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Travel Guide South America Colombia Popayán

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Introduction

Zicht op Popayan

Zicht op Popayan

© All Rights Reserved Raf-Ellen

Popayán is the capital of the Caucac department in the southwest of Colombia and has around 260,000 inhabitants.

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Sights and Activities

  • Iglesia de San Francisco, Calle 4 and Carrera 9. Large baroque church built during the 16th century but then destroyed by and earthquake in 1736. It was rebuilt in 1790. Its tower contains one of the biggest bell of America made from gold and bronze. Inside the church, there are ten decorated altars. free.
  • Iglesia La Ermita, Calle 5 and Carrera 2. The church Ermita de Jesús Nazareno is the oldest church of the city dates back to 1546. It has a refined altar and colonial paintings (frescoes) that were discovered after the 1983 earthquake.
  • Belen. Small church perched on top of a small hill overlooking Popayan.
  • Parque de Caldas. Popayan's central square, named after one of Popayan's most famous citizens: Francisco Jose de Caldas (1768-1816). A statue of him is visible in the center of the square. On one side of the square is a city landmark called the Torre del Reloj or the 'Clock Tower.' The clock was designed by Caldas himself and was constructed in Croydon, England before being shipped to Colombia. A few doors down from the Torre del Reloj is the city's Cathedral, which was badly damaged during the major earthquake that almost destroyed the whole city on March 31, 1983. The city took almost 20 years to fully recover from the quake but the vast majority of the buildings in the white colonial centre have now been restored to their former glory.
  • Puente del Humilladero, Carrera 6 and Calle 2. Another architectural site which is a long walking bridge over a river in Popayan that was constructed in old Roman style.
  • El Morro de Tulcán, Calle 7 and Carrera 2. a hill which was an Indian pyramid dating before 1535. On the top of the hill there is a statue dedicated to the Conquistador Sebastián de Belalcázar which founded the Spanish establishment of Popayán. The top offers a perfect view of the city and during week-end, a crowd is there to enjoy the sunset. free.

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Events and Festivals

The main event in Popayan's calendar is the Semana Santa or Easter Week, the largest religious celebration in Colombia.

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Weather

Average highs are around 24-25 °C year-round, while lows are mostly around 12-13 °C. Rainfall is high at around 2,100 mm a year and only June to September are relatively dry. October to May is (very) wet.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max24.2 °C24.3 °C24.5 °C24.4 °C24.6 °C24.6 °C25.1 °C25.2 °C24.8 °C24.2 °C23.8 °C24 °C
Avg Min13.3 °C13.3 °C13.7 °C13.9 °C13.9 °C12.9 °C12 °C12 °C12.4 °C13.5 °C13.8 °C13.7 °C
Rainfall203 mm181 mm122 mm203 mm166 mm82 mm49 mm62 mm124 mm251 mm331 mm251 mm
Rain Days18161921211491015232421

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Getting There

By Plane

Guillermo León Valencia Airport (PPN) offers flights to/from Bogota and Guapi.

By Bus

There are numerous bus companies available. One of the most reliable bus operators is Expreso Bolivariano. Avoid Expreso Puerto Tejada and Expreso Palmira (never again!). Be advised that there is significant guerrilla activity in the countryside near Popayan and it can be risky to travel by land during periods of disturbance if you are not a local. There are daily buses from the border town of Ipiales.

  • to/from Cali : COP$12,000 / 3 hours with minibus 14,000 COP / 2 hours
  • To/from Armenia : COP$40,000 / 7 hours (several a day)
  • To/from Medellin : COP$60,000 / 11 hours (7:00, 8:00pm, 1:00am)
  • To/from San Agustín : COP$34,000 / 5 hours (six a day)
  • To/from Tierradentro : COP$20,000 / 4 hours (5:00am, 8:00am, 10.30:00am, 1:00pm, 3:00pm)
  • To/from Pasto : COP$25,000 / roughly 6 hours, but double check before you go
  • To/from Ipiales : COP$25,000 - 40,000 / 7-8 hours (better during the day) - Many buses leave in the early morning.

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Getting Around

Popayan is a small city and it is an easy 10-15 minute walk between the bus station and the centre. The historical centre is fairly compact and best explored on foot. Taxis are plentiful and can bring you at the bus terminal for around COP$3,000.

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Eat

In 2005, Popayan became the first city to be designated a City of Gastronomy as part of the UNESCO Creative Cities initiative. For cheap and genuine food, try the market near Plaza Bolivar, north of the Puente del Humilladero. Meals from COP$5,000.

  • Carantanta: A kind of chip typical from the Cauca departement made from corn, It can be eaten with a soup.
  • Pipian: A sauce made from peanuts. Can be served with tamales or very small "empanadas", which are potato doughnuts.
  • Champús: Drink made from crushed maize, in addition to panela, lulo, pineapple, cinnamon, cloves and leaves of the orange tree.
  • Manjar Blanco or Payanés: a typical sweet cream made from milk, sugar and rice.
  • Manjarillo: dulce de leche with panela (unrefined whole cane sugar).
  • Dulce cortado de leche: another variation of dulce de leche with cloves and cinamon.
  • Breva Calada: dessert made of figs cooked with panela served on top of white cheese. Usually made for Christmas.
  • Helado de Paila: Ice cream made in a large shallow and heavy copper bowl.
  • Envuelto: Corn cake wrapped in a plantain leef. Can be eaten with cheese.
  • Rosquilla: the Popayan version of the donut.

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Drink

Aguardiente caucano is a drink based on Anis and it has some degrees of alcohol. It's the favorite drink in informal parties.

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Sleep

  • Hostel Caracol, Calle 4 #2-21 (4 blocks from the main square and just 300m from La Ermita church), ☎ +57 311 626 8840, e-mail: info@hostelcaracol.com. Opened in October 2011, this is one of the most laid-back hostels in the city. Located in a beautiful 16th Century colonial building in the heart of the colonial centre. Offers: Free Wifi, Computers with internet, 24 hour access, Kitchen, DVD room, Lockers with power sockets, lots of information on trips. The hostel also offers the best deals on long-stay rates. Dorms: COP$27.000, Private room: COP$48.000, Doubles: COP$62.000.
  • Hostel Trail, Carrera 11 #4-16 (20 meters from Hotel Monasterio), ☎ +57 314 696 0805, e-mail: info@hosteltrail.com. The backpacker's choice in Popayan since 2006 and rated considered by the rough guide to be "one of the best hostels in the country..." with private and dorm rooms, the fastest broadband internet in the city, FREE WIFI, Skype, DVD Collection, lockers with power points, hot water showers, laundry and self-catering kitchen and breakfast service. HostelTrail also runs most of the tours in Popayan including the downhill cycling trip to Coconuco. Wednesday night is curry night. 10,000 Pesos for a curry and a drink. Dorms: COP$23.000, Doubles: COP$62.000, Singles: COP$40.000.
  • ParkLife Hostel, Calle 5 #6-19 (In the central park besides the Cathedral), ☎ +57 3002496240, +57 3044011561, e-mail: info@parklifehostel.com. Check-in: 1pm, check-out: 12am. This hostel is right in the center of Popayan, in the Prque Caldas. It is located in a beautiful colonial building with amazing views to the Popayan main square. In the past few months the area has been reserved only for pedestrians so that tranquility is a guarantee. It's good karma and low prices have atracted many tourists trying to visit the city or its sorroundings. The services include free WIFI, laundry service, big common areas, free use of the kitchen, etc. The area is very close to several coffee shops, supermarkets and the main commercial street. Dorms COP$25,000, doubles COP$55,000.
  • Hotel Pass Home, Calle 5 #10-114 (five streets down the hill from the central park), ☎ +57 8243725 (Landline), +57 3164489513, +57 3207355088 (Cellular Phones), e-mail: hotelpasshome@gmail.com. This hotel is clean and the owners (colombia family) are very friendly. If you need a place for a tent, you can pitch here as well for COP $10,000 and you can use the kitchen for free. Free WiFi. Private rooms have cable TV with 106 channels in English, German, French, Chinese, Spanish, etc. You can also purchase a breakfast, lunch, and dinner package with local Popayan cuisine for COP$10,000 per day. Dorms COP $18,000, singles COP $25,000, doubles COP $36,000.
  • Residencial Florida, Carrera 6. Very simple rooms with shared toilet/bathroom Singles from COP$ 7000.
  • Hotel Monasterio (Dann Hotel), Calle 4, between Carreras 10 and 11. This is a city landmark in itself. It used to be a Monastery and it was converted into a very nice hotel. It is behind the Iglesia de San Jose. It is about 4 city blocks from the Parque de Caldas. $$$.
  • Hotel Camino Real, Carrera 5 # 5-59 (Half a block away from Parque Caldas), ☎ +57 2 824 3595. This is a very good hotel located in the city center. The food is unexpectedly sophisticated. The service is cordial, especially important for non-Spanish speaking guests. The decor reflects the Spanish influence, but makes you feel at home. The rooms are comfortable for the business traveler as well as for visiting families. Reasonably priced rooms. Located in the heart of the city. $$.
  • Casa Familiar Turistica, Carrera 5 No. 2-07, ☎ +57 92 8244853. This is a smallish family run hostel with an excellent location right inside the historical center. The family seems mostly indifferent, neither helpful or rude. It offers two hot showers, kitchen use (with a fee), laundry service and breakfast for COP$3.000. Price for a dormbed was COP$13.000 but has been rising.
  • La Casa de Mima, Calle 3 # 2 -37 (5 blocks away from Parque Caldas), ☎ +57 2 8243 197. Once a family home, now attended by owner. Very convenient location in a quiet downtown street. Rooms are large, most with private bathroom. Back garden, small swimming pool. Check-in can be arranged for guest convenience. COP 70.000.
  • Hostel Caldas, Calle 5 #7-62 (At 50 meters from the plaza Caldas), ☎ +57 (2)8208782, +57 312 8941930 (Cel), e-mail: hostelcaldas@hotmail.com. Check-in: 11:00, check-out: 14:00. Established in typical colonial style house of the nineteenth century, in calm and relaxing ambience, 50 meters from the Plaza Caldas. Facilities: Free Wi-Fi, computer with internet access, 24h reception, kitchen, laundry service, lockers, bicycles for hire, tour information. Dorms: COP$17.000, Privates: COP$45.000.
  • Coffee Break Hostel, Carrera 1 #3-27. Hostel located in the university neighbor. The center is at a five minutes walk distance as well as other attractions. The staff is very friendly and will help you organize tours. Rooms are comfortable and clean. The common space is nice with hammocks and pizza oven. Large and clean kitchen with everything to cook. COP$25,000 for a dormitory bed, COP$50,000 for a double room.

View our map of accommodation in Popayan or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes are easy to find in any city or town. Expect rates to run about $1,250-2,500 (around $US 0.50-1.00) per hour, depending on how much competition there is (i.e., cheap in Bogotá, expensive in the middle of nowhere). Quality of connections varies enormous and tends to better in populated places and tourist areas. Wifi is getting more and more popular in some hotels, restaurants and bars, but don't count on it and be careful regarding your privacy.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to Colombia is: 57. To make an international call from Colombia, the code is: 005.

Using your own phone and SIM card is expensive so if you are planning to do quite a few calls, buy a phone or just a SIM card. It's simple enough to get a SIM card and even an unlocked phone at the international airport in Bogotá, although there is, of course, a price hike. They're not hard to find in any city either, just ask your hotel or hostel staff where to go. Topping up is also easy, and can be done pretty much on any street corner. The carriers you'll most likely see are Claro, Tigo, and Movistar. Claro is the most expensive (by a little bit), but has the widest coverage in the country, if you expect to get off the beaten path.

Post

4-72 is the unusual name of Colombia's postal service. They have post offices throughout the country, which are open usually from 9:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday and sometimes on Saturday mornings as well. That doesn't apply to all offices though, only the larger ones in the big cities. But for example along the Caribbean coast, offices tend to close between noon and 2:00pm. But even at the ones that are officially open all day long, it might be difficult to get anything done during those hours. For domestic services, sending letters and postcards is mostly reliable but takes days, for international services don't hold your breath. Eventually, a postcard or letter might arrive in the country of destination but it's almost not worth it. For parcels, you are better off using companies like FedEx, TNT, DHL or UPS.

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Accommodation in Popayán

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Popayán searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Popayán and areas nearby.

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This is version 10. Last edited at 8:25 on Feb 23, 18 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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