Cali Colombia : Complete Travel Guide

In this article, you will learn everything about Cali Colombia. You will discover all the best places to stay in Cali, things to do, where to eat, how to get around and more. So if you plan to travel to Colombia, you will love this new guide. Let’s dive in
cali colombia

Table of Contents

Characteristics of Cali

Cali is the capital of the department of the Cauca Valley.

Modern, cultural, touristic, it is also the third most populated city in Colombia.

Cali is known to be the capital of salsa.

Number of Inhabitants

The city of Cali has about 2,319,700 inhabitants (2013 estimate).


The city of Cali was built in 1536.

The “plaza de mercado” or market square was built in 1890.

Less than a century later, in 1971, Cali hosted the Pan-American Games, the Olympic Games bringing together the countries of South America.

The year 1982 is marked by the official opening ceremony of the most famous building in the city.


Located in the southwest of Colombia, the city of Cali is the third largest city in the country.

Crossed from east to west by the Cauca River, the city’s area is 564 square kilometers.

It is located at an altitude of 995 meters.

How to get around the city?

The city of Cali offers various modes of transport, Bus, Bicycle, Taxi and Car Rental.

By Bus: The public transport network MIO (Masivo Integrado de Occidente) is in charge of the bus network in Cali.

A very large number of buses serve the city on a regular basis.

Cycling: Bicycle traffic is easy thanks to the numerous bicycle paths.

Taxis: You will easily find taxis in the city centre.

Car rental: You will have the possibility to rent a car upon arrival at the airport or directly in the city centre.

What to see?

The city of Cali has many sights to see.

Tourists will mainly go to the archaeological museum La Merced.

Other sites such as the Religious and Colonial Museum of San Francisco, the Museum of Modern Art la Tertulia, the Natural History Museum as well as the Departmental Museum of Natural Sciences Federico Carlos Lehmann Valencia, the Cristo Rey Monument, the Tower of Cali, the Caycedo Square and the Cathedral of San Pedro will also attract visitors.

Official website of the city of Cali (in Spanish).

What to do?

– Take a walk along the river Cali.

– Attend a play at the municipal theatre.

– Watch a football match at the Pascual Guerrero Olympic Stadium.

– Practice windsurfing on Lake Calima.

– Going out with friends in one of the bars in the city.

– Try your hand at salsa in one of the city’s many discos.


Don’t leave Cali without bringing back with you some typical souvenirs of the city such as a hammock; baskets; necklaces; belts; bracelets; typical musical instruments (cuatro, charengo, zampona).

Gastronomy and local recipe(s)

The dishes: Ajiaco (a kind of potato soup, the national dish); tamal (grilled pork or chicken, rice, vegetables cooked in a banana leaf); arepas (corn cakes) or empanadas (beef, pork, chicken or cheese).

Desserts: Mantecada (cake, corn flour, vanilla) or cujada con melao (fresh cheese, sugar syrup, banana leaf).

Beverages : : Fruit juice, Colombian coffee, local beer, rum.

What to see in the region?

In the surroundings of Cali, various tourist sites are to be seen.

The Golden Museum of Bogota (Natural History Museum); Mount Montserrat; the National Art Museum; the Museum of Modern Art; Medellin: the planetarium; the historical village of Medellin “El pueblito”; the interactive museum or science museum.


Before departure it is strongly advised to consult your doctor and to subscribe to an insurance covering medical expenses and medical repatriation.

For any emergency call 123.

Hospitals in the city :

Clinica de Ocidente

  • Calle 18 nro 534 – Cali, Colombia
  • +57 2 660 3000.

Clinica fundacion valle de Lili

  • Carrera 98 N.18-49 Cali, Colombia
  • + 57 2 331 7474.

Time difference

  • In summer : -7h
  • In winter : -7h

What to see in Cali ?

Historic centre of Cali.

The colonial quarter of San Antonio allows you to take the temperature of the city.

The inescapable Plaza de Caicedo, originally called “Plaza de la Constitución”, is the meeting place of the Caleños, inhabitants of Cali.

To see: the Palacio Nacional, the Municipal Theater, the Cathedral “San Pedro”, the religious complex San Francisco (including the convent San Joaquin, the Chapel of the Inmmaculda and the church of San Francisco).

For a beautiful panoramic view of the city, go to the Parc del Acueducto Municipal.

Or, even more spectacular, take a taxi to the site of the “Cristo Rey” (Redeemer Christ similar to that of Rio in Brazil), which also offers a breathtaking view of the two mountain ranges and even the Tolima volcano (5,600 m above sea level).

The El Gato and El Cachorro parks are restful stopovers.

A stop at the belvedere of Sebastian de Belalcazar (founder of Cali), at the Chipechape shopping centre, or in the Granada district (with its trendy bars and restaurants) can be considered.

Salsa classes.

During the day, visit a multiple dance school that is a world champion Salsa dancer and in the evening, take part in an introductory course in Salsa Caleña, a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the warm atmosphere of the city.

The level is relatively high, but it is also possible to have fun for beginners.

In December, the Cali Fair offers a variety of events: beauty contests, music and dance shows and bull runs.

Valle del Cauca.

On the way to Popayán, you can observe the charming landscapes of this very cultivated valley: coffee, sugar cane, vines…

Follow the sinuous tracks up and down to immerse yourself in the rural atmosphere of the region.

Stop in the indigenous villages (Guambía, la Campana, Caciques) where the Guambianos live, one of the most original and traditional communities in the country.

Note: some routes can be dangerous depending on the time of year.

We will advise and guide you in real time.

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