Cali practical Guide: All you need to know to visit Cali

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Cali is an underestimated city, few travelers include it in their Colombian travel itinerary, and yet… Cali is surely the most dynamic city in Colombia. It’s a city with a party culture that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in the country.

Cali has seduced us with its warm climate, unique cultural sites, numerous museums, salsa dancing venues and a unique Colombian atmosphere!

We were fed up with paying fees abroad

So for several years now, we’ve been using a free bank debit card specially designed for travelers, and we don’t pay any more fees abroad – no more!

Cali General information

Cali Travel Guide

Cali is home to Colombia’s largest Afro-Colombian community. Just 2 hours from the coast and the port of Buenaventura, the city is permeated by Pacific culture.

Cali can be considered Colombia’s cultural capital for the dynamism of its Caleña cultural scene and its carnal relationship with music and cinema. Cali has often spearheaded avant-garde artistic movements in the country.

Cali practical Guide: All you need to know to visit Cali
  • Foundation: July 25, 1536
  • Natural region: Andes
  • Department: Valle del Cauca
  • Population: 2 million
  • Average altitude: 1000 m
  • Climate: temperate tropical mountain
  • Averageminimum temperature: 18 °C
  • Average maximum temperature : 29 °C
  • Dry season: December to March and June to September
  • Rainy season: March to May and October to November (peak in April and October)

Best things to do in Cali

Cali Travel Guide

Cali is the capital of Salsa, but not only!

It’s also the stronghold of alternative cultures, and many artistic movements have developed in Cali, notably in cinema and photography.

Today, the San Antonio quarter is the most touristic and pleasant area to stroll in complete safety in a city that requires a certain vigilance when night comes.

More info on not-to-be-missed sights

You’ll find all our tips for sightseeing in Cali in our dedicated posts. Click below for lots of ideas.

Visits we recommend in Cali

Guided tour of Cali in English

Natalia, a Colombian woman born in Cali, offers community-based tourism that benefits local residents and initiatives.

Tour Cali Natalia (#20)

To contact directly Natalia, our local partner in Cali, you can use the form below. You won’t pay more, but it will let her know you’re from us.

IMPORTANT: If you don’t hear from our partner within 72 hours, please check your SPAMS first before contacting us.

Best thing to do around Cali

Cali Travel Guide

Situated in the Cordillera Oriental, but very close to the Pacific coast, Cali offers a wide variety of possibilities for discovering the surrounding area, both in terms of nature and heritage.

Sightseeing around Cali

More information on things to do around Cali

Click below for information on things to do around Cali.

All posts about Cali and surroundings

Cali Travel Guide

Where to stay in Cali: the best hotels and the best areas

Visit Cali Travel Guide: The best things to do in Cali

The best Cali city tour with a local guide

Our list of the best restaurants and bars in Cali

Visit Silvia travel guide: cultural immersion in the Misak indigenous community

Around Popayan travel guide: best things to do and see in the area

Visit Popayan travel guide: the best things to do the White City

Around Cali travel guide: best things to do and see in the area

How to get to Cali travel guide

How to get around Cali and how to get to/from the airport

Where to stay in Cali

Cali Travel Guide

Generally speaking, the most obvious areas to stay in Cali are located around the historic center:

San Antonio

This is the favorite district for travelers, with its atmosphere, restaurants, bars and abundant cultural life.

El Peñon

North of San Antonio, a safe neighborhood where you’ll find more upscale hotels.

Miraflores

A quieter, more residential district to the south of San Antonio, close to the main points of interest.

Granada

Another of Cali’s fashionable districts, more upscale and quieter, even if it does boast a number of bars and restaurants.

As you can see from the map, all these districts are more or less in the same area. As far as the historic center (Plaza Cayzedo) is concerned, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend this area, as you need to be more careful at night.

Our suggestions for hotels and hostels in Cali

Here’s a selection of places to stay in Cali, hotels and hostels that we’ve tested or that have been recommended by our friends and readers, and that have very good recommendations on the web.

Cali, the best hotels, Granada

Hotel Casa del Hidalgo Cali

Hotel

Hotel Casa del Hidalgo Cali

Double room : $150.000 to $200.000 COP

La Casa del Hidalgo is located close to the Rio Cali in the Granada district. With its refreshing swimming pool and Turkish bath, this hotel offers a tastefully decorated ambience. A good option, highly rated by travelers.

Cali, the best hotels, Granada

Leclerc Hotel Boutique

Hotel

Leclerc Hotel Boutique

Double room : $150.000 to $200.000 COP

A boutique hotel in the Granada district, perfectly located and offering quality service. Good breakfast, warm welcome and comfortable rooms, what else?

Cali, the best hotels, Miraflores

Oasis Cali Hostel

Hostal

Oasis Cali Hostel

Dormitory : $25.000 to $50.000/Double room : $0 to $100.000 COP

L’Oasis is a classic budget hostal with an established reputation. You’ll find the good atmosphere of a hostal in the Miraflores district

Cali, the best hotels, San Antonio

Moonshine Hotel

Hotel

Moonshine Hotel

Double room : $0 to $100.000 COP

The Moonshine Hostel is a great option for those who want a nice double room with a great terrace all to themselves! Ideally located in San Antonio, the Moonshine was our second accommodation option in Cali during our stay.

Cali, the best hotels, San Antonio

Hotel Magic Garden

Hotel

Hotel Magic Garden

Double room : $100.000 to $150.000 COP

This is where we stayed during our stay in Cali, and we recommend it with our eyes closed! Superbly located right next to the park in the San Antonio district, Cali’s best neighborhood, it feels like home, the breakfasts are top-notch and the view from the terrace is brilliant.

Cali, the best hotels, Miraflores

Blue Garden House

Hotel

Blue Garden House

Double room : $150.000 to $200.000 COP

If you’re looking for a hotel on a quiet street and in a quiet neighborhood, far from the hustle and bustle of the city, Jardin Azul is surely an option for you. A simple, clean hotel in the Miraflores district, with the sweet advantage of a small swimming pool! And in Cali’s heat, that’s something to be appreciated!

Cali, the best hotels, San Antonio

Visit Cali Travel Guide: The best things to do in Cali

Hostal

Hostal Ruta Sur

Double room : $150.000 to $200.000 COP

A hostel recommended by our readers, located near San Antonio Park in a superb colonial house. Friendly staff, cleanliness, comfort and above all peace and quiet! Lots of private rooms available, and a dormitory area too. No restaurants on site, but the neighborhood is full of them!

How to get to Cali

Cali Travel Guide

Cali may not be the best-served destination in Colombia, but its role as regional capital and being one of the country’s largest cities, it can still be reached by all the usual means of transport: by bus and plane, or by car if you’ve chosen to rent a car in Colombia.

More info on how to get there

Click below for more information on how to get to Cali.

Getting to Cali by bus

Bus terminal

  • Website: terminalcali. com
  • Address: Calle 30N 2AN-29
  • Phone: 57 (2) 668 3655
  • Mail: info@terminalcali.com

Cab to/from the Bus Terminal
The Bus Terminal is about a 15-minute cab ride from downtown Cali.

Getting to Cali by plane

Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport (CLO)

  • Website: aerocali.com.co
  • Address: Palmira, Valle del Cauca
  • Tel: 57 (2) 280 1515 / 57 (2) 441 7041
  • Email: acliente@aerocali.com.co

Cab to/from airport

  • Duration: approx. 50 minutes
  • Fare: approx. $60.000 COP
  • Official company: Asotaba

Bus to/from airport

  • Duration: approx. 40 minutes from bus terminal
  • Fare: approx. $7.0000 COP
  • Companies: Expreso Siglo XXI / Rápido Aeropuerto / Líneas Cónsul / Expreso Palmira

Online payments on Colombian websites

Refusal to pay often happens when you want to pay online. For example, this has happened to us several times on the San German Express site, on the Satena site and on the Avianca site. We solved the problem by using our VPN and locating it in Colombia. This enabled us to bypass local restrictions and the payment was accepted.

Getting around Cali

Cali Travel Guide

Cali is a huge city which has been trying for some years to coordinate its transport system to make it more convenient.

The MIO integrated transport system

Created in 2008, the MIO is a global mobility system for the city of Cali, integrating different transport lines (Transmilenio reserved lane, standard bus and cable car). It operates with a rechargeable transport card that can be used throughout the network.

Cab

Cali’s official cabs are yellow and numbered. This is the easiest and safest way to get around. We recommend ordering cabs by phone (ask at your hotel) or via an app like Cabify.

More info on how to get around Cali

Click below to read our full post on transport, how to get around by metro, cab and airport transfer.

Uber

Uber is now legal and authorized in Colombia. It’s the world’s leading VTC service, and once you’ve downloaded the application and entered your payment details, you can order a VTC anywhere, anytime.

Rent a car

Renting a car to discover Cali’s surroundings can be worthwhile, although we recommend extreme vigilance on the roads throughout the region to the south of Cali, where there are recurrent safety problems.

Some examples of distances to places to visit in the surrounding area:

  • To Popayan: 140 km and around 3 hours’ travel time
  • To Purace: 170 km and approx. 4 hours travel time
  • To Buga: 70 km and approx. 1h travel time
  • Buenaventura: 120 km and approx. 2h30 travel time

Rent a car In Colombia

To rent a car, we advise you to use the Rental Cars comparator, which gives you a complete overview of the different rental companies in Colombia.

Safety in Cali

Cali Travel Guide

Generally speaking, it’s best to keep an eye on things in Cali… the city has a fairly high level of delinquency. That said, with the necessary precautions, it’s quite possible to wander around during the day without any problems.

At night, however, it’s a different matter: simply avoid wandering around the city center. This doesn’t mean you can’t get around at night, but the advice is simple: take a cab to a specific address and leave by the same means without loitering in the area.

To sum up, here are the safest places to stroll at night (while remaining vigilant):

  • San Antonio
  • Barrio Granada
  • La loma de la cruz
  • Barrio Normandia
  • Along the Bulevar del Rio
  • The section of the Quinta where the Topa is located.