This village, member of the network of villages patrimony of Colombia, will impress you with its colonial architecture: full of white houses with balconies and cobbled streets, that are perfectly combined with the different activities you can find over there. Let’s get started with falling in love with Villa de Leyva, a village that grabs you with its charm at first sight, adventurous activities and history.
How to get there
Once you are in Bogota, there are two ways to get there: either by car or bus. The easiest and more comfortable way is the first one, if you are a tourist and don’t have a car in the city you can easily rent one, with prices starting over the $ 25 per day. If the best option for you is the bus you can take a Transmilenio (mass transport system of the capital) to the Terminal Norte, then take a bus that goes to Villa de Leyva for approximately $10. You can also take a bus from the bus terminal of Bogota that goes directly to the village for $ 8.
With any option you choose you’ll be there within 3 hours. Meanwhile, its great to see how the landscape changes as you advance, at the beginning you’ll see the strong green of the savannah of Bogota, then you’ll be traveling across the mountains of Boyacá full of pine trees, and finally you’ll feel the change of weather, and the sun on your face once you are crossing the arid zone next to Villa de Leyva. In Colombia there are no seasons instead every region you visit will have different weather than the other, so you can go from 14 °C in Bogota to 23°C (the maximum temperature) in Villa de Leyva.
Halfway to the destination you’ll find “el Puente de Boyacá” on the right of the road, which is a national symbol that represents the bridge where Colombia fought for its independence and successfully got it. If traveling by car, it’s easy to stop by and see the different monuments of independence, and of course, Simon Bolivar, the liberator.
There are options of accommodation that suit everybody’s wallet and preferences. If you rather stay in a hotel it’s better to book it with time if it’s high season, if not it’s easy to find one once you arrive to the village. The prices for a double room per night in low season go from $27 to $120, and in high season from $40 to $121 (depending on the hotel) the most of them include breakfast, Wi-Fi and parking lot.
If traveling with a big group of people another option is to rent a rural house or cottage, with a maximum capacity for 12 persons. These houses are about 1 to 6 km away from Villa de Leyva, and the prices go from $54 to $200 in low season and from $60 to $234 in high season per night.
Also, there’s an option for nature lovers and more adventurous people, which is also cheaper, why not go camping? In Villa de Leyva it’s easy to find plenty of places to do it, some of them are near the village and others just a few blocks away from the square. There are specific zones with toilets and showers for men and woman separately, kitchen, and parking lot. There are bbq grills and tents if you want to rent and it’s also possible to do a bonfire. Prices per person go from $6 to $12 per day, they vary depending on which camping zone do you rather stay.
Touristic places and adventurous activities
The most beautiful place in Villa de Leyva is it famous square, Plaza mayor, which is the heart of the village and the biggest square in Colombia with 14.000 m² full of stones. Hotels, typical and international restaurants, cafes, typical crafts shops and a church from the 17th century surround it, making a very romantic atmosphere for couples and an interesting place to be for the family once it combines colonial architecture with today’s activities.
Villa de Leyva is a perfect place to go if you want to take a break from the stress of diary life, go to the pool of your hotel, eat in a nice restaurant and enjoy the view or to get some excitement with adventurous activities that you can’t do in the city. There are a lot of agencies that offer different tours and plans to discover Villa de Leyva’s nature richness, such as doing abseiling, speleology and climbing in Hoyo de la Romera (for 5 hours), where people will go from caves and mountains to finish in the breathtaking pozo azul waterfall. The cost is $44 per person and includes equipment, guide, insurance and transportation.
Another tour goes to La Periquera ecological park, people walk trough the mountain to a waterfall and there they do abseiling and canyoning, then they go through a cave to do speleology. This tour is $40 per person, lasts 5 hours and includes the same as the other one.
There’s also the possibility to rent buggies and ATVs (around $20) in the touristic agencies, visitors can go trough the dessert and to the touristic places of the zone get dirty with some dust and mud and go as fast as you can. While renting the one you prefer, ask your guide to include places you want to visit on the way such as pozos azules, monquira archeological park with muiscas ruins, fossil museum, santo eccehomo monastery, paleontological research center, terracotta house, and more.
If you prefer to do the sightseeing in a different way, like riding a horse it’s also an option and very fun! You decide with the agency which places do you want to visit and for how long do you want the ride, besides you can do it by day or night although they are different. The ride by night lasts 4 hours, is accompanied by live music, includes canelazo (a typical cocktail with aguardiente) and a bonfire in the perfect spot in the mountain to see the stars. In both rides you’ll be with a guide who perfectly knows the zone.
After you finish with any activity you decided to do the perfect plan is to have dinner in any of the plenty of restaurants that the village offers, where you’ll find food from all over the world, walk around the square and why not drink with locals and visitors sitting on the stairs outside the church of Plaza mayor.
Events & Festivals
Villa de Leyva is known for its famous festivals that take place in different moments of the year.
- February 20-22: astronomy festival.
- March 20-26: Holly week.
- August 15-17: Wind and kites festival.
- June 27-28: Villa de Leyva’s International Jazz festival.
- November 13-16: International independent film festival.
- December 5-8: Villa de Leyva’s lights festival.
- If you are going for the day, or 2, go early in the morning so you can get to do different things, and it’s better to go on the weekend.
- If traveling by car keep in mind that there are tolls on the road, so bring at least $15 in cash to pay all of them.
- Bring proper clothes; it’s very sunny during the day (23°C) and chill during the night (11 °C), so bring a sunscreen and a sweater! A good pair of sneakers and really comfortable shoes to walk on the cobbled streets.
- When looking for accommodation make sure it’s near Plaza Mayor, the center of the village and famous square, so you can walk easily to this place which is the most important place of Villa de Leyva.
- If you want to go camping it’s possible to bring your own tent if don’t want to rent one.
- Gastronomy is one of Villa de Leyva’s strong points, so ask in your hotel or locals for the variety of restaurants and find the best option.