Bucaramanga, the capital city of Santander department in Colombia’s North-East, is a pretty city of some half a million people; a city of parks and universities, clean and relaxed, with a pleasant year-round temperature of around 22 degrees. Yet it remains a relatively untouristic Colombian city, with just a few hostels to its name. However, Bucaramanga is a lovely little stop-over for a few days on a Colombian trip, and deserves more attention from travellers. Here are 5 great ideas for what to do on a visit to the ‘Pretty City’:
Bucaramanga is famous for it’s parks: the centre of the city is full of green spaces, ranging from a city block in size, to lush green valleys hidden from the hustle and bustle of urban life. My personal favourite was Parque Ecologico La Flora, set in a long valley, and filled with birds.
2. Go paragliding
Santander is one of the best places in Colombia to experience one of man’s oldest dreams: flight. The company Colombia Paragliding, who are linked with Kasa Guane Hostel in Bucaramanga offer daily flights from 2pm with stunning panoramic views over the city and the Santander countryside. It’s a magnificent way to experience the city from a different angle.
3. Visit the Botanical Gardens
Just outside of the city centre are Bucaramanga’s botanical gardens which, even if your park wanderings haven’t satisfied you, are a wonderful way of escaping urban life for an afternoon, and reveling in the green, lush surrounding, the air full of bird calls and the scent of tropical flowers.
4. Eat, eat, eat!
Santander is rightly famous for it’s gastronomy within Colombia, and the department’s capital is a great place to try out carne oreada, cabrito con pepitoria, Santander-style arepas and much more. And don’t forget about the big-bottomed ants…
5. Visit Casa del Libro Total
This was a surprise addition to my list, but after a visit to this wonderful old colonial house in the city’s old-town I added it in at No. 5 straight away: the building has been converted into a fantastic cultural space, with an online directory of books which can be accessed through computers on-site or downloaded at home, as well as a range of art exhibitions and a great coffee place in the courtyard. It fits in perfectly with Bucaramanga’s image as a city of education.