A few hours from Bogota the capital of Colombia in a high altitude desert-like terrain lies Villa de Leyva, in the department of Boyaca. A well preserved and very quaint town with a history going back to prehistoric times.
Villa de Leyva offers a little bit of everything for all types of tourists. Its history began during the Jurassic Period, with evidence of many fossils and remains of sea life. The most notable finding is the 35-foot aquatic reptile known as the Kronosaurus, which was uncovered towards the outskirts of town in 1977.
The Muiscas were the original inhabitants of the area and the ones who the Spaniards first met when they arrived in 1572. There are several museums and historic sites to visit for those who like to travel with a heaping portion of historical education.
The architecture is well maintained. All houses and buildings in town must conform to the same style, which is painted white walls with green trim, terracota tiled roofs, and beautifully crafted wooden/metal doors and windows.
North of town the stunning waterfalls of the Periquera can be explored along with the cloud forest of Iguaque.
There are quite a variety of gift shops and art galleries to choose from, selling colorful and beautiful handmade crafts. Villa de Leyva has a very artistic feel to it and many artists reside in or in the surrounding areas.
The food and accommodation ranges from affordable to luxurious, with an abundant amount of hotels and restaurants to choose from. Spa services are available for those in need of a nice relaxing massage, after a busy day of hiking and sightseeing.
The restaurants are a combination of typical Boyacense food and international cuisine, catering to the multitudes of tourists who frequently visit.
There are many coffee and dessert shops, which tempt everyone that walks past their doors.
The prices are a bit more costly than other towns in Colombia, but you get what you pay for. The town is well maintained, clean, service is excellent, the locals are friendly, and it’s a photographers dream, combining nature, art, and architectural subjects.
Artisanal chocolate is becoming extremely popular all around the world, luckily Colombia produces some of the best. In Villa de Leyva there are quite a lot of small chocolate shops. They produce single origin chocolate of all kinds of tastes and varieties, ranging from sweet to bitter.
Outdoor activities, like cave diving, horseback riding, bungee jumping, ATV/bicycle rentals and other sports can also be enjoyed here.
Another reason why Villa de Leyva is so popular is because Magic Mushrooms can be found in the forests close to town. This can make for a very stimulating vacation, there’s nothing like tripping while surrounded by amazing sites and abundant nature!
The Clay House
It took more than 15 years to complete and it’s absolutely incredible. Its walls and floors are more than 2 feet thick, with odd shapes, figures, faces, and forms all throughout the house. There are no straight lines, except for the floors, clay shelving, and furniture tops.
It’s a short distance from the center of town, I recommend all artists to go check it out!
Below are some recent pics I took of town, along with local contacts you can get in touch with when you arrive!
Villa de Leyva
Hotel La Hormiga
This is an excellent hotel that is clean and provides very good services. Its a block away from the bus station and close to many local sites.
hotellahormigavilladeleyva.co – Cels: 311 445-1267 – 320 886-3298
A nice little quaint hostel, just a block from the main square.
Cel: 311 567-3543
Delicious chocolate can be purchased here of many different flavors. The owner Esperanza Garcia is very kind and proud of her amazing chocolate!
Cel: 319 348-6225
Museo Del Chocolate
This is a very elaborately decorated restaurant. It’s worth visiting to see the beautiful French style furniture and artworks. Plus the chocolate is delicious and the owners are very sweet.
Cel: 300 265-4498
La Tienda Feroz
Villa De Leyva has many different art galleries and shops, but this is one of the best. They sell very finely made products, with a strong focus on design.
Cel: 317 435-5202
Colombia Natural Sport
This is an adventure and tour company that offers all kinds of adventure options like cave diving, bungee jumping, white water rafting, horseback riding and many other activities for all you adrenaline junkies out there.
Colombia Natural Sport/Facebook
Cel: 313 363-3797