Villa De Leyva is one of the most stunning colonial towns in Colombia that filled with history, festivals, museums and sightseeing in which make this place popular among the tourists from all over the world, as well as the Colombians and expats living in Bogota.
This quaint and cobble-stoned street with whitewashed buildings was established in 1572 by Hernan Suarez de Villalobos who named the town after his boss, Andres Diaz Venero de Leyva, who’s also the first president of the New Kingdom of Granada. Located only about three hours from the capital city, with dry climate, and being one of the safest towns besides Salento, Guatape, Jardin and a few more, it’s a perfect weekend or holiday gateway places.
This place had been on our travel bucket list ever since we arrived in Colombia, and after a year had passed since our failed attempt last year with William, we finally made it. Last year after visiting La Candelaria, we planned on staying two nights during the weekend, but due to the long holiday that’s happening on that week, when we got to the bus terminal, it was super crowded, and we couldn’t get our ride. This time though, even though there’s fair and festival in honour of Virgin del Carmen took place in Villa de Leyva, it was easy to get seats on the bus.
On Friday afternoon, I walked to Mike’s workplace located at Parque 93, roughly 4.3km away from our home. Earlier on, Mike told me to get a taxi once I arrived at our meeting point – The BBC Parque 93. However, I was running a little bit late because I’d underestimated my capability to walk that distance with a backpack. When I arrived, Mike had already stood on the roadside and try getting a taxi. Thankfully, it was easy to get one. The traffic was terrible in the town centre, but gradually getting better once we got closer to the terminal, and the thirty-five minutes ride cost 12,800COP.
Getting a Bus to Villa De Leyva
Terminal: Satélite del Norte
Bus company: Flota Valle De Tenza
Price: 27,000COP per person
We bought our ticket at 15:18, but the departure time on the paper was 14:15, I supposed it leaves Salitre terminal at that time. By the time the bus came to ours, it was almost 4 pm. The journey was smooth, and we only stopped for fifteen minutes at Samaca, the town located half an hour away from Villa De Leyva. We reached our destination ten minutes before 7 pm, and the whole ride only took three hours, including the stop.
Accommodation – H El Ciruelo
In this trip, we stayed in Carrera 9A, in H El Ciruelo, the room we booked thru Airbnb. We didn’t see the owner at all because when we arrived, the owner left the key in the water meter box near the door entrance, and when we checkout, we left it on the flower vase next to our room.
At first, we couldn’t find our room because the door didn’t have any label or number on it, and we have to try unlocking all the door with the key. The room was basic, it has one single bed and one queen bed, free internet, and flat tv but without a fan, but it was alright, as it’s not hot at all.
The shower with hot water and the owner provides towels and soaps, but without shampoo and toilet roll, and we have to buy it from the shop.
Throughout our stay in this place, it was alright considering we only paid 100,000COP for two nights! The location-wise, the plaza is about a few blocks away, and the bus terminal only about 3 minutes walk.
Lamb in Villa De Leyva?
I’ve heard that it was easy to get Lamb dishes in this town, so, on our first night out, we walked around looking for it. However, we couldn’t find any. The Restaurante Don Quijote was closed, and the other restaurants didn’t sell it. What I did find blooming in this place were restaurants that sell Pizzas and Hamburgers!
The waitress in Tavolo Hamburgueseria which also housed Restaurante Tipico convinced us that they have lamb and she ushered us inside. While giving us all the menu, we asked her another time about the lamb, and she said they have it. The live music on the stage lifting our spirit of getting the meal we wanted, and after ten minutes trying to get her attention to order, she finally came, and we told her we want the lamb, but then she said that they didn’t have it! What a joke! It was such a waste of time, and we could have eaten whatever they have, but we refused because she’d lied to us.
By this point, hunger took over us, and we gave up the lamb and went over to La Feria. This restaurant has a nice ambience, and they have an outdoor heater, which was nice as at night it could get a bit chilly. The food we ordered was lovely too. It has a bar and dessert, and during our visit, there weren’t many people, and our food arrived fifteen minutes after we placed the order. The total bill was 65,000COP, including 10% Propina.
Some of the Food and drink prices in La Feria:
Entradas de la Casa
13,900COP - Choripan Criollo
19,900COP - Platano La Feria
22,900COP - Pataconazo
Parilla Campesina (en brasas campestres) 13,900COP - Chorizo Santarrosano / Longaniza de Sutamarchán / Morcilla Bogotana / Alas de Pollo en BBQ de Panela 14,900COP - Pechuga de Pollo a la Brasa 15,900COP - Chunchullo Crocante de Altiplano 16,900COP - Chicharrón Carnudo Antioqueno 19,900COP - Sobrebarriga a la Criolla 21,900COP - Costilla de Cerdo Antioquena en BBQ de Panela / Bife a la Parrilla con Chimi de Pimenton 22,900COP - Lo de Res a lo Cachaco
Acompañamientos de Origen (Para Picar)
5,900COP - Plátano Maduro / Mazorca con Mantequilla a la Parilla / Yuca Llanera Frita / Envueltos de Mazorca / Papitas Criollas Boyacenses / Papas Saladas de Zipaquira con Sour Cream / Papas Caquesenas (en Guiso de Cebolla Larga y Ajo) / Arepas Boyacenses
8,900COP - Plátano Gratinado con Queso y jalea de Guayaba / Arepa de Choclo Casera
9,900COP - Papas Chorreadas
6,900COP - Sopitas La Feria (Chuchuquito de Trito, Hecho a la Lena) / Ajiaquito con Papas Nativas y Pollo)
16,900COP - Sanduche de Sobrebarriga
17,900COP - Pita Vegetariana
25,900COP - Medio Pollo (Para 2 Pax)
58,000COP - Piquete La Feria (Para 2 Pax)
Ensaladas De La Huerta
10,900COP - Ensalada La Feria
16,900COP - Ensalada con Pollo Crocante
15,900COP - Ensalada con Vegetales al Horno
7,900COP - Brownie Casero con Helado
8,900COP - Torta Casera de Almojabana
9,900COP - Torta Tres Leches De Arequipe
Bebidas Calientes 2,500COP - Caso de Leche Caliente o Frio 2,900COP - Cafe Americano 3,000COP - Aromatica de Hierbas 3,300COP - Espresso 3,500COP - Macchiato / Aromática de Frutos Rojos/ Amarillos 3,800COP - Espresso Doplo / Cafe Latte 4,500COP - Cappuccino 4,900COP - Cappuccino La Feria / Mocca
Cervezas y Vino de Verano
2,500COP - Michelar tu Cerveza
3,900COP - Cerveza Costenita
4,900COP - Cerveza Poker / Cerveza Andina
5,000COP - Cerveza Aquila (Tradicional, Light o Cero)
5,900COP - Cerveza Club Colombia (Dorada, Roja o Negra)
9,000COP - Cerveza Artesanal (Pregúntele a Nuestros Meseros Disponibilidad)
13,000COP - Copa de Vino de Verano
15,900COP - Jarra de Refajo La Feria
29,900COP - Jarra de Vino de Verano Para Compartir
Bebidas Sin Alcohol
3,900COP - Limonada Natural
3,500COP - Limonada de Panela
4,500COP - Gaseosas (Coca-cola, Sprite, Colombiana, Canada Dry) / Bretaña / Agua y Agua con gas [Jugos (Maracuya, Lulo, Gulupa, Fresa, Mora, Mango Y Guanabana) En Agua
4,900COP - En Agua / 5,900COP - En Leche]
8,900COP - Jarra de Limonada de Panela
The next morning, we had our simple breakfast that reminded me of our Cali trip. We ordered Huevos Pericos with Rice and hot drinks – Coffee for Mike and Chocolate for me, and it cost 6,000COP each. It wasn’t excellent but enough to provide us with energy for our walk to Casa Terracota, which was 1.8km away.
It’s completely safe to walk around to the sightseeing places in Villa De Leyva. However, if you’re not up to it, take a taxi, ride a bicycle or on horseback.
The coffee during our breakfast didn’t give enough boost for Mike, so we walked around to search for a cafe, and stopped by Plaza Mayor as well as Real Fabrica de Licores.
Plaza Mayor De Villa De Leyva
One of the largest town squares in the Americas, measuring at 120m by 120m, paved with massive cobblestones & enclosed by beautiful colonial structures, and dominating the plaza is Iglesia de Nuestra Senora del Rosario.
During our trip here, the square transformed into a party zone for the adult (Drinking booths) and children (amusement park) in conjunction with the fair and festival in honour of Virgin del Carmen, in Spanish, Ferias y Fiestas En Honor a la Virgen del Carmen, an event happening from the 13th until 17th July.
Parroquia Nuestra Señora El Rosario
The construction of this church started in 1604 and completed four years later with contributions from the King and the parishioners. However, the earthquake in 1845 had caused damage to the structure, and they rebuilt it again. Inside the church, the Baroque style altar carved in wood and covered in gold, and the wall lined up by paintings mostly by the Bogota artist Gregorio Velásquez de Arce y Caballos.
Real Fabrica de Licores
Built-in the seventeenth century with a colonial-style fountain in the courtyard, this historic building was where the real liquor factory operated, and it was restored by general chief Gustavo Rojas Pinilla.
The Royal Liquor Plant is recognized as Colombia’s first distillery. It was built in the days of the Viceroys and stands out for its popular Baroque-style doorway with the coat of arms that Spain has used in its cities and colonies since the 17th century. The original interior and the distillery tools then used are in place.Source: Information on the board.
Cafe Los Gallos
This cosy little place offered a great selection of drinks and breakfast menu. If only we knew about this place earlier, we would much prefer to eat here!
Some of the Food and drink prices in Cafe Los Gallos:
9,000COP - Jamon y Queso
11,000COP - Hawaina / Pollo Desmechada con Queso
Drinks 3,000COP - Tinto / Expresso Sencillo 3,500COP - Cafe Latte Pequeno 4,000COP - Chocolate 4,500COP - Espresso Doble / Cafe Latte Grande / Jugos en Agua 5,000COP - Capuchino 5,500COP - Jugos en Leche 6,000COP - Chocolate con Queso / Mochachino 6,500COP - Granizados
7,000COP - Americano
8,000COP - Del Puebla / De La Villa
5,000COP - Napolitana
8,000COP - Hawaiana
10,000COP - Vegetariana
14,000COP - Engallada
Casa Terracota or also known as The house of the Flintstones is the biggest earthenware in the world. Measuring at 500m², this giant craft built by Octavio Mendoza located about 1.9km away from Plaza Mayor. Constructed by using the four elements – earth, water, fire and air, the architect hopes to promote a harmonies lifestyle with the surrounding environment and also raise awareness about the damages of modern construction to nature..
More about Casa Terracota: Click this link
Once we finished the tour in Casa Terracota, we continued our walk to the Paleontology Centre located about 3.5km away. During our walk, a guy who’s on his way to work gave us a lift. He was super friendly and helpful that he showed us a few places that worth visiting such as the Pozos Azules, the garden and restaurant.
Centro de Investigaciones Paleontológicas [CIP] Villa De Leyva
Journey back in time in this Paleontology investigation centre, a place where they study and preserve the long-lost creatures that no longer exist on planet earth. The collection of fossils displayed in this place are from the area around Villa De Leyva, and the oldest fossil dated back to five hundred million years ago!
More about CIP: Click this link
After the forty-five minutes guided tour in CIP, we walked over to Restaurante Entre Caminos, about 650metres away from the centre, and halfway to the restaurant, we saw this weird plant with close resemblance to a Pufferfish.
I was curious and googled Pufferfish plant, and sure enough, the same plant showed up, and it’s called Pufferfish Milkweed or Balloon Plant, and its scientific name Gomphocarpus Physocarpus.
We couldn’t be bothered walking back and decided to skip the blue lake too. The ‘Taxi’, an old battered car cost 2,000COP each for the ride to town.
Asadero Llano Y Sabana (Ternera A La Llanera)
Since we had tasted Llanera in Acacias, we’ve been craving for the tender and juicy meat. However, the Llanera here couldn’t compare to what we had there. It’s still tender but a bit dry. Sharing a plate of mix meats with potatoes and Drinks – Maracuya and Lulo juice here cost 32,000COP, quite cheap.
Beer Prices in Villa De Leyva
During our drinking session in Villa de Leyva, the price of beers varied. In the square where they have a Club Colombia booths set up for the festival, it cost 2,500COP per bottle of 355ml Dorada, which was the cheapest we had here. However, they only have Dorada and no Rojo or Negra.
The Cigarreria Juanes located at the corner of the Plaza charged us 22,000COP for two beers, one small bottle of the Boyaca Aguardiente – Lider, and a bottle of water.
In one of the Tiendas at Cra 9, the locals sat next to us treated us two bottles of Aguila. It’s our second time after Manizales! Price for beer was cheap in a tienda, as usual, and it cost only 8,100COP for three bottles of Club Colombia.
The Walk to Sol Muisca & Archaeological Park of Monquira “El Infiernito”
The next morning, before walking to Sol Muisca and The Archaeological Park of Monquira “El Infiernito”, we had breakfast at the local place, it tasted much better than the one we had yesterday.
The 55 minutes walk to Sol Muisca was peaceful with fewer cars on the road, just bicycles, motorbikes and horses, and the paved road was about 1.7km, while the rest which was about 3km was gravel.
The temperature was pleasant to walk, around 20°C, and the scenery was gorgeous, overlooking the lush greenery and beautiful big houses, and occasionally, some of the dogs barked at us but didn’t chase us though.
Located about 4.7km away from the place we stayed at Cra 9, and situated opposite the Stonehenge of Colombia or also known as “El Infiernito”. Sol Muisca is a place where one can learn more about the Muisca culture through a guided tour.
During our visit, we’re the only two visitors during that hour and the guided tour which cost 10,000COP per person only conducted in Spanish – The English guide wasn’t around at that moment.
Our guide took us around the compound, told us the history of the Muisca, the tradition, hierarchy, and usage of all the objects around. The thirty minutes we spent there was quite informative.
More about Sol Muisca: Click this link
This archaeological site where the Ancient Muisca Observatory, Tumba Dolmenica and Monolitos Falicos located is worth visiting. In the sixteenth century when the Spaniards arrived in Boyacá and found out about this site, the Catholic’s conquerer considered this a diabolical place and named it as “El Infiernito” (The Little Hell), and fear caused the inhabitants to isolate the area which ironically contributed to the conservation of this place.
The most unusual sight here is the monoliths sculpted in a phallic form, about forty of them scattered on the area of 1.5 hectares believed to be 2,200 years old.
More about El Infiernito: Click this link
It’s an incredible place to visit, and one that I would never forget, especially the big ancient monoliths! Fifteen minutes here was enough for us before we start walking back to town. Heading back to Bogota in the afternoon, we didn’t stop anywhere else or have time to admire nature. After the much-needed shower, washed away the dust and sweat we’ve gathered during the walk, we placed the key at one of the vases in the house and left to the bus terminal.
Getting a Bus Back to Bogota
Getting the ride back to Bogota was easy, even when we didn’t purchase the tickets beforehand. However, if you want the prospect of getting to choose your seat, you should get on the van before everyone else arrives. When we bought our tickets, the seller told us that we only have ten minutes before the bus scheduled to leave, and with the time we’ve got, we quickly grab our meal at the nearby stall, which was a slice of pizza and Arepa, and it was cheap and tasty!
Terminal: Villa De Leyva
Bus company: Flota Valle De Tenza
Price: 27,000COP per person
Our van left at 12:39 pm and only stopped once for 10 minutes to get passengers. Thankfully, the ride only took 2 hours 35 minutes. The whole journey was torture for Mike because of the legroom space. When we got to Terminal Satélite del Norte, we couldn’t be bothered to get the TransMilenio back, so we hopped on a taxi which’s only cost 15,000COP to our house in Chapinero!
On our way home, I also couldn’t resist asking the taxi driver about the name of the colourful barrio up the hill that can be seen from the Terminal Satélite del Norte, and he told me it’s called Buenavista. I have always wanted to know the place’s name and hopefully would have the chance to visit one day.
Travel Date: 12th ~ 14th July 2019