Colombia is a very historically, linguistically, and environmentally rich country which happens to be the third-biggest size in the continent of South America. Furthermore, Colombia is classed as a megadiverse country, with the country being home to the Amazon rainforest as well as deserts, grasslands, beaches, and multiple highlands.
Additionally, Colombia is the third-richest country in South America after Argentina and Brazil, so even if you are not interested in hiking or spending a lot of time in the outdoors there will be a lot for you to do.
In this article, we are going to be listing the Top 10 largest cities in Colombia to give you a better idea of places to visit in this beautiful country.
Population: 7.98 million. The capital of Colombia and by far the most populated city in the country, with a total population of about 8 million people.
Since the inception of the city of Bogota it has employed a very important role in the region, it was the capital of the New Kingdom of Granada which was an early Spanish colony in mainly South America but also owning a few territories in what is also now known as Central America. However, for thousands of years, different civilizations such as the Chibcha and Guane have inhabited the areas of what is now Bogota.
The wealth of these indigenous civilizations is what convinced European empires such as the Spanish to send further expeditions to the continent, in Bogota visitors are able to see in-person priceless historical artifacts from long-lost civilizations mainly in the Gold Museum in Bogota.
Other key attractions include the Bogota Botanical Gardens where individuals can relax and also admire the biodiverse wildlife, the Usaquen Flea Market where tourists can shop for unique souvenirs and the Iglesia de San Francisco which is one of the oldest churches in Colombia having been built in the 1500s.
Population: 2.52 million. Medellin is the second-biggest city in Colombia; it is located in and around the Aburra Valley which is a 60 kilometer long complex of valleys, hills, and mountains which has been populated by humans since the 5th century B.C. according to historians.
The locals of the city of Medellin have a very unique culture that is based around the massive coffee-growing industry in the area, so if you are looking to try real Colombian coffee, then Medellin may be the place to go.
A very popular Colombian dish that comes from Medellin is ‘Bandeja Paisa’ which consists usually of red beans, rice, pork, fried egg, and bread as well as other optional additions. Despite this dish originating from the city of Medellin, it is enjoyed all around Colombia as well as the Colombian diaspora around the world.
Population: 2.39 million. Cali is the biggest Colombian city near the Pacific Ocean, despite not being a coastal city that directly borders the ocean it is very close, and you can travel to the ocean by car within a few hours by car.
The city is famous for being the only Colombian city ever to have hosted the Pan American Games in 1971, which is a qualifying competition for the Olympics that all countries in South and North America participate in.
If you are visiting the city of Cali, then you must visit the Cristo Rey which is a 26-meter statue of Jesus Christ made from stone which was unveiled in 1953. It is estimated that every year this statue is visited by close to 300 thousand people, and it is viewed by many Colombians as the Colombian ‘Christ the Redeemer’.
Other popular attractions include the Cali Zoo also known as the ‘Zoológico de Cali’ which is home to exotic animals such as zebras and lions as well as the Farallones DE Cali National Natural Park where you can immerse yourself in the beautiful jungle environment of that region.
Population: 1.23 million. One of the artistic and musical heartlands of Colombia, Barranquilla is the location of the Carnival of Barranquilla which is one of the biggest festivals in Colombia and the world which is attended by over 2 million people every year and being declared an event of natural cultural heritage by the Colombian government.
This event takes place between the end of February and early March every year, and everyone is welcome to attend for free and enjoy one of the biggest celebrations in Colombia.
Furthermore, Barranquilla is a very famous holiday destination thanks to its beautiful beaches that very similar to the more expensive destinations in the Caribbean.
Population: 1.02 million. Cartagena is another city on this Top 10 largest cities in Colombia article that is located on the Caribbean coast, it is a very rich city thanks to its strategic location where apart from being located next to the Caribbean Sea it is also built around two different rivers which are the Magdalena and Sinu rivers which is why it became one of the most important ports for the Spanish Empire in the so-called New World.
Due to its centuries-long military strategic importance, the city of Cartagena is home to multiple fortresses and fortifications that were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Therefore, if you have an interest in military and Colombian history, then you must visit the city of Cartagena, which has some of the best-preserved architecture of the Spanish colonial period.
Population: 0.75 million. The capital of the Norte de Santander region in Colombia, the city is known for being an important trading spot due to being near the border with Venezuela, and it is also home to a considerable population of Venezuelans who have immigrated there for economic reasons.
Cucuta also has a very unique history from the other cities in Colombia as it was a Pre-Hispanic city that was taken over by the Spanish conquistadors in the 1600s rather than being founded by Spanish settlers.
Notable figures that come from the city of Cucuta include James Rodriguez who won a Golden Boot for being the top scorer in the 2014 World Cup as well as also playing for Real Madrid, Virgilio Barco Vargas who was the 27th President of Colombia in the late 1980s and Fabiola Zuluaga who is a female tennis player who is the most successful Colombian tennis player in history.
Population: 0.63 million. Soledad is known for being the third-most populated city in the Caribbean region with a total population of over 665 thousand inhabitants according to the latest census.
The climate in the city of Soledad is a very hot and humid tropical climate with average yearly temperatures of 27.6 degrees Celsius as well as average yearly humidity of 81.2% which makes it a great all-year-round location for people who are looking to enjoy hot weather that may not be plentiful where they live.
A festival is also held in Soledad every year where a woman if chosen every year as the Queen of the Soledad Festival, the queen who is chosen will then lead the procession of next year’s Soledad festival.
Population: 0.54 million. Ibague is a central city in Colombia that is ranked by the World Bank as one of the most business-friendly cities in all of Colombia with the main industries in the city being agriculture, manufacturing, textile industry as well as tourism which is one of the fastest-growing sectors.
However, Ibague is not a dull city; in fact, it is often called the ‘musical capital of Colombia’ due to the Conservatory of Tolima being located in the city which is a very famous music school in Latin America that has produced many iconic artists for over one hundred years.
Moreover, Ibague is a very popular tourist destination due to it being located near to two active volcanoes which have both been dormant for close to one thousand years without any major eruptions but are still active enough for tourists to be able to witness the interestingly rare sight of an active volcano.
Population: 0.52 million. A centrally located city with a very rich indigenous history from the so-called Herrera Period, which is the period of history in Colombia that took place before the Spanish arrived. What is now the city of Soacha was a key village in the Muisca Confederation, which was a group of different tribes from the Muisca culture that was one of the most dominant forces in the Colombian territories.
Soacha is also home to the famous Tequendama Falls which is a massive waterfall measuring at over one hundred meters in height that holds very important historical and cultural importance as it was seen by the indigenous populations in the region for thousands of years as a holy site.
Population: 0.51 million. Bucaramanga is another large city that we are going to include in our Top 10 largest cities in Colombia article; home to over 0.5 million people in total, it is a leading destination for people who love the outdoors. Nicknamed the ‘City of Parks’ for having over 160 parks inside the city, which helps promote a healthy, active lifestyle in the city of Bucaramanga.
This city is also well known for its graffiti artists, furthermore, Bucaramanga is home to a large number of photographers and also sculptures which are frequently commissioned by the local government to produce creative pieces of art that are dotted all around the city available to be enjoyed by everyone free of charge.
A famous Colombian also originates from the city, it is called the ‘Mute Santandereano’ and it is made using grains, vegetables, roasted meats, and goat’s blood. It is an uncommon dish not available in many places around the world, which is why you should definitely try it if you happen to be in the vicinity of Bucaramanga.
Also read the article: What Are The Traditions And Customs In Colombia?