4 Things You Must See and Do in Cali, Colombia

Cali, the 'salsa capital of the world’, moves to its own distinct beat. Nomad Chris Bell knows the best places to dance the night away, discover beautiful churches or go hiking in the hills just outside the city.

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Salsa in Cali

Visiting Cali would not be complete without dancing some salsa – you're certainly spoilt for choice here!

The city is overflowing with dance clubs, from tiny hole-in-the-wall joints to giant salsa stadiums. Don’t worry if you're arriving on a weeknight: the beat goes on 24-7 here.

For a classic, old-school salsa experience, don’t miss Zaperoco: as one of the oldest bars in the city, Zaperoco has been sound tracking Cali’s salsa scene for decades.

La Topa Tolondra is another popular club: it’s relaxed, informal, and open virtually every day of the week, making it especially popular with travelers.

Cali locals also rave about the “Lunes de Brisas” salsa event, which takes place every Monday at a large estate outside the city.

More adventurous dancers won’t want to miss the Juanchito neighborhood, a suburb famous for late-night salsa parties. It’s not necessarily the safest part of town, so try to visit with a local. 

Festivals in Cali

Cali is a party city and hosts two of Colombia's finest festivals.

The Feria de Cali, which takes place every year from December 25-30, is the perfect way to lift those post-Christmas blues. It’s one of Colombia’s most popular festivals and features street parades, salsa concerts, and exhibitions.

Cali also is also home to the fantastic Petronio Alvarez Pacific Music Festival. Held every August, it’s essential for anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of Colombia’s Pacific culture. Local and international musicians converge on Cali during the festival to play traditional Pacific music styles like currulao and bambuco.

The City Center and San Antonio

Cali’s city center is worth visiting for a couple of hours to enjoy beautiful churches, parks, and theaters.

The highlight is La Ermita Church, Cali’s most recognized building. A stroll around the center should also include a visit to Jorge Isaacs Park, La Merced Church, and Caicedo Square.

Cat-lovers will also want to cross over the river from the park to visit Parque de los Gatos with its 16 giant cat sculptures, including the giant bronze Gato del Rio.

The colonial neighbourhood of San Antonio is the historical heart of Cali. This is where most of the city’s best hotels and restaurants are located.

It’s a pleasant area to stroll around on a sunny day, and it’s worthwhile to walk up to the park on the hill overlooking San Antonio. The view here from the small chapel is one of Cali’s most important cultural sites.

Cali’s Monuments

Cali is home to three spectacular monuments overlooking the city: Cristo Rey, Cerro de las Tres Cruces, and La Estatua de Belalcazar.

The giant Christ statue of Cristo Rey offers spectacular panoramas of the city. Make sure to visit with a group, as the area can be unsafe.

The Hill of the Three Crosses is also a nice hike with a great view: visit on Sundays when security presence is strong and locals get their weekend exercise.

The statue of Sebastian de Belalcazar, Cali’s founder, overlooks a nice neighbourhood, and is more secure than the other two.

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