Travel to: Villa de Leyva – A trip back in time to one of the prettiest towns in Colombia
For those who have already been in Villa de Leyva, I think we can agree it’s maybe one of the prettiest towns in Colombia. It’s located around 160km away from Bogotá, in the region of Boyacá. It was founded in 1572 by Hernán Suárez de Villalobos and in 1954 it was declared a national monument.
Villa conserves its colonial architecture, its cobblestone roads and its surrounded by incredible landscapes that go from the paramo area to a desert zone. It’s amazing to even think that during the Cretaceous period, all this land was occupied by a primitive sea, that led to the creation of lakes and valleys that can be found in the area today.
I remember when I was a kid, we use to come with my family quite often to this place, because of its closeness to the capital and its mild weather, it made it a perfect weekend escapade. I remember discovering its streets, eating natural fruit ice creams, like the feijoa one that I really liked, going on expeditions to the hot springs or enjoying a horse ride in the mountains.
Nowadays, this photogenic village has become a tourist destination par excellence, for local and international tourists, and this boom has brought tons of new boutique hotels, restaurants, gastrobars and shops, replacing old traditional cafeterias and family inns and hostels. Still, the city preserves its charm and the moment you arrive is like travelling back in time, its houses and streets are very well preserved, its gastronomic offer is excellent, and its people extremely kind!
What I did…
I was in Villa de Leyva for 3 days, after more than 10 years without visiting. I was impressed by how clean, organized and well preserved the city was. In addition, it’s filled with different flowers everywhere you go, painting the white houses and their balconies with colors. These are my recommendations for anyone who’s thinking of coming to Villa:
1. Visit Plaza Mayor
It’s a mandatory stop since it’s the center of the city. It’s one of the biggest main squares in the Americas (120m x 120m). It’s cobblestone floor and beautiful architecture that surrounds it, make it perfect for photography lovers. Here you can also find the main church, Iglesia Parroquial.
2. Eat arepa boyacense, mogolla campesina and other typical bakery from the region
Villa de Leyva is filled with traditional bakeries, hence the smell of fresh bread throughout its streets. And, who doesn’t love the smell of freshly baked bread? The mogolla campesina is typical from the region and when eating it fresh and warm it’s easy to devour it in one bite!
3. Try the best millefeuille in the world
Freshly made, this is why it takes a bit to have it ready. In La Galleta, you will find what many have catalogues as the best millefeuille in the world. This small cafeteria has earned its name thanks to its signature dish, and it’s no surprise, its flavour and texture are unique. I recommend you to go early in the morning, otherwise anytime after lunch, you’ll find long cues of people waiting to eat in or take away their millefeuille.
4. Grab tea, coffee, or hot chocolate at the Museo del Chocolate
I’m not really a chocolate person, but this place is definitely a must. They have hundreds of different chocolate, cakes and other delights. The place is really cozy, decorated a bit with baroque style, that transports you to another time.
5. Eat in Mercado Municipal
Located in the gardens of a 1740 colonial house, this restaurant has become popular for using and old cooking technique of meat in a 1m deep barbecue, making it one of the most interesting restaurants of the region. Desserts here are delicious too, or just for grabbing a coffee, it is one of the places you can’t miss when visiting Villa de Leyva.
6. Visit Pozos Azules (Blue wells)
Even though they’re really artificial wells, these aquamarine blue wells that seem to change color depending on the light of the day, are a really cool place to visit. They’re inside a private property, but you can enter by paying $5.000 COP (.15€) and it’s the perfect chance to go for a hike in this beautiful place. It’s a desert zone so it can get quite warm and dry during the day, so I’d recommend you to bring water and sunscreen!
7. Visit the Terracota House
Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to visit it this time, but it’s one of the spots I really remember liking as a kid.
It’s the biggest ceramic house in the world and a great example of innovative architecture and design. Its architect Octavio Mendoza Morales was looking to promote an alternative and harmonic lifestyle both for the individual and the community, and the environment.
Besides all that I’ve told you, there are lots of activities and tours to take, that go from horse riding in the mountains, to expeditions on ATVs. If you wish to learn more about this city, including where to stay and what else to do, you can visit this very useful website: http://www.colombia.travel/es/a-donde-ir/andina/villa-de-leyva
Read you in the next adventure!