Full Guide to Villa de Leyva (14 Must-Do Activities in 2023)

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Welcome to Villa de Leyva, a beautiful destination in the heart of Colombia, rich in history and AMAZING LANDSCAPES.


We’ve compiled a list of the 14 best things to do in the Villa de Leyva + the best places to stay, the best time to visit, and so much more.


Let’s get started!



Villa de Leyva
Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Villa de Leyva is a charming little village located in Colombia, specifically in the Andean mountains.


Just imagine a quick drive 150 kilometers north of Bogota and you’re there!


Surrounded by rolling hills and lush valleys, this place feels like a world away from the busy city.


And that’s just the beginning. The town’s rich history and stunning Spanish architecture are truly a sight to witness. It’s like stepping back in time.

Check out this video below if you want to feel what Villa de Leyva is like!

Things To Do

Wander Through the Cobblestone Streets

Villa de Leyva Cobble Stone Streets
Photo by Paula Prieto on Unsplash

Ready to step into a different era?


Just take a stroll down Villa de Leyva’s cobblestone streets.


The town’s colonial atmosphere is so well-preserved, it’s easy to forget you’re in the 21st century.


And guess what?


That’s not even the best part. As you wander through the streets, you can’t help but admire the stunning Spanish architecture.


Each building tells a story, from the grand balconies to the rustic wooden doors, there’s something incredible to see at every turn.


Play safe and book a tour with a local showing you the best spots!


Plaza Mayor Exploration

Villa de Leyva Plaza Mayor
Photo by Julian on Unsplash

Let’s head over to Plaza Mayor, one of the largest cobblestone squares in South America. Plaza Mayor is known for its vast expanse of cobblestones stretching as far as the eye can see.


Impressive, right? But hold on, there’s more to this square than its size.


Standing at one end of the Plaza is the iconic Church of Nuestra Señora del Rosario.


Picture this: A stunning white-washed church that’s as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside.


It’s a sight you won’t easily forget. Plaza Mayor and its iconic church are must-see attractions in Villa de Leyva!


Casa Terracota

Casa Terracota

Casa Terracota is also known as the world’s largest piece of pottery. Casa Terracota is a house made entirely of clay, stretching over 500 square meters.


The person behind this architectural piece is Octavio Mendoza. He spent 15 years transforming his vision into reality. Talk about dedication!


Every inch of the house showcases his innovative use of earth, air, water, and fire to create a sustainable masterpiece.


Paleontological Research Center

Paleontological Research Center

Let’s dive into Villa de Leyva’s prehistoric past at the Paleontological Research Center.


It’s like being part of your very own Jurassic Park adventure!


It gets even better, among the center’s treasures is a complete Kronosaurus skeleton.


Picture a massive sea creature, its fossilized remains preserved for you to admire. It’s a sight that will surely leave you amazed.


Fossil Hunting at El Fósil

Fossil Hunting at El Fósil

Ready to roll up your sleeves and get a little dirty?


Going fossil hunting at El Fósil is a truly hands-on experience for amateur paleontologists.


This isn’t just any random digging spot. El Fósil is in a stunning natural setting, adding an extra layer of beauty to your fossil-hunting adventure.


Picture sweeping landscapes, the sun casting long shadows as you make your exciting discoveries.



Photo by Michael Barón on Unsplash

If you are looking for a colorful day trip, Ráquira is THE PLACE TO BE!


Ráquira is known for being a vibrant pottery village just a 40-minute drive away from Villa de Leyva.


Imagine what it would be like walking down streets lined with rainbow-colored houses, each one more eye-catching than the last. It’s like stepping into a living, breathing work of art! But wait, it doesn’t stop there.


Ráquira is also a shopper’s paradise. Imagine browsing through local ceramics, textiles, and handicrafts, each piece telling a story of the town’s rich cultural heritage.


It’s the perfect place to pick up a unique souvenir or two.


Waterfalls of La Periquera

Waterfalls of La Periquera

The waterfalls of La Periquera are a hidden gem to consider as the hiker’s paradise.


While you wander through the landscapes, with every step bringing you closer to the heart of the park, be ready to be fascinated by a series of waterfalls, each being a masterpiece of its own.


But hold on, it gets even better:


At the end of your hike awaits a pristine natural pool. You could take a refreshing dip in the cool, clear water, surrounded by the beauty of nature.


It’s the perfect reward after your journey.


Trust me, hiking to the waterfalls of La Periquera is an experience you won’t want to miss!


Ecce Homo Monastery

Ecce Homo Convent

Imagine stepping back in time, and walking through the sacred halls of this former monastery, each corner has a historical significance. It’s like stepping directly into a fascinating history book!


But wait, there’s even more to see. The monastery is also home to remarkable architecture and religious art.


This is a particularly interesting visit for those who are interested in seeing the beauty of craftsmanship and architecture.


A key feature of this monastery are the arched columns running along the covered passageway. Can you imagine the skilled hands that meticulously crafted each detail, creating a masterpiece that continues to awe visitors today?


Museo del Carmen

Museo del Carmen

Museo del Carmen is a journey filled with art, history, and culture.


You’re stepping into a world where religious art and history come alive. Each exhibit, each artifact, tells a captivating story that immerses you in a time gone by. Exciting, isn’t it?


The museum is also a treasure trove of the region’s rich cultural heritage. Imagine tracing the roots of the local culture, each exhibits a chapter in the vibrant tapestry of tradition.


It’s the perfect place to gain a deeper understanding of the past that shaped the present.


ATV Adventures

ATV Adventures Villa de Leyva

Looking for a thrilling adventure that combines stunning views and adrenaline-pumping experiences?


ATV Adventures gives thrilling off-road exploration.


It’s not just a ride; it’s an adventure that takes you off the beaten path, away from the regular tourist routes. The thrill of navigating through challenging landscapes, the joy of conquering the unknown – it’s an experience like no other!


As you power through the trails, you’ll be treated to stunning views that are as breathtaking as the ride itself.


Play safe and book a tour with a local showing you the best spots during your adventure!


Pozos Azules

Pozos Azules

Just a short 10-minute drive from Villa de Leyva, you’ll find Pozos Azules. Known for its crystal clear man-made waterholes set in the middle of the Colombian landscapes.


Each pond is surrounded by stunning rock formations, creating a striking contrast against the azure water. It’s like stepping into a painting!


Pozos Azules isn’t just a beauty for the eyes. It’s also a paradise for photographers and nature lovers.


Here’s a tip: For the best photo opportunities, try visiting during the golden hour – early morning or late afternoon.


And don’t forget to explore the surroundings too. Just three kilometers away from the urban area of Villa de Leyva, on the road that leads to Santa Sofía, you’ll find enough beautiful spots perfect for that dream shot.


Villa de Leyva Observatory

Villa de Leyva Observatory

How often in your life do you get the chance to look through a telescope?


Villa de Leyva Observatory offers the opportunity for visitors to spot distant galaxies!


The observatory is led by knowledgeable astronomers who are as passionate about sharing their love for the cosmos as they are about exploring it.


But the highlight? You will be learning about the universe from experts who can answer your questions, guide your telescope, and share fascinating insights about the celestial bodies you’re observing.


Wine Tasting at Marqués de Villa de Leyva

Imagine swirling, sniffing, and sipping some of Colombia’s finest wines at Marqués de Villa de Leyva winery.


Located in Sutamarchán, just 12 km from Villa de Leyva, this vineyard offers a unique opportunity to learn more about the art of winemaking.


During the guided tours, you’ll learn about the cultivation of grapes, explore the wine cellars, and even get a history lesson on the vineyard.


Cultural Festivals and Events

Wine Tasting at Marqués de Villa de Leyva

One of the most famous is the Festival de Luces. Held annually, this festival transforms the town into a spectacle of lights, creating a magical atmosphere that captivates both locals and visitors alike.


But that’s not all! Other notable events include the International Jazz Festival in June, the celebration of the Virgen del Carmen in July, and the Astronomy Festival.


Each event offers a unique experience, filled with music, performances, and an infectious festive spirit. Can you think of a better way to immerse yourself in the local culture?



Villa de Leyva

By Bus: The most popular method of reaching Villa de Leyva is by bus.


Buses depart from Bogotá’s Terminal del Norte and Terminal Satelite Del Norte, providing direct routes or via Tunja where you change to another bus.


This is a cost-effective option, with prices ranging from $5 to $10.


And don’t worry about your luggage – all buses and collectivos will drop you off just 3 blocks from the main plaza in Villa de Leyva, within walking distance of most hotels.


Private Transport: For a more private and comfortable journey, consider renting a car.


Although this option is more expensive, it offers greater flexibility and convenience, especially if you’re traveling with a lot of luggage or prefer a direct route.


Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the scenic drive from Bogotá or Tunja to Villa de Leyva at your own pace.


We recommend using Rental Cars to book your car. They have a wide range of cars to choose from at extremely competitive prices. Check them out below:


Navigating Villa de Leyva: Once you’ve reached Villa de Leyva, getting around is easy. The town is easily walkable, allowing you to explore its charming streets and historic sites on foot. For longer distances, taxis and local buses are always available.


The best time to visit

We recommend visiting Villa de Leyva between December to February. During this period it is DRY SEASON in Colombia so you can expect the best weather conditions and clear skies!


However, if you’re looking to save on your holiday, consider visiting in April. This month typically sees the lowest hotel prices and flight tickets.


Where To Stay

Hotel Boutique El Carmel Villa de Leyva



Hotel Boutique El Carmel is a unique hotel only 500 meters away from the center of Villa de Leyva! The hotel offers various amenities such as free parking, a sauna, and a hot tub. 




Hotel Casa Terra With just eight rooms, this charming hotel provides a cozy and intimate atmosphere that’s perfect for couples or small families. Each room is decorated, combining modern comforts with the rustic charm of Villa de Leyva.




Casa de Campo Hotel & Spa Traveling on a budget doesn’t mean you have to compromise on quality. Here, you can enjoy a comfortable stay without breaking the bank. This budget-friendly hotel offers clean and cozy rooms, friendly staff, and a peaceful location.



Villa de Leyva

Chuska Cocina This charming eatery serves up traditional Colombian dishes with a modern twist, creating a delightful dining experience.


Happy Monkey Who said healthy food can’t be delicious? Certainly not Happy Monkey! With its innovative menu of wholesome, flavorful dishes, this restaurant is a MUST TRY.

Restaurante El Rincón Gourmet De la Villa For those who like gourmet cuisine, Restaurante El Rincón Gourmet De la Villa is a must-visit. With its elegant atmosphere and refined menu, this restaurant promises an unforgettable dining experience.


Mercado Municipal A Foodie’s Paradise! From local delicacies to international favorites, this market has something for everyone.


Santa Lucía – Pizzería Gelatería Cafe If you are looking for a Slice of Italy in Colombia, this pizzeria and gelateria brings the flavors of Italy right to your table.

Rincon Argentino Experience the rich flavors of Argentinean cuisine. From succulent steaks to empanadas, this restaurant serves up an authentic menu of Argentinian cuisine.


Final Tips and Tricks

Villa de Leyva

To end our guide, we’d love to give you some of our final tips and tricks, so you don’t have to think about them.


Travel accessories: When you are traveling, it is always practical to carry the right gear with you. So don’t forget all your essential travel accessories!


Stay Hydrated: It’s essential to carry enough water with you due to the high temperatures and arid climate. We recommend 2 liters per person for 4 hours.


Adjusting to New Heights: Consider spending a few days at a lower altitude before ascending, staying hydrated, eating light meals, and rest when needed. Remember, slow and steady wins the race!



That’s it for this blog post about Villa de Leyva!


With all the different activities and information we shared with you, your trip to Villa de Leyva can only be full of amazing experiences.


Let us know in the comments below which experiences you incorporated into your trip!



Is Villa de Leyva worth a visit?

Absolutely! Villa de Leyva is an enchanting town rich in history and charm. With its cobblestone streets, colonial architecture, and unique attractions, it’s worth a visit.

What is Villa de Leyva known for?

Villa de Leyva is known for its well-preserved colonial architecture, beautiful main square (Plaza Mayor), dinosaur fossils, local wineries like Marqués de Villa de Leyva, and various cultural festivals.

How far is Villa de Leyva from Bogotá?

Villa de Leyva is approximately 160 kilometers or about a 3 to 4-hour drive from Bogotá.

What is the history of Villa de Leyva Colombia?

Founded in 1572, Villa de Leyva served as a retreat for military officers, clergy, and nobility in the Spanish colonial period. It’s one of the few towns in Colombia that has preserved much of its original colonial style and architecture.

What should I wear in Villa de Leyva?

Comfortable clothing and walking shoes are recommended due to the cobblestone streets. The weather can vary, so layers and a light rain jacket could be useful.

How many nights in Villa de Leyva?

Two to three nights in Villa de Leyva would allow you to fully explore the town and its surrounding attractions without feeling rushed.

How much is a taxi from Bogota to Villa de Leyva?

The cost of a taxi from Bogota to Villa de Leyva can vary, but it’s generally around $100-USD 120.

Can you drink the water in Villa de Leyva Colombia?

While the tap water in Villa de Leyva is treated, it’s generally recommended to drink bottled water, especially for travelers with sensitive stomachs.

Can you brush your teeth with tap water in Colombia?

Yes, you can brush your teeth with tap water in Colombia. However, if you have a sensitive stomach, you might want to use bottled water just to be safe.

Can you walk around with drinks in Colombia?

In general, it’s not common to walk around with alcoholic drinks in Colombia. Some cities may have laws against it, and it’s generally considered disrespectful.


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Laura & Alexander

Laura & Alexander

We're two full-time Belgian travellers sharing our experience through our blog. Our aim is to inspire your next travel adventure with our best tips and tricks from every country we visit.

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