Ibague is the capital of Talima in western Colombia. The city is known for its musical heritage, historic landmarks, and diverse surrounding landscape, which includes the peaks of Los Nevados National Park and the verdant Combeima Canyon. If you choose this location as your vacation destination, you can enjoy a wide range of activities and attractions, including outdoor pursuits, venues that educate visitors about the area’s education, and fun activities for all the family to enjoy. Here are the 20 best things to do in Ibague, Colombia.
20. Hike to La Rivera
There are many fantastic hikes to enjoy in this area, and each has something different to offer. One of the best hikes in Ibague and the surrounding area is the hike to La Rivera. The hike begins just outside of the village of Juntas on the outskirts of Ibague. It is a three-mile hike that takes approximately an hour and a half to complete. The trail leads to La Rivera, which is a farm that is part of a nature reserve. There is accommodation, various activities, and an on-site restaurant. Therefore, it is possible to hike to this location, then enjoy a delicious meal or take part in the activities, then stay overnight before heading back to the starting point. Alternatively, you can just walk the trail and head straight back to Juntas. If you do not want to hike, you can take a cable car to La Rivera.
19. Peruse the Markets
A great way to absorb yourself in the area’s culture and to appreciate the local produce is to peruse the traditional local markets. If you head to Chaperino Mall, which is also known as La Plaza de Mercado La 14, you will see stalls selling produce from the surrounding countryside. Plaza de Mercado La 28 has multiple stalls selling local produce alongside food stalls selling tasty treats such as lechona with peas and corn arepas.
18. Take a Day Trip to Armero
While there is plenty to enjoy within the city limits of Ibague, there is also plenty to explore in the surrounding area. If you fancy taking a day trip out of the city, then a wonderful place to visit is Armero. The town is now in ruins as it was destroyed by a mudslide caused by the 1985 Nevado del Ruiz volcanic eruption. It was the second-deadliest volcanic eruption in the 20th century, and 20,000 people were tragically killed. There is now a museum called the Centro Historico Parque de la Vida, which has information and stories about the volcano and the people.
17. Enjoy the Nightlife
In addition to the many interesting activities you can enjoy in the day, you can also enjoy yourself in the evenings. At night, the city comes alive, with music, fun, laughter, and people enjoying the bars and nightclubs. The best area to enjoy the nightlife is in the east of the city. In this part of the city, you will also find cinemas and shopping malls. An alternative to hitting the bars and clubs is hopping on the local party bus, which rides revelers around the city while they enjoy drinks and loud music.
16. Visit Parque Nacional El Nevado Del Tolima
If you want to explore the diverse landscape of Tolima, then you should visit the Parque Nacional El Nevado Del Tolima. It is predominantly a thick jungle, but there are also mountains, gorges, and high-altitude lakes. There are multiple trails throughout the park, including trails up the volcanic mountains and to the hot springs at El Rancho. The highest mountain in the park is El Nevado del Tolima, and you will need to hire a guide if you want to trek to the summit.
15. Try Adventure Sports
Many people on vacation want to try new and thrilling experiences. In Ibague, an adventure sports company offers a wide array of outdoor activities. If you tell them the types of activities you enjoy, they can arrange a program of activities, including transportation, for you to enjoy a variety of experiences. Some examples of the adventure sports you can enjoy are rappelling down a waterfall, ziplining through the Colombian rainforest, and hiking across diverse terrain.
14. Enjoy Traditional Music
Ibague is known as the ‘City of Music,’ and there are plenty of attractions to visit that will allow you to absorb yourself into the city’s music culture. The original Conservatory of Tolima is now in ruins, and there is now a contemporary building just one block away. Next to the Conservatory of Tolima is the Parque de la Musique, where you can sit and listen to performers for free. You can also hear free musical performances along many of the streets and in the bars or restaurants. Another way to enjoy traditional music is to attend the annual Folk Festival.
13. Try the Street Food
The Crazy Tourist says that you should try the street food while you are in Ibague, as this is the best way to experience the traditional food of Tolima. Ibague is famous for tamales, with local specialties including tamales don floro and placio del tamal. Another traditional dish is lechona, which is slow-cooked pork with crispy skin that is stuffed with rice, onions, and spices.
12. Go to the Ipanema Casino
If you are looking for a fun and lively way to spend an evening, then head to the Ipanema Casino, which is located inside La Estacion Shopping Center. It has everything that you would typically expect to find in a casino, including table games and slot machines. Even if you do not intend to gamble, it is a fun and vibrant place to visit. There is nightly entertainment and on-site dining options, so you can choose this as a night out for food and entertainment if you prefer.
11. Have Fun at Playa Hawai
Ibague’s top family attraction is Playa Hawai, which is a waterpark that offers lots of water-based fun for people of all ages. There are pools, slides, water sports, and other fun facilities for the guests to enjoy. An unusual feature of this water park is its campsite, which gives visitors the option to spend a few days enjoying all the features and facilities within the park. You can also choose to head out of the city to a larger waterpark called Pisciligo that has bigger slides and pools. It also boasts a children’s play area and a small zoo.
10. Experience Local Culture at Museo de Arte del Tolima
If you want to have a cultural experience that reflects the traditions of the Andean region, then the best place to visit is the Museo de Arte del Tolima. This attraction promotes the history, culture, and development of the area in various art forms. In addition to performances and exhibitions, there are classes and workshops in which visitors can participate.
9. Explore Combeima Canyon
Combeima Canyon sits on the outskirts of Ibague, and it is an ecotourism site covering a mountain landscape, which includes volcanic ash and organic matter. In the snowy peak of Tolima and the humid premontane forest, there is biodiversity that attracts tourists who love spending time outdoors. Although the landscape is stunning, there are potential dangers, and visitors are advised to proceed with caution. It is best to explore the Combeima Canyon with an experienced guide. Close to the Combeima Canyon is a small mountain village called Juntas, where there are approximately 50 waterfalls to see. Juntas also has a fish farm, the ruins of a gold mine, and a coffee shop.
8. Admire Catedral Primada de Ibague
One of the most notable structures in the city is the Catedral Primada de Ibague, which is translated as the Primate Cathedral of Ibague. Originally, the cathedral was just a small chapel, and the first mass was held in the chapel in 1551. Unfortunately, earthquakes and lightning destroyed the chapel. It was eventually restored to retain the original stunning architectural features. In addition to admiring the exterior of the cathedral, you should step inside to admire the internal features.
7. Go to Parque Museo La Martinique
The Parque Museo La Martinique is an ecotourism landmark in Ibague. From the park’s highest point, there are spectacular views across the city. It is also known for being the city’s best place for nature immersion and wildlife viewing. There are various leisure facilities within the park, such as soccer fields, swimming pools, and billiards. Other activities to enjoy are waterfall rappelling, mountain biking, abseiling, birdwatching, and horseback riding. There are also campsites for people who want to spend the night getting close to nature and enjoying more of what the park offers.
6. Visit San Jorge Botanical Garden
You can explore the San Jorge Botanical Garden by wandering along the 4.3-miles of nature trails. Visitors can choose to walk the full trail or take one of the shorter routes. There are more than 500 species of plants along the trails, including cocoa plants. If you are a fan of flowers, you can also visit Foundation Orchids, which features 150 extinct species of orchids, including the Cattleya trianae, which is the national flower.
5. Attend One of the Festivals
There are multiple festivals held in Ibague throughout the year, and many of these have musical or cultural themes. You should check out what is going on in the area before you visit to avoid missing out on the fun during your stay.
4. Dine at Bolivar Square
Bolivar Square is at the center of the city. It is a popular meeting place, and it is where you will find many of the city’s best shops, restaurants, and bars. You will likely visit the square on several occasions during your visit, especially in the evenings when you want to go out for a drink or a meal. During the day, you can watch the daily activities of the locals if you sit outside one of the cafes for lunch or a beverage. The square also has water features, manicured gardens, a statue of Simon Bolivar, and a play park. Surrounding the square are some notable buildings, including the Immaculate Conception Cathedral and the Urrutia Building, which is a government building.
3. Go to Centenario Park
One of the best parks to visit in the center of Ibague is Centenario Park. This urban park has trees, grassy areas, and vegetation divided by paved walkways where you can take a stroll. A river stream runs through the park, and it is home to families of ducks. Various events are hosted at the park, including the annual Colombian Folklore Festival. Centenario Park is one of Ibague’s best spots for watching the sunset.
2. Stroll Around Alexander von Humboldt Botanical Garden
A peaceful and relaxing place to spend some time is at the Alexander von Humboldt Botanical Garden. The gardens are named after a famous botanist, and it is one of Ibague’s most notable landmarks. It is a wonderful place to take a stroll, admiring the colors of the beautiful plants and trees and breathing in the sensational aromas. Other features of the park include multiple bridges and the St. Francis of Assisi shrine and chapel.
1. Enjoy the Activities in the Comfenalco Recreation Center
According to Trip 101, the best thing to do in Ibague is to enjoy the activities at Comfenalco Recreation Center. It is a large park in the city that offers visitors various activities to keep them entertained. Some of the recreational facilities in this park are a skating rink, a synthetic court, a children’s park with a playground, a swimming pool, multipurpose gyms, a soccer field, and several restaurants.