With its adobe houses and clay rooftops, Barichara is often considered Colombia’s prettiest little town. Located in the Santander region, close to popular backpacker stopover San Gil, Barichara is absolutely worth visiting. In fact, I’d recommend staying here over San Gil. In addition to the picturesque cobblestone streets and beautiful homes, there is also great food. Read on for a complete travel guide to Barichara, Colombia, including why you should visit, how to get there, what to do, what to eat, practical tips, and what to pack to visit Barichara, Colombia yourself.
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Travel Guide to Barichara, Colombia – Contents
- Why You Should You Visit Barichara
- How to Get to Barichara
- What to Do in Barichara
- What to Eat in Baricahara
- Where to Stay in Barichara
- Travel Tips for Barichara
- Packing List for Barichara
Why Visit Barichara, Colombia?
The main reason is the charming, stuck in time feeling. Similar to Mompox but with more interior, Colombian campesino vibe, Barichara and its mostly one story, white adobe houses with clay tiled roofs is quaint and pretty. Walking around, you do feel like you’ve gone back in time.
There are also neat things to do very close by. Most notably among them is the Chicamocha Canyon National Park and the extreme sports based out of San Gil nearby.
There is also some terrific food in the Santander region (this might very well have been the highlight for me!). Besides being tasty, some of Colombia’s more unique food traditions are available here (including a weird but interesting insect you have to try; more on that below).
We visited Barichara for a few nights back in the summer of 2016, after our first visit to Leticia and before I went on to Nuquí, in one of our most memorable trips in Colombia. Since the blog was not even an idea in my head then, I won’t be able to give you much on prices or specific restaurants, but I’m doing my best to remember all the important details.
If you’re convinced to visit Barichara yourself, then read on the learn how to get there, where to stay, and what to eat, as well as some practical tips and a packing list for Barichara, Colombia.
How to Get to Barichara
How to Get to Barichara from Cartagena
To get to Barichara from Cartagena, you have to pass through the city of Bucaramanga.
We flew to Bucaramanga and spent a night there before heading by bus to Barichara. (Search for flights on Avianca here). You can also take a bus to Bucaramanga from Cartagena, although it is a 14 hour bus ride.
How to Get to Barichara from Bucaramanga
- Direct buses from the Bucaramanga terminal can be booked with Cotrasangil, but there are limited options.
- There are more options throughout the day from Bucaramanga to San Gil (again you can consult with Cotrasangil). From San Gil, you can get another bus to Barichara also leave regularly throughout the day.
- You can also hire a taxi in Bucaramanga, although expect to pay 250,000 pesos+.
How to Get to Barichara from Elsewhere
If you’re traveling from Bogotá to Barichara, you can get the bus to San Gil (you can see some time listings at Redbus.co). You can also fly into Bucaramanga and follow the above instructions to get to Barichara from Bogotá (See flights on Avianca).
To get to Barichara from Medellín, you can bus or fly into Bucaramanga (Again, you can see some buses on Redbus.co and flights on Avianca) and follow the above. To get to Barichara from the coffee region, you’re better off passing through either Medellín or Bogotá first before busing or flying to Bucaramanga or San Gil.
What to Do in Barichara
Walk Around and Pretend You’ve Gone Back in Time
The charming quaintness of Barichara is the main reason for coming anyway. The whole town features cobblestone streets and the white clay buildings with the brown clay roof tiles.
The main cathedral, known as the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is also very pretty with a sort of rust colored look to its stone work. The Santa Barbara Chapel is also very neat looking with even darker looking stone work. It is located at the top of the hill on the backside of town and you can get great views of the town below.
Behind Santa Barbara, there is also a neat little garden and park known as the Parque Para Las Artes Jorge Delgado Sierra. There are some neat sculptures in the pretty little gardens. Finally, you can get great views of the valley below and mountains beyond from El Mirador at the edge of town.
Hike the Guane Road
The Camino Real is an old path that goes from Barichara to the town of Gaune. Despite its name as the “Royal Road,” this road was not actually made until the 1850s by a German immigrant. It was built over an ancient pathway that indigenous peoples and later Spanish settlers used to connect Barichara to Guane. You can learn more about the road’s history in this article form ColombiaReports.
The road features neat stone work and is a mostly flat hike that takes a couple hours and gives neat views of the valley. We decided not to do the hike since it was late in the afternoon and blazing hot, but it sounds like a nice way to spend a couple hours. Once in Guane, you can hike back or hop a bus back to Barichara. You can learn more about the hike at this post from the SeeColombia Travel Blog.
Visit the Chicamocha Canyon
This is one of Colombia’s most beautiful natural wonders! I remember feeling like the canyon was painted there, it’s almost unreal looking. Similar to how I felt when seeing the desert running into the sea at Punta Gallinas, it’s just sort of surreal, and pictures really don’t do it justice. The canyon itself is of course huge, but the main place to visit it is the Parque Nacional del Chicamocha, also known as Panachi for short.
The park lies on the road between San Gil and Bucaramanga. To get to the Chicamocha National Park from Barichara, take the bust to San Gil and then take the bus from San Gil to Bucaramanga and get off in front of the park (just tell them that’s where you’re going). You could also hire a taxi from Barichara.
Besides the stunning views of the canyon itself, there is a cable car that goes across it to the Mesa de los Santos plateau, where you can have lunch and of course take in the view from another perspective.
There are some rides at the park as well as a very interesting monument to independence. El Socorro, Santander was the site of a protest against taxes in 1781 that contributed to a revolt known as the Revolt of Los Comuneros, considered an important antecedent to Colombian independence.
Finally, there’s even a little water park, which while it seems kind of like an oddity atop the mountain overlooking the canyon is actually pretty decently done. In all, spending a day at the park is a must during a visit to Barichara.
You can see the park’s website here.
Visit San Gil
Only about a half hour bus ride away, if you’re not planning to stay in San Gil, it is worth spending a half day to see it. There’s a neat church in the center of town, and the river front Parque el Gallineral has pretty hanging moss from its massive trees.
San Gil is often considered the “extreme sports capital” of Colombia. The powerful thermal winds in the valleys and around the canyon make it perfect for paragliding.
We actually did it outside of Barichara. I can’t recall the name of the company, but I’m pretty sure we just found a little office or maybe even a flyer in town. In San Gil, there are lots of companies.
You can also go white water rafting outside of San Gil, so check that out if you’re interested as well.
Relax and Move a Little Slower
The old timey feeling (along with the heat) makes Barichara a nice place to just relax. Whether at your hotel, in a café, or taking in the views of the valley from the top of town, hanging out with a cold beer and moving a little slower is also among the best things to do in Barichara!
Try Some of the Local Cuisine
Santander has some truly awesome food! There are lots of little restaurants and cafes in Barichara. I wasn’t taking good notes back in 2016 before I had even thought of this website, so I’m not going to give you any restaurant recommendations, but I am going to tell you the foods you have to try here and around Santander, all of which you should be able to get in Barichara.
What to Eat in Barichara
This salted and sun dried beef is a favorite all around Santander, and dates to pre-refrigeration days. The beef is sliced thinly and marinated before being cured in the sun and then usually grilled. I loved this stuff, and I must have eaten it at like half of our meals during our trip through Santander. It has a taste sort of like jerky but because it is fully dried out, still has some moistness.
This is perhaps the most famous dish in Santander and Barichara. Cabrito is goat, and it is usually served up grilled or fried in generous portions. Goat meat is always moist and juicy if a bit fatty. If you’ve never had it before, this is definitely the place to try it!
This is usually served as a side dish and sometimes as a breakfast food. It is a mix of goat innards, egg, rice, and blood. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t crazy about it, but it also isn’t as bad as it sounds or looks. It is usually served up with the Cabrito, so try it and decide for yourself.
This soup I actually tried the day we visited the Chicamocha Canyon. It has beef ribs and lots of veggies in it, including garbanzos. I thought it was quite good. Locals also claim it’s the perfect cure for a hangover.
While Cartagena’s Arepas de Huevo are my favorite Colombian street food, the Arepas Santandereanas are my favorite more traditional arepa. In addition to the ground corn meal, it also has some yuca and chicarrón (pork skin) in its dough. Crunchy and charred on the inside and soft and moist on the inside, they are delicious. Luckily, lots of places will serve them as an appetizer, but if not do get some for yourself.
We even ended up taking some pre-made dough home with us from the airport we liked them so much!
Hormigas Culonas (literally big butt ants)
This is one of Colombia’s most exotic foods. The hormiga culona is the pregnant female ant that are common in the highlands around Barichara. Their “big butts” are full of eggs. Every year they are gathered during the season from April to June. Once captured, they are roasted and salted similar to a peanut. It is a tradition that is thought to go back at least 500 years to the indigenous peoples before the arrival of the Spanish.
They definitely are rich in iron as they have that earthy taste to them, and locals claim they are aphrodisiacs too. Certainly a unique thing and great story to tell, you have to try them when you visit Barichara!
You can find them sold in stores in packages of a small handful up to big jars. They will be the best during the months during or just after the season, but you should be able to find them all year.
Where to Stay in Barichara
Hotel Finca Buenosaires – Where We Stayed (and highly recommended!)
We loved this rustic, little hotel on a farm about 10 minutes outside of Barichara. The rooms at Hotel Finca Buenosaires were lovely, and there was a nice, big pool. There was also a cool little bar/restaurant on site with a bicycle theme and some board games that were fun in the evening. It is located on a former farm on the road into town. We were able to easily get a little tuk tuk mototaxi into town, but of course we were limited on staying out in town in the evening. I would still highly recommend it as a great place for a romantic stay or for families, as it is very pretty and very chilled out.
Casa Real Barichara – Awesome Vacation Home for Families or Groups
Casa Real Barichara is a vacation home that can sleep up to 15 in 5 bedrooms located in the center of Barichara. That makes it perfect for families or groups visiting Barichara. Of course, it is pricey, but if you do have a large group, it is a good value, and you’ll have the house to yourself!
Casa Oniri Hotel Boutique – Great Bang for Your Buck
This pretty little boutique hotel is located just off the main plaza in Barichara and is a good value. With standard and family rooms available, Casa Oniri would also make a great place for couples or families. The pretty patio and terrace with a view of the Cathedral are just icing on the cake for this great value hotel in Barichara.
La Casa de Hercilia Bed and Breakfast – Great Budget Barichara Hotel
This bed and breakfast style property, La Casa de Hercilia is a great value hotel in Barichara. The rooms are simple and there are singles and doubles available. The price of a room is also among the very best in Barichara and the property has great reviews.
C0lor de Hormiga Hostel – Best Hostel in Barichara
Named after the infamous Barichara delicacy, Color de Hormiga Hostel is located centrally and offers both privates and a dorm. It’s a pretty little property and would be perfect for backpackers traveling to Barichara on a budget.
Practical Travel Tips for Barichara
- There are ATMs in Barichara.
- There are a limited number of taxis in Barichara but there are also little tuk tuk mototaxis that are pretty cheap and easy to get around.
- The town is quite hilly so do wear comfortable walking shoes as there are lots of inclines.
- It is also very hot, especially in the early afternoon, so bring along sunscreen and keep hydrated.
- Barichara is a popular national destination, so if you are planning to travel there during high seasons (Christmas/New Years, Easter, or June/July) it’s a good idea to makes sure you have reservations in advance.
- I can’t remember the water situation, so it’s best to stick to bottled or treated water.
Packing List for Barichara
Useful Travel Gear
- If you need a travel bag, I love my Osprey Porter 46L Pack. It can be carried as a duffel (shoulder-strap is not included; I have this generic one). You can get a ton in it, especially if you use a set of packing cubes. It has straps for condensing it when it’s not completely full too. You can also check out the Farpoint 40L that is a tad smaller to comply with the strictest carryon requirements and has more padding on the backpack straps.
- I also love my Roam Packable Backpack. It packs into the little front pouch. That makes it perfect for stuffing into a bigger pack when traveling and carrying as a day pack. It holds quite a bit and is sturdier than I expected (you can see my full review here).
- I also like my Takeya water bottle. It keeps things cold all day, perfect for all the walking up hills in the heat of Barichara. You’ll also save a few pesos and be more environmentally friendly than buying plastic bottles. If you want something lighter to pack, check out this collapsable bottle.
- You’ll also want a good sun hat, and this packable Panama hat can be folded up and not lose its shape. That makes it perfect for travel. The ladies might also want to check out this more floppy sun hat style (also packable).
- With that hot sun at a high altitude, you also don’t want to forget the sunscreen! I like Coppertone Sport as it seems to hold up well to sweat.
- Finally, a good travel towel is always nice to have traveling. Whether for the hotel pool, the waterpark at Panachi, or the hostel shower, Rainleaf’s microfiber towel is great and dries quick.
Clothes to Pack for Her:
- This t-shirt is cute and comfortable. I have it recommended on almost all of my guides.
- Same for this sleeveless white button up.
- This dress also has a neat bohemian cowgirl style that could work during the day or evening in Barichara.
- These jean shorts are also perfect for travel and walking in the heat.
- Susana loves her Toms shoes for traveling, especially in places like Barichara where we did lots of walking.
Clothes to Pack for Him:
- Columbia’s Thistletown Polos are comfortable, dry quick, and block UVs.
- Their Blood and Guts Button-ups do as well.
- This linen shirt also looks good and is comfortable, particularly in the heat of Barichara.
- These dungarees would work during the day or evening as an alternative to shorts and jeans.
- Again, you’ll want good walking shoes, and these New Balance walking shoes are comfortable and go with about anything. For something a bit more formal, check out the Rockport walking shoe, or you could get some old fashioned Jesus sandals.
There you have it, a complete practical travel guide to Colombia’s prettiest little town, Barichara. If you do go yourself, I hope it helped you plan your trip, and more importantly that you enjoy it!
Cheers and Happy Exploring!
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Travel Guide to Mompox, Colombia’s Colonial River Port Frozen in Time
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Travel Guide to Palomino, Colombia’s Hippest Beach Town
Travel Guide to the Lush Mountain Town of Minca, Colombia
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Complete Packing List for Cartagena
Top Things to Do in Cartagena