Colombia, with its rich cultural heritage, diverse landscapes, and vibrant cities, offers travelers a myriad of experiences in its towns. Beyond the bustling metropolises, Colombia boasts a collection of picturesque towns that capture the essence of the country’s history, traditions, and natural beauty. Here, we delve into five of the best towns that promise unforgettable journeys off the beaten path.
1. Villa de Leyva
Nestled on a high plateau, Villa de Leyva is a colonial gem frozen in time. Its cobblestone streets, whitewashed buildings, and central plaza—the largest in Colombia—take visitors on a journey back to the Spanish colonial era. The town is surrounded by stunning landscapes, including El Infiernito, an ancient archaeological site featuring a pre-Colombian astronomical observatory. With its charming atmosphere, art galleries, and local crafts, Villa de Leyva is a true cultural haven.
Tucked away in the Andes, Jardin is a town that exudes tranquility and authenticity. Colorful houses adorned with flower-filled balconies line its streets, creating a picturesque setting. Visitors can take a stroll through the central plaza, ride the town’s iconic cable car for breathtaking views, and explore nearby coffee farms. The warmth of the locals and the town’s unspoiled beauty make Jardín an unforgettable destination.
Known as “the prettiest town in Colombia,” Barichara lives up to its reputation with its well-preserved colonial architecture and captivating landscapes. Its cobblestone streets, adorned with lush gardens, lead to viewpoints that offer vistas of the Suarez River Canyon. Barichara is also a hub for local crafts, such as handwoven textiles and intricate woodwork. Hiking enthusiasts will enjoy the Camino Real, a historic trail connecting Barichara to the neighboring town of Guane.
Nestled in the heart of Colombia’s coffee region, Salento enchants visitors with its colorful buildings, coffee plantations, and natural beauty. The Cocora Valley is home to the towering wax palms, Colombia’s national tree, creating a surreal backdrop for treks. Salento’s lively atmosphere, craft shops, and coffee tours offer an authentic glimpse into Colombian culture and its close ties to coffee production.
Situated on the banks of the Magdalena River, Mompox is a colonial treasure steeped in history. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the town’s well-preserved architecture and cobblestone streets invite travelers to explore its past. Mompox’s goldsmiths and silversmiths are renowned for their intricate craftsmanship, which can be admired in the town’s jewelry shops. The town’s relaxed pace of life and its role in Colombia’s fight for independence make it a unique destination.
Embrace the Charms
These five towns encapsulate the diverse tapestry of Colombia’s culture and landscapes. Whether you’re wandering the cobbled streets of Barichara or immersing yourself in the coffee culture of Salento, each town offers a distinct experience that goes beyond the tourist façade. As you venture off the well-trodden path, you’ll discover the heart and soul of Colombia’s history, traditions, and natural wonders in these hidden gems.