Bogota to Cartagena to Medellin and back to Bogota. 10 days of pure magic and cultural immersion. While Colombia is becoming a popular travel destination, many still view Colombia as an unsafe place for travel. I (Sigourney) can say first hand that Colombia is one of the most beautiful places I have visited to date, and a must-visit destination. It is incredibly beautiful, has such a rich history, the most friendly and welcoming people and to be honest we generally felt very safe. The best part? It was super easy to be vegan in Colombia!
A group of 5 girls on an adventure to celebrate our friends 30th birthday. Boy oh boy will the memories last a lifetime. In 10 days we did everything from boat cruises, snorkeling, relaxing on the beach, a tour of Guatape, bridge jumping, walking tours, hearing about Colombia’s rich history (and the tragedy they’ve faced), and of course endless amounts of eating.
Preparing to Visit Colombia as a Vegan
I had been warned that the food in Colombia wasn’t great, so as a vegan foodie of course I was a little worried. As usual I packed tons of granola bars to eat throughout the trip. This is a little vegan travel tip if you’re ever concerned you may not be able to find food. But wow! Was I very pleasantly surprised by all the delicious food options to choose from. With the exception of one restaurant on our second night, and quick stint at the Bogota airport, the food options were plentiful.
Vegan Food in Bogota, Colombia
Let’s start with the never ending assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables. Everywhere you looked there was fresh produce, it was insane! The grocery stores had tons of amazing options, but every corner of the street has fresh fruits and avocados to munch on. Fresh cut watermelon, mangos, pineapple, and the biggest avocados you’ve ever seen. It was like everywhere you turned, FOOD! Added bonus? They are so cheap! For 1 cup of chopped mango you’re looking at 3,000 Colombian Pesos (COP) which is approximately $1.30 Canadian.
If that isn’t enough for a vegan fruit lover like me, we also had the opportunity to go to the main market in Bogota. There were more fruits and vegetables then I have ever seen in my entire life! I used to think I was spoiled living so close to St. Lawrence Market here in Toronto, but it’s got nothing on Bogota’s main market. We munched on baby bananas (my favourite), fresh lychee, juicy mulberries, mini oranges, zucchinis, and so much more. Everything was so fresh, so delicious, and so inexpensive.
Vegan Food in Cartagena, Colombia
After Bogota we headed to Cartagena where the food scene continued to be great. We stayed on the water in Bocagrande. It was great for the view and the fresh ocean air. That said, for restaurants, bars, and nightlife you’ll want to go to the Walled City or Getsemani. It’s about a 5 minute cab or Uber ride (yes, they have Uber in Colombia!) which costs 7,000 – 10,000 COP (about $3 – $4 CAD). That’s where we found the cutest cafe called Cafe Stepping Stone. It’s a social enterprise cafe with a mission to fight inequality through inclusive employment. Social causes aside, they also offers tons of vegan options! This restaurant has amazing food, AND they work to upskill disadvantaged youth, giving them the skills and confidence to progress their future.
Below is a picture of the vegan Pila De Arepa, which is a Colombian Arepa stacked with spiced black beans, avocado and pico de gallo. Can you say “yum!!”?
In Cartagena we celebrated our wonderful friend’s birthday and kicked off the night’s festivities with a trip to Cevicheria Trattoria donde Wippy. It’s an Italian restaurant in the Walled City. Don’t let them name fool you because the food was delicious! While the restaurant isn’t vegan they had vegan options and were more than accommodating. We dined on bruschetta, pasta, and quite a few bottles of wine… hence why there’s no pictures for this one, woops! The restaurant even had someone come in to sing and play guitar, serenading the birthday girl. We loved this place! If you head there be prepared to wait, it’s a popular spot! But if you plan ahead, they do take reservations!
Off to visit Medellin
Let’s head to Medellin where the food scene is unreal! One of my friends said that Medellin reminded her of a tropical Montreal and she couldn’t be more on point. If you know Montreal, Canada, you know it’s a very old city known for their food scene. Well, Medellin is insanely beautiful, full of history, and oh boy does it have an amazing food and drink scene! We stayed in Antiquoa and were within walking distance to everything. They call the climate here ‘perfect spring’ – hot during the days, and cooler at night.
On our first night we dined at Veg Station which is a tiny vegan restaurant outside with a covered patio. It was great! To start, we shared a plate of the best nachos I’ve ever had, and then ordered some delicious Miso soup and an unbelievable burger. To drink they had a beet kombucha that was divine!
While in Colombia you’ve got to eat Sushi, right? Well, maybe not. But we can never say no to sushi, and we are glad we didn’t! We hit up Panka. It was the cutest Japanese-inspired restaurant and the food was so good! They didn’t have any vegan options on the menu, but they were more than willing to whip up a bunch of sushi rolls for us anyway.
Next we had atempura avocado yam roll, but it wasn’t just tempura yam. They actually turned the entire sushi roll into tempura! It was soooo good! Definitely a new craving.
While in Medellin, one girl’s boyfriend surprised us by organizing free ice cream sundaes at a super cute vegan ice cream place called Moitre (shout out to Jared for the surprise, it was amazing!). The ice cream was so yummy and the owner was absolutely lovely! I had one scoop of chocolate and one scoop of peanut butter ice cream. I then topped it with chocolate drizzle and sweet cookies. YUM! If you find yourself in Medellin, this place is a must visit. They have lots of ice cream flavours and other desserts as well.
Must-Do Activity in Medellin
The Guatape tour is a must do if you head near Medellin. You see and do so much! We used Van Pour Colombia and would highly recommend them. The tour guides are so much fun, and they have constant surprises planned for you throughout the day. Now, tours aren’t generally my favourite thing, so trust me when I say this one is worth it!
Breakfast and a late lunch are included and the food is incredible. Both meals are home cooked and the portions are insane. For breakfast we had sautéed vegetables, lots of fresh fruit, bread and coffee. For our late lunch they provided a buffet with more dishes than I could have ever imagined. Seriously. For vegans alone there must have been 15 different options to choose from and each was as delicious as the next.
That brings me to the end of our trip. What a magical 10 days. If Colombia is on your bucket list of places to visit, it’s a must. If you’ve never considered visiting Colombia, trust us it isn’t what people think it is, and should definitely be on your radar! People are so friendly and welcoming. They want you to experience their country, learn their history, and appreciate their culture. Plus, the landscape is breathtaking, and… did we mention the food is phenomenal? With never-ending fun, Colombia will definitely be on our “return to” destination list.
Adios Chicas and Chicos!