Rich in Afro-Colombian heritage, Cali in southwestern Colombia is home to roughly two million people. It's an important industrial and commercial city with a gritty and passionate undercurrent that attracts visitors to its vibrant atmosphere. Sebastián de Belalcázar founded the city 1536, and by 1811 it had achieved independence from Spain. Lying 1,000 meters above sea level, the city enjoys a warm climate while benefitting from refreshing ocean breezes and cooler evenings and nights. Well-known for being the salsa dancing world capital, music and dance parties often go on late into the night. However, Cali is also a city of substance with plenty to see and do. Visitors can explore the city on foot, walking under the shady trees that line the river, admiring the mountainous landscapes, architecture, monuments and churches before visiting the city's numerous museums. There are many festivals and celebrations throughout the year, including the Manizales Festival with Spanish and European influences in January, the Barranquilla Carnival in February (one of the most important events in the city's social calendar) and the World Salsa Festival in August.
Things to Do
From Salsa and shopping to the cultural highlights of the city's museums, Cali is an interesting city with some fascinating neighbourhoods and attractions that bring visitors back time and time again.
Salsa is a must in the city, with dance schools putting on shows and giving lessons for beginners and experienced dancers. Head to Kukaramakara, Titirifue or Tin Tin Deo to get into the groove or try Juanchito for more classical salsa.
Get your fill of history and culture
San Antonio is the city's historic neighbourhood, with narrow streets and colonial buildings which are a delight to experience. The city also has many museums, including a modern art museum and the Calima Gold Museum with archaeological exhibits made by goldsmiths during ancient times.
The Cali shopping experience
The city boasts impressive shopping malls such as Unicentro and Unico, where visitors can buy Columbian shoes, leather goods and handcraft jewellery among other things. Besides stores full of beautiful products, everyone can enjoy food and beverages while the kids have fun at the game stations.
Calendar of Events
Cali has a full calendar of events and festivals throughout the year attracting a huge number of domestic and international visitors and bearing witness to the nation's love of celebration.
Manizales Festival. Taking place in early January, this festival has notable Spanish and European influences, including bull running and plenty of coffee to celebrate the area's famous coffee industry. The festival's highlight is the beauty pageant with the crowning of the 'International Queen of Coffee'!
Barranquilla Carnival. This 4-day festival features parades, dancing, food, drinking and music in a city that has a worldwide reputation for partying. Second perhaps only to street parties in Rio de Janiero, this hedonistic annual celebration celebrates the country's folkloric traditions.
World Salsa Festival. In August, over 4,000 dancers, artists and musicians attend this 8-day music festival every year and spectators will love the shows, workshops and dance lessons on offer for people of all ages.