101 Things To Do In Cali

in Culture/Plan to visit/Things to do

Celebrating my post #101 on this blog, I decided to make a list of 101 things to do in Cali. The list below includes a wide range of stuff to do and does not necessarily mention the best rated or most expensive places. In fact, many of the activities are free, but most importantly is the diversity meaning that there should be something for everybody whether, young, old, rich or poor.

Nightlife

Cali’s has, in my opinion, some of the best nightlife in Colombia.

1 – As the capital of salsa, no visit to Cali is complete without a a night out swinging your hips in one of the city’s many salsa bars. Here’s a list of the best venues to visit.

2 – MiKasa Bar changes its theme every night. Could be reggae, electronic, rap or deep house. No matter what, you’re sure to have a blast!

3 – Bourbon St is the best rock ‘n roll bar in Cali with live music every weekend.

4 – Party like yuppie at the rooftop bar, La Pérgola Clandestina, in downtown Cali.

5 – Dance tango with Caleño aficionados at La Matraca in barrio Obrero. Thursday afternoon is supposedly the best time to go. Great spot for seniors.

6 – In operation since 1942, the La Colina bar in San Antonio is the perfect place to begin any night.

7 – Along Calle 10 – Cali’s Autopista you’ll find 3 party establishments crammed together: El Rancho de JonásTienda ViejaCasa de la Cerveza. Prepare yourself for very traditional, Colombian fun!

8 – A favorite among students, el Parque del Perro on Carrera 34 is full of little, cheap waterholes.

9 – Hang with the local jetset at cocktail bars Penélope Martini, Roset, and Abesenta on Carrera 2 in El Peñon.

10 – Martyn’s bar is the best place in town to get hammered in Jose Cuervo, listen to old rock classics and hear stories about Cali’s good old days from the man himself.

Restaurants

Good food on any budget.

11 – In my opinion, Peru Peñon serves some of the best seafood I have ever had in my life. Try the Pescado a la Chalaca or the Salmon de la Casa. You won’t regret it.

12 – Micheal Lynch at Teatro Magico del Sabor delivers what may be the most unique dining experience you have ever had.

13 – Low budget Pampero or high budget Tizones – both offer a great meal for meat lovers!

14 – La Comitiva in San Fernando is super trendy eatery specializing in local food from the Valle del Cauca.

15 – Don’t leave Colombia before trying the food from the coast. Rice with coconut, seafood stews, coconut shrimps. You name it,  Pacifico‘s got it!

16 – Chili Chang serve some of the best Asian food I’ve had in Colombia, and the rooftop bar is a great place to enjoy the Pacific Breeze.

17 – If Mexican food is your thing, then Cantina La 15 in Granada is for the full, big-wallet experience and next-door La Taqueria #12, for the smaller budget, but still yummy and authentic experience.

18 – Italian immigrant Tomas, serves Cali’s best pasta. Period. La Trattoria Italia in San Antonio is where to get it.

19 – At Frutos del Sol in Parque del Peñon, Mario and his little box of spices will make any carnivore enjoy a vegetarian meal.

20 – Some of the most creative plates of food in Cali are to be had a La Cocina in San Antonio.

21 – If you’re looking to escape the Cali heat, then Cali’s best pizzeria, Mamma Mia, or La Cabaña, that serves traditional Colombian food, both at KM 18 on the road towards Buenaventura are great spots for families, friends and lovers.

Snacks

I’m a huge fan of snacking both salty and sweet. Here are my local favorites.

22 – Cali’s best salpicon gets served with ice cream at Manzana Verde along the Autopista.

23 – Greasy, salty and good. Juancho’s Uruguayan choripan is a hangover snack so good that you’d wanna slap them at Micky Ds after trying one!

24 – Empanadas are sold on every corner in Cali, but none better than the ones at Tardes de la Sexta on la Avenida 6N.

25 – You haven’t been to Cali before you’ve had a cholado – the famous slushy, juicy, fruity thing with condensed milk and shaved coconut. The best ones are made in front of Canchas Panamericanas on Calle 9 or on Carrera 83 in front of Parque del Ingenio.

26 – I just recently discovered Ware – the maker of Colombia’s best arepa. Quite a statement, but I’m sure you’ll agree.

27 – Awesome coffee and home-made goodies at Barakha and Krost bakeries (hint: try the almond crossaint at Krost). Macondo in San Antonio is also a great spot to stop for a cup of coffee and a dessert.

28 – When it comes to cakes, I have found no one above the Israeli pastry shop Zahavi. Their Maracuya dessert is to die for.

29 – Ice cream lovers better head to El Peñon where artisanal ice cream shops Fiore, Montalegro, and Calathea deliver mouthwatering home-made ice creams.

Sports

Watch or play.

30 – Master the skillful art of throwing metal bricks at clay stuffed with envelopes of dynamite. Tejo is a great excuse to drink beers and hang out with the locals. Cancha Los Amigos is where to go.

31 – The only thing more important than Mom and God in Colombia is futbol.  A game at Cali’s stadium with either America or Deportivo Cali or even better – a game between the two local rivals – is sure to be a thrilling event. Just don’t wear the wrong colors at the wrong tribune.

32 – Cali has two climbing schools. Whether you’re looking to join the club or just have fun for a day, you’re more than welcome. They also do excursions to Jamundi and Dapa.

33 – Cali and Roldanillo north of Cali are world class paragliding destinations. Whether looking to do a course or just do a tandem flight, Tracsails Colombia or Parapente Cali will take good care of you.

34 – Parque del Ingenio is the perfect place to go for an outdoors workout, yoga, a little run or to play futbol with the locals.

35 – No better place to cool off, than in one of Cali’s 27+ public waterparks.

36 – Pico Aguila, Tres Cruces, Vuelta del Mundo, La Castilla, Pichindé, Cristo Rey, Dapa and Jamundi are all splendid destinations to go mountain biking. If you’re really aggressive and have a full-suspension bike, then check out the downhill tracks at Ventiaderos.

37 – Football, swimming, tennis, high-diving, karate, basketball, baseball – everything is possible at Canchas Panamericanas.

38 – Get your swing on at one of Cali’s many salsa schools.

39 – Spend a few days learning to wind or kite surf at Lago Calima just north of Cali. Calima Kitesurf or Cool Wind both have the  gear and instructors to get you going.

40 – Fly a kite in windy season from August to October with the local kids. Just north of the city, along the highway, Cristo Rey or anywhere else with lots of wind is sure to be packed with kids that can detach themselves from their iPads.

41 – Join one of the daily Texas Hold’em poker tournaments at the casino in Unicentro or play roulette and blackjack in any of the other casinos around town.

Sights

Your next instagram shoot is waiting for you.

42 – Downtown Cali, around Plaza Caicedo is the perfect place to find a bench, people-watch, read the newspaper, drink a tinto, have your shoes shined and enjoy the organized chaos.

43 – The historic district of San Antonio with its quirky colonial architecture, many restaurants, park, and a chapel is a great place to wander around late in the afternoon.

44 – Cali Zoo is voted among the most beautiful zoos in South America. Kids love it and the garden is one of the most beautiful the city has to offer.

45 – Local artist, Hernando Tejada left his mark on Cali with the famous Cat Park next to the river. A great spot to get your photo taken and stroll around.

46 – The famous Cristo Rey statue offers one of the best 360-degree views you’ll find of Cali along with some nice walking trails.

47 – The Callejeros Street Food Tour will take you on a walking tour through local streets and markets, and introduce you to exotic Colombian flavors.

48 –  Cali is famous worldwide as a bird-watching destination. The city and the surrounding mountains are literally packed with rare and gorgeous birds. If you need a guide, then Cali Tours consistently rank among the best.

49 – Cali was founded in 1536 with the idea of having plenty of fresh water and flat, fertile farmland available. No crop has historically been more important to the Valle del Cauca than cane sugar. Museo de la Caña de Azucar will tell you all about it.

50 – Bring your kids to the Andoke Mariposario, a gorgeous butterfly garden located on the road up to Cristo Rey.

51 – Stroll Cali’s boulevard all the way down to La Ermita church. The boulevard is great for kids on skateboards, bikes and rollerblades and the is often hosting different events with street food and music.

52 – Cali at night, the best view is from the pizzerias on the road up to Cristo Rey.

53 – Fans of aviation can get their fix at the Museo Aereo Fenix by the Cali airport.

Culture

Intellectual fun.

54 – Hang with hipsters, gays, and artists at Parque Artesanal La Loma de la Cruz. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, there is usually an event going on, whether is be an indigenous group dance, story-telling or a concert.

55 – Museo Tertulia is THE museum in Cali. Last time I went, they had a Rembrandt exposition with 69 of his original works. The museum also has a movie theater – La Cinemateca – showing independent films every week from all overt the world.

56 – Concerts, musicals, dancing, theater, and tranny awards come together at Teatro Jorge Isaacs in downtown Cali.

57 – Teatro del Presagio in Granada is a cute and contemporary theater with shows every week for both kids and adults.

58 – Cali’s underground and most vulgar cultural sphere is called Teatro Nephila. Last time I went, their performance was about a whorehouse and took the audience from room to room of an old colonial villa in the city center. They do not have a fixed location, you have to stay up to date with their calendar and locations.

59 – For a fun interpretation of tango dancing, head to Fundacion Jacaranda where world-renowned pros show off their skills.

60 – Treat yourself to VIP trip in one of Cali’s many movie theaters. Cinemark and Cinecolombia have great VIP theaters with super-comfy reclining chairs and table serving. Wednesday equal 50% discount is most theaters.

61 – Every day around 5:00 PM local musicians get together and jam in the El Peñon park (Parque del Peñon). On Sundays from around 9:00 AM until late afternoon, the park becomes an art gallery with local artists showcasing and selling their work.

62 – Check out Cali’s Philharmonic Orchestra and Proartes for upcoming classical, live music concerts.

63 – Every time the national football team – La Seleccion Colombia – plays, La Avenida 6 becomes turns into a wild spectacle – and even more so if the Colombians win! Bring your jersey to blend in.

64 – Drink wine and listen to local artists play live music every weekend at the rooftop Terraza de Alejo in San Antonio.

65 – Get lost in Spanish literature at the Biblioteca Departamental on Calle 5.

Outdoors

For naturelovers.

67 – An early morning hike up to Cali’s Three Crosses is the perfect way to start the day. Outdoors gym, fresh juices, home-made banana bread and awesome views await you.

68 – Swim with the locals in the Pance river in southwest Cali.

69 – Just outside the city limits, in the mountains behind Cristo Rey, lies Pichindé – a tropical village with a gorgeous and freezing cold river. The best way to cool off on a hot day and far from the gringo trail.

70 – La Virgen de Yanaconas is the statue behind Cristo Rey a great viewpoint. From here there are trails all the way to southern Cali. The Yanaconas recreational center behind the statue is a great place to bring kids as well.

71 – South of Cali, in Portrerito near Jamundí lies Charco Escondido – the hidden natural pool – a great place off the beaten path to go for a swim. Also popular with mountain bikers.

72 – One of the toughest hikes around Cali is Pico Pance in the Farallones Nationalpark in Pance. It takes you up to 4100 meters above sea level. VERY experienced hikers can ascend and descend in one 16-hour day. Everybody else should expect to spend 2-3 days. Do not go without a guide. Bring a headlamp, drinking water, lots of food, and warm clothes.

73 – A gorgeous hike that can be done in about 6 hours (up and down) is the trail up to Pico Loro, also in Pance. Expect breathtaking views, if you’re lucky to get a clear day. A guide is recommended.

74 – Visit the one-man coffee farm in the Farallones

75 – Two hours from Cali lies the tropical Garifuna village San Cipriano nestled deep in the jungle. Waterfalls, river tubing, tree jumping, and coconut bread describe it best.

76 – El Danubio is the emerald green river and spectacular waterfalls that lie between Cali and Buenaventura.

77 – From July to October, humpback whales jump in the waters around Buenaventura. A day trip from Cali is the way to go. If you want to stay longer, then check out the remote village Ladrilleros for a taste of the real Pacific.

78 – The Purecé volcano about two hours south of Cali by Popayán, makes for a nice day trip (if you’re an early bird). Beautiful nature, great hikes if you bring rotten meat, you might get to feed the condors.

79 – Bring your bike, rollerblades, skateboard, baby stroller or running shoes to ciclovia on Sundays in Cali.

Events

Begin marking your calendar.

80 – One of the best events of the year is the weeklong Pacific music festival, Petronio Alvarez, celebrating the Afro-Latino culture in Colombia. Takes place in August every year.

81 – Cali’s most famous event, La Feria, is a weeklong salsa celebration that takes place between Christmas and New Years every year. Get ready to dance in the streets!

82 – The Mundial de Salsa is the annual world championships in salsa dancing. Usually around September/October.

83 – For five straight days in November every year, Cali hosts the Festival International de Cine – a movie festival dedicated to underground, independent, dogme and other types of anti-mainstream films from all over the world.

84 – Although Cali is known for its salsa, the Ballet Festival in October has become a recurring event that has been happening for more than 10 years.

85 – The last Friday of every month, a show called Delirio puts on the most amazing performance in what is a mix of salsa, circus, and orchestra. An event not to be missed!

86 – Sultana festival is a one-day event full of concerts. Indie, electronic, rock, metal, funk, blues… you name it, it’s all there.

87 – Every year, starting on December 7th and until January 1st, the city of Cali puts on an amazing light show on Cali’s boulevard in honor of the Christmas celebrations. Perfect for your evening stroll.

89 – Flower and nature lovers flock to Cali’s annual Orchid Festival – CaliOrquídia – that takes place over the course of 3 days in November every year.

Wellness

Feel good.

90 –  Spoil yourself with a massage in one of Cali’s many spas like Corpobello, Zhana, Namasté, Prana or Estar Bien.

91 – All beauty salons in Cali make pedicure and manicure for less than $5 dollars – for both! Guys are very welcome!

92 – The CrossFit wave is taking over Cali. Get your daily exercise and make friends in one of the many boxes like BeFitness, Cavebox, Crossfit Calimas and Monarca.

93 – Rejuvenate yourself and find your inner balance with either a Yoga class or a retreat at Yogendra Ashram (west) or ShyamAshram (south).

93 – Quality dental care is so cheap in Cali, that the savings alone will pay for your airfare and hotel.

94 – With more than 50.000 cosmetic surgeries performed every year, Caleño plastic surgeons have lots of experience and deliver high quality at low-priced, private medical clinics. Non-cosmetic surgery is also booming in Cali, especially for people without health insurance their home country. 50-80% savings are not uncommon and many doctors speak a fluent English.

Shopping

“If I come home and I haven’t maxed out my credit card, I don’t feel like I’ve been anywhere!” – quote from a friend.

95 – Caleña designer Michu makes girly knees go wobbly. They make designer bags of leather and banana leaves.

96 – Galaría Alameda is the best place in town to sample exotic fruits, veggies and mingle with vendors.

97 – The organic movement is still in its infancy in Colombia. Cali’s organic farmer’s market on Saturdays is the best place to go and buy straight from the farmer.

98 – Colombia is famous for its textile industry. Big brands like Levi’s has a big production here. Local sports brands like Grama and Kassis compete with big brand quality at a fraction of the cost.

99 – If electric bikes are too boring or politically correct, then check out the Bobber moped bikes. Proudly made in Cali.

100 – If you prefer the breeze of the A/C to that of the Pacific, then Chipichape (north) or Unicentro (south) are the best shopping centers in town.

101 – La Caleñita next to Galería Alameda is the best place to buy quality, artisanal souvenirs in Cali.

That’s it! With this list, there should be plenty of activities to keep you occupied for weeks in Cali. A local, anonymous blogger, also wrote an article suggesting more than 100 different things to do in Cali. It’s in Spanish and we do have some activities in common, but it’s still worth checking out.

Have fun 😉

Passed through Cali for the first time in 2011, on his way from the US to Brazil on a motorcycle. Ended up kissing a caleña on his last night and the rest is history. Has been a resident of Cali, Colombia since 2013 and currently living in Barrio Bellavista with his girlfriend and 2 daughters.

2 Comments

    • Hi Dayron, I was looking for your information the other day and could not find it. I want to make a post about learning Spanish in Cali but I need information about more schools. I’ll make sure to put you on the list!

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