One of the nicest towns anywhere, Jardin, Colombia has charming squares, friendly people, and loads of attractions. We spent a few days enjoying the laid-back vibe and excellent outdoor activities and fell in love with the place! This post features our top things to do in Jardin.
About Jardin, Colombia
Legend has it that the town of Jardín got its name from the first settlers who spotted the valley which was beautiful jungle and called it “garden.” Unlike many towns in the Antioquian region, Jardin retains much of its architecture and landscape of 140 years ago. As a result, the colonial architecture predominates, attractive to the eye.
A quick trip from Medellin, Jardin is surrounded by rivers and is still known for its lush green landscapes. We rented a car in Medellin and drove the 2+ hours south from the city. A lot of visitors take the inexpensive buses which run every hour each way direct. It’s a relatively easy trip, and once you’re there, all the top sights are in walking distance. Unlike Villa de Leyva, another of our favorite Colombian towns, we didn’t need or use the car for the top things to do in Jardin.
An absolutely beautiful town, Villa de Leyva is just a couple hours from Bogota. After enjoying the best of Bogota, make the drive north and spend a few days enjoying the top sights in Villa de Leyva.
About Villa de Leyva
Villa de Leyva is a heritage town in Colombia with cobblestone streets leading to its massive square. With churches and government buildings dating back to the 17th century, the town is a National Monument of Colombia.
A popular weekend destination from Bogota, the top sights in Villa de Leyva draw tourists from outside the country too.
TIP: A top weekend getaway from Bogota, arrive in Villa de Leyva on Sunday or a weekday. You will have the place almost to yourself!
The Plaza Mayor
One of the most majestic town squares we’ve seen is in Villa de Leyva. It’s huge, especially for a small town. The buildings surrounding the square are impressive colonial style buildings dating back a few centuries. The square is a place where locals gather, children play, and everyone relaxes.
The square is home to numerous restaurants, bars, and a couple of breweries. Sometimes musicians play to the patrons of a cafe while everyone nearby can enjoy.
We returned a few times to one local brewery where they shared samples and let us wander the square with our craft beers.
Colombia is known for big cities with lots to do like Cartagena and Medellin, but most Colombians suggest leaving the big cities behind to explore the smaller towns. They say it’s where you see real Colombians living real lives. We visited several smaller towns and are so glad we took their advice. The people who live and work in these towns take pride in where they live, and demonstrate it with well-maintained buildings, immaculate public spaces, and welcoming communities. Here are the best towns in Colombia, at least the ones we’ve visited. Stay tuned for detailed posts on each of these beloved towns.
Our Time in Colombia
We’ve spent a lot of time in Colombia over two different visits. The first time was in 2016, when I started this blog. Our second visit to Colombia was on our sailboat in 2021.
When we arrived in March 2021, Covid was still causing lockdowns and more, and we hunkered down in Santa Marta. Fortunately, as vaccinations grew more available, Colombia slowly and safely opened and we ventured further to the interior. In total, we spent almost 6 months docked in Santa Marta and Cartagena, and took multiple road trips and two flights within the country.
What we found is a country of varied landscapes and lots of outdoor adventure opportunities, with beautiful views around most corners.
Here’s what to expect and where to go hiking in Curaçao
When we’re near land, Brian and I like hiking. We exercise, commune with nature and wildlife, and see the local views. After too much down time, we’re grateful to be healthy enough to hike and explore the island of Curaçao. Here are some tips and recommendations for hiking in Curaçao.
Any time you hike, be prepared. Pack essentials like water, snacks, and bug spray. Wear good walking shoes (waterproof), a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen or clothes with SPF protection. Before hiking in Curaçao, read the following tips.
Brian, Domino and I have been anchored in Great Bird Island, Antigua for a month. We moved here as the island was going into lockdown, quarantine et al due to Coronavirus.
A month is a long time for us! In fact, this is the longest we have stayed in one anchorage since we moved on board Sava. Since this is Sava’s new home, here’s a rundown of the anchorage, with lots of photos.
Where is Great Bird Island?
Located in the northeast of Antigua, Great Bird Island is a tiny uninhabited islet with other even smaller islets surrounding it. While uninhabited, during tourist season it can be busy in the daytime when power boats bring locals and tour groups to the beaches and for snorkeling.