The journey to Villa de Leyva from San Gil through the misty valleys was unforgettable. It felt as if we were transported back in time as we disembarked from the bus, probably due to the white washed buildings, cobblestones and the light fog that was hanging in the air. With the threat of a downpour we hurriedly walked to our accommodation, thankfully it was close by because it started to rain out of the heavens for nearly 2 hours, cue another stream running through the streets. We spent two nights in Posada Saquenzipa which had a nice comfy bed and lovely breakfast.
Quite a dramatic introduction to Villa de Leyva
A lot of Bogotonians visit Villa de Leyva at the weekend for the sun I suspect so it is the place to be for a few drinks at the weekend. It seemed quieter when we were there on a Saturday but I think this was due to the rain.
We had one full day in Villa de Leyva and visited some of the main and close attractions on offer. Our top things to do in Villa de Leyva are below and if you have more time we noted some other suggestions too.
Our top picks for Villa de Leyva
1. Casa Terracota
Casa Terracota from the outside
When we heard there was a house made of pottery we had to visit. We walked about 20 minutes along the road to Santa Sofia. It cost 10,000COP to enter but it was really cool inside both literally and figuratively. There are lots of creative pieces from spider light shades, faces sculpted into the wall and beautiful mosaic covered bathrooms to name a few. It really is a beautiful house and it even comes with a roof top BBQ and seating area. We didn’t learn anything about the house, who built it, if anyone lives there etc which would have made the visit better but overall it was worth the visit.
A nice rooftop area
2. El Fossil
We thought we would be able to catch the bus to Santa Sofia and get dropped off closer to El Fosil but we didn’t, maybe as it was a Sunday. Instead we walked from the Terracota house to El Fosil, partly on road and partly on a dirt road. A jeep with POLICIA marked on the bonnet pulled in asking us if we wanted a lift we thought “yes this is great we might get a cheap ride” but no he was asking for 20,000COP and he wasn’t a cop!
A Kronosaurus fossil
After about 50 minutes walking we arrived at the museum. It cost 8,000COP to enter and is small with no English translation but you can still appreciate all the fossils, especially the Kronosaurus which is huge at 7 m long. The main attraction, the fossil, is the world’s most complete marine fossil and remains insitu where it was discovered in 1977 by a farmer. There was what seemed like a detailed description and explanation about the fossils given by a guide, however it was all in Spanish.
3. El Infiernito
El Infiernito or the field of tall, erect, rock peni sculptors (yes you read that correctly) was something I had to witness with my own eyes! It cost 7,000COP to enter and walk amongst these rocks. It is an astronomical site which was used for religious and spiritual purposes by the Muiscas. The rocks were used as symbols of fertility for man and land. There wasn’t much information on display so it was really just a visit to take a picture beside the huge phalluses!
Aoife and 1 of the many giant phallus statues!
4. Enjoy the colonial town
The town is small and pretty and after a long day of walking around we found a nice menu del dia and enjoyed it while overlooking the plaza. Plaza Mayor is the largest plaza in Colombia at 14,000 square meters and is a pretty nice area to chill out in. We ended the day with a stroll to a park, sampled some ice-cream and some beers to cap it off.
The lovely church in the giant square
Other things to do in Villa de Leyva
There are a number of other activities to do and places to visit in Villa de Leyva if you have more time. There’s Pozo Azul which costs 10,000COP to enter. As it had been raining a lot we didn’t bother visiting as we didn’t think the water would be blue. There is a vineyard close-by where you can sample some Colombian wine and also an Ostrich farm. If its hiking you seek visit Iqaque Park, or maybe you want to explore the area without expending much energy, try renting a quad bike or horse riding.
The countryside around Villa de Leyva is lovely!
One experience we wont forget
After a full day of exploring the town we chilled out in the posada reading some books. I noticed what I thought were a few moths hovering round the window but thought nothing of them. Fast forward a few hours to a room full of winged and non-winged insects flying and crawling around the room. Turns out they were termites, spurred on by the amount of rain the day before. Thankfully there was another room that we could sleep in nightmare free. Another memory to add to the bank!
Next up was Bogotá. Check out our blog for our adventures while there.