Santander practical Guide: All you need to know to visit Santander in Colombia

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The department of Santander is a great region to visit. We really enjoyed our short week there, and wanted to come back when we left.

Santander is one of those Colombian departments that offers a wide variety of possibilities and will delight both heritage lovers and nature enthusiasts!

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So for several years now, we’ve been using a free bank debit card specially designed for travelers, and we don’t pay any more fees abroad – no more!

Santander General information

Santander Travel Guide in Colombia

Santander is Colombia’s fourth most developed department in terms of population and economy. Bucaramanga, one of Colombia’s largest cities, with a population of 600.000, is no small part of this.

Santander practical Guide: All you need to know to visit Santander in Colombia
  • Founded: November 27, 1795
  • Capital: Bucaramanga
  • People: Santandereanos
  • Natural region: Andes
  • Population: 2.2 million
  • Average altitude: 1.230 m
  • General climate: tropical semi-arid to temperate
  • Average minimum temperature: 28 °C
  • Average maximum temperature: 20°C
  • Dry season: December to February and June to August
  • Rainy season: March to May and September to November
  • When to go: all year round

Local travel agency to visit the Santander region

Santander Travel Guide

Best things to do in Santander

Santander Travel Guide

When it comes to heritage, there’s plenty to choose from: Barichara is certainly THE jewel of the region, a magnificent village perched on a mountainside. Other heritage villages are well worth a visit (Zapatoca, Socorro, Giron, etc.)

As for nature, Santander is a mid-mountain region, where the weather is warm and there are plenty of rivers and magnificent waterfalls to swim in. San Gil is the self-proclaimed adventure sports capital of Colombia. Its location is ideal for rafting, paragliding and trekking around the Chicamocha Canyon.

Las Gachas, near the village of Guadalupe, is a unique natural site that we absolutely loved! There are plenty of other sites to discover, but we’ll have to go back!

We also decided to add a bit of the Norte Santander department here, with the heritage village of Playa de Belen, where we also made a stopover. Los Estoraques is a particularly beautiful rock formation.

Best places to visit in Santander

All our posts about Santander region

Santander Travel Guide

Visit Juan Curi travel guide: the most beautiful waterfall in Santander?

Private tours in Barichara, with local english-speaking guide

Local english-speaking agency to visit Santander in Colombia

Visit La Playa de Belen travel guide: an heritage village off the beaten path

Top 5 most beautiful villages in Santander, Colombia

Visit Giron travel guide: heritage town near Bucaramanga

Visit Barichara travel guide: the most beautiful village in Colombia ?

Paragliding in San Gil travel guide: flying above Chicamocha Canyon

Our Chicamocha Canyon travel guide: one of the natural wonders of Colombia

Casa Oniri Hotel where to stay in Barichara

Where to stay in the Santander region

Santander Travel Guide

Barichara, the best hotels

Casa Canela

Hotel

Casa Canela

Double room : $150.000 to $200.000 COP

A lovely hotel in a great location near Barichara’s main square. Guests appreciate the service, cleanliness and welcome. Their swimming pool is undoubtedly a plus!

San Gil, the best hotels

Meraki Boutique Hotel

Hotel

Meraki Boutique Hotel

Double room : $100.000 to $150.000 COP

The Meraki boutique hotel is located 5 minutes from the town center, a little way up in San Gil, offering a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains. It’s a beautiful colonial house, beautifully decorated and full of color! You’ll feel right at home here, thanks in no small part to the warm welcome from Felipe and his family.

San Gil, the best hotels

La Provincia Lodging House

Hostal

La Provincia Lodging House

Dormitory : $0 to $25.000/Double room : $0 to $100.000 COP

La Provincia in San Gil is one of the least expensive hostels. Nevertheless, many budget travelers will find it to their liking: well located in the center of San Gil in a beautiful, bright house, with friendly staff… Although the rooms are basic and the decor classic, it’s still excellent value for money.

San Gil, the best hotels

Traveler Hostel

Hostal

Traveler Hostel

Dormitory : $25.000 to $50.000/Double room : $0 to $100.000 COP

The Traveler hosterl in San Gil has been recommended to us by blog readers. But we’ve noticed that it’s also been recommended by the Traveler community! Large rooms, a great atmosphere, and a beautiful terrace overlooking the city, all located right in the center of San Gil.

Barichara, the best hotels

Artepolis

Finca

Artepolis

Double room : $100.000 to $150.000 COP

For those looking for peace and quiet, just outside the village of Barichara but relatively close to the center. Artepolis offers a really pretty setting at a very affordable price!

Giron, the best hotels

Chill Out Hotel

Hotel

Chill Out Hotel

Double room : $150.000 to $200.000 COP

During our stay in Giron, we stayed at the Chill out hotel. Superbly located in the historic center of Giron, the hotel offers beautifully decorated rooms in the colonial style.

Barichara, the best hotels

10-day Road trip in Colombia: our itinerary from Bogota to Santa Marta by car

Hotel

Oniri House

Double room : $250.000 to $300.000 COP

Hotel Casa Oniri is where we stayed during our visit to Barichara. It’s a superb boutique hotel located in the heart of the city, just a stone’s throw from Barichara’s main square. The little extra: a rooftop with a view of the cathedral!

Guadalupe, the best hotels

Atrapasuenos Hostal

Finca

Finca La colina de los azulejos

Double room : $150.000 to $200.000 COP

A finca located just 10 minutes’ walk from the village, but with some very nice little houses in the middle of nature.

Guadalupe, the best hotels

Atrapasuenos Hostal

Hostal

Atrapasuenos Hostal

Double room : $0 to $100.000 COP

A clean, functional hostal, also a little outside the village but within 5 minutes’ walk of the center. The owners have a bakery where you can have breakfast. A mirador near the hostal offers a beautiful view of the surrounding area.

Guadalupe, the best hotels

Portal de Don Luis Hotel

Camping, Hostal

Portal de Don Luis Hotel

Double room : $0 to $100.000 COP

El Portal de Don Luis is a finca ideally located just a stone’s throw from Guadalupe’s central square, yet right in the middle of nature. The view over the valley is sublime and Rafael, the owner, is a darling! The facilities are simple, everything is very clean and it was perfect for us! You can pitch your own tent or rent one.

How to get to the Santander region

Santander Travel Guide

Bucaramanga, the capital of Santander, is one of Colombia’s largest cities. It has an airport serving the whole country and road connections from Medellín, Santa Marta and Bogota.

Getting to Bucaramanga by bus

Bucaramanga bus terminal

  • Address: Tv. Metropolitana #73, Bucaramanga
  • Tel: 57 (7) 637 1000
  • Mail: cmercadeo@terminalbucaramanga.com
  • Website: terminalbucaramanga.com

BUS | CartagenaBucaramanga

  • Duration: approx. 11h
  • Fare: approx. $80.000 COP
  • Companies: Expreso Brasilia, Berlinas

BUS | Santa MartaBucaramanga

  • Duration: approx. 10h
  • Fare: approximately $70.000 COP
  • Companies: Copetran, Expreso Brasilia, Berlinas

BUS | BogotaBucaramanga

  • Duration: approx. 10h
  • Fare: approx. $70.000 COP
  • Companies: Omega, Copetran, Berlinas, Concorde

BUS | MedellínBucaramanga

  • Duration: approx. 10h
  • Fare: approx. $70.000 COP
  • Companies: Omega, Copetran, Berlinas, Concorde

BUS | San GilBucaramanga

  • Duration: approx. 3h
  • Fare: about $20.000 COP
  • Companies: Copetran, Cotrasangil, Cotrasaravita, Trasander

BUS | TunjaBucaramanga

  • Duration: approx. 7h
  • Fare: approx. $70.000 COP
  • Company: Copetran, Concorde

Getting to Bucaramanga by plane

Bucaramanga airport

  • Name : Palo Negro
  • Code : BGA
  • Address: Km 25 vía Lebrija
  • Tel: 57 (7) 691 0140
  • Mail : contact form
  • Website: bga.aerooriente.com.co

Airport transfer to/from Bucaramanga

  • Duration: approx. 30 min
  • Bus fare: $3.000 COP
  • Yellow cab fare: $34.500 COP

PLANE | Bogota – Bucaramanga

  • Duration: 1h30
  • Fare: from $130.000 COP
  • Companies : Avianca, Latam

PLANE | Medellin – Bucaramanga

  • Duration: 1h30
  • Fare: from $130.000 COP
  • Airlines : Latam, Avianca

Plane | Cali – Bucaramanga

  • Duration: 3h (with stopover)
  • Fare: from $ 160.000
  • Companies : Avianca, Latam

FLIGHT | Pereira – Bucaramanga

  • Duration: 3h20 (with stopover)
  • Fare: from $230.000 COP
  • Companies : Avianca, Latam

PLANE | Cartagena – Bucaramanga

  • Duration: 1h30
  • Fare: from $150.000 COP
  • Companies: Clicair

Getting to Bucaramanga by car

  • To Bogotá: 425 km and approx. 8h30 travel time
  • To Tunja: 280 km and approx. 6h travel time
  • To Mompox: 350 km and approx. 7h travel time
  • To Santa Marta: 540 km and approx. 8h30 travel time
  • To San Gil: 100 km and approx. 2h30 travel time
  • To Medellin: 400 km and approx. 8h travel time

Rent a car In Colombia

To rent a car, we advise you to use the Rental Cars comparator, which gives you a complete overview of the different rental companies in Colombia.