Visit Villa de Leyva Travel Guide: Best things to do in the most beautiful village in Boyaca

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Villa de Leyva is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Colombia, and one of the best known in the Boyaca department north of Bogotá.

Angélica often went there when she was little, and it was one of the first destinations we visited in Colombia.

So, let’s head for the roads of Boyaca to inspire you to discover this Colombian heritage village.

Photo de Villa de Leyva, affiche à encadre

Travel Poster “Villa de Leyva”

(original photography print on fine art paper)

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Disclaimer: we apologize in advance for any grammatical or syntactic errors, as our native language is not English (we're a Colombian-French couple), so we hope you'll forgive us and still enjoy the information we share with you! Please note that all the information on our blog is based on our own experience, and is checked and updated regularly.

english guided tour of Villa de Leyva

Visit Villa de Leyva with a local guide

To begin with, as many of you have asked us how to visit Villa de Leiva on a day trip from Bogotá, here are Felipe’s contacts, who will be delighted to accompany you to this beautiful Colombian heritage village.

Felipe is a english-speaking guide who offers tours in english from Bogotá to visit the city and its surroundings.

Tour Felipe Bogota (#13)

To get in direct contact with Felipe, and discover Bogota and the surrounding area with an English-speaking guide, you can use the form below. You won’t pay more, but it will let him know you’re coming from us.

IMPORTANT: If you don’t hear from our partner within 72 hours, please check your SPAMS first before contacting us.

Visit Villa de Leyva

One of the most beautiful village in Colombia

Visit Villa de Leyva Travel Guide: Best things to do in the most beautiful village in Boyaca

After leaving our little suitcase behind, we head back down to the village for our first afternoon stroll. We wander the narrow streets around the main square. Despite the many craft stores, the cobbled streets of Villa de Leiva exude a peaceful, soothing atmosphere.

The huge central square is one of Colombia’s heritage gems. Colombians like to call it the largest square in Latin America, and with its 14.000 m2 of floor space, it certainly looks the part. The surrounding buildings are just as impressive.

The colonial-style mansions, the whitewashed walls and, as evening falls, the lights that come on, simply make you want to sit there on a bench with an “agua aromatica” and contemplate the local “paseo”. The schoolgirls on their way home from school, the nun accompanying some of the faithful, the villagers out for a stroll, simply chatting.

Just to be there.

That’s what we’re going to do. It’s the best thing to do at Villa de Leiva. In the evening, a spectacular sunset will ignite this sweet, sweet boyacence night.

We had planned a number of activities in Villa de leyva, such as a horseback ride to visit los pozos azules, an artificial lake whose electric-blue waters attracted us, or the Maison terracota, a terracotta house with a gaudiesque shape. Unfortunately, everything fell through, as we found ourselves unable to withdraw enough money: our weekly spending limit had been reached!

Fortunately, Angélica still had some money in her Colombian account, which saved us, but we had to be very careful with our spending over the next two days. The hazards of travel..

It was our first trip to Colombia, and we weren’t quite up to speed on organization! Since then, we’ve opted for the N26 card when we travel , and we’ve had no more problems of this kind… and what’s more, we’re saving on bank charges (you can read our comparison of the best bank cards with no charges abroad)

In the end, we took our time to stroll around, browse the stores and admire the local handicrafts. We found plenty of virgin wool knitting workshops where they make “ruanas” (ponchos in Colombia). Seeing these women working on old looms was like stopping in time, the hands of the clock freezing, pausing. For us, artisans are an integral part of Colombia’s heritage and deserve a stop to discover their know-how and support their work.

The atmosphere was very quiet and peaceful. I’ve heard that on Saturday mornings there’s a farmers’ market in the main square – something we’d love to have discovered!

On the third day, before our departure, we had just enough time to stroll around our beautiful hotel lost in the mountains. A short stroll along the edge of Iguaque National Park, just behind the surrounding peaks.

For a few moments, memories of my trek to Los Nevados Natural Park come back to me. On this trip we won’t have the chance to put on our hiking boots again, but maybe next time..

Best things to do in Villa de Leyva

Colombia’s heritage village

Visit Villa de Leyva Travel Guide: Best things to do in the most beautiful village in Boyaca

As you can see, Villa de Leiva is one of Colombia’s most beautiful villages, and strolling through its narrow streets to soak up the atmosphere is an activity in itself. But there’s plenty to do in the surrounding area too.

Iguaque Natural Park

A beautiful hike of a few hours to the summit awaits you a few km from Villa de Leyva to admire the lagoon once sacred to the Muisca people.

If you’re interested, here’s some information from the official website of Colombia’s national parks:

  • Departures: between 8 and 10 a.m., from the administrative center.
  • Elevation gain: 750 m – Start at 2800 m and finish at 3650 m at the lagoon.
  • Hiking distance: 4.1 km, 6 to 7 hours round trip.
  • Hostel and camping area available.
  • Entrance fee for foreigners: $59.500 COP

Convento Ecco Homo

In the “What to do in Villa de Leyva” series, the Convento Ecce Homo is one of the must-sees. It’s a Dominican convent located about 15 km from the village. Built in 1620, it is a typical convent of the colonial era. Known as the “National Monument of Silence”, in 2007 the newspaper “El Tiempo” listed it as one of the 7 wonders of Colombia.

Dinosaur Park

If you have children, they’ll love a visit to the Dinosaur theme park. Villa de Leiva is a land of dinosaurs, and many fossils have been found in the region, including the famous 12 m-long dinosaur that can be admired at the “el fossile” museum.

  • Price: Adults: $14.000 COP/Children: $10.000 COP
  • Opening hours: Tue-Thu – 9am-5pm – Admission until 4pm.

El Fossil” Museum

Here it is, the famous fossil, the remains of a 12 m-long marine reptile! This monstrous fish was discovered in 1977, and is truly the museum’s only attraction. But this stop can be part of an archaeology-themed tour that your kids will love!

  • Price: $6.000 COP
  • Opening hours: Daily, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m
  • Address: Vereda Monquirá, 5 km from Villa de Leyva in the direction of Santa Sofia.
  • Buses drop you off every hour for $1.500 COP

El Infiernito

Far from being ultra-spectacular, this is nevertheless a civilization that towers over you from the height of its millennia-old knowledge! You’re standing on the site of a Muisca astronomical observatory. A sort of giant calendar, which they used to keep track of the year and the seasons.

Another curiosity: phalluses 4.5 m high, symbols of fertility for the Muiscas!

  • Price: Adults $7500 COP
  • Opening hours: Tue-Thu – 9am-12pm and 2pm-5pm.
  • Guided tours available

Waterfalls

Although the region is relatively arid, in the “What to do in Villa de Leyva” series there are numerous waterfalls dotting the Andean mountains. These sites will be easier to access if you have your own vehicle, or if you take a cab there (but be sure to plan the logistics of the return trip).

Cascada de la Periquera

A beautiful 15 m waterfall located 15 km from Villa de Leiva on the road to Gachantiva.

El Hayal

An enormous 150 m-high cave with an impressive waterfall gushing over the side, to be discovered 15 km from the village on the road from Santa Sofia to Moniquira.

Cascadas La Honda

A canyon offering a succession of 7 crystal-clear waterfalls in a magical setting, this is certainly one of the most beautiful sites in the area. The canyon is on private land, and you must be accompanied by a local guide to get there. Located 30 km from Villa de Leyva, the first stop is Gachantiva, followed by La Caja vereda.

Raquira

We’ve written more about Raquira in our post, but if you’re in Villa de Leiva, don’t hesitate to stop off at this Mecca of traditional Boyaca crafts. In particular, you’ll find plenty of ceramics workshops, the local know-how par excellence!

  • Journey time from Villa de Leiva: approx. 40 minutes
  • Price: $6.000 COP
  • Departure times: 6 a.m. – 8.30 a.m. – 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. – 5 p.m. (subject to change, so check with the terminal directly. It’s not far from downtown)
  • Return times: regular until 5:30pm

Pozos azules

When you’re looking for “What to do in Villa de Leyva”, many guidebooks will tell you about the Pozos Azules, but from our point of view this really isn ‘t an essential visit around Villa de Leiva. Seven artificial lakes of electric blue-green, set in an ochre desert landscape (known as the “Candelaria Desert”, though far from the Tatacoa Desert of course), this is what awaits you at the “pozos azules”.

There’s nothing special to do there, no real walks, no swimming either, the only interest lies in the spectacle of colors. Don’t expect too much, this is an activity to do if you have time in your local schedule.

Where to stay in Villa de leyva

Our recommendations for the best hotels to stay in the village, so you can make the most of your stay here.

A selection of accommodations we recommend, where we’ve stayed, recommended by readers of our travel blog or by people we know in Colombia. If you have any good addresses, don’t hesitate to share them with us!

Nibiru Hostal

Hostal

Nibiru Hostal

Double room : $0 to $100.000 COP

A well-decorated hostel with great facilities at a great price. The house is modern, clean, the breakfast is top-notch and the owners are very friendly!

Hostal Casa Beija Flor

Hostal

Hostal Casa Beija Flor

Double room : $0 to $100.000 COP

Communal areas that make you want to chill out, clean rooms and bathrooms, a friendly welcome… that’s what you’d expect from a good hostal!

Hotel Casa Cantabria

Hotel

Hotel Casa Cantabria

Double room : $150.000 to $200.000 COP

A hotel recommended by our readers, located two blocks from Villa de Leiva’s main square, this beautiful colonial house offers excellent value for money. Special mention for the small roof terrace!

Hospederia Villa de los Saenz

Hotel

Hospederia Villa de los Saenz

Double room : $150.000 to $200.000 COP

This address was recommended to us by Angélica’s uncle, who recently tried it out. The hotel is very close to the main square, which is good, it’s clean, traditionally decorated and reasonably priced.

Hotel Arco Iris

Hotel

Hotel Arco Iris

Double room : $150.000 to $200.000 COP

This is where we stayed during our stay at Villa de Leiva. A beautiful, romantic hotel high above the village, with large bay windows overlooking the surrounding mountains, terrace and fireplace if required… we loved it. The hotel is off the beaten track, so you’ll need to take a cab to get to the village.

How to get to Villa de Leyva

The nearest major city to Villa de Leiva is Bogotá, but it can also be reached from Bucaramanga. From Medellin, it’s even quicker and easier to first reach Bogotá, then follow the road to Villa de Leiva.

Getting to Villa de Leiva from Bogota

BUS | Bogota <> Villa de Leiva (3h)

  • Price: approx. $36.000 COP
  • Departures: regular from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m
  • Terminal Salitre: Diagonal 23 No. 69-11
  • Terminal del norte: Calle 192 No. 19 – 43

Getting to Villa de Leiva from Bucaramanga

BUS | Bucaramanga <> Tunja (7h)

  • Fare: $70.000 COP
  • Companies: Copetran, Concorde
  • Departures: frequent all day

BUS | Tunja <> Villa de Leyva (1h)

  • Fare: approx. $7.000 COP
  • Companies: local busetas
  • Departures: frequent all day

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Authors

Angélica & Samuel

We are Angélica and Samuel, a French-Colombian couple, professional photographers and web editors specializing in travel to Colombia. We created this blog to change the image of the country, help you prepare your trip and inspire you to discover Colombia in a different way!

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