Colombia is home to some truly lovely small towns, but many of them have become much more popular with tourists in recent years and are now much busier than they once were; towns such as Salento and Villa de Leyva are far from the sleepy little towns they once were. However, there are still plenty of delightful little Colombian settlements that are as peaceful as they ever were. Here are nine of them.
Perhaps one of the quietest and most relaxed little towns in Colombia, Pijao is located in the south of Quindio department, the same region as the much more well-known Salento. However, the difference between the two towns is night and day: where Salento is touristy and full of hostels and restaurants, Pijao is laid-back and has maintained much of its traditional atmosphere.
La Playa de Belen
One of Colombia’s 17 Heritage Towns, La Playa de Belen is located in Norte de Santander department, a region that hardly sees any tourism, especially compared to its neighbouring region of Santander. La Playa is a tiny little town of cobbled streets, red-tiled roofs and whitewashed walls, making it a lot like the more famous town of Barichara. It’s also one of the quietest and most beautiful small towns in Colombia.
Boyaca region is like a factory for beautiful little towns, and Mongui is easily one of the loveliest. Although it is also a Heritage Town, Mongui is incredibly undiscovered by tourists, and during the week, in particular, you will hardly see another visitor. Conveniently located not too far from Bogotà and home to some of the region’s nicest examples of colonial-era architecture, Mongui feels like a town out of time and is about as peaceful as it gets.
Located in the south of Quindio region, not far from Pijao, Buenavista is a tiny little town perched on a mountain ridge, offering stirring panoramic views over the distant Western Andes of Colombia. Even its name means ‘great view’ in Spanish – that’s how incredible the views really are! The town itself is pleasant, relaxed and extremely peaceful, especially during the week. It’s also home to one of Colombia’s best small hostels, the Panorama Café Hostel.
Yet another of Colombia’s lovely Heritage Towns, Salamina might just be the least well known of all 17 towns on the list. Located a couple of hours’ drive north of the city of Manizales, Salamina feels as if not much has changed there since the town was first built, almost 200 years ago. It’s a tiny little town perched on a mountain ridge with beautiful views of the surrounding valleys, and the peace and quiet make it worth a visit if you find yourself in that region of Colombia.
This tiny little town is the access point for visits to the beautiful El Cocuy National Park, but the town of El Cocuy has a lot to recommend it as well. Blessed with a truly authentic atmosphere and some of the friendliest, most welcoming folks in all of Colombia, the town is wonderfully located in a mountain valley alongside the snowcapped peaks of the neighbouring national park.
Jerico is located in southern Antioquia department, but it sees far fewer tourists than nearby Jardín. Why that is is unclear, because Jerico is just about as beautiful a town as you can imagine, with a plaza surrounded by colourful buildings, a giant church which towers over the sleepy little town and absolutely jaw-dropping views over the nearby Cauca River Valley. If you are looking for a laid-back, peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of Medellín, then you could do much worse than Jerico.
Famed as the sleepiest small town in Colombia, Mompox is located on an island in the Magdalena River which, up until very recently, had no bridges connecting it to the rest of the country. The historical quarter of the town, located alongside the banks of the river, really does live up to that peaceful reputation (at least by day; when the vallenato music goes on at night, the sleepy vibe is shattered). The intense heat makes for a very slow-moving little town and it’s easy to spend days there barely doing a thing.
Another pretty little town in Boyaca department, Iza is even smaller and more peaceful than the aforementioned Mongui. The town is full of friendly local people and its whitewashed buildings make it just about the most picturesque town you can imagine in Colombia. Although Iza is easy to visit, few tourists make the trip, so you will almost certainly find yourself the only visitor in town.
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