Synonymous with salsa, the multicultural city of Cali rocks to an upbeat Latino rhythm in every aspect of life.
Salsa may be the key draw for visitors to Cali but you don’t have to be a dance floor diva to fall in love with this city. There are beautiful churches, archaeological museums, contemporary art spaces and a charming old quarter to visit. Add to this the exciting cultural mix of Cali’s inhabitants and you have a city that offers so much more than just salsa.
Southwest Colombia’s major city has seen a colourful influx of people throughout its history, from the indigenous peoples to the arrival of the Spanish during colonial rule and the African slaves that came to work the sugarcane plantations in the 18th century. The local caleños couldn’t be prouder of their mixed heritage, which brings cultural flair and style to every corner of the city. Along with the ever present salsa beat, it’s the inhabitants that really make this city swing.
By night, explore the trendy bars and cafés, up-and-coming restaurants and sassy salsa clubs of Cali and you’ll soon get the feel of this lively city. The dynamic neighbourhood of Barrio San Antonio, or Old Cali, is a great location to start in for drinks, moving on to Granada for dinner, an area full of the best restaurants in town. By day, there are many sights to see, including attractive old churches, museums exhibiting everything from ancient relics to cutting-edge, contemporary artwork and cinematography, plus a zoo where you can get up close to a variety of exotic species. For the bigger picture, climb the hill to the enormous statue of Christ the Redeemer for fantastic views over the sprawling city below.
Get your dancing shoes on!
It would be wrong to visit Cali without feeling the salsa beat at some point during your stay. Join a dance class, watch a salsa show or simply get out to the clubs in the evenings and see how the locals do it.
Barrio San Antonio
Cali’s old quarter is now the fashionable place to be for budding bohemians. Colonial houses have been transformed into fashionable cafés, trendy bars have sprung up and classy restaurants are now the norm. On the cobbled streets musicians strum salsa favourites and artists sell their wares. Saunter up to the 18th century church where couples sit and enjoy the city views.
Visit La Merced
This 16th century, whitewashed church is beautiful in its simplicity, juxtaposed by the nearby high-rise buildings. The modest interior features a surprisingly ornate, gold altarpiece. Don’t miss a visit to the annex, stuffed with pre-Columbian artefacts, and the adjacent convent houses a museum of religious paintings.