San Gil Travel Guide

  • top of the gigantic ceiba bonga trees
    top of the gigantic ceiba bonga trees
    by mircaskirca
  • squirrel having breakfast :)
    squirrel having breakfast :)
    by mircaskirca
  • The main square, Parque La Libertad
    The main square, Parque La Libertad
    by MalenaN

San Gil Things to Do

  • Catedral Santa Cruz

    The Catedral Santa Cruz was a very pleasant surprise in San Gil. The 18th century stone church was stunning as viewed from its Parque El Libertad setting and its interior was equally impressive. It was eerily similar to the one in neighboring Barichara.

  • Parque El Libertad

    Though not quite as lush as Parque El Gallineral, the towns “other” park, Parque El Libertad offers perhaps an even better glimpse into local life and is of course free. Lined with trees, it is the center of the town's social life, especially come later afternoon and evening. After being relegated to blaring sun in the squares of El Cocuy, Villa de...

  • Parque El Gallineral

    Parque El Gallineral is surely San Gil's top attraction and for good reason. The moss-strewn four hectare park is lush beyond imagination and it's easy to spend a few hours strolling amongst its nearly 2000 trees covered in “old man's beard or barbas de viejo” as the locals call the silver strands dangling from what seems every branch. It makes for...

  • Santa Cruz Cathedral and the central...

    On one side of Parque La Libertad stands the Catedral Santa Cruz. It is a stone church built in classical style, with two octagonal towers. The cathedral was constructed between 1769 – 1791. The interior has got the same colour of the stone walls as outside and there is an altarpiece by Jacinto García. The main square, Parque La Libertad is a...

  • Casa de Cultura

    If you walk Calle 12 downhill from the main square you will come to Casa de Cultura, which is situated in a nice old mansion from the 18th century. At Casa de Cultura there are temporary art exhibitions and there is no admission. There is also a café.Casa de Cultura is open between 9 -12 and 14 – 17 on Mondays - Saturdays.

  • Parque El Gallineral

    Parque El Gallineral was founded already in 1919 and it is situated on an island, surrounded by rivers. The lush park has got an area of 4 hectare and has got more than 1800 trees, and many of them are covered with the long silver-grey tillandia, giving the park a mystical feel. After a day of activities it is nice to come here for a walk. There...


San Gil Restaurants

  • this place does fish too

    Though on first thought, fish did not come to our minds when coming to San Gil but it was on a big river and there seemed to be no shortage of restaurants selling it. We had a good experience with trout in the El Cocuy area which was all mountains so why not give it a try here? Back we went to Maxi Pollo to find that chicken was not all they were...

  • had everything BUT chicken here

    We enjoyed our fish meal at Max Pollo so much we decided to go for another one the next day before leaving town but opted for trying the ones at Chicken Krunch. They had Trucha (or trout) advertised outside and Doreen was not overly fond of the bony mojara fish we had the night before. Chicken Krunch is a long and fairly large neon-lit restaurant...

  • possibly best arepas in Colombia

    While we had enjoyed both our lunch and dinner the previous day, we were looking for something a littler healthier and down to earth the next morning for breakfast. Not that either Chicken Krunch or Maxi Pollo were not very typical South American affairs, but to be honest they are more the fast food approximations of the continent than the family...

  • Chicken Krunch has pork too!

    We noticed another chicken place on the same street as the one we had lunch at and this one had a more extensive meat menu so we decided to give Chicken Krunch a shot. Much to our delight, it was an equally tasty meal and we were glad we did not play it safe by going back to the same place. It was a similarly long and large place, bustling with...

  • buc, buc, buc

    The town was not overly ambitious in the food realm and the few interesting places listed in our guidebook had gone by the wayside so we played it safe and went for rotisserie chicken for our first meal in San Gil. Maxi Pollo hit the spot nicely and our second foray into the world of chicken in Colombia was not disappointing. It was a long and...

  • Fruit salad at the market

    The market is situated on block from Parque La Libertad and here you can buy most things that usually are sold at a market. And in San Gil they sell freshly made fruit juices and fruit salads, which is absolutely worth coming for.I bought a big fruit salad here and as it was made while I was looking I could tell if there was a fruit I didn’t want...

  • Pizza

    One evening we were some people from the hostel who were going out together to have dinner. We ended up at a pizzeria where they had a big variety of pizzas, and pizzas in different sizes. We had four big pizzas to share among us and beer or soft drinks to drink. We then split the bill and I paid 13 000 pesos (August 2008). It was busy and we had...

  • Grilled chicken

    There are several restaurants around Calle 10, but not all were open when I first looked for a place to eat after my arrival to San Gil. On Calle 10 I found a fast food place selling chicken dishes and it looked very popular. It was full at the tables and many people came in to buy take away.I ordered a plate with grilled chicken, French fries,...

  • Best typical food restaurant

    The natural surroundings of Gallineral Park make eating in this restaurant an unforgettable experience. Definitely the best dish is goat with pepitoria(typical rice in Santander made with goat's visceras). This dish is served with fried yucca. It's absolutely delicious!!Another local dish is "dry meat".


San Gil Transportation

  • a conveniet transit hub

    San Gil is easily reached by bus but the main terminal is about 3 kilometers from town. In the relatively hot climate of San Gil, we opted to take a taxi from there for 3000 COP ($1.50) which also made navigation to town and our proposed hotel easier. The bus from Tunja to San Gil was 30,000 COP ($15) and took about 4.5 hours. We had to bargain...

  • Between San Gil and Barichara

    More local buses are leaving San Gil from a small bus terminal on the corner of Calle 15/Carrera 10. The buses for Barichara are leaving about every 45 minutes. When I arrived at the terminal I didn’t have to wait long for the bus to leave. The ticket was 3300 pesos (July 2008) and the bus journey to Barichara took almost 40 minutes. In Barichara...

  • From San Gil to Bogota

    Many buses are passing by San Gil on there way to Bogotá. I arrived to the terminal in San Gil just after 7am. There were two companies next to each other offering tickets for a bus leaving 7.30. One was Omega that had a small bus and one was Copatran which had a big bus. Both cost 30 000 pesos (July 2008). I bought a ticket with Copatran. The bus...


San Gil What to Pack

  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    in transit with a backpack

    by richiecdisc Written Oct 8, 2010

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Luggage and bags: When traveling around Colombia, you'll find a backpack comes in very handy, especially on small stops like we did in San Gil. Getting into and out of the city centers is easier and you can actually walk if on a tight budget. Try doing that with a roll-away suitcase.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Dressing in layers was the way to go in most of Colombia but we found San Gil pretty warm so a tee shirt and light pants or shorts is mostly all you'll need.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: You'll need sunscreen in sunny San Gil!

    Photo Equipment: A wide angle lens is great for Parque El Gallineral to bring roots into the foreground of atmospheric tree photos.

    Miscellaneous: Thanks to D for making this part of trip a very romantic one.

    the roots D at Parque El Gallineral D & I in mossy heaven
    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
    • Photography

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San Gil Off The Beaten Path

  • Barichara

    The area around San Gil is a great one to explore and one place not to miss is Barichara. In fact, many make the stop in San Gil for that reason alone. This incredibly preserved colonial town is a 300 year old time capsule that is particularly romantic to stroll about and it's no wonder it was declared a national monument in 1978. A scenic 45...

  • Lovely Barichara

    Barichara is a charming colonial town with whitewashed houses and stone paved streets. The stone used on the streets is a brown stone found locally in Santander. Barichara was founded in 1705 and in 1978 it was declared a national monument. Since then the town has been carefully restored with a good result, and new modern buildings are not allowed...

  • Cueva del Indios

    Together with a Swedish guy from the hostel I visited Cueva del Indio in the small town Paramo. As we came to the bus station in central San Gil we asked when the next bus to Paramo was leaving, and we got the answer 10.15. We went to the market to buy a fruit salad, but came back to eat it at the bus station. That was lucky because at 10.00 we...


San Gil Sports & Outdoors

  • FrankLeal's Profile Photo

    An amazing rafting experience

    by FrankLeal Written Dec 12, 2004

    If you want to leave the stress of the city all you have to do is go to San Gil during a weekend and practice rafting or kayaking in the Fonce river. You pay about 10USD and the course takes about 2 hours.

    Equipment: If you don't have equipment don't worry, the price includes what you need for rafting practice, e.g: lifeboat and helmet

    Related to:
    • Rafting
    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking

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San Gil Favorites

  • watching the world go by

    We weren't interested in any of the reported adrenaline outdoor activities at this point. We had just done a load of trekking in El Cocuy and we still very much in the relaxation mode. So, we enjoyed the town's other noted attraction, the lush Parque El Gallineral, especially relishing the preponderance of Colombians obviously doing the same. One...

  • ushered into a warm sunny town

    It's a bit of a toss up. Parque El Gallineral is surely the most stunning part of this very cool town but Parque La Libertad probably gets closer to the real San Gil. Be sure to check out both! We visited San Gil pretty much as an afterthought. In fact, it was a stop because it was somewhat midway between Tunja and Bucamaranga. We wanted to avoid...

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