at its roots. The rest of the area looks beautiful too.
Visiting Colombia for the first time in March and for about 2 weeks and I wasn’t considering in visiting Cali, because the lack of time, but I’ll be reconsidering it and working again on my itinerary because Cali sounds fun and worth a visit, let’s learn some salsa skills! haha Thanks for sharing. Pinned for later 🙂
It’s great to read about a city other than Bogota in Colombia. That’s the place most people write about but Cali seems to have a lot to offer. Thanks for the details list of all touristy attractions. “Animal” sculptures spread across the city are becoming quite the rage and interesting to see they have that here too in the form of a Cat. The day trip to the coffee plantations sounds great as does the zoo.
Thanks for putting this together. Going to Colombia is definetely high on my list, your post takes my fear away to a degree, I always thought it would be rather scary there but your post has me covered.
If I’ll make it, I make sure to check out a salsa class as you recommend.:)
My wife loves to dance Salsa and really likes ca, she even has an own and I am totally in for a good restaurant or bar so I am afraid this is the place we have to visit 🙂
Your post is a great inspiration since I had Colombia not yet on my radar yet, but it sounds like a truly great place to visit.Thank you for this.
This looks like a perfect list to visit Cali with all required info. We would definitely spare some time to learn salsa when we are there. And we are coffee lovers, so this place has something great to offer 🙂
I’ve never been to Colombia so that for giving me a glimpse. San Antonio looks simply stunning at night. I’m not a coffee drinker (shock horror!) but I’m sure I would find something else to get by on ????
My fiancee is always asking me to take salsa classes. >.<' Maybe I'll do it when I make it to Cali :D. I was very interested in Hernando Tejada's cat sculpture and it looks like it's very symbolic to the city of Cali, and will have to check out that park. Plus, I like cats!
You had me at that first photo. Night skyline photos are seriously breathtaking! And I am impressed you captured one in Colombia – I thought I’d be more in awe by the colonial architecture, but the modern skyline is just as breathtaking!
Wow this part of Colombia sounds amazing! I think I would really enjoy San Antonio, especially because of the Spanish colonial buildings. And I would LOVE to learn how to salsa dance – what better place then Cali. Colombia is totally on my list of places to visit, and I hope that I will get to experience this place one day.
We really love Colombia and South American in general. It’s just so easy to travel around. I miss coaches where they serve wine! 🙂
I love Colombia but am not familiar with much about Cali! Very informative and helpful tips!
I’ve been to that cat park in Cali back in 2013! Glad to see it’s still there.
I to stay at the elviajero hotel and learn how to salsa dance since its such a big thing in Cali. ANd the city scape shot of cali is amazing. And good tip about using public transportation since the city is so spread out. Thanks!
Cali sounds/reads and looks great. I’m not much of a dancer – like you, James, but I’d give it a bash. Coffee gives me migraines so think I’d give the coffee shops a miss. The views across the city from the Cali Tower look excellent though. Nice post. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for this informative post. I’m planning to stay in Columbia for 6-8 months at the end of the year. This is on my list now as I LOVE salsa! Might have to look into that hostel.
It’s such a coincidence to read about Columbia as I’m watching Narcos on Netflix. One thing I’ve noticed in the show is that the countryside looks absolutely beautiful and that the country is full of history and culture. It would definitely be fun to head there and learn to salsa in Cali.
I never made it to Cali when I was in Colombia. It looks like such a cool city though and I will visit next time I am there. I never knew there was coffee plantations there, I did that in Solento 🙂
I didn’t know much about Cali before reading your post, so thanks for sharing! I love that it has a cat park (though I am more of a “dog person”). I would be interested in trying salsa dancing – will look into the hostel with the free dance classes!
From your description I think I will like Bogota! I’m much into nature and adventure than city and night life!!!
I still haven’t made it to South America, but I think I’d love Cali! I would love to visit a coffee plantation and see how coffee is made. And that would be so cool to learn salsa dancing in Cali, although with my lack of coordination and dancing skills, I might rather not embarrass myself and sit back and watch instead.
Never heard about the Cali. But now I really want to visit Cali. I always wanted to learn Salsa and what better place to learn few steps which is famous for salsa dancing … Juan Valdez coffee has been noted. Will definitely give a try.
Cali truly seems breathtaking. I really hope to go there soon, James!