Villa de Leyva – Colombia’s Most Charming Colonial Town
Located in the Andes just a short distance from Colombia’s capital of Bogotá, Villa de Leyva feels like a place trapped in time. It is a charming place of neat colonial architecture, cobblestoned streets, and friendly people. Learn about some of the best things to do in Villa de Leyva here!
Things to Do in Villa de Leyva
For a small town, there is a surprising number of things to see in Villa de Leyva. From prehistoric fossils, to charming streets, to the gorgeous surrounding countryside, there’s more to do here than meets the eye.
See the Fossils Found Here
This area was under water millions of years ago. However, it was a shallow area close to the shore, which meant it was teeming with prehistoric sea life. Villa de Leyva is one of the best paleontological sites for prehistoric marine life in the world. Its most famous paleontologic site is El Fósil, a nearly complete skeleton of a Kronosaurus, a giant marine dinosaur. The fossil remains in the ground exactly where it was found with a community run museum built up around it.
Nearby, at the Centro de Investigaciones Paleontólogos, you can find many more examples of fossils found in the area on display. Villa de Leyva is one of the richest areas for the finding of ammonites, small marine shelled animals, and there are tons of examples of all sizes on display. Here there is also a portion of a brachiosaur leg and several examples of ancient turtle fossils. Finally, there are some examples of plesiosaurs, with long necks that inspired the legend of the Loch Ness monster.
Take in the Views of the Countryside
The area around Villa de Leyva is gorgeous. The plateau has generally pleasant weather, and the views of the surrounding hills and mountains are very pretty. There are also several neat sites worth visiting nearby.
First, the Casa Terracota is a fascinating visit. This home is made entirely out of clay, following the traditional indigenous style. In fact, this was a private home, however, the architect and owner decided to turn it into a tourist attraction since so many people were coming to see it anyway! It’s a fascinating looking structure that blends art, architecture, and sustainability.
Other nearby sites of interest include the Pozos Azules, a series of small lakes where plankton and algae grow to give it a neat color. Here you can also take an ATV or horseback ride. There are several vineyards close to Villa de Leyva as well. The weather and soil here are ideal, and it’s the only area in Colombia that is good for wine production. Visiting one is a neat way to spend an afternoon sampling the wine while taking in the mountain views. Finally, there is also an ostrich farm outside Villa de Leyva. In addition to feeding the ostriches, you can also see a number of other animals up close.
See the Nearby Towns
To get even more great views of the surrounding area, a tour of the nearby heritage towns is a great way to do it while experiencing more of the surrounding area. The neatest town nearby is Raquira. This small town is famous for its artisan ceramic work. If you buy a clay coffee mug or bowl in a souvenir shop in Colombia, there is a pretty good chance it was made here.
On a visit to the town, you can not only see the pretty and colorful central plaza and church, but see tons of examples of the impressive ceramic work. Everything from simple coffee mugs to huge and ornate lawn decorations are made here. There are also lots of other artisan crafts made here such as hammocks. It’s truly neat to take some time to browse and see them all and maybe even take something home!
Hang out in the Plaza Mayor
The most iconic image of Villa de Leyva is without a doubt its central plaza known as the Plaza Mayor. This square is one of the largest central plazas in all of South America. It’s 14,000 square meters is actually a tiny bit larger than Bogotá’s Plaza Bolívar.
It is still an uneven but charming area of cobblestones with the pretty central church and mountains behind it. This is a great place to take some photos, enjoy a coffee or hot chocolate and arepa, or just hang out and take it all in. Many of the town’s best restaurants and cafes are located nearby as well.
Be Charmed by the Rest of Town
When walking around the cobblestoned streets of Villa de Leyva, you may feel transported back in time. Much of the town here doesn’t look all that much different from how it may have looked a few hundred years ago. Leaving yourself some time to just stroll through town and enjoy the charm of it all is definitely one of the best things to do in Villa de Leyva.
Set in the Andes, the weather in Villa de Leyva can vary. Warm sunny days are very pleasant, but the evenings can get chilly, so be sure to have a good jacket. Comfortable shoes for the cobblestone streets are also a good idea.
If you’d like to be charmed by Villa de Leyva yourself, you can do so as part of our 7 Day Andes Package or 12 Day Heart of Colombia Package which also takes you to Colombia’s coffee producing region. For a truly unforgettable trip, consider our 19 Day Bogotá to Cartagena Package or our 23 Day Ultimate Colombia Experience. We can also construct a perfect, custom trip just for you that includes Villa de Leyva and whatever other destinations you would like to see in Colombia!
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