Cycling in Colombia

Colombia biking

Brian and I both love cycling, and were excited that it’s so popular in Colombia. Racers and mountain bikers are everywhere in this country and Colombian cyclists rank among the world’s best. We welcome any opportunity to get off of the boat for some fun exploring and exercise and Colombia offers cycling tours and more. We’ve found it easy to join the nation’s cyclists across the county. This post details some of our favorite ways to enjoy cycling in Colombia.

Cycling in Cartagena

One of our favorite activities in Cartagena was the bike tour with Gerardo. Cartagena is a mostly flat city, except when you’re climbing up and down the walls, so biking is relatively easy. In Cartagena, the sights are spread out and the climate is hot, so riding a bicycle is an ideal way to cover all that territory. Many people ride bicycles in Cartagena, so the drivers are used to sharing the road with cyclists and don’t grumble or honk at you. If you have bikes on your boat, Cartagena is a great place to use them.

bike tour of Cartagena stop along the wall
Brian and I at the wall on a bike tour of Cartagena

Bike Tour in Bogota

Since we’d previously done the Bogota city bike tour, on our latest visit we did the Graffiti Bike Tour. The tour company is excellent, setting up our bikes, giving us an overview of cycling in Bogota, and showing us all the great sights. We got lucky and were led around by the company’s founder, an American expat named Mike, who told us so many stories about Bogota it requires a separate blog post.

Bogota Bike Tours is located in the heart of downtown
Bogota Bike Tours

Despite being at a crazy high altitude, especially for us sea level types, Bogota is an amazing city for cycling. Bike paths cross the city, and people use them, all the time, day or night, sun or rain.

Bike tour of Bogota
Brian gearing up for a bike tour of Bogota
Cycling in Colombia Bogota bike lanes
Bike lanes are everywhere in Bogota and most are safe and separated

We loved Bogota’s bike culture so much that we kept the bikes for an extra day so we could participate in Bogota’s big weekly cycling event, Ciclovia.

Ciclovia is a Highlight of Cycling in Colombia

If you have only one opportunity to go cycling in Colombia, join everyone else for Ciclovia in Bogota. This was our second time experiencing this Sunday morning city-wide event, and I would do it again!

Bogota invented Ciclovia, which means cycle way, and the idea has been adopted by cities all over the world. Every Sunday, main streets are closed to cars so people can bike, run, walk, roller-blade, and more. Lots of people use this opportunity to walk their dogs, and many Bogota residents have dogs!

Ciclovia runs every Sunday in Bogota from 7am-2pm and covers over 125 kilometers of Bogota! Renting a bike in this city is easy, on Sundays and every day.

Ciclovia in Bogota is one of the best opportunities for cycling in Colombia
No motor vehicles allowed during Ciclovia

Even in the rain, Ciclovia is fun and rewarding. It seems like a weekly meetup for locals, with groups of friends and family cycling together. Ciclovia is for everyone; new cyclists, children, the elderly, all are safe and supported. Bike mechanics and cycle schools set up tables along the route. We didn’t have any troubles with our bikes, but those who do easily find someone to repair a tire or wrestle with something more complicated for a small fee.

Biking North of Bogota

We saw a lot of cyclists in the mountainous regions north of Bogota. Although there are many tour operators in the Villa de Lleyva district, we couldn’t find any who were renting bikes during pandemic times. While tours were operating, you needed to bring your own bike which was not feasible for us.

Mountain Biking in Salento

One of our top experiences in Colombia was the mountain biking tour in the Coffee Triangle.

Salento Cycling mountain bikes
Our muddy mountain bikes from Salento Cycling

Everyone wants to visit the iconic wax palm trees in Quindia’s Cocora Valley and we got to do it zooming down the hills on mountain bikes with Salento Cycling.

cycling the Cocora Valley Colombia
Cycling in the Cocora Valley

With elevations up to 3,400 meters, The Golden Road is a slog unless you do a tour like we did. We saw amazing views, got pampered with a picnic, and we were driven up the hills to enjoy cycling down.

Picnic Cocora Valley
Our picnic in Cocora Valley at 2800 meters
wax palms Cocora Valley
Wax palms in Cocora Valley

We soared through the cloud forest, got muddy and wet, and we had a wonderful time doing it. Other people see Cocora Valley through a bus window. We got to spend the day outside, had a safe adventure, and took lots of photos. If you do go to Salento and are an experienced mountain biker, Salento is home to a mountain bike adventure park and single tracks. Paradise for cyclists!

cycling in Colombia mountain bikers
A happy pair after mountain biking in Salento

Cycling in Colombia Streets and Highways

Like I said, Colombians are cyclists. Even on hilly, winding, narrow roads, cyclists are allowed and almost always present among the trucks, buses, cars and motorcycles. Everyone shares the road.

cycling in Colombia road sign
Yes please! Cycle signs are common in the Coffee Triangle in Colombia

Some of the cyclists are everyday people going to work, and others are weekend riders getting exercise. Still others may be in the Olympics or Giro d’Italia one day.

Cyclists near Salento Colombia
Cyclists in Colombia on a Saturday morning near Salento

Which goes to show that cycling in Colombia is for everyone and we loved finding ways to experience it for ourselves.

What type of cyclist are you and which ride would you prefer?

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Author: Mel

Living aboard a sailboat, blogging about the places we visit and the adventures we have. Love hiking, cycling, scuba, animals and adventure.

18 thoughts on “Cycling in Colombia”

  1. Oh this looks like fun!! My father-in-law is a big fan of cycling, so we’ve been pulled into following the Tour de France every year. I’ve enjoyed seeing Egan Bernal, Rigoberto Ur├ín, and Nairo Quintana compete. Were there many animals on the trail?

    1. Hi Steph! You know more about these world-class cyclists than I do! The animals we saw were cows, horses, dogs, and a few birds. I would have loved to see a toucan or two but no luck.

  2. Cycling in Colombia sounds like so much fun, and I’m sure it’s absolutely gorgeous! I’m not a huge cycler, but I think you’ve convinced me to give it a try!

  3. what a cool city to bike — you can go from downtown looking at street art to a cloud forest in a single day! i’d love to do a similar cycling tour through botota one day… that was never on my radar, until reading this blog ????????

    1. Oh no Shelley these tours were all done in separate parts of the country and are not possible to do in one day. We’ve been in Colombia for months!

  4. What a fantastic experience! I have a few friends that would love this, I’ll be showing it to them. Thanks for the review/guide! ­čÖé

  5. Looks like a heck of a good time with all that mud splashed around! I love biking because you can see so much more than just walking, yet you get to be outside experiencing it all more personally than if you were on a bus or in a car.

  6. Oooh I wish we had more signs like that with the 1.5m distance between cars and cyclists here in Canada! I would LOVE it if cars always gave me that much space. I had no idea Columbia is such a heaven for bikes! I really love the sound of Ciclovia in Bogota! What a fabulous idea for air quality too!

  7. I love biking and I loved Bogota.
    I also saw the ‘share the road’ signs throughout Colombia and thought it was a wonderful idea that should be adopted by more countries around the world.

  8. I can’t say I’ve ever been on a cycling tour before while travelling, but it looks like you see some beautiful sites on them in Colombia. I’ll have to look into trying it out myself!

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