Hometown City Guide: Cali, Colombia
Even though I love Cartagena, my native country has a lot more to offer. Colombia is on the spotlight this year. I've found people from all over the world that only know about Bogotá and Cartagena, and they are missing so much! I grew up in Cali, so my first city guide will be about my town and its 365 days of summer.
ACQUA SANTA LOFT HOTEL
Cra. 106a #18-51, Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia
This hotel is located in Ciudad Jardin, a chic neighbourhood in the South of Cali. Six independent lofts surrounded by squirrels, iguanas, parrots, rivers and more. Each loft counts with 150/220mts2 with the most beautiful view, including a terrace, and a jacuzzi under the stars. Make your reservation here.
HOTEL EL PEÑON
Calle 1 Oeste No. 2-61, Cali, Valle del Cauca
The location is ideal (you will see most of my recommendations are on this neighbourhood!) and the rooms are designed with a minimal/clean style. The hotel offers two restaurants: one for burgers and another one for Turkish food. Make your reservation here.
NOT PICTURED BUT WORTH a mention
There are few design hotels in Cali, the city is still growing! You can also stay at the classic hotels as the Intercontinental, Dann or Marriot. The Intercontinental has the most amazing Italian restaurant "La Pizzeria", and a nice pool, and the Marriot has a delicious brunch buffet!
Cali offers a mix between traditional and international cuisine. You can enjoy empanadas, luladas, marranitas, and all things from Valle del Cauca.. but you can also find the most amazing plates inspired by the world's best cuisine.
Before we start with my long list of mouth-watering restaurants, just make sure you taste the key foods from Cali. The list includes: pandebono, almohabana, lulada, cholado, empanadas, marranitas, patacón with hogao, aborrajado, manga viche, chontaduro, mamoncillo, manga poma, arepa rellena...
Carrera 10 #1-39, Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia
In San Antonio - the bohemian neighbourhood of the city- is located Antigua Contemporánea, a half boutique / half restaurant place
Cra 3 A oeste no. 4 -41 Barrio El Peñon
In Cali we love bread, and we love breakfast time. Krost is an artisanal bakery offering bread, pastries, coffee and more for the perfect early breakfast!
Carrera 3 Oeste No. 3 - 39
A Mediterranean experience in the middle of a tropical jungle, every ingredient they use comes directly from farms nearby, offering the best quality and flavors. They host salsa nights and fun events in their three locations.
Calle 4 Oeste #3a-32
After spending some time in Perú, chef Alex Nessim founded Pica, where fresh fish caught in the Pacific ocean (near Cali) is the main ingredient. On the back terrace, you can find Selfish Bar, the latest addition to the Pica family.
HACIENDA EL BOSQUE
Carrera 2 Oeste No. 14-250
Inside the "Bosque Municipal" and next to the river, a beautiful villa from XIX century.
Cra. 1 #4 Oeste - 49
Located in a terrace in front of the river where you can have the best empanadas of the city.
EL FALSO OLIVO
Calle 16 # 103-00
Located in Ciudad Jardin, in the south of Cali, El Falso Olivo draws inspiration for the Mediterranean, offering unique and delicious plates you cannot miss.
Ave 9 # 20N - 45
Great pizza place in Granada. Also make sure they give you a table in the terrace at the back of the restaurant!
Carrera 10 #1-39, Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia
One of my favorite neighbourhoods is el Peñon. Trust me, the 6pm breeze that you can feel in the West side of Cali will make you fall in love with the city. This is the perfect spot for an afternoon tea & snack ( ask for alfajores! ).
LA SANDUCHERÍA DEL ESCUDO
Cl. 4 Oe. #3-46, Cali, Valle del Cauca
Best sandwiches & burgers in town made with local, fresh ingredients.
Av. 3 Norte # 7-19 Barrio Centenario
A classic spot for delicious fusion food in the city, hands down one of the best restaurants. Tip: the terrace is the perfect place to sit.
SADUD A RAGUL
Calle 15N # 8N-41 Granada
Inside Lugar a dudas, a gallery and artist residency in Granada neighbourhood, is located Sadud a Ragul, a Middle Eastern Restaurant where you can hang out the whole afernoon. Top picks: to eat, literally everything is delicious, for dessert: don't miss the Nomeolvides chocolate cake, to drink: limonana.
Calle 4 Oeste #3A-50
And for dessert, Calathea in El Peñon is the best place to have a home made ice cream.
Donde Bertha in La Pasarela, a commercial street (not very pretty but you can get fashion supplies if needed!) is where all caleños go when craving manga viche, chontaduro, manga poma, etc. This is a must-go if you want to taste the real flavors from my city.
MORE YOU CAN'T MISS
Panadería El Molino, Ventolini, Tortelli, Salerno, Libreria Nacional, Monchis, Rosa Mezcal.. this list will never end!
MUSEO LA TERTULIA
A classic that you can't miss. After visiting the museum, take a walk along the river and stop for a milkshake at Clowns. After this, grab a beer and some empanadas at Obelisco and finish the day in El Peñon, where you can find cool bars.
The typical Sunday escapade. Take a car and head to La Cabaña. Order hot chocolate with cheese!
The fruit & flower market in Cali. If this is your first time in a Latin American country, you will be surprised about the variety of fruits that you can find here, and how cheap they are! This is an amazing experience that you can't definitely miss.
Cali is very hot, but it's surrounded by beautiful mountains that allow you to escape to a cooler weather in only 20 minutes. Dapa is one of my favorites. For the best empanadas and patacón, go to La Casona. or if you feel like eating churros con chocolate, go to La Barra de Manolo, a peaceful way to spend a sunday afternoon. One of the most beautiful horseback riding that I've ever done is in Dapa. Here, you can cross the fields of tea where the well known Té Hindú grows their tea. On the way back home, stop on the road to grab an oblea, lemon pie or postre de Milo. Ps. You will need a car to get here.
Cali is home to lots of fashion brands, stores, artists and designers. You can find little shops of small independent brands around El Peñón, Granada, San Antonio & Ciudad Jardin. My advise, as always, would be to get to one of these neighbourhoods and explore the area strolling around it.
Calle 10 Norte #9N-31
This little shop in Granada is home to thousands of orchids, the national flower of Colombia.
OCRE Y ARCO
Avenida 9N # 9-57
Find the latest & best Colombian designers in this tiny concept store in Granada.
Cra 2 Oeste #2-15
Concept store in El Peñon, you can find beautiful cushions, plates, candles, and eveything for the home. Also A la mar, a gorgeous beachwear brand.
JOHANNA ORTIZ & PINK FILOSOFY
Calle 16 Nº103-00 Local 12
A beautiful store in the South of Cali where you can find Colombian designer Johanna Ortiz and her sister brand Pink Filosofy.
ONDA DE MAR
Avenida 9 Norte #14 N 56
We love Onda de Mar's bikinis and beachwear, so this store is a must when coming to Cali.
Carrera 3b Oeste #2A-28, Cali
You can shop Renata Lozano's beautiful collection in her flagship store in El Peñon.
DRINK & PARTY
Cali happens to be the capital of Salsa. Dancing and listening to tropical music is a big part of our lifestyle. So, even if you are not a party person, you should experience Cali's nightlife at least one time during your stay.
The real deal for authentic, classic salsa clubs: El Habanero Club & Extasis.
WHAT TO PACK
Cali is hot every day of the year. It is normal to spend the days by the pool or sun bathing. So pack for an eternal summer. Include a light sweater when visiting Dapa, Lago Calima, Km.18, etc.