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Everything You Need To Know About Cali, Colombia

By DeAnna Taylor

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Colombia, Colombia. Whether it’s music, or beaches, or food that you enjoy, this South American country has it all.

But, have you ever thought to explore Cali? Yes, this is a real city within Colombia and no we aren’t talking about the West Coast state.

Cali is the 3rd largest city of the country and just outside of it you will find the Pacific coast region that is more than 90% Black or Afro-Colombian.

Many of these Afro-Colombians of the coastal region have now made Cali their home due to hardship.

Photo by DeAnna Taylor

If you are heading to Colombia, here are some things to help you navigate the streets of Cali.

Where to stay

You will find a few of the major chains in the city like Marriott and The Intercontinental. But, if you want to support a locally owned hotel we have a couple of suggestions.

The Spiwak Hotel is owned by a local family and has been in the city for a while now. The property is huge and has a nice pool area and restaurant perfect for grabbing a bite to eat.

Photo by DeAnna Taylor

The family recently opened a newer and more modern hotel property directly across the street as well. Hotel Spirito is very artsy and perfect for those who enjoy being around artwork.

What to eat

Photo by DeAnna Taylor

Just like the rest of South America, there are lots of flavors to try in Cali. With a lot of the cuisine being influenced by the Afro-Colombia population from the coast, the foods bring bold flavors and heavy portions.

Seafood is a big staple in the area. You will find a lot of seafood and rice dishes served with a side of fried plantains. Our favorite was the seafood in coconut cream serve that was served over white rice or as some call it Camarones enconcado. You’ll also want to add a shrimp empanada and fresh ceviche to your plans as well.

As far as desserts and things to cool you off in the Cali heat, Cholado is the way to go. Think of an icee with fresh fruit added in and other fruity syrups to top it off. It is said that cholado was created in Cali, and you can get it from plenty of places around the city.

Photo by DeAnna Taylor

Last but certainly not least is Viche. If you love trying new spirits and liquors you will certainly enjoy this. This spirit is made mostly in the Pacific Coast region and marketed more throughout Cali. It definitely gives tequila and Mezcal a run for their money on the strong factor. Many of the locals sell it either straight or in a creamy version similar to Bailey’s.

What to do

La Topa Tolondra| Facebook

Now, what many don’t know about this underrated city is that it is the salsa capital of the world. Yes, the world!

While the dance form was started in New York, Cali is home to the largest number of professional salsa dancers.

If you want to try your hand at salsa, head to the most popular club in the city, La Topa Tolondra. This place is 2-stories and is packed on any given night. People come and dance the night away well into the early morning.

Photo by DeAnna Taylor

Next up, we highly suggest walking the city via a tour guide to check out the street art. The cool thing about Cali’s street art is that the government teamed up with local artists to commission their work on various walls. It is an effort to help those who have talent but have not yet made it big.

Finally, you’ll want to take a stroll down the Boulevard of the River. This scenic pedestrian walkway runs along the Cali River. Don’t forget your camera because you’ll want to get plenty of photos in front of the landmark church, Our Lady of the Sorrows.

As you can see, there are plenty of things to see, do, and eat while visiting Cali, Colombia. This is nowhere near everything that the city has to offer, but it is a start as you prepare to plan out your itinerary.

Related: Inside Petronio Alvarez In Colombia: Latin America’s Largest Afro-Culture Festival

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DeAnna Taylor

DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel blogger, author, and writer. While Charlotte, NC (her hometown) is her base, she's always somewhere on a plane. Catch her on IG: @brokeandabroadlife.

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