Colombia: Can It Be Done in a Weekend?

Colombia: Can It Be Done in a Weekend?

Colombia: Can It Be Done in a Weekend?

Colombia: Can It Be Done in a Weekend?

Recently, I embarked on a journey to Colombia to explore a region I had never visited before: the heart of the Colombian Andes, coffee country! This trip was assembled last minute at the request of a client, presenting the perfect opportunity to test a travel concept that has intrigued us lately: extended weekend trips.

While I ideologically take issue with the trend of longer vacations becoming a thing of the past, replaced by shorter getaways that fit more easily into work schedules, that's a discussion for another time.

This blog focuses on the potential for incredible vacations packed into a relatively short span of time. I had theorized certain parameters that I believed would maximize the experience of weekend getaways. However, it wasn't until I put these theories to the test that I could truly evaluate whether such a trip was worth undertaking over a weekend.

Can It Be Done in a Weekend?

Let's first define what constitutes an extended weekend for the purposes of this discussion. We'll consider it to be Friday through Sunday, meaning you either depart late Thursday night on a red-eye or early Friday morning, returning no later than Sunday. This schedule allows for three days of travel with minimal time off work (one day) and ensures you're back in the office by Monday.

The two primary considerations for such a trip are travel time and time zone differences. If the flight is long (over 7 hours) and the time change significant (over 4 hours), it might not be ideal for a weekend getaway, as you'll spend a considerable portion of your time either in transit or adjusting to the new time zone. In our case, despite a stopover in Miami extending our travel time, the lack of a time change from EST meant no acclimation period was needed upon arrival in Colombia. Direct flights are optimal, but for our destination, we chose to fly into a smaller airport, Pereira, to minimize drive time from Medellin.

Preparation is crucial for short trips. There's little room for improvisation upon arrival, as last-minute bookings and closures can disrupt your plans. Having a solid itinerary and reservations in advance ensures you can make the most of your time. As travel planners and tour operators, we had everything mapped out, from bike rides and coffee tours to dining options and transportation without a rental car. Providing clients with a custom guidebook to their experience, including detailed information about the area and culture, is part of our comprehensive service.

Packing light is also key. Carry-on luggage minimizes the risk of lost baggage, saving time and hassle. For activities like biking, consider renting equipment at your destination to avoid the logistics of transporting your own gear. For instance, Casa Du Velo, a bike-friendly hotel where we stayed, offered everything we needed. Booking drivers for transportation can also streamline your travel experience, ensuring smooth transitions between activities.

After our trip, I can confidently say that Colombia is feasible for a weekend adventure, despite being on the edge of acceptable travel time for such a getaway. Here's a sample itinerary for a weekend in Colombia:

Friday Morning: Depart early to arrive by afternoon. Transfer to Casa Du Velo and enjoy a short bike ride and dinner at the hotel.

Saturday: Embark on a longer bike ride in the morning, followed by an afternoon coffee tour at Ocasa Coffee Farm. This immersive experience covers all aspects of coffee production. Conclude the day with dinner in Filandia.

Sunday: Take an easy morning ride, ensuring you don't jeopardize your return flight, which leaves in the early afternoon.

Extended Weekend Destinations:

Iceland: Approximately 4.5 hours from NYC/Boston, with a 4-hour time change. The itinerary can include exploring the Golden Circle, spending a day in the highlands, and visiting Reykjavik. Opt for the latest return flight on Sunday to maximize your stay.

Tucson, Arizona: Known for its cuisine and outdoor activities, Tucson is a longer flight away but only has a 2-hour time difference from the East Coast. The region offers a mix of cultural experiences and natural exploration, making it an ideal destination for foodies and adventure seekers alike.

With longer vacations on the decline, understanding how to maximize short travel periods is crucial. Thoughtful preparation and planning can lead to memorable experiences, even in a limited timeframe.

For inquiries about weekender trips, feel free to reach out to me directly at