Villa de Leyva is certainly well on the gringo trail but not as convenient as nearby hub town Tunja which you pretty much have to go through to get here. Actually, there are a couple direct buses from Bogota but it's probably easiest to go via Tunja which is actually a great town in its own right. It's about four hours from Bogota and approximately 8000 COP ($4). From Tunja, it's only 45 minutes in a mini-bus for 5500 COP.
We were traveling from El Cocuy and this trip is about 7 hours and cost us 30,000 COP ($15) each to Tunja where it was very easy to catch one of the mini-buses. We decided to stay in Tunja on our way back so we could go to Villa de Leyva during the week rather than the weekend.
There are only two direct buses daily from Bogotá to Villa de Leyva. Alternativelly you can take a bus to Tunja (3,5 hours) which are very frequent. From Tunja minibuses run regularly and it takes about an hour. The road from Bogotá goes through pretty green valleys before turning at Tunja into a drier area.
I woke up very early that morning. Some people returned to Platypus and were quite loud. So I thought I better get up and go to the terminal as early as possible. I ask the guy at the reception to call a taxi for me. It took about 25 minutes to get to the terminal and I payed 9.000 COP. I took the early morning direct bus at 05:30am (which left at 06.00am) and costed 18.000 COP (January 2009). The bus was quite small but comfortable.
It took us four hours to arrive in Villa de Leyva. The terminal is three blocks from Plaza Mayor and Casa del Puente del Arco just two block further on, so I decided to take a short walk.
The bus terminal is is three blocks from Plaza Mayor so you can walk to your hotel or get a taxi if you are too loaded. There are buses to and from Bogota that cover the journey in 4 hours. You can also go to Tunja in one hour and change if you can't find a direct one to Bogota (totally 4,5-5 hours).
One of the days in Villa de Leyva I wanted to see several of the sites in the area: El Fósil, Estación Astronómica Muisca (El Infiernito), Convent del Santo Ecce Homo, La Candelaria and Ráquira. To see them all in a day you will need a car. I was lucky because when I visited Colombian Highlands office I met an Australian couple who wanted to visit the same places. We walked to the bus terminal to ask the taxi drivers of the price. Outside the terminal there are some drivers with pickups, which are good cars for the road we were taking. After some negotiation we got down to the price 110 000 pesos to be divided between the three of us. We arranged to be picked up at 8.30 the next morning by the square, and everyone was on time. We got the time we needed at each location and were back in Villa de Leyva in the late afternoon.
There are two direct buses from Villa de Leyva to Bogota every day. One is leaving very early in the morning and one in the afternoon. As I didn’t want to be in a hurry in the morning it suited me better to travel via Tunja. When I arrived at the terminal in Villa de Leyva the bus was leaving for Tunja within a few minutes. The buses are frequent and takes about an hour to Tunja and cost 4500 pesos (July 2007).
As I entered the terminal in Tunja and asked for a bus to Bogotá a man took me to a bus that was soon leaving. He said the ticket was 10 000 pesos, but when I was going to pay on the bus it was 13 000 pesos (other people around me paid the same price). The bus was a big air-conditioned bus (not very cold) with comfortable seats. To the bus terminal in Bogota it took over 3 hours (there were some road constructions along the way). Many people went of at Portal del Norte and that’s what I would do another time, to take the TransMilenio bus to the city centre.
On the same bus as me was a Canadian woman and she was also going to Platypus so we decided to share a taxi. At the terminal you can take a safe taxi. By the exit you can buy a ticket for the taxi. You say your name and where you are going and you will get a ticket with the price, the number of the taxi and a telephone number to call if you have complains. To Platypus (in Candelaria) the taxi was 7400 pesos.
I took a city bus to the terminal outside Bucaramanga from Calle 15/Carrera 35 and as it was Sunday the ticket was 1200 pesos. At the terminal a kind man from the city bus wanted to help me buy a ticket for Tunja (where you can change buses). He went to the company Omega which is a good company and they have an office near the entrance. They had a bus that should have left ten minutes before, at seven, so I had to hurry up. The ticket was 35 000 pesos (and at this moment it was not possible for me to negotiate about the price). The bus was a big bus with very cold air-condition and seats you can almost make beds of.
Along the road we stopped as there had been an accident and later we stopped for lunch for almost half an hour.
Suddenly, when we were in Barbosa, I and another passenger had to change bus to a small crowded minibus as the bus was continuing to Bogota via Chiquinquira (and money was handed over between the buses for the tickets). We arrived in Tunja 7,5 hours after we left Bucaramanga (the woman in the office told me it was going to take six hours when I asked her).
In Tunja a minibus left immediately for Villa de Leyva, but it soon stopped in another neighbourhood to wait for the bus to fill up. With the waiting time it took a bit more than an hour to Villa de Leyva. The ticket was 4500 pesos (July 2007). In Villa de Leyva the bus terminal is within walking distance from Plaza Mayor.
Cobelstone are tough on a car and the hills can be tough on the legs. So what better way to see a town stuck in Colonial times than to hop on a horse. The sound on the stone roads fits perfectly and the view from horse back is even better.