The Capital of Salsa: Exploring the Vibrant City of Cali, Colombia

By Esteban Parcero •  Updated: 03/17/23 •  9 min read

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The Capital of Salsa: Exploring the Vibrant City of Cali, Colombia

Colombia is a country known for its rich culture, history, and diverse landscapes.

Among its many vibrant cities, Cali stands out as the salsa capital of the world.

With its lively music, colorful streets, and passionate people, Cali is a destination that will inspire and move you.

In this blog post, we will explore the city’s unique culture, attractions, and nightlife, and give you a taste of what it’s like to experience the rhythm of salsa in Cali.


The Origins of Salsa in Cali

Cali has long been known as the capital of salsa, and for good reason.

The music and dance form have deep roots in the city’s history, dating back to the 1950s.

Many Afro-Colombians and Cuban immigrants settled in Cali and brought with them their rich musical traditions.

They created a fusion of Cuban music with African rhythms, which led to the development of salsa.

Today, Cali is known worldwide for its salsa music and dance scene, with many famous musicians and dancers calling the city their home.


Exploring the City’s Salsa Scene

One of the best ways to experience the rhythm of Cali is to hit the dance floor.

The city is home to numerous salsa clubs, where locals and tourists alike can dance the night away. Many of these clubs offer lessons, so even if you’re a beginner, you can learn the basic steps and join in the fun.

One of the most popular salsa clubs in Cali is La Topa Tolondra.

This club is a favorite among locals and tourists and features live music every night of the week. Another great option is Tin Tin Deo, which has been around since the 1960s and is known for its lively atmosphere and excellent musicians.

If you’re looking for something a bit more upscale, you can visit the Pacific Plaza Shopping Center, which features a number of high-end salsa clubs.

These clubs often attract some of the best dancers in the city, so be prepared to be wowed by their skills.


Discovering the City’s Other Attractions

Cali has much more to offer than just its salsa scene. The city is also known for its beautiful architecture, museums, and parks.

One of the city’s most iconic landmarks is the Cali Tower, which offers stunning views of the city and the surrounding mountains.

The tower is located in the San Antonio neighborhood, which is known for its beautiful colonial architecture and cobblestone streets.

Another must-see attraction is the Cali Zoo, which is home to over 1,000 animals from around the world. The zoo is located in the western part of the city and is known for its conservation efforts and educational programs.

If you’re interested in learning more about the city’s history, you can visit the Museo del Oro Calima, which features a collection of pre-Columbian gold artifacts.

The museum is located in the San Antonio neighborhood and is a great place to learn about the indigenous cultures that once inhabited the region.


Indulging in Local Cuisine

No trip to Cali would be complete without indulging in the local cuisine.

The city is known for its delicious food, which features a mix of African, Spanish, and indigenous influences.

One of the most popular dishes in Cali is sancocho, a hearty soup made with chicken, plantains, yucca, and other vegetables. Another local favorite is the empanada, a fried or baked pastry filled with meat, cheese, or vegetables.

If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to try the arequipe, a caramel-like spread made from milk and sugar. You can find arequipe in many bakeries and cafes.

The music and dance culture in Cali is one of the most vibrant in the world, and there is no better place to experience it than in the heart of the city.


Salsa Clubs and Venues

Cali boasts an array of salsa clubs and venues where you can dance the night away.

The city’s salsa scene has a lot to offer, from traditional dance halls to modern clubs. One of the most popular spots is the Tin Tin Deo club, which has been a staple in the city since the 1950s.

The club features live music and is known for its energetic atmosphere. Other notable clubs include Zaperoco and La Topa Tolondra, which also offer live music and a lively ambiance.

If you’re looking for a more intimate setting, head to Delirio, where you can enjoy a show with dinner and drinks.


Cali’s Salsa Festival

Cali’s salsa festival is one of the most important events in the city’s calendar.

The festival takes place every year in September and attracts thousands of people from all over the world. The festival features concerts, workshops, and competitions. One of the highlights of the festival is the Salsa Marathon, where participants dance non-stop for hours on end.

It’s a celebration of music, dance, and culture, and an unforgettable experience for anyone who loves salsa.


Salsa Schools

If you’re interested in learning how to dance salsa, Cali has some of the best salsa schools in the world.

These schools offer classes for all levels, from beginners to advanced dancers. Some of the most renowned schools include Salsabor, Swing Latino, and Delirio.

The schools offer a variety of classes, including group classes, private lessons, and workshops.

The teachers are highly experienced and passionate about sharing their love of salsa with their students.


Salsa History and Culture

Salsa is more than just a dance; it’s a cultural phenomenon. In Cali, salsa is a way of life, and the city has a rich history of salsa music and dance. The roots of salsa can be traced back to the African and indigenous populations of the region, and the music and dance have been shaped by the cultural influences of Colombia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the United States. Salsa has played an important role in the social and political movements of the city, and it continues to be an important form of expression for the people of Cali.


Salsa Food and Drink

No visit to Cali is complete without trying the local cuisine.

The city is known for its delicious food and drink, which are an essential part of the salsa experience. Some of the must-try dishes include empanadas, chontaduros, and sancocho.

And of course, no salsa night is complete without a refreshing cocktail.

Try the popular Lulo sour, a cocktail made with the local Lulo fruit, or the classic Cuba Libre.


Salsa Tourism

Cali’s salsa scene has become a major tourist attraction in recent years, and for good reason.

The city has a lot to offer for anyone interested in salsa music and dance. Whether you’re a seasoned dancer or a beginner, there’s something for everyone in Cali.

From the lively clubs to the world-class schools, the salsa culture in Cali is truly unique.


Salsa Safety

Like any city, Cali has its share of safety concerns.

It’s important to take precautions and be aware of your surroundings, especially when visiting the salsa clubs and venues. Stick to the well-lit areas, and avoid carrying large amounts of cash or valuables.

It’s also a good idea to use a reputable taxi service when traveling around the city.


Where to Stay in Cali

When visiting Cali, there are many great options for accommodations that will suit a range of budgets and preferences. Some popular options include:

  1. InterContinental Cali: This luxurious hotel is located in the heart of the Granada neighborhood, known for its excellent restaurants and nightlife. It offers spacious rooms and suites, a rooftop pool and bar, and a full-service spa.
  2. Hotel Spiwak Chipichape Cali: This modern hotel is located near the Chipichape shopping mall and offers comfortable rooms with city views, an outdoor pool, and a fitness center.
  3. Hotel Obelisco: This boutique hotel is located in the San Antonio neighborhood, known for its colonial architecture and vibrant atmosphere. It offers stylish rooms, a rooftop terrace with panoramic views, and a restaurant serving Colombian and international cuisine.



Cali is a city that truly embodies the spirit of salsa, and its vibrant music and dance scene are a major draw for visitors from around the world.

From its colorful neighborhoods and historic landmarks to its bustling markets and delicious cuisine, there is so much to discover and explore in this dynamic Colombian city.

Whether you’re a seasoned salsa dancer or just looking to experience a unique and lively culture, Cali is sure to leave a lasting impression on you.

So what are you waiting for?

Start planning your trip to the Capital of Salsa today and get ready to experience the rhythm and passion of this incredible city for yourself!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Cali known for?

Cali, Colombia is known as the Capital of Salsa due to its vibrant dance scene and numerous salsa clubs. It is also famous for its delicious cuisine, especially its traditional dish of sancocho, a hearty soup made with meat, vegetables, and plantains.

What is the best time to visit Cali?

The best time to visit Cali is from December to April when the weather is dry and warm, and there are numerous festivals and events to attend, including the world-renowned Feria de Cali in December.

What are the must-see attractions in Cali?

Some of the must-see attractions in Cali include the Cristo Rey monument, which offers stunning views of the city, the Tertulia Museum of Modern Art, and the San Antonio neighborhood, known for its colorful houses and lively cafes.

Of course, no trip to Cali is complete without experiencing the city’s lively salsa scene by visiting some of its famous salsa clubs.

Before you go…

Now you know The Capital of Salsa: Exploring the Vibrant City of Cali, Colombia, but that’s only the beginning of your journey here at we like Colombia. If you found this post useful there’s more to learn to get you to the next step of your Colombian journey. If you read our next articles you’ll be a step further than most people.

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Esteban Parcero

Esteban Parcero, a Puerto Rican, that has a deep connection with Colombia, which he considers his second home. He has been frequently visiting the country for over a decade, immersing himself in the vibrant culture, music, and cuisine. Esteban has made many friends in Colombia and particularly loves Medellín for its stunning landscapes, nightlife, and people. Through his travels, Steve has gained a unique perspective on Latin American culture and has become an advocate for promoting cultural exchange between different countries.

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