Villa de Leyva
Hidden amongst the rolling green hills of Colombia’s heartlands, Villa de Leyva is a peaceful colonial town only a few hours north from the capital Bogota. Named a National Monument in 1954, the town has frozen in time and remains steeped in history. Brimming with cobbled streets, colonial churches and surrounded by pristine rural countryside, Villa de Leyva is one of the loveliest places in Colombia.
Located three hours north of Bogota, this colonial gem is exquisitely preserved. White-washed buildings with red-tiled rooves, line the narrow cobblestoned streets. Balconies overflow with colourful flowers and 16th century churches loom. With the lack of traffic, Villa de Leyva is a place to leisurely wander and soak up the charming atmosphere it exudes.
The main square, Plaza Mayor is a massive expanse of cobblestones, surrounded by colonial structures full of quaint cafes, restaurants and shops. At 120m by 120m, it is the largest square in Latin America and serves as the hub of the town. Sprawling out from the square, many art museums housed in old convents are dotted around, as well as an impressive array of boutique hotels and elegant haciendas.
Famous for its abundance of fossils from the Cretaceous and Mesozoic period, strolling around it is possible to see fossils embedded in numerous stone pavements and walls, taking you back to a time when the area was completely under water. The fossil museum ‘El Fossil’ is worth the visit to see the 120 million year old pre-historic marine reptile fossil at 12m long, as well as a variety of other fossils found in the area.
Neighbouring Villa de Leyva, are a number of quaint and unexplored colonial towns, famed for their beautiful hand-made ceramics or exquisite gastronomy, such as the longaniza and morcilla spicy sausages. Day trips here offer an authentic and off-the beaten track experience to a less travelled and beautiful part of Colombia. Surrounding these colonial gems is vast lush green countryside, peppered with lakes, caves and waterfalls. Hiking and horseback riding opportunities are endless here, and swimming in waterfalls, abseiling and canopying are all on offer and serve as an adventure wonderland after soaking up the charm of the town.
Whatever takes your fancy, Villa de Leyva is a real Colombian gem and with our first-hand knowledge we can ensure you make the most of your Villa de Leyva experience, whether it is the best hotel or the best way to explore its countryside we can point you in the right direction.