Home The surroundings of Bogotá Zipaquirá mini guide: discover the village and surroundings

Zipaquirá mini guide: discover the village and surroundings

by Sabine
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Languages / Talen

Zipaquirá is known worldwide for its underground salt cathedral. A place that is certainly among Colombia’s highlights. Although I am not particularly enthusiastic about it myself, Zipaquirá is certainly a very nice place for a day or multi-day trip from Bogotá. In fact, there is more than salt: a beautiful old center, beautiful views, a fun museum and there is plenty to see in the surrounding area as well. Therefore a mini guide to Zipaquirá: discover Colombia’s salt town from the other side as well as its beautiful surroundings!


Zipaquirá: the city of salt

42 kilometers north of Bogotá, you will find the second largest city in Cundinamarca: Zipaquirá. The showpiece of the most famous city near Bogotá, the salt cathedral was declared the first miracle of Colombia in 2007. In addition, the center belongs to historical and cultural heritage of Colombia. Zipaquirá is located more than 2,600 meters above sea level in the Andes Mountains and has about 130,000 inhabitants. Founded in the year 1600, the city has a beautiful historic center.


What to do in Zipaquirá?

Catedral de Sal: the underground cathedral of salt

The place that brings a lot of tourists to Zipaquirá: the salt cathedral. Of course amazing, a church of salt under the ground, but unfortunately these days also a kind of mass tourism attraction. I thought one visit was enough and was not particularly enthusiastic about it. A visit to the salt cathedral means high fees, a mandatory religious talk most of which is set up purely for tourism, and many stores below and above the ground that complete the over-the-top picture. If you come on the weekend or during another busy time, you can also share the cave with hundreds of others, and stand in line for a long time. Better to visit on a quiet day, then you can fully enjoy the beautiful salt cathedral. More information can be found here.


Casa Museo Quevedo Zornoza

After the salt cathedral, your ticket allows you to visit this wonderful museum for free, where you will learn about the life of a typical family from this region. It is a wonderful museum where you can enjoy the beautiful ancient artifacts on display. From sewing machines to Gabriel García Márquez’s old typewriter. Definitely worth a visit and that way you will learn more about the region right away. More information can be found here.


The old center of Zipaquirá

If you walk down from the salt cathedral you will first pass the museum, and then walk into the old town. The main square with the beautiful Cathedral de la Santísima Trinidad y San Antonio de Padua is lovely to wander around. Stroll through the old colored streets and also visit Plaza de Independencia. Here you will find a huge number of restaurants and bars. A little further you walk up the hill to Iglesia la Concepción, from where you have a beautiful view of the city. If you walk along calle 4 toward Parque La Esperanza you will pass the beautiful historic building of the Cámara de Comercio (Chamber of Commerce) along the way where I registered my company , and next to the park you will find a market where you can buy souvenirs.


The surroundings of Zipaquirá

If you spend more time in Zipaquirá, you can also very well go see more of the surrounding area. Or just visit Zipaquirá from one of the villages around it. What to do close to Zipaquirá?


My own hometown of course! Go hiking through páramo in Pionono or relax in Parque Puente Sopó. Visit the famous Cabaña Alpina or walk to the shrine. In the mountains between Sopó and Guatavita you will also find a beautiful hotel: Jardín Colibrí. And did you know that Sopó is the place in Cundinamarca for paragliding? Flying over impressive landscapes off the beaten path! Mountain biking is also possible here, by the way. Find all information about Sopó, what to do, restaurants and hotels.

There is a frequent direct bus from Zipaquirá to Sopó that takes about 40 minutes.


The salt mine in Nemocón

Near the salt mine in Zipaquirá you will find another salt mine, in Nemocón. This one is less touristy and I personally liked it better than the salt cathedral. It’s a bit smaller and you also learn about the environment and the animals that lived there (in Spanish). Learn more about the salt mine in Nemocón here.



A little further away but no less fun: Guatavita! Visit the white waterfront village or go hiking to the famous Laguna de Guatavita. Guatavita is not touristy (diring the week), but you can find good Colombian artesanias, such as ruanas. On weekends, most stores are open, outside of that many are closed, but even then you can visit Guatavita just fine.


Parque Jaime Duque

Between Zipaquirá and Sopó you will find the surprising Parque Jaime Duque. Definitely don’t skip when you travel with kids in Colombia, but actually this park is fun for everyone. Be taken on a journey through Colombia and around the world and enjoy the many animals. Perhaps the most special thing you’ll find there is the replica of the Taj Mahal. Curious? Click here for more information about Parque Jaime Duque.


Climbing in Suesca

Close to Zipaquirá is Suesca, known as the place to climb rocks in Colombia. It is beautiful there and if you like activity and a challenges, this is for you! Learn more about climbing in Suesca here.


Chia and Fontanar

Do you feel like luxury shopping? Then head south of Zipaquirá, just before Chia. There you will find the luxurious shopping center Fontanar. Including a huge H&M and many other good stores. You can also eat great food at places like WOK or Crepes & Waffles. Find a bus that says Fontanar in green, it will pass by the mall. It is huge so not to be missed. Would you like to eat in Andrés Carne de Res? You’ll find the restaurant in Chia.

Embalse de Neusa

North of Zipaquirá is the beautiful Lake Neusa. Not easy to get to, but when you get there you will really enjoy it. Impressive nature as well as opportunities for camping. Read all about Neusa here.


Desierto de la Tatacoita

Everyone, of course, knows the Tatacoa Desert in Huila, but did you know that there is also a similar place near Bogotá? Close to Zipaquirá, to be precisely. Desierto de la Tatacoita, also called Desierto de Checua or little Tatacoa, like the real Tatacoa desert, is not a desert, but it is a place with extraordinary red rock formations. This place is also on my list to visit. Would you like to visit the Tatacoa Desert, but don’t have time to drive all the way south? Then Tatacoita is a great alternative. Read more information here. Exactly how to get there I’ll hopefully find out for you soon!

The real Tatacoa desert in Huila


Zipaquirá practical

How to get to Zipaquirá?

From Bogotá travel by Transmilenio to Portal Norte, where a direct bus goes to Zipaquirá. Are you coming by cab? Then get off at Terminal Satélite a little further than Portal Norte. There is a bus stop on the autopista where the bus to Zipaquirá passes. There is no need to go all the way to the bus station to walk downtown. Keep an eye on Google Maps and get off a little earlier, closer to downtown. Are you going to the bus station anyway? Then you can also walk to the center from there just fine, no need for a cab. You can also take the train to Zipaquirá. Book this in advance here.

Continuing your journey

From the bus station in Zipaquirá, you can get to other destinations quite easily. For example, there is even a direct bus to Honda, which also passes by San Francisco and Tobia passes. So perfect to combine! So you certainly don’t have to return to Bogotá to continue your journey, although for some destinations it is easier. If you do have to go back and want to go to a destination north of Bogotá, such as San Gil and Barichara, then get off at Terminal, walk across the bridge over the autopista to the other side and there you will find Terminal de Transporte Satélite. From there, buses go north. So you don’t have to go all the way to Salitre for the bus station, which saves a huge amount of time.

Hotels in Zipaquirá

You can go on a day trip to Zipaquirá, but staying overnight is also an option. Then you can see much more and explore the beautiful surroundings. Find your hotel or hostel in Zipaquirá here. Staying overnight in Zipaquirá is cheaper than in any of the villages beyond. So if you travel budget, stay in Zipaquirá, can you spend a little more consider a nice rural hotel in Sopó, for example.


Food and drinks

In Zipaquirá you can eat and drink well. Especially around Plaza de la Independencia, you will find many restaurants and bars. We ate at the restaurant ranked #1 on Tripadvisor: Casa del Chorro. Not only was it incredibly delicious, but the restaurant itself is a sight not to be missed. Definitely recommended.


Zipaquirá, in addition to its good downtown area, also has not-so-good neighborhoods where it is better not to go. Or at least not with expensive cameras and phones. Stay downtown and, if necessary, ask in your hotel where you can and cannot go safely. I visit Zipaquirá with some regularity, and a few times ago, on a downtown street, an attempt had been made to break open our car. Also, the bus station is not known to be very safe, especially after sunset. Zipaquirá is not a village, but a city. And as in any small or big city (in Colombia), you have more crime. So no reason not to visit it, just be a little more aware of safety than in smaller villages.


Zipaquirá is more than just salt. Go off the beaten path and explore the rest of the town and especially the beautiful surroundings. The department of Cundinamarca is often skipped, but is SO beautiful!

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