9 Plans You Cannot Miss in Barichara

Barichara is on the list of Network of Colombian Heritage Villages, besides being one of the most beautiful villages nationwide thanks to its bohemian and colorful Andalusian style architecture.

Barichara is an excellent destination for a quiet place with a magical and photogenic atmosphere.

The town grow around the church built in 1751 on account of a supposed apparition of the Virgin. Initially it was called Vare – florence, then Vara-echada and finally Barichara, which means “Place for rest” in Guane dialect which is a derivative of Chibcha.

Barichara is built on stone. Its streets, houses, temples and especially the cemetery, a prominent place for its railings and windows, are built with yellow stone.

The cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in memory of the Virgin of the rock is a unique work, and the historic center of Barichara was declared a national monument on August 3, 1978.

In this guide you will have the necessary information to make the most of your visit in Barichara

The Diversity of Barichara

Barichara is a town in the northern Andes of Colombia with about 5,000 inhabitants. Approximately 90% of Barichara’s architecture is built by the tapia pisada technique, an ancestral procedure of building with earth, without the support of wooden pieces or any other material.

This town is located on a plateau of around 40,000-50,000 hectares, where historically there was a tropical dry forest, a type of threatened ecosystem that is in danger of disappearing from the Earth. Today, 98% of the forest is destroyed and urgently needs to be restored.

The Aquileo Parra Association – Friends of Barichara, is a non-profit organization that has the purpose of preserving the historical and touristic heritage of Barichara. It also defends the natural resources and the ecological reconstruction of the Tropical Dry Forest in the Bioparque Móncora project.

Temperatures in Barichara range between 19°C (66º F) and 28°C (82º F).

How to get to Barichara

Barichara locates in the department of Santander, 121 km from Bucaramanga capital of the department, and 350 km from Bogota, capital of Colombia.

To get to Barichara by air from the main cities of Colombia (Bogota, Barranquilla, Medellin or Cali) you must take a commercial flight to the city of Bucaramanga. Once in Bucaramanga, you take an approximately 3,5-hours ride to Barichara.

Where to stay in Barichara

Most of the hotels can be found in the historic center of town, where we recommend the following alternatives:

Panoramic view from the terrace in Casa del Presidente Hotel.
Casa del Presidente Hotel

Barichara Attractions and Activities

1. Participate in workshops

Tapia Pisada

In the Villa del Alfarero you can experience the tradition of the typical construction of the village.

You will have a conversation where you will learn about the history and recommendations on the manufacturing process, besides having a tour of the village where you will be able to build a wall of Tapia from the time of preparation of the land to the assembly of the bricks made.


In this workshop you will learn about the millenary indigenous technique of Bahareque, through the oral tradition inherited from the indigenous Guanes tribe, inhabitants of this region.

During the workshop you will be taken on a tour of a real Bahareque construction and be able to touch its walls, caña brava, terrones, tree root ties, Fiquetones.

After having the theoretical knowledge of the technique you can put it into practice by building part of a wall.
At the end of the workshop you will take a bath, since you will be in contact with a lot of mud. So please bring along a pair of clean clothes.

Mud and adobe tile making

In the workshop you will be teach to identify 4 types of soil (Clay, Gredosa, Fine and Sandy) required for the elaboration of the tiles.
You will visit an ancestral oven with a production capacity of 4,000 units during 60 continuous hours of combustion, day and night, where temperatures reach over 1200 degrees Celsius.

You will get an explanation from the instructors of each of the steps in the production process where you can have a contact with the clay in each of the steps until you reach the firing point.

Typical cooking

In this workshop you will be able to have a direct contact with the typical gastronomy of Barichara. You will have the opportunity to learn about the production process of the following products and interact with the raw material: Typical Barichara cookies, “Arepas de maíz pelao” (corn), Pan artesanal, Sancocho de Gallina.

2. Visit the church and chapel of Barichara

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of Barichara.

You will see this beautiful and unusual 18th century Spanish colonial cathedral built entirely of yellow stone. Despite being a giant cathedral for the population of the town it is a place that will amaze you from the moment you enter and if you wait to see the sunset you will marvel at the beautiful ocher tone it takes at sunset.

This cathedral is a unique work, and it is supported by 10 monolithic columns carved with 5 meters high and 70 cm wide.

Visit the chapel of Santa Barbara

You want to know a beautiful chapel of the XVII century which is the scene of many marriages in the town due to its decoration with golden leaf, with arabesque, Moors and inverted flowers; which makes it a magical atmosphere for beautiful ceremonies. It is located 4 blocks from the main park of the town.

3. Visit the viewpoint of Barichara, the Salto del Mico.

Just 10 minutes walk from downtown you can enjoy a beautiful viewpoint where you will be able to appreciate the Suarez River Canyon, the Serrania de los Yariguies National Natural Park, and the municipalities of Galan, La Fuente and Zapatoca.

4. Visit the cemetery of Barichara

It is not usually one of the favorite plans of many people, but both the cemetery of Mompox and Barichara are considered one of the most beautiful in the country.

As well as all the construction of the town based on stone the cemetery is not the exception, during your tour inside the cemetery you will be able to appreciate beautiful stone carved tombstones and beautiful colonial structures.

5. Hiking Barichara – Cabrera

This tour is done through the road of Via crucis in the middle of a beautiful forest to reach the municipality of Cabrera; its duration is 6 hours with a medium degree of difficulty.

Besides, there you will be able to appreciate different types of butterflies and birds, among them you can have the possibility to see the Nicéforo’s wren (Thryophilus nicefori), an endemic bird species of Santander.

6. Tobacco Tour

It is important to know that the department of Santander is considered the largest producer of tobacco in Colombia with 50% of national production.

In the rural area of Barichara it is possible to find a farm where you can take a tour for 3 hours where you can see the different processes of development of the seedling (harvesting and maturation of tobacco).

7. Trekking in Barichara

You will have the opportunity to make a trekking in the middle of the fossils and the royal stone roads during three days, having as starting point Barichara to Los Yariguíes National Natural Park.

This tour should be done during three days, has a medium degree of difficulty and a total distance covered of approximately 40 km with an average daily walking time of 5 hours.

You can visit the village of Guane until you reach Zapatoca crossing the majestic Saravita river and the Lengerke II road. From Zapatoca you will make the last trip to Los Yariguíes National Natural Park.

8. Rafting Rio Suarez

This fantastic plan has a duration of 5 hours, has 8 fast currents with unique waves in the country; you will be enjoying one of the best rivers to develop this activity. Keep in mind that this activity can only be done by people over 18 years old.

9. Horseback riding

You can make horseback riding tours throughout the day, starting at 5:00 a.m. to appreciate the sunrise or at the last hour at 6:00 p.m.

The cobblestone streets and beautiful landscapes will accompany you on your tours and with the support of the guides you will learn more about this treasure of Colombia.

Thanks to the proximity between San Gil and Barichara of only 32 km you can choose to enjoy a full day of adventure activities that San Gil offers, and then at night return to Barichara.

For more information about the activities and everything you need to know about San Gil visit The Adventure’s and Extreme Sports’ Capital of Colombia: San Gil.

Luisa Martin

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


Salt Deserts, Salt Mines and the Salt Cathedral of Colombia

From Bolivia to Namibia, there are few but enormous salt deserts in the world that can be visited, just as there are few salt mines in the world that open their doors to tourists. In Colombia you can find both, from sea level to the Andes mountains.

We invite you to take this tour through the salt deserts and salt mines of Colombia.

The Importance of Salt

The real value of salt, regardless of domestic consumption, which is marginal, lies in the fact that it is a fundamental input in at least a hundred industrial processes, ranging from the manufacture of balanced feed to detergents, glass and tannery treatment.

Colombia produces some 540,000 tons of salt annually, a relatively small figure. Forty percent of Colombia’s salt comes from the Zipaquirá, Nemocón, Upín and Galerazamba mines, while the remaining 60 percent is extracted from Manaure in La Guajira.

History of Salt Mines in Colombia

Origins of Salt Deposits in the Cretaceous Period

Salt deposits in the Andes are believed to have been left by ground movements during the Cretaceous, 200 million years ago, when the Eastern Cordillera was lifted, and large marine lakes were left to dry and sediment, until they were finally covered by a thick layer of earth.

Muisca economic values – Salt. Picture by: cultura10.org

Importance of Salt for the Muiscas

If there was one commodity that was prized by the indigenous people before the conquest, it was salt. This product was used in the barter system by the Muiscas.

Such was its value that salt allowed the creation of a network of roads and meeting places between indigenous markets where the product was exchanged for others such as corn, gold, ceramics or cotton. There was even a commercial relationship with coastal communities to exchange mine salt for sea salt.

The routes used by the Indians were around the Magdalena River, which connects the northern region of the country with the Muiscas in the Andes.

Salt was so important that for the Zipa and Zaque, the indigenous kings, territories such as Zipaquirá or Nemocón were the crown jewels and allowed them access to many luxuries that their geographical location denied them, including emeralds, fish and peacock feathers, among others.

Salt During the Spanish Colony

Later, salt became much more important among the Spaniards, who used it frequently, among other things, to preserve foodstuffs in the absence of refrigeration.

Salt During Colombia’s Independence

Later on, the income from the salt produced in Zipaquirá helped to finance the independence struggles. Salt was so important that during the 20’s of the last century, this activity was under the tutelage of the recently founded Bank of the Republic, as if it were the monetary policy of the time.

Recent History of Salt Mines in Colombia

In the 1970s, the salt monopoly remained in the hands of the state. Today the mines are managed by private industries.

Apart from its economic importance, and its exploitation as a natural resource, today the salt mines and brines are important tourist destinations in Colombia, the most outstanding being the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá, Colombia’s first Wonder of the World.

So if you were wondering in which country is the Salt Cathedral, well here is your answer, it is in Colombia!

Marine Salt Mines of Colombia

An unforgettable visit to the pink seas and salt deserts of Colombia, a universe of landscapes and surreal beauty.


The salt mine of Manaure is the department of La Guajira, in the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Manaure is the largest salt mine in Colombia, producing around 300,000 tons of salt per year. These mines are also an important part of the Wayuu indigenous people’s culture.

When you arrive at the salt mine of Manaure you will find an amazing salt desert. Besides, there is the big machinery pumping for the extraction of salt. Your guide will explain each of the salt extraction processes during the visit.

The main attraction of this maritime salt mine is the pink tone of its waters. This is due to the algae, small crustaceans and microorganisms which turn the water pink. Those amazing organisms are capable of withstanding these high levels of salinity.

At the end of the tour, you can go to the nearby beaches of Mayapo and El Pajaro. Both are quiet beaches with white sands and aquamarine green sea.

If you want to know more about other activities you can do near the Salina Manaure, check out our blogs: Travel Guide to Los Flamencos Fauna & Flora Sanctuary in ColombiaTravel Guide to Macuira: The Cloud Forest Oasis in La Guajira Desert and Northern Caribbean Birding Route.

How to get to Salinas de Manaure

Take a 1-hour flight from El Dorado International Airport (BOG) Bogotá to Almirante Padilla International Airport (RCH) at Riohacha city. Once at the airport, take an approximately 1,5- hours (74 km) ride to Manaure.

Colombia’s Pink Sea: Galerazamba

The famous Pink Sea of Colombia is located in Galerazamba, Santa Catalina, department of Bolivar, between the cities of Cartagena and Barranquilla. It is 54 km from the city Cartagena and 67 km from the city of Barranquilla. It is an also located 15 min (4 km) from the famous Totumo volcano.

Galerazamba is known as “the pink sea of Colombia”. Like Manaure saline, it is pink. The color is given by the beta carotenes produced by a halophilic microalgae, i.e. salt lover microbes.

The mine opens Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and on weekends the entrance starts at 8:00 a.m. The best time to visit this salt mine is in two seasons, one from December to April and the other from August to September.

How to get to Salina Galerazamba

Take a 1,5-hours flight from El Dorado (BOG) in Bogotá to Rafael Nuñez International Airport (CTG) at Cartagena city. Once at in Cartagena you take an approximately 1h30min ride (54 Km) to Salina Galerazamba.

Underground Salt Mines of Colombia

An unforgettable walk to the depths of the earth, descending through mining tunnels that support the mountain, you will know the most surprising corners of the Salt Mine, a universe of knowledge and sensations.

Nemocón Salt Mine

This beautiful salt mine is located near the municipality of Nemocón, in the department of Cundinamarca. The mine has more than 500 years of history underground and is considered a natural wonder thanks to its vernacular architecture, material testimony of the traditional subway mining. It opened its doors to the public 38 years ago.

The entrance door to the mine is a large German door 3 meters high, which is supported by thick trunks of eucalyptus. The eucalyptus trunks are still there because the salt filtered through the plant fibers. Then salt got solid and now the trunks are stronger than the rock.

Inside you will find the salt waterfall, more than 80 years old, and the spring or wishing well, which are some of their main scenarios. This is a magical thematic, mining, cultural, historical and scientific tour.

How to get to Nemocón Salt Mine

To get to the sanctuary you must take a 1 -hour road trip from the city of Bogotá to the town of Nemocón, total distance of 59 km. When you are in Nemocón you walk for 800 m until you reach the access point of the Nemocón Salt Mine.

Zipaquirá Salt Mine and the Salt Cathedral

This wonderful salt mine is located in the municipality of Zipaquira, in the department of Cundinamarca. It is in the middle of the Cerro del Zipa at 2,652 meters above sea level and has an average temperature of 14ºC (57º F).

When you access the mine you can feel the mineral smell and the whole environment is dark. In the inside, artificial highlights illuminate the carved rock and tunnels.

You will find beautiful sculptures carved by the miners. Among them there is La Piedad, whose face has strong indigenous features, in honor to the Muiscas. Also, you cannot miss is the water mirror, where light gives a fascinating optical effect over the water.

The Salt Cathedral

The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá is the result of salt deposits in the mountains of the municipality with more than 200 million years old. To build it, more than 250,000 tons of salt rock were extracted. And one of its great attractions is that this deposit is the largest reserve of rock salt in the world.

In 2007, the Salt Cathedral won a contest to choose the Seven Wonders of Colombia. In addition, it was also nominated among the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

This mine is a subway universe where you can find 8,500 square meters of a rich artistic collection, where the delicacy of art and the roughness of mining work result in sculptures carved on salt and marble in an architectural, cultural and natural environment.

Catholic Paths

The first is the Stations of the Cross, which commemorates the Way to Golgotha of Jesus Christ with his Cross. The second section mades up of the dome. From there you can see the 16-meter high cross carved in bas-relief at a distance of 145 meters. You can descend to the balconies over the chambers, the choir and the stairs of the labyrinth of the Narthex.

The final section leads to the center of the cathedral. A work carved in marble called The Creation of Man, a tribute to Michelangelo, locates there. Besides there are four huge cylindrical columns symbolizing the four evangelists, crossed by a crack symbolizing the nativity and descent of Christ.

The Salt Park

Although the Cathedral itself becomes Zipaquirá’s main tourist attraction, it is part of “El Parque de la Sal”, a thematic cultural space dedicated to mining, geology and natural resources.

The park has 32 hectares and is a unique natural reserve with green spaces, surrounded by nature with corners for resting and sports activities.

Some of the most important sites of the Salt Park are the Brine Museum, the Climbing Wall, the Miner’s Route, the Guasá 3D Movie, the Water Mirror, and the Light Show, where you can admire the impressive system of lights and sound throughout the tour, which further enhances this architectural and cultural icon.

Essensal: A Salt Spa

At the end of the tour you will find Essensal, a relaxation and wellness center where you can find a complete salt-based personal care scheme. It includes natural cosmetic products, body care and relaxation items, and different relaxing massage options focused on wellness.

From the moment you enter the mine, you will experience pleasant sensations of tranquility and harmony, while breathing pure air rich in natural microelements.

How to get to Zipaquirá Salt Mine

To get to the sanctuary you must take a 46-minutes road trip from the city of Bogotá to the town of Zipaquirá, total distance of 43 km. When you are in Zipaquirá you must take a 15-minutes road trip of 4 km to Catedral de Sal de Zipaquirá.

You can also take a tour with the Savannah Train Turistren.

Riverine Salt Mines of Colombia

Upín Salt Mine

Located in the department of Meta very close to the municipality of Restrepo, it is the least explored salt mine in Colombia, so we recommend that you do not miss the opportunity to discover it.

In the deposits you will be able to appreciate a salt water spring where you can see the liquid is transported to some cauldrons where it is exposed to high temperatures to evaporate.

This is also a good Birdwatching spot in Meta.

How to get to Mina de sal de Upín

Take a 1-hour flight from El Dorado (BOG) in Bogotá to La Vanguardia Airport (VVC) at Villavicencio city. Once at in Villavicencio you take an approximately 40-minutes ride (18 Km) to Restrepo,when you are in Restrepo you must take a 10-minutes road trip of 3 km to Mina de sal de Upín.

  • Colparques
  • Catedral de Sal
  • Portafolio
  • Expotur-eco
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.

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.


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.

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.