Home Off the beaten path Mini-guide Sopó | The most amazing unknown village in Colombia
Mini guide Sopó Colombia

Mini-guide Sopó | The most amazing unknown village in Colombia

by Sabine
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If you ask me what I think is the most amazing village in Colombia, I answer without a doubt Sopó. Not to be confused with the most beautiful village, because then I rather think of Barichara. But the most amazing, for sure. And not because I lived there for 4 years, but because it is genuinely an incredibly nice village. Despite this, most foreign tourists do not know that this village at all exists. So, time for a mini-guide, so you too can enjoy this hidden gem off the beaten path in Colombia. Looking for a weekend getaway from Bogotá or a place to stay for a week and explore Cundinamarca from here? Then Sopó is your village.


Sopó | A surprisingly nice place


Ask a Bogotan about Sopó and you’ll get the answer “that’s the village of Alpina!” Sopó is located in the department of Cundinamarca and founded in the year 1653. The village is situated at an altitude of nearly 2,600 meters, the average temperature is 14 degrees and the village itself is home to over 17,000 people. However, Sopó also consists of 17 veredas (a type of rural hamlets), with nearly 10,000 inhabitants. We ourselves lived in one of these veredas. Thus, all of Sopó is home to some 27,000 people. Fact: there are no traffic lights in Sopó.

Just 40 kilometers north of Bogotá, Sopó is a popular place to live as well as to escape the city for a day. Therefore, Sunday (and holidays) is the only day when there is a traffic jam, namely for the entrance to La Cabaña Alpina.

And with that, we immediately have one of the village’s biggest sources of income to deal with: Alpina, that is. Alpina produces dairy products, from cheese to cake to yogurt to milk and everything else that can be thought with dairy products. These are sold in the Cabaña, but there is also an Alpina factory in Sopó.

Other important products from Sopó are flowers and ceramics. For example, there is also a large branch of the well-known ceramics company Corona in Sopó. All this provides many jobs and income for the village.

 


What to do in Sopó?


Sopó is a great village where there is much more to do than you would expect from a village no one knows.

Street art

Colombia is a true paradise for street art lovers, but few people know that in addition to Bogotá and Medellín, Sopó is also full of impressive murals. New walls are painted every month and there are now so many that you can walk an entire street art route. These murals alone are worth a visit to Sopó! Click here for more information and a walking tour (note: there are now many more murals!). By the way, Sopó is also home to many colorful mosaic benches. You will come across these naturally as you walk through the village.

 

Park Pionono for impressive views

For impressive views of both Sopó and Lake Tominé near Guatavita, you must be on Mount Pionono. Here you can not only hike, but especially enjoy those views of a region of Colombia that almost no tourist sees. Read everything (including practical information) about Pionono here. Meanwhile, I have walked the route up myself and it is quite doable as long as you are somewhat accustomed to the altitude. You can also take a cab up and walk back (not recommended if your knees hurt). By the way, do you see the Taj Mahal below in the photo? More on that later in this article….

You can find Parque Natutal Pionono on the map here.

 

Extreme sports: paragliding on an amazing spot, and/or mountain biking

As one of the most famous paragliding spots in Colombia, it is also probably one of the least visited by foreign tourists. Totally unjustified because the view is simply impressive. You can also mountain bike here, by the way. I myself do not do paragliding, but have gone many times to see that beautiful view. Read everything (including practical information) about paragliding and mountain biking in Sopó here.

Parapente Paraiso can be found here on the map.

 

Iglesia Divino Salvador de Sopó

The beautiful church in Sopó at the central park. If the church is open be sure to take a look, if not enjoy the beautiful exterior that stands out against the mountains.

Find the church on the map here.

 

Plaza de Artesanos de Sopó

To the left of this church, here on the map, you will find a place where you can find handmade clothing and other items. An old lady has been making all the clothes and ruanas herself, most of them from 100% wool. By the way, on the same street you will find a souvenir store with many nice items.

Cabaña Alpina

The tourist attraction of Sopó. Visited mainly by Bogotans who escape the city. A kind of farm in which you will find a supermarket with all of Alpina’s dairy products. Cheese, desserts, cake, ice cream, yogurt, etc. There is also a large garden that fills up on weekends with Bogotans having a day out at Alpina. So if you want peace and quiet, better visit during the week. By the way, I personally find this the least interesting thing in Sopó: after all, you can buy everything in the supermarket anywhere and it is also very expensive here. More information and the exact location here.

 

Parque Puente Sopó

Not directly in the center of Sopó, but just outside Sopó you’ll find this beautiful park, where you can enjoy an hour’s walk or go for a weekend barbecue with friends or family. It is located near Briceño and is easily reached by bus. Also, if you have a dog, this is the perfect place to walk. Read all about Parque Puente Sopó here.

You can find Parque Puente Sopó on the map here.

 

The shrine Nuestro Señor de la Piedra

A beautiful quiet place in the village where you will find the shrine. You need very little time to visit and as you walk here you will also come across beautiful murals. There is a special story behind it. You can read that and more information here.

Find the shrine on the map here.

 

The dessert market

On Sundays and holidays, you will find a dessert market in the central park. All homemade and lots of choice. Buy typical Colombian desserts and enjoy the atmosphere. By the way, Sopó has much more to offer in terms of food, what exactly you will read later in this article.

The dessert market takes place here in the central square.

 

Shopping

Between Sopó and Briceño you will find a premium outlet mall. With many expensive stores all having sales. International brands, as well as local brands like Julio. In addition, on Sundays there is a farmers’ market where you can find great stuff. For example, there is a Frenchman who lives with his Colombian wife in Sopó. She makes soaps in all kinds of funny shapes. Like donuts, cakes and ice creams. Really nice to give as a gift! More information about the Arauco shopping center here. To get there, take the bus from Sopó to Briceño or Zipaquirá and ask the bus driver to get you off at Arauco. From the center of Sopó it is about 10 minutes by bus.

Find the mall here on the map.

The cultural center: unique in Colombia

Then we have the part in Sopó on the other side of the road: the cultural center. This is not for tourists, but certainly interesting to take a look. In fact, this is something very unique in Colombia and I have never seen it anywhere else in the country. About 10 years ago, the mayor wanted to set up something to keep young people off the streets and instill more culture and sports. He built a whole cultural center with many sports and music.

It is a large complex that includes wheelchair table tennis, badminton, all kinds of dance, music lessons, roller skating, fitness (I was there every night), soccer, basketball, volleyball, athletics and much, much more. Many of those who play wheelchair table tennis even play for Colombia’s national team, and there are also musicians and singers from Sopó. Every afternoon after school, this entire complex is full of children and young people, and there are even classes for the elderly. Maybe normal in the US, but in Colombia this is very special.

Want to take a look at it? There is a white bridge in Sopó (the only one) that crosses the “big” road, you walk across that and you’re already there! Sometimes there are (music) events and then everything is cordoned off.

Find it here on the map.

 


The surroundings of Sopó: discover Cundinamarca


As you can see, you can spend about 3 days in Sopó. And then we have the environment. The village is therefore a perfect base from which to explore this part of Cundinamarca.

Chia: shopping and (VIP) cinema

Just above Bogotá is the “village” of Chia which in practice has long since ceased to be a separate village, but has become attached to Bogotá. From Sopó, it is especially nice to go to the Fontanar shopping center. Not for nothing my favorite: here you will find a very cool VIP cinema, lots of stores, great restaurants and everything for kids. A nice day trip.

There is also a large terrace outside where you can relax while shopping. At the cinema, films run in both English and Spanish. How to get there. From Sopó, take the bus to Bogotá and say you want to go to Fontanar. Just before Bogotá is a bridge (Puente del Comun) where you have to get out and walk to the other side of the road. There the bus goes to Zipaquirá or Cajicá. This one comes along Fontanar.

Find Fontanar on the map here.

 

Zipaquirá

The most famous day trip from Bogotá is, of course, to the salt mines of Zipaquirá. Here, however, you are much faster from Sopó and there is also much more to do than just the (in my opinion overrated) salt mine. Here you can read everything you need to know to make Zipaquirá a fun day trip! From Sopó there is a direct bus to Zipaquirá, which takes about 40 minutes.

Zipaquirá can be found on the map here.

 

Visit the Taj Mahal in Parque Jaime Duque

This fun theme park is located in Briceño, just 15 minutes from Sopó. Here you can not only admire the replica of the Taj Mahal, but the park is a complete trip around the world. Along cultures, wonders of the world and many animals. Absolutely recommended for young and old alike! Find here all the information about Parque Jaime Duque. To get there, take the bus to Briceño, Bogotá or Zipaquirá. In the first two cases, get off in Briceño and walk the last 10 minutes. If you have the bus to Zipaquirá get out in front of the entrance. For Parque Jaime Duque, you will need a whole day.

Here you will find Parque Jaime Duque on the map.

 

Chingaza National Park

If you like hiking in impressive nature then Chingaza is the place to be. Because it is so difficult to reach, this national park is not overruned by tourists. There are many hiking trails, with the most famous (and perhaps the most beautiful) to Lagunas de Siecha. Seriously impressive the nature you find here. We have now walked two trails and I want to do many more. Here you will find all the information about both hiking trails, including how to get there.

Here on the map you will find the nearest entrance to Chingaza from Sopó.

 

The white village of Guatavita

Actually, I desperately wanted to live in Guatavita, but since this is further away from Bogotá (and more expensive) it became Sopó. I’m still very happy with that, by the way, but a visit to Guatavita is still a must.

I’ve been there so many times I’ve lost count, but it never bores. There is not super much to do, but still this white village is a delight to visit. Take a look at the water, buy souvenirs for home and marvel at how people live here. Guatavita is also the base for a visit to the famous Laguna de Guatavita.

From Sopó, get to Guatavita via Salitre (a station between Sopó and Guasca) or via Briceño. Keep in mind that the bus will take you a while on the road due to poor connectivity. By car or motorcycle, you can get there in 35 minutes.

Find Guatavita on the map here.

 

Eat Colombia’s tastiest Greek yogurt in Cucunubá

Truly a gem in Cundinamarca this village, and totally unknown. That while here you can find the most delicious yogurt desserts in all of Colombia. It really is a mini-village and, like Guatavita, all white and authentic. You can eat great food, hike to the top of the mountain, buy homemade ponchos and other clothing and…. not much else to do.

So nice to go for lunch! Note that the cute yogurt store with the Dutch goodies is only open on weekends, and during the week it is completely deserted here. Read more about Cucunubá in this article. To get there, you have to go to Ubaté and then take a bus to Cucunubá. But easier (and much faster) is by car.

Here Cucunubá is located.

 

Suesca: rock climbing in Colombia

You may have heard of Suesca, as this is the place to climb rocks in Colombia. By the way, you can also do great hiking and picnicking on the rocks. Come on weekends and find many climbing enthusiasts. Arrange a guide and go up the rocks. Find more information about climbing in Suesca here.

Find Suesca on the map here.

 

The salt mine in colorful Nemocón

Besides Zipaquirá, there is another salt mine near Bogotá, in Nemocón. Now this colorful village is fun anyway, but the salt mine is also a nice place. As in Zipaquirá, it is a big tourist attraction and way too expensive, but if you want something just a little different it is definitely recommended. Information about the salt mine in Nemocón can be found here. Getting here from Sopó by public transportation is a challenge, but should work via Briceño. By car, it is easy to do.

Here you’ll Nemocón on the map.

 

Chees farm HolaAndes

This is really not easy to reach, but faster from Sopó than from Bogotá. The cheese factory of the Dutch Tobias, now a cheese celebrity in Colombia. Especially among the Dutch living in Colombia. Make an appointment and learn all about cheesemaking. Includes a delicious farmer’s lunch. To get there, you must first go to Guasca and then on to Monquentiva. The best thing is to contact Tobias and ask for your specific situation how to get there. By car from Sopó, it is about 1.5 hours away. More information here.

The cheese factory can be found here on the map.

 

Search for black bears in Vista Hermosa park

And while you’re visiting Tobias, take an immediate stroll through Parque Vista Hermosa. Not only to see beautiful páramo, but also to look for black bears and see a FARC ruin. A beautiful natural area far off the beaten path. You can read all about this hike here.

Here is Vista Hermosa on the map.

 


Restaurants in Sopó


Quite extraordinary how many good restaurants there are in this small village. Consequently, you can eat like the best in Sopó. Here is a list of restaurants. There are more than just these by the way, these are all my personal favorites. For opening hours, check the links to Google Maps.

La Burger House

My favorite in Sopó. Not only great tasting food (including vegetarian, of course), but above all a hip restaurant. They really put in the work. Not for nothing does this restaurant score high on Tripadvisor. This restaurant is not suitable for a cheap typical Colombian meal of rice and beans. However, you will find many kinds of burgers, delicious salads and especially great fries. Find opening hours and more information here.

Location: carrera 3 with calle 3, opposite the Bancolombia. Here on the map.

Pizzeria Santinos

Another favorite: Pizzeria Santinos. In a colorful building with red mushrooms with white dots in front. They make huge pizzas where you buy one serving of (which is usually enough) and is very cheap. A popular spot among Soposeños and definitely recommended.

Location: carrera 4 # calle 3. Here on the map.

Parrilla Bar El Fondo

At the central square, next to the town hall. You must first walk down a corridor, after which you come to a nice little indoor garden. There is also a large restaurant covered, for when it rains. This is a real parrilla (grill restaurant), but you can also eat good pasta, vegetarian and ajiaco. Not cheap, but affordable if you ask about the daily menu.

Location: central square, right next to the bank Davivienda. Opening hours: lunchtime only. Click here for location.

Paprika

Paprika is one of my top favorites. Very cozy, also a little garden you can sit at. And many choices of (vegetarian) burgers. The restaurant is on the central square, on the left when you face the church. The location on the map is therefore incorrect, but the opening hours should be right.

Abuelita Salon de Onces

Probably the most famous cafe in all of Sopó: abuelita (granny). Also on the central square and the place to eat snacks(onces). Typical Colombian desserts combined with coffee, aromática, aguadepanela or hot chocolate. Have you always wanted hot chocolate with cheese Or aguadepanela with cheese to drink/eat? You can do that here!

Location: central square, next to Banco de Bogotá. Opening hours: daily from 8 to 8. Location on the map.

Mua Cafe

Nice cafe for cakes, coffee, chocolate milk and aguadepanela. If we have a drink alone we usually do it here.

Location: on the corner of carrera 4 with calle 3. Here on the map.

Tartine Cafe y Pan

Then we have the cute little cafe Tartine. For coffee and pastries.

Location: on the corner of carrera 2 with calle 2, more or less opposite Banco de Agrario. Here on the map.

Islamorada

Then finally, the most famous and expensive restaurant in Sopó, frequented mostly by Bogotans with enough money. This restaurant, founded by a Colombian singer and an American, is located outside the center toward my house on a mountain and without a car you will have to walk quite a bit. But then you have something. At least they say so, because I’ve never been to eat here myself. Not my thing. Reserve in advance to avoid disappointment. More information and reservations here.

Parrillas

There are many places in the center and beyond where you will find parrillas (grill restaurants). In particular, along the road between Briceño and Sopó and just outside the village on the road toward La Calera. As a vegetarian myself, I never come here, but if you like a lot of meat you can find it here.

Many more restaurant, bakeries and cafes

Sopó is just a small village, but big in food. The list above is just a sampling of what is available, and my favorites. You will find bakeries and restaurants everywhere in the center. Keep in mind that many are closed in the evening for a hot meal. In any case: in Sopó you won’t starve 🙂

 


Hotels in Sopó


In Sopó there are mostly bed and breakfasts and only a few hostels. Most hotels are located outside the city center. Almost all of these have beautiful views and a great location in nature, yet close to the village. That makes a stay in Sopó extra special. Here is an overview.

Pension Hostal Bugambil

A great fun hostal located close to the center of Sopó and yet in the middle of nature. I stayed here for 5 nights and can more than recommend this place. Here you can read all about Bugambil.

Click here for pricing, exact location and more information.

Casa Agrreste Bed & Breakfast

A very cozy Bed & Breakfast located up the mountain from Sopó, towards Pionono. Not only a very beautiful place, but you can have great food here (they have a stone oven for pizza) and guided hikes. The owner speaks English.

Click here for pricing, exact location and more information.

El Pedregal

Just outside Sopó in the vereda El Chuscal. On the mountain with a beautiful view of the valley of Sopó.

Click here for pricing, exact location and more information.

Cabañas Sinduly Bed & Breakfast

Want to stay in a wooden cabin on the mountain with a view? Then this place is perfect! Close to Casa Agrreste and therefore on the route to Pionono and paragliding.

Click here for pricing, exact location and more information.

Tu Casa – Hotel Rural

This hotel is located in the middle of the valley of Sopó, in the meadow. A beautiful place and lovely people, but far from the village center. If you have a car, this is fine to do. Without a car you can get there by bus or cab, but if you want to be close to the village you’d better choose another hotel.

Click here for pricing, exact location and more information.

Vacation home Casita Sopó Arriba Vista Laguna Tominé

Close to Pionono (so about 5 kilometers from the center) on the mountain, with a beautiful view towards Guatavita. In the middle of nature. Walking to the village is possible, but don’t do it if your knees hurt easily. A cab is easy to arrange, a private car even easier.

Click here for pricing, exact location and more information.

Jardín Colibrí

A special stay with a Colombian-English family living approximately self-sufficiently. Meet their way of life and stay in a very special cottage. I have been there twice and is highly recommended. To take into account: difficult to reach, not suitable if you want to get to a village quickly. Read my experiences here.

Click here for pricing, exact location and more information.

Casa Paraiso

A hotel in the middle of Sopó, if you want to stay in the village itself. Perfect for backpackers.

Click here for pricing, exact location and more information.

Hotel Boutique El Parque

This hotel is located almost directly on the central square of Sopó. I myself stayed here for several days and liked it very much. It is simple, but central and inexpensive. Click here for the website.

Hotel Camelia Real

Another hotel right in the center, along a fairly busy road (during the day, in the evening Sopó is deserted). Click here for more information.

 


Practical information for visiting Sopó


How to get to Sopó by public transportation?

From Bogotá | If you go to Sopó from Bogotá, you must first go to Terminal Satélite in the north. This one is across the highway at Transmileno Estacion Terminal. There is a walkway where you can cross the highway. That’s where the bus will take you directly to Sopó. The drive takes about an hour, but depends on how much traffic there is. It can also be done in 45 minutes if you’re lucky.

From Zipaquirá | In Zipaquirá you will find a direct bus to Sopó that runs frequently. You can also take a bus to Briceño and transfer there. From Zipaquirá to Sopó takes about 40 minutes.

From other directions | Coming from Guasca or Guatavita? Then take a bus to Salitre (not to be confused with Salitre in Bogotá) or Briceño (Guatavita) and transfer there to the bus to Sopó. Coming from the north, such as Villa de Leyva or San Gil? Then get off the bus at Briceño and take the bus to Sopó.

Briceño is a transportation hub on the highway between Bogotá and Tunja. Just outside Sopó. That’s where all the buses to the north pass and you can transfer to villages like Sopó.

Getting to Sopó by car

Sopó is a perfect destination to explore by car, especially if you stay longer and want to see the surroundings. You can rent a car at Rentalcars, pick up in Bogotá.

Coming from the north on the autopista, turn left at Briceño (keep the Taj Mahal as a landmark where to exit the highway). From Bogotá, leave the city to the north and continue driving until you encounter the turnoff to Sopó (just after a golf course, near the Taj Mahal). A nicer but slightly longer route from Bogotá is via La Calera. Leave town at La Calera and simply follow the main road (lots of curves and beautiful views) until you reach Sopó. In what way you go to Sopó by car: you will always encounter a toll gate, which costs about 9000 pesos.

The roads in and around Sopó are good and fine to do by car. Read all about driving in Colombia here.

Climate in Sopó

Sopó has a fresh mountain climate where, like everywhere else in the Colombian mountains, it rains regularly. That’s what makes the environment so beautifully green. It is colder there than in Bogotá, so be sure to bring a warm sweater. At night, it can easily cool down to 5 degrees. When the sun shines during the day, it can soon feel like 20 degrees. If the sun does not shine or if it happens to be a cold day, the temperature does not exceed 16 degrees.

Withdraw money in Sopó

There are several banks in Sopó where you can withdraw cash. And most of the time, everything just works as it should. It includes a Davivienda, Bancolombia and Banco de Bogotá.

Safety

Sopó is a very safe village and unlike in Bogotá, you can use your phone on the streets here just fine. For me, Sopó was really fantastic living in terms of safety and you can walk around the village safely, even in the evening until about 9 o’clock. Getting lost in the village is therefore not a problem.

However, there are a few less safe spots, namely on the mountain near the colored houses you see from the village. There are sometimes robberies there. Do not go there alone and especially not in the evening. It’s also best to avoid the Centro Cultural (on the other side of the only bridge in Sopó) from 8 or 9 PM to be on the safe side. It is not really dangerous, but sometimes there are loitering kids who can cause trouble.

To further consider

In rural areas, people are in bed early, as life begins again for many at 4 or 5 in the morning. This also means that the streets are not crowded late into the evening. From about 8 o’clock the village becomes increasingly deserted and by 9 o’clock there is nothing and nobody on the streets anymore. Only on Fridays and Saturdays you’ll find more people on the streets. In the city center, you can generally walk the streets safely late at night, but be extra careful.

Supermarkets and stores are open until 8 or 9 in the evening.

How much time do you need in Sopó?

During a day trip from Bogotá you can already see a lot, such as the graffiti and Pionono, but if you really want to get to know Sopó and its surroundings better, you can easily stay there for a week (or longer) without getting bored.

Further travel through Colombia

If you are passing through, you can think of a lot to do in Colombia after Sopó:

 


Watch Sopó in this beautiful video


 


Sopó: go off the beaten path and visit the cutest village in Colombia!


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