Located 93 miles (150km) north of Bogotá, the perfectly preserved colonial town is a popular weekend getaway for Bogotanos looking for a break from the bustling capital city. The cobblestone streets, Spanish-style villas, and small-town pace give Villa de Leyva a charming, frozen-in-time feel. Villa de Leyva and the surrounding countryside are among the safest places in Colombia to wander off the beaten track and do a bit of exploring with multiple waterfalls, a nearby desert, adventure-sport opportunities, and even a couple of vineyards; there’s plenty of exploring to do….so what are you waiting for, get out there!
A TREASURE OF COLOMBIA…
LOST IN TIME
Villa de Leyva might not be a a recognizable tourist mecca to many outside of Colombia, but this quaint little pueblo town, high in the Andean altiplano, is actually one of the most sought after places in the entire country. It’s one of those places that time has forgotten, and will take you back centuries the instant you arrive, it’s charming, and little has changed over the years. In 1954, The town was declared a national monument, therefore it’s charm and flavor has been kept well preserved.
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Villa de Leyva
Museum of Antonio Nariño
Don Antonio Nariño translated citizens’ rights into Spanish, a document prohibited by the Holy Inquisition, later imprisoned and exiled for his revolutionary ideas. In this 17th century colonial house, you can find pieces related to the time and life of Nariño. His legacy has been widely revered as El Colombiano de Todos Los Tiempos by intellectuals, artists, and journalists.
Catedral de la Vega
The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception or Neiva Cathedral was established in 1972 by Pope Paul VI, built in a Gothic style that, for many years this church dominated other nearby constructions of the city. Located on the south side of Santander Park, in Neiva’s heart, dedicated to the Virgin Mary in her invocation of the Immaculate Conception.
Plaza Mayor Villa de Leyva
Villa de Leyva’s main attraction is its large cobblestone plaza, which at 393.7 ft. by 393.7 ft. (120m by 120m) is one of the largest town squares in the Americas. Located on the main plaza, the Iglesia Parroquial de Villa de Leyva was constructed in 1604, and it was here that independence hero Antonio Nariño lived from 1823 to 1846.
Casa de Terracota The Clay House
The 5,400-square-foot abode was sculpted entirely from clay by Colombian architect Octavio Mendoza, referring to the house as the world’s largest pottery piece. The interior is airy and friendly, adding bright bursts of color to the walls with colorful tile mosaics, adding vivid bursts of color to the baked, earthy walls. The house’s form also represents the natural approach to architecture by Mendoza.
Gondava Dinosaur Park
This theme park has built 31 species in real life size, a great place for families and with fun little boat rides on a lake where you can spot aquatic dinosaurs, an excavation area and a maze where you’ll be hunted by a raptor and other dinosaurs. It offers its visitors the opportunity to explore trails through thematic areas, with varied real-scale dinosaur species, an enjoyable and entertaining educational experience.
A wonderful experience for the family feeding the ostriches, petting horses, goats, feeding them and riding buffalo. A great opportunity and experience to learn with a professional guide about ostriches, their eggs, and behaviors. It’s possible to enter into the cage where they live, at any stage in the tour, and feed them. You can buy some ostrich-related souvenirs or handcrafted pieces made from their egg shells.
San Gil – Trekking Pinchote
Trekking in San Gil is a great hike ideal for couples, families and active visitors who want a 300-meter stroll to enjoy the beautiful scenery. There are a range of experiences along the way, such as a 220 meter zipline, drappel around 40 meter, 30 meter suspension bridge, a 42-meter Tibetan Bridge adventure, and into a 225 meter long zipline to finish the trekking.
San Gil – Rafting
Rafting The Suarez River in San Gil, Colombia, has become one of the most popular activities, the excursions lasts around 5 hours, 2 of which are in Class III, IV, V rapids. This is quite the experience for lovers of adventure, nature and intense experience, as the Suarez River has class V rapids, being one of South America’s most visited places to do rafting.
San Gil – Barrichara
San Gil and Barichara are both small towns, perfectly preserved colonial villages, only 45 minutes apart. San Gil is the undisputed Colombian capital of adventure sports and a variety of outdoors activities, while Barichara is unofficially Colombia’s most beautiful village, where many of the beautiful homes have been converted into charming boutique hotels.
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Cartagena de Indias
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Villa de Leyva
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Santa Marta & Tayrona
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San Agustin & Neiva
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Depending on your client’s preferences, we can help you determine the best experiences tailored for your clients. From where to visit, when to go, what to do and how to get there safely, our travel experts will help you create an experience your clients will love.
The climate in Villa de Leyva is warm and temperate with the highest rainfall being mostly in the winter with relatively little rain in the summer. Villa de Leyva is well known for its festivals. The driest month is July, with 1.3 inches (33mm) of rain and October is the wettest month with an average of 5.5 inches (140mm) of rainfall. March is the warmest month of the year with average temperatures of 63.5°F (17.5°C). With an average of 61.1°F (16.2°C), July is the coldest month of the year in Villa de Leyva.
If you want to see something different, have unforgettable moments and interact with the locals, we recommend that you plan your visit to Villa de Leyva during these festivals:
Lights Festival: Visitors can enjoy the night on the streets romantically filled with lights during the month of December. During this festival all visitors and locals celebrate the tradition of lighting candles and lanterns, as a prelude to Christmas.
Best times to
visit Villa de Leyva
Wind and Kites Festival: In August every year, the main plaza of Villa de Leyva and other open spaces are filled with kites of different colors and styles to enjoy the winds that characterize the climate of this region. Visitors can admire the handmade kites of all sizes, forms and colors during a contest where the competitors have the opportunity to show their ingenuity, creativity and skill.
Astronomy Festival: In February astronomy amateurs and professionals can enjoy a weekend full of stars and planets. During the day visitors can observe the sun through telescopes displayed all around the main plaza and attend the conferences where the main theme is astronomy and other interesting topics. At night the observation of stars and planets is the main attraction that can last until very late.
HOW TO GET THERE
Villa de Leyva’s bus terminal is just 3 blocks southwest of the Plaza Major. A number buses run daily between Bogota bus station and Villa de Leyva with the trip time typically being about 4 hours. Arriving at the bus terminal in Villa de Leyva you’ll be within walking distance from most hotels. If you have a lot of luggage, you may want to consider taking a short taxi ride, especially if you’re staying in one of the many countryside farms or inns on the outskirts of the town.
Villa de Leyva is small enough to be covered on foot, although you may want to rent a bicycle if you’re going to see the dinosaur fossil and Muisca Observatory.
To visit the surrounding villages like Raquira you would need a taxi or to book a tour as they are difficult to get to by bus.
WHERE TO STAY
Due to its popularity with Bogotanos and tourists alike, Villa de Leyva has a large selection of hotels to suit all price ranges. Accommodation availability and cost rise on the weekend and especially during the high seasons including, Semana Santa (March/April) and between December 20 and January 15. Most of the hotels and lodges in Villa de Leyva are charming and contain unique colonial styles that make it relatively difficult to make a bad choice when it comes to deciding on where to stay.
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