Santiago de Cali is fast becoming one of Latin America’s most celebrated tourism destinations.

This warm and energetic city pulses with culture and tradition, delectable food and stunning scenery. Discover five reasons why a trip to Cali, Colombia, should be top of your bucket list.

1. Experience the Feria de Cali

Salsa dancers performing on stage
Photo by Oswaldo Paez, El País

The salsa show Delirio offers an unmissable experience during your visit to Cali.

The Feria de Cali (or Cali Fair) is one of the biggest attractions in Colombia’s entire festival calendar and every year hundreds of people flock to experience it.

This music and dance festival runs from December 25th to December 30th each year, and attracts both locals and visitors keen to experience its vibrant performances and events.

Cali is one of the most famous spots in the world for dancing, particularly salsa, and one highlight of the Feria de Cali is its colorful parades, when hundreds of vibrantly-outfitted dancers make their way through the city’s streets.

But there is far more to this exuberant celebration than dance. Dozens of street vendors line the parade route too, cooking up a wide variety of national and international desserts and dishes, and there are dozens of music concerts in different genres.

There are also parades of classic cars and traditional vehicles, making this fair a unique experience for everyone who attends.

2. Learn to salsa dance

As the salsa dance capital of the world, no trip to Cali would be complete without diving into the world of this lively and much-loved art form.

The city is packed with more than 7,000 professional salsa dancers, including expert instructors who can guide beginners from their very first steps. Wherever you go, you will see dance halls, music academies and schools dedicated to the exploration of salsa, and there are entire districts of the city devoted to this treasured Latin rhythm.

Take a lesson with an expert, and be sure to catch a show with some of the world’s greatest salsa dancers, who are thrilled to share their art with guests day after day.

3. Taste delicious Colombia gastronomy

The Chuleta Valluna is one of the representative dished of Cali's gastronomy

The Chuleta Valluna is a typical dish from the Valle del Cauca region.

While many people think of Cali primarily for its salsa-dancing reputation, the city also boasts a fantastic food scene that draws on a wide variety of culinary influences to create a truly unique experience for visitors.

Whether you’re looking for authentic Colombia gastronomy, or are interested in trying the new international flavors created in the city, you will find a great assortment of options.

Santiago de Cali has something for everyone to enjoy, ranging from fine dining to street food, that you can sample as you wander the city’s colonial streets.

Make sure to try local specialties like the chicken soup, tortilla soup and the traditional arroz atollado – a highly seasoned and flavorful rice stuffed with various local varieties of potatoes, vegetables, chicken and pork.

And for coffee lovers, Cali is dotted with small, family-run coffee shops showcasing freshly-brewed coffee from the region’s many plantations.

You might also be interested in: Discover the tropical fruits of Colombia and the wonderful places where they come from.

4. Experience diverse Colombian wildlife

A hummingbird sitting on a plant

Birdwatching is just one of the many activities you can enjoy in the region.

Santiago de Cali has a warm and inviting climate and a visit to the city offers a great opportunity to get out and explore nature in a beautiful part of Latin America. Bird-watching, photography and nature walks are among the main attractions.

Just outside the city lies the popular Los Farallones de Cali National Nature Park, which offers day hikes and treks on attractive trails that summit Pico Loro (Parrot Peak) one of the most famous mountain peaks in the region.

Along the way visitors are likely to encounter endangered species and animals that are unique to Colombia, including rare tropical birds, butterflies, sloths and more. When you reach the top of the peak, you’ll enjoy unbeatable views of the city and surrounding mountains.

5. Have fun trying new adventure sports

Cali is fast-becoming known as a world-class sporting destination, and has hosted numerous elite-level tournaments and competitions. It is also bursting with opportunities to try new sports, including extreme sports and outdoor activities.

The man-made Lake Calima is one of the largest in the country and is the ideal place to kayak, jet ski or go fishing on a vast stretch of water in a picturesque location, surrounded by mountains and jungles.

Lake Calima is also a popular spot for kitesurfing and windsurfing due to the frequently windy conditions, and there are plenty of opportunities to socialize afterwards. Hotels and hostels are dotted around the lake, alongside lively bars and restaurants.

It’s clear that from salsa dancing and festivals to kite-surfing and sports fishing, from concerts to cuisine, there is no shortage of things to see and do in Santiago de Cali.

Explore the city and discover everything this corner of Colombia has to offer.

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