If you are looking for things to do in Villa de Leyva then read on. We spent an amazing 4 days in this beautiful colonial town and it soon became one of our favourite places in all of Colombia.
Villa de Leyva is a town that seems frozen in time. The whole town was declared a national monument in 1954 and since then the town and its people have made sure that its heritage has been preserved. I wish other areas of the world had such foresight.
The town has always attracted visitors to admire its beauty and its mild climate. You will read in other places that the town is now overrun with visitors but in our experience, that was not the case at all.
What we did find was a stunning town full of boutique hotels and guesthouses, great local restaurants and ultra-friendly locals. If you are visiting Villa de Leyva I’m sure you will enjoy your stay just as much as we did.
Things to do in Villa de Leyva
Table of Contents
Plaza Mayor Villa de Leyva
If you have visited Spain or other Latin American countries you would have come across plenty of plazas. Well, there are plazas and then there in Plaza Mayor. This plaza is huge, 120m by 120m making it one of the largest plazas in the Americas.
All around the plaza are beautiful colonial buildings some of which are now restaurants, coffee shops, bars and cafes. There is a cute church on one side of the plaza which seems to fill up with the whole town when mass is on. We loved sitting in Plaza Mayor watching the world go by. It is great for people watching and like most plazas in Colombia, it is the place where most people congregate when the sun has gone down.
Visit Casa Terracota
If there is one thing you MUST do when visiting Villa de Leyva then this is it. Casa Terracota is a building designed by world-renowned Colombian architect Octavio Mendoza. When I say building, it is so much more than bricks and mortar. It could also be described as an art gallery, a work of art, or a home.
The building is made entirely from clay using no other materials to support the two-storey building. It is actually considered the largest pottery in the world. The shape of the building is in harmony with the nearby hills and inside there are colourful mosaics in almost every room. It took Octavio 20 years to complete the 5,400 square feet structure. From the outside, it doesn’t look that big but once you enter you will discover room after room.
The garden surrounding the building is equally impressive so make sure you walk around it to find more quirky pieces.
We spent hours here discovering all the amazing touches around the house. We must have taken 1,000 photos as we walked around which I am sure you will too.
Casa Terracota can be reached in 10 minutes by car and 30 minutes by foot (we walked).
Casa Terracota Information:
- Address: Vereda Monquira, Villa de Leyva, Boyacá, Colombia
- Opening Hours: 09:00 – 18:00
- Admission Fee: 10,000 COP
Museo del Carmen Villa de Leyva
If religious art is your thing then Museo del Carmen is the place for you. Housing some of the best and most important religious art in Colombia Museo del Carmen is located in a convent of the same name. Some of the art here dates back to the 16th century and you will find paintings, carvings, altarpieces and other religious objects.
Museo del Carmen Information:
- Address: Plazuela del Carmen, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia
- Opening Hours: 10:00-13:00 & 14:00-17:00 Wed-Mon
- Admission Fee: 4,000 COP
Casona La Guaca Villa de Leyva
Casona La Guaca is a notable colonial building with a lovely courtyard in the back. We didn’t notice the building at first because in the lovely courtyard there is also a lovely restaurant! We recommend coming to the restaurant and then admiring the building.
This was our first port of call after checking into our guesthouse. It truly felt like we had arrived in Colombia proper as families sat all around us eating what looked like every dish from the menu. Don’t get me wrong we really liked Bogota but Villa de Leyva took it up a notch.
Casa Museo de Luis Alberto Acuna
This museum is rated as one of the best in Villa de Leyva. Casa Museo de Luis Alberto Acuna features works by the artist of the same name. He is classed as one of Colombia’s most influential painters but he also did sculptor, wrote books and was a historian. Set up in the mansion where Acuna lived for the last 15 years of his life, this museum is the most comprehensive collection of his work in Colombia.
Casa Museo de Luis Alberto Acuna Information:
- Address: Plaza Mayor
- Opening Hours: 09:00 – 18:00
- Admission Fee: adult/child COP$6000/4000
It is hard to miss Iglesia Parroquial as it is one of the highest buildings in the town. This parish church was built in 1608 and it has hardly changed since that time. It is best to pop in when there isn’t a mass on to admire the interior.
Centro de Investigaciones Paleontologicas
We really enjoyed this small but informative Palenotology museum. Who doesn’t love dinosaurs right? The museum holds the oldest known turtle fossil, a full-body plesiosaurus (a Jurrasic era Sea Dragon) and a sabre tiger tooth. The museum is slightly outside of town but it is a pleasant walk.
Centro de Investigaciones Paleontologicas Information:
- Address: Km 5 vía Santa Sofia Vereda Monquira, Villa de Leyva
- Opening Hours: 8am-noon & 2-5pm Tue-Thu, 8am-5pm Fri-Sun
- Admission Fee: adult/child COP$9000/5000
Eating & Drinking in Villa de Leyva
Our favourite restaurant by far was Mercado Municipal, we went there at least twice or was it 3 times? The pork ribs were amazing as are the tacos. Villa de Leyva is not a late-night drinking place. It is more laidback. We mainly drank beers in the bars scattered around Plaza Mayor.
Villa de Leyva Hotels
Here are 3 hotels in Villa de Leyva that covers every price range. All come highly recommended and are walking distance from the main sights.
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Hospederia Centro de Convenciones Duruelo
Hospederia Centro de Convenciones Duruelo is a luxury hotel in the heart of Villa de Leyva. Featuring a garden, an outdoor heated pool, a spa, and an indoor pool, Hospederia Centro de Convenciones Duruelo offers free Wi-Fi, a game room and a fitness centre. Previous guests love the garden, the rooms and the excellent service.
Hotel El Giro
Hotel El Giro is one of the most popular mid-range hotels in Villa de Leyva. Everybody raves about the breakfasts here so make sure you don’t miss it. Other highlights include the pool, hot tub and clean rooms. The service is top class too.
Hospedaje Villa Monica
Hospedaje Villa Monica is where we stayed. It is a low budget family-run guesthouse with clean rooms and free breakfast. It is set just around the corner from the main bus station. The hospitality of the owners is warm and friendly, you feel like you are part of the family.
We hope this post gives you some ideas of what to do in Villa de Leyva. If we have missed something out that you would recommend, please let us know.
Are you travelling to Colombia? Read our other Colombia posts first:
First Impressions Of Colombia – Colombia: The Biggest Risk Is Wanting To Stay | First Impressions Of Colombia. If you are visiting Colombia for the first time read this post first.
Three days in Bogota – Three Days In Bogota | Unmissable Things To Do In Bogota. If you are visiting Bogota check out our 3-day plan on all the sites to visit during your stay.
Bogota To Villa de Leyva – Do you want to know how to get from Bogota to Villa de Leyva? Then check out our quick guide on how to do it by bus, taxi or minibus.