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Villa de Leyva
If you're eager to discover an authentic and majestic town in Colombia, Villa de Leyva is the answer. History, exciting exploits, and awesome food – this place has tons of cool stuff to make an amazing trip!

Villa de Leyva: A Colonial Gem in the Colombian Andes

Situated in the Boyacá department, Villa de Leyva is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the heart of the Andean Region. Foreign tourists and local travelers alike cherish the experience of strolling through its old cobblestone streets and admiring the well-preserved colonial architecture. In 2023, the village won the special category in the “Most Beautiful Pueblos in Boyacá” contest, as declared by the local government.

Villa de Leyva has well-preserved colonial architecture
Villa de Leyva has well-preserved colonial architecture

Villa de Leyva was founded by Hernan Suarez Villalobos in 1572. However, these lands were inhabited by the Muiscas, a strong community of indigenous people who settled in the highlands between Cundinamarca and Boyacá (Cundiboyacense Altiplano) thousands of years ago. It has been declared one of the seventeen Colombian heritage towns, categorizing these locations as assets of national cultural interest.

In this article, you will know about some attractions and advices if you’re interested in visiting this unique destination.

How to Arrive at Villa de Leyva?

Firstly, it’s important to note that the town doesn’t have its own airport, so the nearest one is El Dorado Airport in Bogotá (160 km away from Villa de Leyva). From the capital city, you can rent a car at the airport, take a taxi, or travel by bus. These options are the most common; however, the last one is a more economical and easier alternative. Head to the North Bus Terminal in Usaquen and purchase a ticket directly to Villa (15 USD). Buses leave every one or two hours.

Primarily, you can choose between two different roads from Bogotá:

North freeway (Bogotá) – Samacá – Villa de Leyva

You will spend a little more than two hours with light traffic. It’s the best choice. You’ll see the Boyaca’s Bridge, where the last battle that gave Colombia its final independence took place.

North freeway (Bogotá) – Tunja – Arcabuco – Villa de Leyva

At least three and a half hours to arrive, but it is an interesting option if you are driving by yourself and want to visit Tunja, a beautiful and cold city. Don’t take it if you are traveling by bus.

Adventures, Archaeological Views, or Relaxation: What to Do in Villa de Leyva

Whatever you’re interested in, there are plenty of plans to enjoy during your journey. Depending on your budget, you can try all kinds of activities. The simplest but comfortable way is going for a walk through the cobblestone streets and admiring the colonial architecture. You can see buildings preserved from the Hispanic era — large houses with gardens adorned with flowers of many colors, wooden stairs, and preserved roofs are typical constructions. This experience will transport you back in time and showcase the history of the Colombian people.

Cobblestone streets of Villa de Leyva
Cobblestone streets of Villa de Leyva

The main square is the principal place for interaction with natives and tourists. The square is a perfect zone for absorbing the historical atmosphere from the surrounding buildings. There is the iconic catholic cathedral and a variety of restaurants, coffee shops, and pubs.

The iconic catholic cathedral in Villa de Leyva
The iconic catholic cathedral in Villa de Leyva

Close to the main square, there are two museums: The “Antonio Nariño Casa Museo”, an exhibition hall about the former resident of Colombian President Antonio Nariño, and the Chocolate Museum, where you can try one of the best chocolates in the country.

Let's Cross the Desert

The daytime climate is pleasantly cool, striking a balance between hot and cold. However, it is worth noting that Villa de Leyva was established in a semi-arid region, which caused temperatures to drop significantly in the early morning and increase considerably on sunny afternoons.

For the adventurous tourist, a jeep ride across the desert will be a perfect plan. Besides, there are blue colored water wells in the zone. The landscape that combines arid land, and living nature is just terrific.

Ain Karim Vineyard

Come closer and experience the cultivation process of grape wine. Here, you will see, step by step, the entire procedure to obtain the exquisite violet or white drink. You will be able to tour the crops, learn about the farming process, fermentation and conservation until bottling and serving in a cup, and, of course, try its unique taste (20-40 USD).

Ain Karim Vineyard in Villa de Leyva
Ain Karim Vineyard in Villa de Leyva

Walking with Dinosaurs

Are there fossils in Villa de Leyva? Of course, there are. At the Paleontological Research Center, you can learn about the most significant finds of fossil remains. They range from small species to large specimens from different eras. An activity for those interested in the history of the earth and its origins (5 USD).

Paleontological Research Center
Paleontological Research Center
The best science museum in Villa de Leyva
The best science museum in Villa de Leyva

Ráquira: The Land of Clay Crafts Par Excellence

A nearby town where you can find all kinds of figures and souvenirs, from home decorations to piggy banks, vases, or pots. Additionally, the popular singer of carranga’s genre, Jorge Velosa, was born there. So, you can listen to his music in shops, cafeterias, and cars.

Ráquira is the land of clay crafts
Ráquira is the land of clay crafts
Buy gifts in your trip to Villa de Leyva
Buy gifts in your trip to Villa de Leyva

To visit all these places, the best way is to contact a local guide who offers you many plans to choose from (the prices are between 30-60 USD, and you can choose two or three destinations for your journey).

A local guide can help you to visit all these places in Villa de Leyva
A local guide can help you to visit all these places in Villa de Leyva

Medellin Guru Guides

Download the guide Colombia: a must-see destination from ProColombia with helpful information about Medellín and Colombia.

What About Food?

Certainly, it won’t be a problem because you can select from many restaurant options with quality, guarantee, and good prices. Here are some recommendations:

Mercado Municipal

Roasts, slow-cooking, and striking ingredients are very popular. Probably the best restaurant that we tried.

El Patio Restaurant

Grill excellences. They have good combinations for starters. The fish and the “carne al trapo” plate are recommended.

Casa San Pedro

For pasta lovers. Live cooking with an interesting show involving Grana Padano cheese. A magnificent eatery.

La Milhoja bakery and coffee shop

If you’re interested in desserts, this is a quaint and small place where you can try the authentic and delicious Milhoja of Villa de Leyva. It is composed of puff pastry layers filled with pastry cream and topped with a milk caramel known as arequipe.

You have to TASTE

Cocido Boyacense typical plate

This is a popular dish from the Cundiboyacense Altiplano. It originated from Spain and is made of stewed chicken, pork, beef, and mixed with tubers such as habas, turnips, cubios, and beans.

Chicha Boyacense typical drink

The chicha is a typical drink of indigenous origin, whose preparation has evolved daily to satisfy the taste of those who delight in its exquisite flavor, besides being the number one drink in our fields.

Are you interested in more pueblos? Check out these amazing places to visit

The Botton Line: Villa de Leyva - A Colonial Gem in the Colombian Andes

Villa de Leyva, with its colonial charm, history teachings, and tourist attractions, is a destination that fascinates all visitors.  This Colombian town, frozen in time offers the opportunity to immerse themselves in the richness of its past while enjoying the natural beauty that composes it. The only problem is that you’re not there yet. Villa de Leyva is waiting for you. Come and explore this magnificent place.

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