Best Nature Spots Around the 18 Heritage Towns of Colombia

The Heritage Towns of Colombia are part of the Cultural Heritage of our country. Although this is their main and greatest attraction, you should know that each of them has beautiful natural attractions that are also part of our natural heritage.

That is why in this blog we will tell you what activities in nature you can do when you visit each of the Heritage Towns of Colombia.

If you want to know more about the heritage towns and their cultural attractions read our post Complete Guide to the 17 Heritage Towns of Colombia.

Introduction

Throughout the Colombian territory you will have the opportunity to explore 18 magical towns, where you will be able to learn about the extensive history, culture and architecture of the country.

18 opportunities to connect with people from different regions to marvel at unique landscapes, walk along cobblestone roads in historic towns and discover churches built hundreds of years ago. They’re the perfect place to experience new cultures and destinations hand in hand with the most biodiverse country in the world.

Heritage Towns in the Caribbean Corridor of Colombia

1. Santa Cruz de Mompox – Bolivar

Mompox is one of the most important trading points in the whole country. This heritage town has a high religious and historical tourism.

It is located in Isla Margarita and has the protection of the imposing waters of the Magdalena River. It is believed that it was once the settlement of the Malibu indigenous tribe.

Nature Activities and Attractions in Mompox:

  1. During your visit you should not miss the beautiful churches found in the town, as well as The Museum of Religious Art.
  2. Mompox has The Museum of Religious Art, where you will be able to appreciate various religious relics made of silver and gold are exhibited in the museum.
  3. One hour away by boat you will enjoy the Ciénaga de Pijiño, where you will be able to see the local flora and fauna.

Our recommendations for hotels in Mompox: Hotel Nieto Mompox Riverfront, La Gloria Hotel by BespokeColombia and Café Mompox – Colonial House.

2. Ciénaga – Magdalena

It is located very close to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and on the shores of the Caribbean Sea, in this town has earned the title of “The capital of magical realism”, as it was the place that inspired Gabriel Garcia Marquez in his masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Nature Activities and Attractions in Ciénaga:

  1.  You can walk through each of the streets of the town and use your imagination to transport you through each of the scenes of Gabo’s book and let yourself be carried away by the magic of literature and the beautiful buildings.
  2. Bird watching in Salamanca Island Park.
  3. Nueva Venecia, it is a place of floating houses and you can only move with the help of a spear and go through the few “aquatic streets”.
  4. The Volcano hot springs, is considered a sacred place for both the inhabitants of the sector and the surrounding indigenous communities; it is located 15 minutes by car and is the only hot springs on the Caribbean coast and reach a temperature of 43° Celsius (109° Fahrenheit).

Our recommendations for hotels in Cienaga: Casa D’Remedios La Bella Hotel Boutique and Hotel Bellavista Cienaga.

Heritage Towns in the Golfo de Morrosquillo and Sabana Corridor of Colombia

3. Santa Cruz de Lorica – Cordoba

One of the most striking features of this town is the architecture of the historic center, it has a republican and Arabic style.

It is also known as the spell of Sinu, due to the Lebanese and Syrian immigrants, who contributed to the cultural development, without leaving aside that it is also called “the city of Bocachico” due to the local fish of the town.

Nature Activities and Attractions in Lórica:

  • Afife Matuk, is one of the most characteristic houses of the town for its Syrian-Lebanese style, its columns take you to travel hundreds of kilometers forgetting that you are in Colombia.
  • Lorica Church, the strong Arab influence of the town has made the main church has a very different style to many others in the country.
  • Market of Lorica, is located on the river which makes you have a unique experience in gastronomic and cultural issues, there besides buying the things you need you can also taste delicious local food.
  • Visit Blanca Beach and the rural banks of the Sinú River.

Our recommendations for hotels in Lorica: Hotel Boutique Beteska and Hotel Hausen.

Heritage Towns in the Northwest Region of Colombia

4. La Playa de Belén – Norte de Santander

This beautiful town is nationally recognized for two factors, the white facades of its houses as well as the Unique Natural Area Los Estoraques, a strange but beautiful landscape of giant rock formations.

Nature Activities and attractions in Playa de Belen:

  1. The estoraques is the main attraction of this town, where you can appreciate gigantic rock formations of geological origin, which create caves and labyrinths.
  2. If you wish to have a beautiful view of the town and the estoraques, the Mirador Los Muertos offers you an unforgettable view, where you can wait for the sunset and fall in love with the tone that the facades take when the sun goes down.
  3. Varagúa Natural Park, is the place where you will be able to learn about the composition of the flora and fauna of the town as well as walk through trails that will make you fall in love with its great diversity.

Our recommendations for hotels in Playa de Belen: Finca Hotel Casa Real, Orquídeas Plaza Hotel and Yaragua.

5. Barichara – Santander

Barichara is considered the most beautiful town in Colombia, it is a charming place for lovers of photography and colonial architecture. Its name, which comes from the Guane dialect, derived from the Chibcha, means “place for rest”.

Nature Activities and Attractions in Barichara

  1. You can enjoy the viewpoints present in the town, such as the Salto del Mico, which is not far from the center of town.
  2. You can also visit the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, considered one of Baricharás must see.
  3. If hiking is within your hobbies, Barichara’s Lengerke trail, a walk of approximately 2 hours that continues to the towns of Guane and Zapatoca is highly recommended;
  4. Visit the cemetery, it is not a plan that many tourists usually do but the cemetery of Barichara will enchant you with its beautiful architecture.
  5. 10 minutes away by car you will be able to enjoy Moncora Biopark, where you will have a plan to connect with nature and you can do bird watching.

Our recommendations for hotels in Barichara: Hotel Hicasua and Convention Center, Hotel Buenos Aires Barichara, Hospedaje Donde Lorenzo, Hotel Campestre Ataraxia Barichara and Hotel Terra Barichara.

For a more detailed guide to get the most out of Barichara read the following blog Driving from La Guajira to Mompox and Barichara.

Birds in colombia
Birds in colombia

6. San Juan de Girón – Santander

This beautiful town is located 9 Km from the capital of the department, Bucaramanga, where you can have the opportunity to appreciate houses and constructions of the XVI, XVII and XVIII centuries.

This led to this city being declared a National Monument in 1963.

Nature Activities and Attractions in Girón:

  • Colonial Bridges, Giron has 6 colonial bridges that are still in use today and connect the different areas of the town.
  • El Humedal del Pantano, in this wetland you can have all the information of the flora and fauna of the region.
  • Las Iguanas Waterfall, this beautiful waterfall is made up of stones located in a special way that make it a jewel of the department of Santander, you can visit just 30 minutes from the center of town.

Our hotel recommendations: Macaregua Hotel Boutique and Hotel Las Nieves.

7. Socorro – Santander

It is considered one of the most important historical towns in the independence of the country, and hometown to many of the heroes of rebellion who fought for independence, among which is the heroine Manuela Beltran.

Socorro’s streets still have a colonial republican style where you can still feel the courage of a people that took the first steps for the revolution of the country.

Nature Activities and Attractions in Socorro:

  1. Socorro has the most traditional independence park in the country, since it is known that the Comuneros (a warlike group that rebelled against the Spanish Empire) began to gather here.
  2. The Cathedral Nuestra Señora del Socorro is one of the largest 19th century constructions in the country, an ideal place to take excellent photographs due to its architecture and beauty.
  3. The Suarez River is a natural attraction 30 minutes away from the center of town where you will be able to relax and have contact with the nature of the sector, in addition to water activities such as rafting and canoeing.
  4. Socorro is very close to the municipality of Curuti so you can visit a cave that is located on the border of these two municipalities, you can perform activities of speleology with the support of the guides of the municipality.

Our recommendations for hotels in Socorro: Hospedaje Los Capuchinos, Hotel Villa Del Socorro and La Serrana Hostal Spa.

Heritage Towns in Antioquia – Chocó Corridor of Colombia

8. Santa Fe de Antioquia-Antioquia

It is considered the heritage town with more history of Colombia, as it was considered the center of economic and cultural development of the region.

It was formerly the capital of the department of Antioquia, besides being one of the best preserved towns in Antioquia in its traditional architecture.

Nature Activities and Attractions in Santa Fe de Antioquia

  1. Your tour through the streets of this beautiful town will leave you amazed, thanks to its architecture in large balconies and huge carved wooden doors.
  2. Walking across the Cauca river over the Puente de Occidente will be a plan that you will love, the beautiful structure will amaze you, besides being the scene of beautiful photographs.
  3. Birdwatching

Our recommendations for hotels in Santa Fe de Antioquia: Hotel Arena Santa Fe de Antioquia, Hotel la Ardilla de Santa Fe and Hotel Santa Barbara Colonial.

If you want to have a more detailed guide to make the most of Santa Fe de Antioquia read the following blog 2021 Medellin Colombia Travel Guide from the Experts.

9. Jerico – Antioquia

It is one of the most important religious tourist destinations in the country; Jerico was also the birthplace of the holy mother, Laura Montoya Upegui. It is a beautiful colorful town with 17 temples that adorn the religiosity of its inhabitants.

Nature has also been generous with Jerico, its tutelary hills are a favorite destination for hikers and ecology lovers. And its Main Park, one of the most beautiful in Antioquia, preserves an architecture that evokes the best years of the coffee culture.

Nature Activities and Attractions in Jerico:

  1.  If you want to learn more about the history and religious culture of the town you cannot miss the Archaeological Museum of the Southwest and the House of Culture of Monsignor Pompilio Gallego Arboleda.
  2. One of the most striking attractions of the town is its beautiful Nuestra Señora de Las Mercedes Cathedral, which stands out for its orange tones on the roof contrasting with the mountains surrounding the town.
  3. Los Balsos Botanical Garden, a place where you can learn about the fauna of the town and the species that are present there.
  4. The viewpoint of Cristo Redentor is the highest view of the town, after a walk you will have the most beautiful panoramic view of the town.
  5. Hikes in Morro El Salvador, Río Piedras, Chorros de Quebradona.
  6. Visiting Las Playas Spa.
  7. Paragliding, Paramotoring, Hang Gliding, Mountain bike.
  8. Cerro Tusa and Jerico Helicopter Tour.
  9. Ecological tour of the Coffee and Rainbow waterfall in Jericó.
  10. Hike in Las Nubes Natural Park at sunset in Jericó

Our recommendations for hotels in Jerico: Hotel Santa Laura, Hotel Atenas Jericho, El Despertar Hotel, Hotel de Cauca Viejo and Cabañas y Flores.

10. Jardín – Antioquia

Jardin has beautiful colonial architecture, which is surrounded by overwhelming green landscapes. Ecotourism is one of its strong points. It is also a perfect place to see and photograph the “Andean Cock-of-the-Rock”.

The central square of Jardin will fascinate you, you will find that the landscapes that can be appreciated seem to be from a beautiful fantasy book, besides its houses and buildings have remained almost untouched for a century.

Nature Activities and Attractions in Jardin:

  1. To enjoy its colorful streets and beautiful architecture we recommend a tour in a Tuk Tuk, where the drivers can show you around every corner of the town for 2 hours.
  2. Visit the Basilica Menor La Inmaculada Concepción, this beautiful gothic style basilica (named as such by Pope John Paul II himself) will enchant you and when you are inside the beautiful decoration will leave you breathless.
  3. Among the hiking plans Jardin offers them in the outskirts of the town, there you will be able to visit La Cueva del Esplendor, Salto del Angel and have a contact with an Embera indigenous community.
  4. Among the ecological plans you will be able to visit the Jardín de Rocas Natural Reserve, where you can go bird watching and see the habitat of the beautiful Andean Cock of the Rock (Rupicola peruvianus).
  5. Birdwatching and visit the Proaves Nature Bird Reserve Yellow-eared Parrot (Ognorhynchus icterotis)
  6. Around the town you can visit natural reserves, ravines and caves where you can take speleological tours.

Our recommendations for hotels in Jardin: Hosteria El Paraiso, Hotel Jardin Antioquia, Hotel Kantarrana Urbana Jardin and Hotel Diana Campestre.

Heritage Towns in the Coffee Cultural Landscape (PCC) of Colombia

11. Aguadas – Caldas

This magical heritage town is nationally and internationally recognized for its traditional aguadeño hat made from the iraca palm, besides being the site of the National Colombian Pasillo Festival.

Besides, Aguaduas is known as the “City of Fog” as it is often surrounded by thick fog.

Nature Activities and Attractions in Aguaduas:

  1. The most important tourist attraction of the town is Guayacanes, a place of beautiful trees with colorful leaves, a great place for excellent photographs.
  2. Francisco Giraldo Cultural Center, is a museum that was built in the XVIII century, where you can appreciate relics of the aborigines that once inhabited the area.
  3. Museo Nacional del Sombrero, due to its typical hat the town has a museum where you will learn about the origins and elaboration process from the oldest technique to the evolution it has had until today.
  4. Cerro Tutelar del Pipintá Cerro Monserrate, from an approximate height of 2,270 meters above sea level you can have a spectacular 360 º view, from there on clear days you can see the Nevado del Ruiz, Pácora, La Vereda el Morro, Castile, Marmato.
  5. La Chorrera Waterfall, on the outskirts of Aguaduas 9 km from the center of town you can meet a spectacular waterfall of 50 meters high, there you can take a shower and spend a pleasant moment.
  6. Petroglyphs El Dorado, during a 30 minutes drive you can reach a rural area where you will find caves with pictograms of more than 450 years old, it is a place that you can only visit under the supervision of authorized guides to protect these relics of the ancestors.

Our recommendations for hotels in Aguaduas: Paraiso Tropical and Casa Blanca Hotel.

12. Salamina – Caldas

Built on the top of a hill in the department of Caldas and its strategic construction makes many of its corners a fascinating viewpoint. It is a magical town of the Andean colonization.

As you walk through Salamina you will find houses of wattle and daub, calicanto and wooden balconies laden with flowers of different shapes and colors.

Nature Activities and Attractions in Salamina:

  • You can tour the town and let yourself fall in love with the beautiful houses and buildings of the town as well as the pila that is located in the center of town.
  • Finally in the wax palm forest La Samaria you will have the opportunity to appreciate a beautiful and quiet wax palm forest, it is not usually as visited as Salento, this alternative is more relaxed.

Our recommendations for hotels in Salamina: La Estancia Hotel Boutique, Hospedaje Casa Real and Bonsai Casa Hotel.

If you want more information on how to visit Salamina read this blog (Salamina’s blog).

Heritage Towns in the Central Corridor of Colombia

13. Villa de Leyva – Boyacá

Villa de Leyva is considered one of the most beautiful colonial towns in Colombia; this is due to the beauty of its landscapes, its houses and cobblestone streets.

Throughout the town and its surroundings you will be able to learn a lot about the historical events that occurred in this town, as well as enjoy the gastronomic and cultural offerings it has to offer.

Nature Activities and Attractions in Villa de Leyva

  1. The first place you can enjoy on your visit is the central square, a perfect spot to shoot postcard photos thanks to the architecture of the church and the landscape of the mountains behind it. Moreover you can enjoy a diversity of  local and international cuisine offered;
  2. Villa de Leyva is well known for its museums, so you cannot miss the opportunity to visit the Paleontological museum, without leaving aside the delicious Chocolate Museum.
  3. To get the most out of Villa de Leyva’s off road attractions we recommend that you rent a quad bike and  visit: The terracotta house, Pozos azules and Pozo rojo, La Periquera waterfalls and Parque Arqueológico Monquirá.
  4. The Cave Paintings, located 7 km from the center of town is a place where you will enjoy cave paintings of the Chibchas, an earlier indigenous culture.
  5. The ostrich farm, if you want to enjoy a few hours with these beautiful birds and learn more about their behavior, you can do it 15 minutes away where you will be in a farm where they will explain everything about this bird.
  6. If you are interested in nature tourism you can enjoy Iguaque Flora and Fauna Sanctuary; it is located 30 minutes by car from Villa de Leyva. This sanctuary is very special for the inhabitants of the area because it was an important point for the Muisca culture.
  7. Stargazing.
  8. Visit the Desierto de La Candelaria desert.

If you want more information about this sanctuary you can read our blog: The Muisca Legend of the Origin of Life at Iguaque Flora and Fauna Sanctuary.

Our recommendations for hotels in Villa de Leyva are: Hotel La Posada de San Antonio, Hotel Campanario de la Villa, Hotel Casa Cantabria Campestre, Hotel Casa de los Fundadores, Hotel Abahunza and Hotel Casa Boutique.

If you wish to have a more detailed guide for your visit to Villa de Leyva you can read the following blog: Discover the Natural Attractions of Villa de Leyva, Colombia.

14. Monguí – Boyacá

It is catalogued as one of the most beautiful towns in the department of Boyacá, so you must visit it once in your life. Additionally Mongui has the recognition of being the first municipality in Colombia in the production of handmade balloons.

It is one of the coldest towns in the department so it is recommended that you bring warm clothes for your visit.

Nature Activities and Attractions in Monguí:

  1. Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Monguí, built in the XVIII century, has a beautiful Romanesque style, making it very special. In addition, during the Holy Week season they offer to the locals and visitors beautiful shows of interpretation of the Stations of the Cross.
  2. Colonial Bridge Real Calicanto, is the place that the lovers of photography do not want to lose, it is a small stone bridge that allowed the connection of the distant sidewalks of the town and the center of the same one. Being a construction of the eighteenth century still continues to maintain its design intact.
  3. Páramo de Oceta, a 1 hour walk you will have access to a beautiful paramo, where through trails that can be more than 3 hours you will be able to appreciate the flora and fauna of the paramos as well as the main species of the region.

Our recommendations for hotels in Monguí: Mongui Plaza Hotel, Los Recuerdos de Florito y Leo, Hotel Otti Colonial, Hospedaje Bella Vista Monguí and Bahareque Casa Camping.

15. San Miguel de Guaduas – Cundinamarca

Guaduas was the birthplace of Policarpa Salavarrieta (also known as “La Pola”), one of the most important historical heroines of the nation’s independence.

It is located 115 km from the capital of the country, Bogotá, and is a place that has a large number of houses of wattle and daub, clay tiles and zinc that still maintain the colonial style.

Nature Activities and Attractions in Guaduas:

  1. Piedra Capira Viewpoint, this is a beautiful viewpoint located 20 minutes from the center of Guaduas, where you will find a huge rock with a cross from where you will be able to appreciate a beautiful view of the Magdalena River.
  2. El Salto de Versalles, it is a beautiful waterfall of no more than 40 meters high, is considered one of the most beautiful of Cundinamarca and an ideal place for photography lovers.
  3. Santa Fe Royal Road, is an old cobblestone road that linked Bogota with the municipality of Honda, this road crosses the municipalities of Facatativá, Albán, Villeta and Guaduas.

Our recommendations for hotels in Guaduas: El Portón de Enriqueta, Hotel Paso Realce, Quinta Baroe, La Rosa Nautica Hostel and Hotel Casa Blanca.

16. Honda – Tolima

It is the only town of heritage located in the department of Tolima, its importance lies in its proximity to the Magdalena River and being the way of connection with the cities of Barranquilla and Cartagena.

It was considered in the past as the first port of Nueva Granada, currently still retains a large number of bridges and buildings of the colonial era.

Nature Activities and attractions in Honda:

  1. You will love walking in the historic center of the town, especially the Calle de las Trampas, this was a colonial sector where it is considered that the Viceroys of Spain lived.
  2. Among the museum options there are two, the Magdalena River Museum and the Alfonso Lopez Pumarejo House Museum; in them you will learn about the history and importance of this town for the country.
  3. Walk over the Navarro Bridge, considered the oldest bridge still in operation in South America; you will find it 200 meters from the historic center of the town.
  4. Agrotourism and Birdwatching.
  5. Hiking and horse riding.

Our recommendations for hotels in Honda: El Virrey Hotel Boutique, Hotel Boutique Posada Las Trampas, Casa Celeste Honda, Waka Hotel Rural and Hotel Calle Real Honda.

Heritage Towns in the Pacific Corridor of Colombia

17. Guadalajara de Buga – Valle del Cauca

It is a town of great importance for worship and peregrination both nationally and globally, thanks to the Basilica of the Lord of Miracles, one of the most visited places. But Buga is also a point of conservation of flora and fauna.

Activities and attractions in Guadalajara de Buga

  1. Yotoco Forest, which is the largest tropical forest reserve in the department you will be able to appreciate the howler monkeys and Sonso Lagoon is an ideal place for bird lovers.
  2. El Vínculo Regional Natural Park, it is the largest reserve of the tropical dry forest ecosystem in Valle del Cauca, declared a regional natural park in 2006. It has a set of ecological trails with beauty and rich landscape, hundreds of birds, flowers, trees and animals in danger of extinction, typical of dry forest.
  3. Sonso Lagoon, it is located within the wetland complex of the upper Cauca river basin, in the municipality of Buga, between the Guadalajara and Sonso rivers. It is the main wetland in the alluvial plain of the Cauca River and the last redoubt of the lagoon ecosystem within the strategic Tropical Dry Flooded Forest ecosystem.

Our recommendations for hotels in Guadalajara de Buga: Chrisban Hotel Boutique, Hotel El Faro Buga and Hotel Ciudad Señora Buga.

Heritage Towns in the Llanos Corridor of Colombia

18. Pore – Casanare

It is the first town of the eastern plains that enters the list of heritage towns in the country. In the case of Pore, it is considered the first capital of freedom and democracy of the New Granada.

Located 72 km from the capital of the department, Yopal, there you will be able to find relics of great importance such as the prisons built by the Spanish, the cobblestone streets and the mansions that preserve the colonial style.

Nature Activities and Attractions in Pore:

  1. Quebrada la Niata, a few kilometers from the center of town you will find a beautiful creek of crystalline waters where you can take a bath and spend the afternoon without inconvenience.
  2. In ecological tourism, Laguna de Piña Corozo is a magical place that you will find 30 km from the center of town, there you can make migratory and permanent bird watching in the sector.
  3. Zamaricote Natural Reserve, being the only fluvial star of Casanare, from that point are born approximately 64 streams and rivers, enriched with its myth of the enchanted lagoon, ecological walks and descent by rope to the source of the river Pore.
  4. Tour through the historic center of the town, through your tour you can see the deteriorated walls that show signs of the passage of the Spaniards through this town along with the abandoned prisons.

Our recommendation of hotel in Pore: Hotel El Tesoro Del Llano

How many of Colombia’s heritage towns do you know?

No matter the answer now you have a list of magical places to discover, get out of the routine and fall in love with this beautiful country.

About the authors

Sara Colmenares

The current director of Sula. Doctor in Biological Sciences. Her main interests are to explore and understand the organism-environment interactions, taking advantage of emerging knowledge for the management and conservation of species and ecosystem services. She is currently working as a consultant in functional ecology, ecosystem services, and conservation projects in Colombia related to ecotourism and birdwatching.

Luisa Martin

Engineer, world traveler, amateur photographer, traveling blogger, and foody.