While Plaza Mayor may seem a bit too unprotected during the midday sun, it comes to life in the evenings when locals congregate around the immense square to have a coffee or beer and share in animated conversations about their days. In this respect, it is not spoiled in the least and though we are not night owls, we enjoyed strolling the square and enjoying the cool air and lively atmosphere. The tasteful lighting of the Plaza's buildings and church make for good night photos so bring your tripod.
Dress Code: Evenings can get chilly in Villa de Leyva so bring something warm to stroll around in.
While taking some photos of the main square while the sun went down on our first evening in town, we noticed Mr. Coqui's Beer Factory. Figuring it was just a pub, I popped my head in and noticed they did in fact have beers of their own, or at least not the regular mass-produced Colombian beers I'd so far encountered outside the very good Bogota Beer Company. It was already kind of late and we were pretty stuffed from our big Italian meal earlier in the evening so made a mental note to stop back. It was unfortunately never open again, or at least so I thought. It was just this front entrance that opened into the square that was closed. When walking around the corner one night we saw that the main entrance was on that side so decided to give it a try. It was obviously an upscale place and there was a cool little courtyard to sit in so did just that and ordered one of each of their beers since there were only two to choose from. Out they came, unfiltered with nice rocky heads. They sure looked promising but both had very odd tastes which made them hard to even finish. When asked how we liked them we politely shook our heads in approval but obviously did not order anymore. It was 7000 COP (about $3.50) for the two pints of the odd tasting brews. I'm all for supporting anyone that makes an effort to bring new beers into virgin territory but these entrepreneurs need to hire real brewers to make the beer.
Dress Code: Colombians will be dressed well in upscale places like this but backpackers can wear pretty much what they like. That said, it's best to wear the best you have with you to try and fit in a little. If you are going to sit in the courtyard at night, bring a jacket as it is quite cool.
Villa de Leyva's proximity to the capital has made it trendy weekend spot from people from Bogotá. Then the streets, restaurants, bars, shops and places to stay get crowded. Rather surprisingly, Villa de Leyva has some lively nightspots. But most of them are only open on weekends. During the week you'll find the town nice and quiet. Most of the people come to the plaza, have a drink in one of the bars or just hang around.
I was happy that I visited Villa de Leyva during the week so I could enjoy its tranquil evening atmosphere. I took a stroll around the enchanting streets around Plaza Mayor, had a look at some art and handicraft shops inside lovely courtyards, and had a glass of popular vino caliente (mulled wine). Some streets were beautifully decorated (perhaps the remains of Christmas decoration) and others just lit by street lights.
I ended in Plaza Mayor which looked especially charming at night. Drinking a cup of hot chocolate in one of the cafeterias, I felt like taking a step into the past. Not surprised that Villa de Leyva is a place of inspiration for artists, poets and writers.