From cultural heritage and natural retreats, to the unique personality of Caleños –as the folks from Cali are known–, the city of Cali is an exciting and beautiful place to visit while in Colombia.
Here’s the top 10 things to see and do in the World’s Capital of Salsa, Cali!
- Walk through the streets of 'San Antonio'
- Wander along the 'Bulevard del Río'
- Visit the 'Museo de Arte Moderno, La Tertulia'
- Climb all the way up to 'Cristo Rey'
- Walk along the Cali River and take a look at 'El Gato de Tejada'
- Explore Colombia's wildlife at 'El Zóologico de Cali'
- Head to 'El Kilómetro 18'
- Dance to the rhythm of 'Cali Pachanguero'
- Spend an afternoon at 'La Hacienda El Paraíso'
- Go on a day trip to 'San Cipriano'
Walk through the streets of 'San Antonio'
From old beautiful houses and crafts workshops, to antique shops, restaurants and bars, the neighborhood of San Antonio has everything you need to spend a pleasant afternoon and an exciting evening!
If you’re looking for an exclusive place to eat, I’ll recommend going to ‘Antigua Contemporánea’, a restaurant known for its romantic atmosphere and its unique décor: vintage furniture, natural vegetation, fountains, buddhas… If you fall in love with one of these pieces, you might even be able to but it as some of them are for sell!
If you want a budget-friendly restaurant, just wander around. There are plenty of delicious options to choose from!
Don’t forget to visit the park in this neighborhood. Walk to the top of it and visit the San Antonio Church, known for its baroque architecture and its white-façade.
One of the best ways of visiting Cali is going on a walking tour. If you want a guided tour to visit San Antonio neighborhood and the city's most remarkable sights, take a look at this free walking tour. At the end of the 2.5-hour tour, you'll know Cali's most surprising secrets! Click below to book your place:
Wander along the 'Bulevard del Río'
The River Boulevard is a pedestrian avenue which was open to the public just a couple of years ago, in 2013. This is a place dedicated to the recreation of Caleños and of those who decide to visit this beautiful city. Along this avenue, you’ll find the stunning church ‘La Ermita’, which dates back to the 17th century.
Go in the late afternoon to enjoy the city breeze; grab a beer or go into one of the restaurants located along the boulevard.
Piece of advice: If possible, visit this place at Christmas! The Christmas lights and decorations along the river, as well as the cultural exhibitions and concerts taking place in this area of the city, give this place a vibrant atmosphere!
How to get there: It’s a 5 minute-walk from San Antonio neighborhood.
Visit the 'Museo de Arte Moderno, La Tertulia'
The Museum of Modern Art, La Tertulia, it’s the most important cultural space in Cali. It features everything ranging from contemporary painting, to sculpture and photography. It is a place you should definitively visit if you want to get an insight into the work of both local and South American artists.
La Tertulia offers as well an open-air theater where poetry readings and live music performances take place. There’s also a cinema room in which arthouse films are displayed.
The museum opens from Tuesday to Saturday: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
On Sundays: 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm
How to get there:
- A 15 minute-walk along the river from ‘Bulevard del Río’
- A 10 minute-walk from San Antonio neighborhood
Entrance fee: 12,000 COP for the museum (3.5 USD/385 JPY); 8,000 COP for the cinema room (2 USD/250 JPY).
Climb all the way up to 'Cristo Rey'
Cristo Rey is a giant Jesus statue (26 meters tall), not as big as the one you can find in Rio de Janeiro, bus its impressive and worth visiting nonetheless. This statue commemorates the 50th anniversary of the end of the ‘War of a Thousand Days’ – Colombian civil war. It is located on the top of a hill from where you can enjoy spectacular views of the city.
Piece of advice: Go on a week day because weekends tend to be overcrowded!
How to get there:
- A 45 minutes to one hour-walk from San Antonio neighborhood.
- A taxi ride from San Antonio neighborhood: around 15,000 COP (4 USD/480 JPY).
Walk along the Cali River and take a look at 'El Gato de Tejada'
'El Gato de Tejada' or Tejada's Cat is an unusual sculpture located along the Cali river, sculpted by the famous Colombian artists, Hernando Tejada.
In 2006, the initiative ‘las novias del gato’ (the cat’s girlfriends) took place. This project gave birth to a park where both locals and tourists can walk while taking a look at cat figures painted and decorated by local artists. They all share the same structural base, but feature different painting styles.
How to get there:
- A 10 minutes-walk from San Antonio neighborhood.
- A 15 minutes-walk from ‘Bulevard del Río’
Explore Colombia's wildlife at 'El Zóologico de Cali'
Widely considered as the best zoo in Colombia, the Cali Zoo is not only a place to see animals, but an informative and interactive experience with programs designed to preserved Colombian biodiversity.
If you feel like getting an insight into what this country has to offer in terms of fauna and flora, the Cali Zoo is the place to visit, as 90% of the species in the zoo are native to Colombia!
How to get there:
- A short taxi ride from San Antonio: 6,000 COP (1.7 USD/192 JPY).
- Walk along the river from ‘Gato de Tejada’ for 15 minutes and you’ll find the zoo entrance.
Entrance fee: Adults 20,900 COP (6 USD/670 JPY) and Children 13,900 COP (4USD/445 JPY).
Head to 'El Kilómetro 18'
Located just 15 minutes from Cali by car, the ‘Kilómetro 18’ is the highest point between Cali and Buenaventura. It’s the perfect place to escape Cali’s heat, so bring a light jacket ‘cause it might get chilly!
There are plenty of rustic restaurants along the main road offering delicious Colombian food and drinks, including hot chocolate. This hot drink is served with diced cheese meant to be dipped in the chocolate. Give it a try, it’s DELICIOUS!
‘El Kilómetro 18’ is also a great place for birdwatching, especially hummingbirds! Most restaurants have an outdoor terrace with lots of hummingbirds’ feeders, so you should definitively visit this place if you want to see the beauty of these birds!
How to get there:
- Get a bus from the bus terminal in Cali or from the Texaco gas station at La Portada al Mar. Ask the driver to drop you off at one of the restaurants on the road. They’re all excellent!
- Get a taxi from La Portada al Mar. The price will be around 15,000 COP (4 USD/480 JPY).
Dance to the rhythm of 'Cali Pachanguero'
Famous for their love to salsa, the Caleños can’t seem to stop moving to the rhythm of these contagious beats!
As a visitor coming to Cali, your trip will not be completed without trying some of the moves of ‘Salsa’, so get ready and head to a salsa club in the city where you’ll feel and experience the real action!
Some of the best places in town for salsa dancing are: ‘Tintindeo’, ‘Zaperoco’ or ‘La Topa Tolondra’. Go there and locals will gladly teach you their best dance moves to the rhythm of the famous salsa song, ‘Cali Pachanguero’.
Spend an afternoon at 'La Hacienda El Paraíso'
Located in ‘El Cerrito’ (north of Cali), the ‘Hacienda el Paraíso’ is a beautifully preserved country house dating from the 19th century. This house figures as an important location throughout the love story immortalized by Jorge Isaacs in his novel ‘María’, one of the most important novels in Latin American history.
The novel narrates the romance between Efraín and his cousin, María: a forbidden relationship by their family.
The ‘Hacienda El Paraíso’ is today a Colombian National Monument and it's currently preserved as a museum.
This place opens from Tuesday to Sunday: 9:30 am – 4:30 pm
How to get there: Get a bus to ‘Amaime’ from the bus terminal in Cali: 5,000 COP (1.5 USD/160 JPY). From ‘Amaime’ you can get a taxi that will take you to the entrance of the ‘Hacienda’ for around 6,000 COP (1.7 USD/192 JPY).
Entrance fee: 9,000 COP (2.6 USD/288 JPY).
Go on a day trip to 'San Cipriano'
San Cipriano is a natural reserve and village located 2 hours from Cali on the way to Buenaventura. This place is paradise for nature lovers!
Get yourself a tube (you can find lots of them for rent on the main road) and start walking upstream until you find the entrance called ‘La Platina’. It takes about 30 to 45 minutes to get there. ‘La Platina’ is the last river entrance, so from there you can enjoy 2 hours of tubing down the crystal-clear river.
Make sure to stop at ‘Charco Oscuro’, which is a great spot for swimming and jumping off cliffs!
There’s a beautiful waterfall that you should visit as well. Ask a local to guide you up there. The guiding service cost 10,000 COP (3 USD/320 JPY). It is a 30 to 40 minutes-hike from ‘Charco Oscuro’.
How to get there: Get in a bus from the bus terminal in Cali or from the Texaco gas station at La Portada al Mar. Ask the driver to drop you off at the ‘Zaragoza’ entrance. From ‘Zaragoza’ you have to cross the river on a pedestrian suspended bridge. And here is where the fun begins! To get to ‘San Cipriano’ village, you’ll get on a ‘Brujita’, which is a structure composed of wooden chairs and a roof meant to cover you from the sun. The ‘Brujita’ goes on the train trucks and it’s pushed by a motorbike. Believe me, it’s FUN!
Price: One-way bus ride 28,000 COP (8 USD/900 JPY); return trip ‘Brujita’ 10,000 COP (3 USD/320 JPY); entrance fee to ‘San Cipriano’ 2,000 COP (0.5 USD/64 JPY).
Come visit this vibrating city. You’ll leave with a bag full of new experiences!