Home Santander Mini Guide Barichara (& San Gil) | One of the most beautiful colonial villages in Colombia
What to do in Barichara Colombia

Mini Guide Barichara (& San Gil) | One of the most beautiful colonial villages in Colombia

by Sabine
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Picturesque Barichara, a village in the department of Santander, is known as one of the most beautiful and best preserved colonial villages in Colombia. Just a 45-minute drive from popular San Gil, the village is often visited as a day trip due to its somewhat remote location. However, it is well worth spending a few days there to discover this gem. Unlike busy and gray San Gil, Barichara is an oasis of tranquility and history. The village is so beautiful, you will be amazed. By now I have been there many times, I never get tired of it. In this article you will read all about Barichara (and San Gil) and what to see and do, including helpful tips and a list of hotels. Go back in time and enjoy a typical Colombian village!


Barichara: a piece of history


Most villages and towns in Colombia have a colonial town center, but Barichara is one open-air museum. As soon as you drive into the village you fall in love. Not for nothing is Barichara known as one of the most beautiful villages in Colombia.

Barichara is known for its well-preserved colonial architecture. The buildings are made of slate, which gives a special look to the streets and squares.

In 2010, Barichara was declared a Colombian Heritage City, of which Colombia has only 18.

Not only tourists feast their eyes here. Barichara is a well-known film location in Colombia. And did you know that the unique, colorful architecture served as the inspiration for the setting in the successful Disney animation movie Encanto?

Barichara is located in the beautiful department of Santander. Definitely one of my favorite areas of Colombia. The village was founded in the year 1800 and is well intact.

The village has only 8,000 inhabitants and is located at an altitude of 1,300 meters. This makes that Barichara has a wonderfully warm climate, cooling down a bit in the evening.

A roundtrip Colombia is not complete without a visit to Barichara.

 


What to do and see in Barichara? | 9 Sightseeing


Barichara is not a village where you are ready after just a day. Both in the village and in the surrounding area there is an awful lot to see and do. Here is a complete overview.

1. Visit ancient churches

Barichara is known for the history that comes alive. The village has a number of old churches that are well preserved. Although most travelers visit only the cathedral or the Capilla de Santa Barbara, there is more beauty. Discover Barichara and look beyond the central square!

Templo Parroquial de la Inmaculada Concepción

The great cathedral is the main point of Barichara and the most touristy. Logical, as this 18th-century structure is simply beautiful. Actually way to big for the small village, the cathedral with its dome stands out above everything else. When the sun shines on it, the stones turn orange. Wonderful!

Find the cathedral on the map here.

 

Capilla de Jesús Resucitado

Next to a park you will find this cute little church. Although restored, the church is missing part of its tower due to lightning. When visiting, don’t forget to also take a walk through the extraordinary cemetery (see below).

Find the capilla on the map here.

 

Capilla de San Antonio

The beautiful little white-brown church of San Antonio was built in the year 1831, making it the youngest church in Barichara. The church differs from the other churches in color, as half are painted white, like the houses in the village.

Find the capilla on the map here.

 

Capilla de Santa Barbara

A slightly more visited church is the beautiful Capilla de Santa Barbara. To get here, you must first walk up the hill from the central square. But trust me: it’s worth it. The beautiful structure from the 18th century also offers beautiful views of the red-colored rooftops of Barichara. Location: carrera 11 # calle 6.

Find the capilla on the map here.

 

2. Walk the Camino Real from Barichara to Guane

Barichara is not only good for culture and history, but nature and hiking lovers will also eat their hearts out here. From calle 1 in Barichara, an old path leads down an impressive walk to the also beautiful and very small colonial village of Guane. The trail leads you past the most magnificent views, beautiful trails, amazing nature, white cows and lots of peace and quietness. Arriving in Guane still leaves your mouth open in amazement, so beautiful! Want to know more about this hiking trail? Click here for the article on the Camino Real.

 

3. Wander over a special cemetery

I don’t know what it is, but secretly I always find it very interesting to wander around a cemetery. Do you remember the cemetery in Chocontá? Barichara also has one of these, but just a bit different. Wander around in a little chaos and marvel at the colors and views. The beautiful cemetery can be found right next to the Capilla de Jesús.

Find the cemetery here on the map.

 

4. Enjoy the beautiful views

Barichara is located on a valley and thus has amazing views. From Capilla de Santa Barbara, walk down Calle 1 (or up the same road) and enjoy nature. Along the way you will pass the Mirador de Barichara. You can find this viewpoint on the map here.

If you walk a little further you will come to Suarez River Canyon Lookout, which you can find here on the map. And a little further on you will find Mirador Salto del Mico, which is the most famous viewpoint in Barichara and also the most touristy. Mirador Salto del Mico can be found here on the map.

I must honestly say that I like the first two better. Salto de Mico is just outside the village; the other two are in the village and provide beautiful views of the valley and picturesque streets.

 

5. Get lost in ancient Barichara

Barichara is not big, yet many people skip half of it. If you take a walk crisscrossing all the streets of the village you will discover much more. Marvel at beautiful plants growing everywhere, papaya trees, beautiful views and homes with doors of different colors. Get lost in this ancient village and imagine yourself in a fairytale.

In Colombian cities, because of safety concerns, it is best not to walk around the city without a plan; in Barichara, you can. So feel free to get lost in the village and enjoy colonial Colombia.

 

6. Visit a paper-making facility

One of the absolute highlights of my many stays in Barichara was visiting the paper-making facility. How wonderful to see how they still practice this craft and make the most beautiful creations. Together with my parents, I spent almost an entire morning on paper, so much fun! Are you in Barichara? Then be sure not to miss this. Want to know more? Read all about paper-making here.

Here you will find the taller de papel in Barichara on the map.

 

7. Explore the sculpture garden

Right next to Capilla de Santa Barbara you will find Parque Para Las Artes Jorge Delgado Sierra, a kind of open-air museum. In the park you can admire 22 sculptures created by local sculptors. You will also find an ancient amphitheater where there is occasional live music. The park consists of various trees and plants, including cacti and palm trees. From here you also have an impressive view of the valley.

Here you will find Parque Para Las Artes Jorge Delgado Sierra on the map.

 

8. Visit Sua Ty, handmade textiles

On an abandoned road in northeastern Barichara, you will find a beautiful house full of textiles. Handmade bags, rugs, napkins, scarves and much more. The owner lives in this beautiful house, which you can visit. It’s not an open store, so you have to ring the bell. She also likes to explain how everything is made, and immediately check out the plants and trees from which textiles are produced. It is also full of large spinning wheels. Worth a visit!

Here you can find Sua Ty on the map.

 

9. The most beautiful view of Barichara

Did you know that Barichara is located on a cliff? A pretty high one, too. When you are in the village you have beautiful views of the surroundings, but you only see how Barichara is really located when you see not the surroundings, but the village itself from a distance.

From Finca San Vicente Johan takes you on a beautiful hike off the beaten path to Barichara. Where you pass by an impressive view of the village.

You can also get there from Barichara itself, on a short walk from one of the most beautiful streets in the village. This is where you will find the viewpoint. Walk from calle 8, past Casa de Presidente, out of the village and you will get there automatically.

However, the hike from San Vicente is much more beautiful, but you can only do this if you are also staying there.

 


What to do near Barichara


There is an awful lot to do in the surroundings of Barichara. Here’s an overview for inspiration. If you want to do everything, you need about 1 to 2 weeks time.

1. San Gil

San Gil is the town before Barichara and the place where most backpackers stay. It is more central, there are more hostels and hotels are cheaper. However, I would always recommend staying in Barichara, which is so much nicer than San Gil.

San Gil is not an attractive town, but there is plenty to do. For almost anything in the Barichara area, you pass through San Gil first anyway. In San gil itself, this is popular to do and visit:

Parque Natural El Gallineral: the beautiful park in the center of San Gil. Definitely visit if you are in the area. Find the park on the map here.

Rafting: San Gil is the place to raft in Colombia. Especially rafting down the Rio Suarez is great. I myself have done both rivers several times and would go again in a moment. Along the main road in San Gil you will find many places where you can organize rafting. This one, for example.

Paragliding: San Gil is also known for paragliding over the Chicamocha Canyon. I myself have tremendous fear of heights, but I did go with others to watch. It is a beautiful place with impressive views over Colombia’s most famous and largest canyon. Paragliding can also be booked in many places, one of the most famous being Parapente Chicamocha.

Want more extreme sports? Then check out this extreme sports theme park.

 

2. The waterfalls of Juan Curi

From San Gil, drive by car or bus to Palenque, south of town. Just before Palenque you get off at Parque Ecológico Cascadas de Juan Curi. From there you will walk along a beautiful route through nature to the waterfalls of Juan Curi. It is a beautiful place and highly recommended to visit. Do you like extreme sports? Then you can also abseil from the waterfall. Here you will find Juan Curi Falls on the map.

 

3. Visit a weaving mill in Curití

In the village of Curití, easily reached by bus from San Gil, you will find a weaving factory which you can visit. The village itself is also worth seeing anyway. The village of Curití can be found here.

From Curiti you can also arrange extreme sports, including to caves. You can do that at Cueva de la vaca- Parapente- Canotaje- Deportes Extremos- Cacuvana Aventura Curiti.

A country road from Curití also allows you to visit water sources. You can find the water sources here.

 

4. The Chicamocha canyon

The Chicamocha Canyon (Cañón del Chicamocha) is a spectacular canyon roughly located between San Gil and Bucaramanga. It is one of the deepest canyons in South America, the second largest in the world and a must-see in Colombia.

The canyon is carved by the Chicamocha River, which flows through the Andes Mountains. The canyon extends for about 227 kilometers and reaches depths of more than 2,000 meters in some places. The canyon is surrounded by steep cliffs and breathtaking scenery. It is a beautiful and at the same time quite exciting route to drive by car or bus. Since next to the road you can see right into the deep canyon.

There are several places and ways to have a beautiful view of the Chicamocha canyon. By going paragliding there, for example, but there are also many restaurants with views along the way and various viewpoints. Mirador Cepita, for example, you can find it here.

 

Panachi

Part of Chicamocha Canyon is protected natural area and belongs to Chicamocha National Park. Also known as Panachi (Parque Nacional Chicamocha).

Panachi is a theme park for young and old. I myself have been there a few times, but don’t think it’s great. You have a cable car that goes all the way across the canyon to the viewpoint at Mesa de los Santos. A rather scary and enormously long cable car. You can also drive by car to that viewpoint (does take more time). In high season, there are long lines for the cable car. However, there are more activities in Panachi, including hiking trails, you can go paragliding, beautiful views of the canyon and a special swimming pool.

The pool in Panachi is great, though. Not necessarily because of the pool, but because of the impressive view. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a pool with such a special location.

Find Panachi on the map here. Find here more information about entrance fees and opening hours. About the pool read here.

 

5. Los Santos

Los Santos is the place in Colombia where most earthquakes occur. So the chances of experiencing a small earthquake are quite high throughout this region. Besides this already being an interesting reason to visit this place, you also have beautiful views of Chicamocha Canyon here. And there are more things to do. Read all about Los Santos here.

 

6. Jordán: a village in the middle of the Chicamocha canyon

With only 60 inhabitants in the village itself, and some 1,300 in the municipality, this is one of the smallest villages in Colombia. But there is more special about Jordán. In fact, Jordán is located in the middle and at the very bottom of Chicamocha Canyon. At only 425 meters altitude, which makes the village scorching hot.

You can get to Jordán in 2 ways. The first way is through Los Santos. From Los Santos to Jordán you will take about 2 hours, but back up the hill, this hike will take about 3 to 4 hours. Take lots of water with you: you’re in the middle of nowhere and it’s bloody hot. Find this walk here.

Way 2 is by car from the village of Villanueva, next to Barichara. Or via the main road, and then take this exit. The route is not particularly easy to drive, so take plenty of time. There are few tourists in Jordán and you also see almost no one along the way. You don’t necessarily need a 4×4 car, but it makes the road trip easier.

Here you will find Jordán on the map.

 

7. Bucaramanga

Bucaramanga is the capital of the department of Santander and worth a visit. Known as the city of parks, there is plenty of greenery. Due to its location in the mountains, there are also many elevation changes in the city, and thus many places for great views. On the mountain is a theme park called Parque Cerro del Santísomo, from where you have a beautiful view. Personally, I find this park a bit too touristy and expensive, but the views are beautiful. You get there by cable car or by car. Find more information, entrance fees and opening hours here.

 

8. Girón: one of Colombia’s white colonial towns

Right next to Bucaramanga is the village of Girón. Here there is very little foreign tourism and a typical Colombian village. A beautiful authentic white town. Ideal to combine during a day trip Bucaramanga. Or to have lunch before driving back to Barichara or San Gil via the Chicamocha Canyon. Girón is large enough to spend several hours or even days. Also, if you want to see Bucaramanga, Girón is a good place to look for a hotel. From there you can easily get to Bucaramanga or into the canyon. Read all about visiting Girón and what to do here.

You can find Girón on the map here.

 

9. Take a road trip past the villages around Barichara

The department of Santander is bursting with colonial villages. Barichara is the best known, but there are many more in the immediate area. Think of Socorro, Charalá, Cabrera, Galán, La Fuente and Zapatoca. All colonial, small and off the beaten path. Rent a car and take a road trip past these villages in Santander. To many villages you can also walk, such as Guane (mentioned earlier), as well as to Cabrera, for example. So in Barichara, you don’t have to be bored….

 

 


Eating in Barichara


Barichara is full of good restaurants. These are my recommendations (all these restaurants also have vegetarian dishes):

And would you like to taste something very typical of this region? Then ask in any souvenir store for hormigas culonas. If you dare, because these are deep-fried fatback ants….

 


Hotels in Barichara


Most travelers do not stay in Barichara, but come over on a day trip from San Gil. What a pity! It is much nicer to stay in Barichara. Waking up in a colonial home. Watching the sun rise between the white houses. Watching the sunset in the valley. I promise you: staying in Barichara is absolutely worth it, you will love it!

Barichara, however, is not a typical backpacker destination. You will find few hostels, the hotels are more expensive than in San Gil and there are no to few entertainment venues.

As indicated, I have been to Barichara many times (how many times exactly I don’t remember, I have lost count) and always I have looked for a hotel in Barichara as well. One of those times I was with my parents for five days in Barichara and I almost didn’t get them back to Bogotá….

Here are my 3 favorite hotels (and 1 hostel) in and near Barichara:

1. Finca San Vicente

This finca is located 5 kilometers outside the village in a truly impressive spot overlooking the canyon. Run by a Belgian couple, the finca is so stunningly beautiful that you could spend days hanging out in the hammock. Enjoying nature. From the finca you can be in Barichara in 10 minutes or go hiking on one of the trails. An unforgettable experience guaranteed. Read all about Finca San Vicente here or book your stay directly here.

Want to discover Santander off the beaten path? Then this is the place to stay. Johan knows all the hidden places around Barichara and takes you on beautiful walks through nature.

 

2. Posada Sueños de Antonio

With my parents I stayed in Posada Sueños de Antonio, in the middle of Barichara in a quiet street. This hotel is ideal if you like to stay ín Barichara rather than outside it. The authentic hotel has hot water, wifi and a delicious breakfast.

In the back is a kind of green patio with trees, plants and herbs, where you can relax and enjoy the most colorful birds flying off and on. You can sit down and watch this for hours. The owners are very friendly and helpful.

In the posada you have many beautiful sitting areas and you can spend hours in the garden. There are also games to do in case it rains. And the owners can tell you all about Barichara. Book your stay here.

 

3. El Principito Hospedaje

More to the south of Barichara, in the little square near Capilla de San Antonio, you will find the cute hotel El Principito Hospedaje. Or in other words, the little prince. A hidden gem in a 200-year-old building renovated by a Frenchman and his Colombian wife.

The small hotel has 3 rooms and a beautiful garden. From where you have beautiful views and can enjoy both sunset and sunrise.

You can relax in the hammock, on the sofa or on one of the seating areas.

From this hotel in Barichara, it is easy to explore the village and its surroundings. You are just two blocks from the central square, many eateries and beautiful views of the valley. In addition, this is also a budget option in Barichara.

Book your stay here.

 

More hotels in Barichara

There is, of course, much more, find your hotel or finca on the map.



Booking.com

 


Visit Barichara during the night of the candles (las Velitas)


Colombia has many traditions, of which la noche de las velitas (the night of the candles) is probably one of the most special. The night of the candles is on Dec. 7 and marks the beginning of the Christmas season in Colombia. During this evening, Colombians across the country light candles. It is a very special moment to witness. I have experienced this night many times, but nowhere was it more magical than in Barichara.

Do you happen to be in or near Barichara on Dec. 7? Then don’t miss this moment! Read all about la noche de las velitas in Barichara here.

 


Barichara: practical information


How to get to Barichara?

You can get to Barichara by private car, by bus and even by plane.

To Barichara by car

The most ideal way to visit Barichara and surroundings is by private car. Rent a car in Colombia and drive to Barichara via San Gil. I myself visited Barichara most times with my own car or a rental car, but also by bus. You always have to go through San Gil. From Bogotá, that’s about an 8-hour drive. From Bucaramanga about 2.5 hours.

To Barichara by bus

If you take the bus to Barichara, you have to always go through San Gil. Are you coming from Bogotá, Medellín or Bucaramamanga? Then look for a bus ticket to San Gil and not Barichara. Here you can easily book your bus ticket online. In San Gil you transfer to the bus to Barichara. This one takes about 45 minutes from San Gil. When you arrive in San Gil at the main bus station, ask for the bus to Barichara, which leaves from the same station.

By plane

The only flight route is via Bucaramanga. Fly to Bucaramanga and from there you can get to Barichara by bus in about 2.5 to 3 hours. This is not the most obvious route, nor is it the most recommended, but if you are coming from far away you can save a lot of time with this option. There are no direct flights from everywhere to Bucaramanga, so in some cases you may have to make a stopover in Bogotá. Not enough time to get to Barichara in one day via Bucaramanga? Then grab your chance right away and stay a night in beautiful Girón.

Best travel month and weather in Barichara

Barichara is higher up on the mountain than San Gil and therefore a bit cooler. During the day it can reach 25 degrees just like that, but in the evening it cools down. You can visit Barichara all year round; even in the rainy season you can have good weather.

Outside the tourist high season (from mid-December, January, July, August and during holidays) you will have the village to yourself. Within the high season it is enormously crowded with mostly Colombian tourists who all come by car. I would advise you to come during low-season.

How to visit San Gil and surrounding villages and activities from Barichara by bus?

From Barichara there are direct buses to San Gil, Villanueva and Guane. The bus to San Gil takes about 45 minutes. If you book a tour in San Gil to go paragliding or rafting, transportation is arranged by the organization.

Are you going out on your own? Buses to surrounding villages and to Panachi, for example, leave from Terminalito Provincial (here on the map). You buy your ticket right there.

Want to take a bus to Girón or Bucaramanga? These (and other long-distance buses) leave from Terminal de Transporte San Gil (here on the map). Take a cab or bus from Terminalito there.

How much time do you need for Barichara?

In Barichara, you won’t run out in 2 days. With all my visits combined, I must have been there for about 4 weeks, and I still haven’t seen everything. In 3 days you can see and do the main highlights (seeing the village, walking the Camino Real to Guane and rafting in San Gil). Want to see and do everything described above? Then stay at least 5 to 7 days. Or longer: you probably don’t want to leave anyway 😉

Safety

Barichara is very safe. You can walk in nature without worries, and even walking the streets in the evening is no problem at all. The only risk is that you won’t want to leave….

Colombia travel itinerary off the beaten path

Would you like to see more of Cundinamarca, Boyacá and Santander? In other words, the route from Bogotá to Barichara with various stops? Then follow this ready-made travel itinerary off the beaten path, or at least gain inspiration from it.

 


Visit Barichara during your round trip Colombia and discover the most beautiful village in the country!


 


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