Cali, Colombia, is an exciting and vibrant city and a perfect option for those wanting to submerge themselves in Colombian culture. Known as the Salsa Capital of the World, Cali has a great nightlife scene for anyone to enjoy. And if hitting the dance floor isn’t quite your thing, we’ve got plenty of other options for you! Here are 10+ things to do in Cali, Colombia.
Is Cali safe?
Cali, Colombia, is known as the country’s third-largest city and is a popular tourist destination. With its vibrant nightlife, delicious food, and lush nature, it is no surprise that many travelers are drawn to this vibrant city. And while some might recall the drug cartel wars that took place in the area, those days are long gone. However, it is important to understand that, like any other city, Cali presents its own set of safety concerns.
The city does have a higher crime rate than other cities in Colombia, and the government has taken steps to improve the security situation. There is security and police in the city. However, visitors are still advised to use their wits around Cali. So, try to stay in well-populated areas, not carry large amounts of cash and leave valuables like their passports at home.
Overall, Cali is a great place to visit and can be navigated safely with the proper precautions. If you’re visiting the area, make sure you do your research into local customs, and you’ll be well on your way to having a great time in Cali!
Things to do in Cali, Colombia
Cali is a colorful and energetic city full of fun things to do while also being cheaper than Medellin or Bogotá. From its music and dance culture to its buzzing nightlife, Cali is a city that exudes life and passion. Here is a list of 10+ things to do in Cali that will make your visit an unforgettable experience.
Tres cruces (Three Crosses)
A great morning hike to take when staying in Cali. It takes about an hour to complete, but your effort will be rewarded with some great views of Cali from the top. Then, if you still have some energy left, consider joining the locals in the outdoor gym. Or, if you’re all out, grab a fresh juice in the smoothie bar! Just remember to wear comfy shoes for this one.
Take a dip in Rio Pance
Cali can get rather hot, especially if you’re traveling during the summer months. So, if the sun has been getting to you and your stamina is running low, take a day trip to visit the Pance river, just south of the city. It’s a shallow, clean river where locals come to cool off. Surrounded by nature, it is a great place to take a chill off from sightseeing and dancing.
Visit Rio Pance on weekends to meet locals who go there to barbecue and socialise. Or, if you’re after a tranquil and quiet experience, consider scheduling the trip during the week!
Explore Cali through a food tour
Cali offers its visitors an amazing tastebud experience – if only you know where to look. Due to its proximity to the Amazon, you can find some truly exotic and delicious fruit in the city. However, doing this yourself might be tricky, especially if you don’t speak the language. So, we recommend you look into getting a tour guide who will make sure that you have an unforgettable experience.
Visit San Cipriano
San Cipriano is a little village nearby, with only about 500 inhabitants. Two features make a trip to San Cipriano a memorable experience: its river and crystal-clear natural pools; and the fact that the village can only be accessed through a railway. You might think that’s not exactly exciting, but you won’t be taking a train to get there.
Instead, you’ll use “la brujita”, a form of transportation developed by locals, where a human- or motorbike-powered vehicle will take you to your destination. This is really an attraction that doesn’t get mentioned often enough, so make sure to visit if you’re in Cali!
Simply take a bus from Cali to the town of Zaragosa or Cordoba, and the locals will help you find the track. The trip costs the locals around COP$ 3,000 but be prepared to pay a bit more as a tourist. Alternatively, hire a tour guide for a seamless experience.
Go to a salsa club or a cabaret
Pretty much everyone in Cali knows how to dance but for a real cultural experience, visit one of the city’s many salsa and cabaret clubs. Full of elaborate choreography and bursting with energy and color, these shows are quite a sight. There are plenty of options to see live performances in Cali, but check out Ensalsate or El Mulato Cabaret if you’re unsure where to start.
Buy your mementos at Loma de la Cruz
Visiting the market in Lima de la Cruz is a great way to spend an afternoon in Cali. Locals put up stands with food and handcrafted items to buy, such as pottery and jewelry. There’s also the Parque Artesanal, where you can rest your feet after shopping. The best time to visit is around 4 pm, but if you visit the area on a Thursday, make sure to stick around for a few hours. That’s because at 7 pm you can see and join the locals as they gather to dance the evening away.
Admire modern Colombian art at Museo La Tertulia
Museo La Tertulia is a modern art museum that displays around 1,500 works of leading artists, with a focus on Latin American and Colombian art. Make sure to check it out while in Cali, especially as the museum often hosts interesting exhibitions and live events. Visit Museo La Tertulia on a Saturday afternoon to enjoy the experience for free!
Take a couple of days to visit Pance
If you want to take a great from the whirl of the city, we recommend you go where the caleños go to breathe some fresh air. Pance is a small town about 2 hours away from Cali, and it’s a great place to quieten down a little and admire Colombian nature. There’s no public transport in the town so book a hotel in a good location and, ideally, avoid visiting on weekends if you really want some peace and quiet.
You’ll find plenty to do in the area, from bird watching to exploring the breathtaking Las Farallones park. If you’re confident in your fitness and plan to bring some good hiking shoes with you, consider climbing the nearby Pico Loro. It’s a challenging hike that you must complete with a local tour guide, and it will take you the whole day – but the views you’ll experience at the summit are one of a kind.
Take a salsa lesson
You can’t visit the capital of salsa and not learn at least some basics. Luckily, your hotel probably already offers some free salsa lessons, so make sure to ask them for details. Alternatively, if you’re a bit more serious about your dance moves, you have plenty of choices available in terms of dance schools and classes. Check out Salsa Pura for world-class teaching or Manicero if you’re on a budget.
Enjoy Cali’s nightlife
Cali is well-known for its nightlife and clubbing, so make sure you spend an evening exploring what the city offers! If you enjoy clubbing, stroll around Ciudad Jardin, Granada, or El Penon for some great options. If you need some specific recommendations to get you started, give Zaperoco or Spacios 10-60 (and their awesome rooftop) a try.
Test your salsa skills
If you actioned our salsa class suggestion above, then it’s time to test your new skills. Cali is full of dance, and you’ll find many opportunities to show off what you’ve learned. We recommend visiting Tin Tin Deo or La Topa Tolondra. They’re both great, more traditional clubs where you can dance the night away to salsa music or disco. And here’s a little bonus: visit La Topa Tolondra on a Monday at 7pm for a free salsa lesson!
Catch the party bus
If you’re in Cali, you have to check out Chivas, the so-called party busses. Sure, they’re a bit ridiculous, but that only makes them more fun! It’s a popular way to start your night out in Cali, and you should definitely give them a try, even if you’re not that much into clubbing in general.
Grab a Cholado
Cholados are a fantastic refresher to ease the heat when in Cali. Filled with fresh local fruit, condensed milk, and syrup, it is a delicious treat you must try while in the city! You’ll find stands with Cholado everywhere in Cali, so go and enjoy!
Explore Barrio San Antonio
If you like to explore new places by simply getting lost in the local atmosphere, you can start in San Antonio. This area is quiet, safe, and full of hippie vibes and street art. It’s a great place to put away your phone and simply wander around, enjoying views of the church, parks, and colonial architecture.
And, since all that sightseeing and delicious smells pouring out from restaurants are bound to make you hungry, check out Parados San Antonio Arepas or El Valencia for a great dinner.
Stroll around Parque del Perro
Parque del Perro is the place to be if you like the buzz and energy of crowds. Apart from being home to the dog statue that gives the park its name, the neighborhood is full of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. It is also the hot spot for meeting new people during your stay. If you visit Parque del Pero and find it a bit too busy or even “touristy” for your taste, take a walk to the nearby Barrio El Sindicato. It’s a much quieter area, with lots of affordable restaurants serving local food.
Listen to live music in Parque del Peñon
Barrio El Peñon is a quiet neighborhood in Cali, definitely on the wealthier side. Parque del Peñon specifically is small but charming, surrounded by restaurants and cafes, usually full of locals enjoying the weather and each other’s company. On Sunday afternoons, the park fills up with artists, so we recommend you pay this neighborhood a visit to enjoy the live music!
We hope you enjoyed this list of 10+ things to do in Cali, Colombia. With its warm climate, stunningly beautiful surroundings, and varied attractions, it’s no wonder why Cali is known as “the Salsa Capital of the World.”
Cali offers something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a relaxing vacation or an action-packed getaway. It is such a vibrant city bustling with life, and we’re confident you’ll always find something fun to do in the area. And if you find something that’s not on the list, share it with us in the comments!