As one of the most beautiful colonial towns in Colombia and a UNESCO heritage site, Villa de Leyva is a must see destination for many. Quality restaurants, intriguing museums, scenic views and a relaxed atmosphere make a leisurely stay here of a few days or more ideal.
Marcela’s article, A Short Guide to Villa de Leyva, is a great place to start for information, but since it is such a charming and increasingly popular place to visit, we thought some further recommendations would be useful.
Finding your way around
The spacious and picturesque central plaza is a great place to start. Maps are available from tourist information on Carrera 9, east of the plaza, or from tour operators based in the plaza itself, often open when the main tourist information office is not.
The plaza is home to several good restaurants. Though more expensive than others located less centrally, a good view of the plaza makes it worthwhile, especially at weekends when buzzing with activity. If you are after a drink, Dorfkneipe serves a good selection of artisan beers (a few doors down on the left of the church). Good places to eat include Portales, that does a crisp, refreshing chicken salad (on the southeast corner near Carrera 9) and Aceiteunas Especiales, a popular pizza parlour whose generously topped house special is a marvel (on the northeast corner, Carrera 10). Down the street, also try Restaurant Casa Blanca for delicious and good value set meals (Calle 13) and for breakfast, the Panaderia donde Dona Aleja, which does great pastries (Calle 14).
Within the town, the Casa Museo de Luis Alberto Acuna on the north side of the plaza displays this local artist’s work in the house he used to live in, which includes sculpture and painting influenced by the indigenous Muisca people that once inhabited the area. The museum of religious art housed within the Monasterio de las Carmelitas Descalzas is also not to be missed, though opening hours are often limited to weekends.
A stiff hike, cycle ride or taxi journey outside the town are numerous other sites of interest. The pozos azules (blue pools) are a natural beauty spot to relax and while swimming used to be allowed, this was not so on a recent visit.
Other attractions include the Casa de Barro (clay house), built and baked from clay exactly like pottery, and the Muisca observatory, or Infiernito, which can be visited via a circular route not far from the town. The well preserved observatory, which dates to 1500 BC, features several phallus shaped columns which was used to observe the movement of the stars. Further afield is the Museo El Fosil, which contains a large, impressive Kronosaurus fossil.
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