Oficina de Tourismo is directed by a wonderful lady, Carmen Leonor Acosta. She has founded the Tourist Office herself and is doing her best to promote her treasured city. Not only does she work without being paid but she also helps poor and invalid people ! Funds are scarce and most of the times she pays for the expenses herself! We had a long...more
Popayán is renowned as La Ciudad Blanca or White City for good reason with a plethora of well-preserved colonial gems, most of which with chalk-white facades. Only Cartagena supercedes it in size and scope as colonial settlement in Colombia. Founded in 1537 by Sebastián Belalcázar it grew to become a natural and key stop on the important trade...more
For impressive views of the city, head west to the edge of the city center and climb El Morro de Tulcán. Also at the top is a graffiti-ridden statue of Popayán's founder, Sebastián Belalcázar, atop a horse. The true entrance is at the rear where there are steps leading to the hill's top but many clamber up the front as evidenced by a lot of erosion...more
Today, the 240m-long Puento del Humilladero is how the fine citizens of Popayán cross the Río Molino. It's an impressive bridge featuring eleven arches but some 160 years prior, a footbridge was how local priests crossed this same river to service the poor area to the north. Puente de la Custodia was built in 1713 and remains in place alongside its...more
Panteón de los Próceres is in the neoclassical style and is another of Popayán's non-white gems much like the Teatro to which it stands next to. The bright blue pillared building houses the remains of some of the town's most noted citizens like Francisco Caldas, after which the Popayán's main square is named after.more
Though by no means the oldest building in Popayán, the Teatro Guillermo Valenicia became our favorite and certainly the one we took the most photos of. Though conceived of in the late 1800s, construction was thwarted by a civil war and was not completed until 1927 in an early Baroque style. The color combination of muted yellow with green trim adds...more
This place had a good reputation, which is why my wife and I had lunch here again after coming here several times over the years. Too bad that the restaurant has taken advantage of that previously good reputation to now serve overpriced, and at least in our case, inedible food. We have lived in Colombia for eight years now, and have eaten in...more
Los Quingos de Belén was a perfect way to begin what would be a great culinary experience in Popayán. This upscale but still very authentic restaurant just on the edge of town specializes in regional dishes and while not cheap, they serve huge portions in a very charming atmospheric setting. There is a large outdoor seating area but we preferred to...more
Hosteltrail turned out to be a great hostel, but not just because it was a nice place to stay but because the young couple that own it are foodies. They turned us onto a few good places but mostly what I would like to thank them for is telling me about La Fresca. I asked where I could find the best empanadas de pipián and without hesitation they...more
This is the kind of place you only find by walking by it. It's a real no-namer but we came upon it when walking from the hostel to Piko Riko on Calle 4 and smelled the tasty looking arepas cooking in a small oven right in the small eatery's open doorway. It took us a few days to get around to it but since we had a relatively small breakfast that...more
Though our breakfast the day prior at Pan Tolima was quite good, we stumbled across Tapipan while taking photos in the morning and decided to drop in as they had almojabanas as well as full breakfasts. It was very small and obviously very local from the steady stream of people popping in for baked goods to go or a quick bite to eat. The waitress...more
I had read about a great sounding restaurant called La Cosecha which specialized in grilled meats but it was on the outskirts of town, closer to the bus terminal than I wanted to venture. Its sister eatery was much closer to the hostel and with the same menu albeit perhaps some of the ambiance, we decided to go there instead. Lonchería La Viña...more
Popayn may not be the most lit up town in the world but it was one of the better ones in Colombia. The main square could use some more but they did a nice job with the churches up high. Both Iglesia La Ermita and Capilla de Belén were well lit and quite colorfully at that.One thing about night photography is you'll need a tripod to get good shots...more
We had a good experience in a local pool hall dive bar in Salento so on reading about El Sotareño in Popayán we decided to give it another go despite its foreboding exterior. The bar in Salento had been big and open, with two wide doors welcoming you in and offering a quick exit as well. El Sotareño was minuscule in comparison and the one tiny door...more
Popayán doesn't have especially wild nightlife though the friendly locals like to meet in the towns excellent cafés or salsa clubs to spend a sociable evening. If you like to dance salsa or reggaeton, or just chill with a drink listening to latin jazz and bossa nova, you will find a place to sit and relax after a day of sightseeing. Many nightclubs...more
San Agustin to Popayan takes about 6 hours by bus, by private vehicle it would be about an hour less. Most of the road is un paved in poor condition and a normal car would not be able to make it. Anthing with higher ground clearance such as a SUV or Pick Up could do it without much difficulty. Inquire about road conditions before heading out as...more
Getting to Popayán from Cali was no problem at all. That was part of our reason to stop in Cali in the first place with frequent buses between the two and a relatively short three hour travel time. Since we had reserved a room at Horsetrail Hostel in Popayán we had a leisurely breakfast in Cali and grabbed a late morning bus. We paid 20,000 COP...more
There is a regular bus service from Popayán to Cali and numerous bus companies are available, such as Expreso Palmira, Expreso Bolivariano and Velotax. Minibuses also serve the route. Though the bus terminal is only 10 minutes walk from HostelTrail, I took a taxi as I left quite early in the morning. At the information desk I asked about the bus to...more
Though Popayán did not disappoint overall with regard to local dishes and we were very happy to enjoy their delectable empanada de papián in particular, one thing it let us down on is the lulada. This scrumptious drink make with the lulo fruit, only found in this area, was reportedly available in Cali in Popayán. We had found it in Cali a few days...more
Chontaduro is a species of palm fruit well known by the native population where it is grown, the tropical forest of South and Central America. It has a high contents of vitamin A and C and has been used as a food source for centuries. Several locals in Popayán offer this fruit on their little stands on wheels. I saw it here for the first time, and...more
Popayán has a centuries long gastronomic tradition which has been passed from generation to generation. Traditional culinary practices are protected and encouraged and there is a strong respect for traditional cuisine in Popayán especially during Holy Week and Christmas when certain foods are prepared exclusively for these holidays. In 2005,...more
Popayan is a lovely city, but. . . . Unless you intend to join the disco itself, stay away from a bed anywhere near Parque Caldas, the central square, on Thusday through Saturday nights (and Sundays if Monday is a holiday -- of which there are many.) To coin an advertising slogan, 'the only risk' is sleep deprivation. There's a full-on,...more
The food in Popayán was so good that on a few occasions, I at least ate a bit too much. This is typical in a place like Germany, where foods can be fatty and rich, so it's not unusual to have a schnaps like a kräuter liquor to ease the pressure on the old tummy. Ironically enough, D ordered a chuleta de cerdo (pork cutlet) one night and out came...more
Luggage and bags:
Since the bus terminal is close to town, a backpack will be easiest to lug if you want to avoid taking a taxi. Also, if staying in Hosteltrail, you'll have some stairs to climb and that's easiest with a backpack too.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Dressing layers is best in Popayán where the weather can be changeable. Generally speaking though it is a very nice climate and a sweater should suffice on most evenings.
Photo Equipment: A wide angle is great for bringing the foreground into your photos which makes the more interesting. Also, on narrow streets it will help get the whole church in your frame. A zoom is great for sneaky people shots. A tripod is best used for night photography unless you have a VERY steady hand.
Miscellaneous: Thanks to D for being the perfect travel partner once again in Popayán.
The most popular day trip from Popayán is Silvia. This small picturesque mountain town 50 kilometers from “the big city”would not likely draw any visitors if it were not for the weekly descending of the Guambiano people. The Guambianos are the most traditional of all Colombian indigenous groups with their own language and most certainly their own...more
Try the thermal spring and mud baths at Coconuco. It's an easy bus ride from Popayan. Aguas Hirviendas is the hotter springs, based in the Hotel de Turismo, 1.5km out of the town. Aguas Tibias is about 3km away. You can get a jeep taxi from the town - obviously it's cheaper if there's a small group of you.Aguas Tibias in more out in the countryside...more
Though Popayán is known as La Ciudad Blanca or the White City, our favorite building was Teato Guillermo Valenica. There was something about the style and color, and especially its magical statues that captured our imaginations. It was best late afternoon when the sun hit the statues just right.... This was the tail end of the trip, that much was...more
The empanada in question was an empanada de pipián, which smallish ones served with a chili-infused peanut sauce noted for the area. Not only did they lead me to some but in a place so very local it positively breathed it, further emphasized by the preponderance of locals frequenting the little hole-in-the-wall. I was unfortunately alone, my wife...more
So, we went methodologically to Cali to break up our journey from the Zona Cafetera and now to Popayán to do the same en route to Las Lajas. Cali brought us the lulada and more of the same was reportedly on our horizon in Popayán but we had traveled enough to know such things were never certain. Lulada or no lulada there were still many...more