At first blush, a visitor to Cali, Colombia might not find a lot to do, at least not in the way of traditional tourist attractions. There are certainly a few highlights throughout the city, but not quite like Colombia’s other big cities.
But the real draw of Cali is immersing yourself in the city, not just running around between the sights. If you come to Cali, expect to brave the heat, move your feet while dancing salsa, eat some delicious things, and sit back with a refreshing drink.
As throughout most of Colombia, the food in Cali is hearty and delicious, although much of it is fried food, so be prepared to climb a few pounds (or be prepared to dance for a few more hours).
Be sure to try the Empanadas in the Obelisk, located across the street from the Museo de la Tertulia.
Cali is famous for pandebono, a little cheesy bread roll, which you can find at any self respecting bakery throughout the city.
Go to the Cali Zoo
The Cali Zoo is Colombia’s best zoo, easily. While it is always more thrilling to see animals in their natural habitat, for most of us the only chance we’ll have of seeing some of these exotic creatures is in a zoo, providing the general public the ability to get to know, appreciate, and ultimately advocate for wildlife.
The Cali Zoo has bears, lions, a butterfly, exotic birds, flamingos, and plenty more to see. Expect to spend a few hours wandering through the zoo, and expect crowds if you go on the weekend.
Visit San Antonio
San Antonio is the old, historic part of the city, where you will find narrow streets bordered by colorful buildings with colonial flair. There is a hilltop park with the famous Church of San Antonio which offers up an incredible view of the city — one of the best, and certainly the most accessible — which is even more beautiful at night.
Wander through the old streets below and stumble into one of the many cafes or restaurants for a treat. I highly recommend a stop at Macondo Café for a coffee or hot chocolate as a rest stop while wandering the colorful streets of San Antonio.
Take a Walk in the City
The streets of Cali are rather spacious, and many of which are well shaded by towering trees which makes them perfect for a good walk.
Be sure to walk along the Cali River, passing through the park of El Gato del Río, until you reach the Museo de la Tertulia – an art museum specializing in modern and contemporary art from both Colombia and abroad. frequently show movies throughout the week., so be sure to see what’s showing.
Drink (Not Just Alcohol)
Not only are we taking about alcohol here, although that may be essential for our next recommendation, but Cali has a whole series of delicious drinks that you should be sure to try including luladas, champus and all sorts of other refreshing juices. Perfect to take the edge off during those warm and humid days in Cali.
One of my favorite places is to sit along the park near the Cali River, staring out toward the Chapel of La Ermita and have a fresh and cold cholado.
You knew this one was coming. You can’t travel to Cali without practicing your salsa moves and hitting the dance floor. Cali is the world capital of Salsa, there are dance schools throughout the city, in fact one’s owned by former world champions!
Dancing salsa in Cali is almost obligatory, whether you can or can’t keep up with the rhythm you should go with what you’ve got and you’ll be sure to have a good time with the locals. You’d be hard pressed to find somewhere better than Kukaramakara, Titirifue, Tin Tin Deo or another salsa club to shake your hips and move your feet. If you prefer classic salsa you shouldn’t miss out on Juanchito.
Don’t be afraid to hit the floor, even if you need a little liquid courage to do so.
Have you been to Cali? What do you recommend, seeing, doing, and eating in this incredible city? Sound off in the comments below.
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