This post was last updated on January 30th, 2017
Planning an adventure to Colombia? Chances are Medellin, Cartagena, and Bogotá are high on your bucket-list. But there’s much more to Colombia than its cities alone. Next time you’re headed to the country, check out a few of these great side trips. From colonial villages to serene natural escapes, you’ll leave Colombia with a better understanding of the vibrant, mesmerizing country:
4 Must-Visit Destinations On Your Next Trip To Colombia
1) Villa De Leyva, Boyaca: Colonial Village and Historic Adventures
A hidden gem for those outside of Colombia, this town has a history that will take you back in time as if you were in a real-life museum. Villa De Leyva was founded in 1572 by Spanish colonizers and became a major producer of wheat, barley, and oil. After the war for independence, Villa De Leyva gained a little fame as the hometown of war-hero, Captain Antonio Ricaurte. Finally, by 1954, Villa de Leyva officially became a National Monument.
Recently, Villa De Leyva has been attracting more and more travelers. This small town has begun to add new restaurants (perfect for taking in the stunning scenery while dining), hotels where you can enjoy the calm atmosphere of the town, and tourist shops (great for finding local nicknacks to bring back to your loved ones.) Furthermore, when “Zorro,” a popular soap opera, was filmed here, it infused this historically rich town with a flare of entertainment. Now more visitors than ever before can be found enjoying this charming village.
Pozos Azules: Your 5 Minutes Drive From Villa De Leyva Just Got Better
After downing your cup of Colombian coffee and meandering through the local shops of Villa De Leyva, a trip to Pozos Azules will be just what you need to keep the adventures coming your way. If you liked Villa De Leyva, you’re going to love Pozos Azules–and the best part is it’s only a five-minute drive from Villa De Leyva!
This lake is the perfect spot for both adventure and relaxation. You can go for a refreshing swim, take a scenic stroll, or hike through the surrounding mountains. Pozos Azules, with its vivid colors, will give you a renewed appreciation for Columbia’s nature. The lake’s temperatures can be a bit chilly, but with Columbia’s heat, the refreshment will be greatly appreciated. Wear comfortable shoes; there’s a light hike to get to the lake.
El Parque Del Cafe: There Is No Theme Park More Beautiful
I grew up in Florida, and just like every other little kid there, my dream was to live in the theme parks of Orlando. To us Florida children, nothing is better than these parks. Even though I was originally born in Colombia, I still thought Orlando was the best place to be. However, my family insisted on bringing me back to my roots and took me to see this theme park in Colombia. With all of Columbia’s beautiful nature, I just couldn’t imagine what a theme park here would look like.
Yet, by the end of my trip, I had only one thought: “I am so glad I came.”
Located in Quindío, twenty minutes from the city of Armenia, the Parque del Cafe remains as delightful as it was in my youth. In 2014, it won two awards from Trip Advisor as travelers’ choice. Parque del Cafe translates to ‘The Coffee Park,’ a reflection of their work as nonprofit coffee growers.
Roller coasters, bumper cars, carousels, karts, aquatic mountains, and so much more make this park a pure delight. This destination has something for everyone. There are sights to see, places to relax, and of course, plenty of adrenaline-packed adventures to be had.
Chiquinquirá, Boyaca: A Place Of Faith and Tradition
Chinquinquira is about a three-hour car drive from Bogota. The route takes you along a narrow road that winds up the mountain. This might sound a little scary, but trust me, the views from this altitude make it all worth it. You’ll see enormous, bright-green fields spotted with happy, grazing cows. Along the road there are small homes, locals standing along the streets, waving frantically at you, welcoming you to their restaurants. (If you stop, you’ll probably be invited to their homes where they will serve you fresh, homemade delicacies. This is a common road trip custom, here. These hospitable locals love to have guests.
Once arriving at the town of Chinquinquira, you will find three-story apartment buildings with local shops on the first floor. There are handmade bags, jewelry, accessories, as well as, homemade fresh bread, cheeses, yogurt, and much more. The streets are resemblant of farmers’ markets. As you keep walking past these shops, you’ll find a massive Catholic church, with an interior so stunning it’s hard to grasp the magnitude of its beauty. It’s covered with gold decorations, crystals, and stain-glassed windows. It’s a place of reverent silence, where love abounds through the air. Hundreds of families can be found calmly sitting in the pews. I suggest making use of a tour guide. There is such a rich history to be explored and discovered in this town.
Have you discovered any awesome off-the-beaten-track locations in Columbia? Share your experiences in the comments below!
About The Author
Nicole Tovar is a naturopathic medicine student, holistic health coach, international yoga instructor and a blogger based in Costa Rica. Her writing has appeared in La Republica. Read more of her blogs on nicoletovar.com or follow her on Instagram @nicoletovz