Popayán is in the Valley of Pubenza between the Western and Central Cordillera at 1760 meters above sea level, a position that confers a climate that oscillates between 14º and 19º C. The city is one of the most important religious centres in the country. Thousands of national and international pilgrims arrive in the city to experience the holy week festivities recognized as a cultural and intangible heritage of the humanity by the UNESCO in 2009.
Besides being considered one of the most beautiful cities and best preserved in Colombia and Latin América, Popayán also has great historical and cultural wealth, a heritage from its important role during the Viceroyalty of Nueva Granada.
The gastronomic richness of Popayán was recognized in 2005 by the UNESCO with the distinction of Creative City of Gastronomy by its variety and meaning for the intangible patrimony of the country. The visitor can enjoy the typical delicacies of the region such as “empanadas de pipián”, carantanta, amasijos, among others.
Visiting Popayán while on a holiday in Colombia is finding pre-Hispanic traditions, natural richness, gastronomical patrimony and elegance as shown in the white fronts of its houses and churches.
The Guillermo León Valencia airport is about 25 minutes away from the centre of Popayán.
Public transport inside the city is provided by buses and jeeps that go to the countryside.
- January: Pubenza Carnivals, Holy Week.
- September: Popayán Gastronomical National Congress.
On the last Friday of the month, the streets in the city come alive with “night of the museums” where the most important open their doors for free. The streets are free of traffic and are just for pedestrians to provide space for the artistic shows in this event.
The average temperature of Popayán is 18°C. The coldest and rainiest months are June and November, reaching 7°C during the night. Take this information into account and pack a coat and an umbrella.
Activities in Popayán
Puracé National and Natural Park
Declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1979, the most important rivers in Colombia are born there: Magdalena, Cauca, Patía y Caquetá, as well as 30 quiet lakes and hot springs of San Juan, perfect for contemplation. It’s also home to more than 200 species of orchids and three floral species threatened in a national level.
Puracé National and Natural Park offers several activities of ecotourism like condor sighting, trekking, wildlife observation and camping. The Puracé Volcano trek lasts four hours going up and two hours the way back.
This historical monument built in 1873 is one of the most important monuments in the city, because in the past, it was the main entrance to Popayán. There are several shops and handicraft stores close by.
Known as the nose of Popayán, it was built between 1673 and 1682 and is a mandatory visit on your Colombia vacation.
Caldas Park was built in 1537, the same date the city was founded and it is the main square of Popayán. The park is named after Francisco José de Caldas, whose statue is erected in the centre of the place. The park is also a mandatory visit on the tour through the historical centre. It is also surrounded by restaurants and hotels. It is currently a peaceful and green place to have a walk.
The town Silvia is a perfect destination to experiment a different side of Colombia other than the traditional tourist routes, because it is the centre of the guambianas indigenous communities who conserve their language, traditions and manners. The Tuesday markets are the best scenario to see the colourful outfits and the tradition of the guambianos when they sell crafts and their crops.
Popayán Historical Center
The Historical Centre of Popayán is one of the biggest in the country and Latin America, as well as one of the best preserved. The colonial architecture remains intact in the churches and the white fronts of the city, a trace of the elegance that was a characteristic of the high Spanish society that lived in Popayán during the Colony.
San Francisco Church
In the church, you will find one of the biggest bells of America cast in gold and bronze and called San Antonio’s Bell. This church is a mandatory visit for tourists for its baroque style. It was declared a National Monument of Colombia in 1996. The church also has San Margo relics, brought from Rome.
Also called Pueblito Patojo, it’s a miniature version of the city and represents the most important monuments in Popayán. There are, among others, the Humilladero bridge, the Clock Tower, the Ermita Chapel and the Puente Chiquito.
El Morro de Tulcán
This artificial mountain shaped as a pyramid is the main archaeological place in Popayán, thanks to the pre-Hispanic objects found there dated 500 – 1600 before Christ.
This place is currently a meeting place where people can have a great view of the city and watch the beautiful sunsets the city has to offer.
– Catedral de Nuestra señora de Asunción
– Santo Domingo Church
– Natural History Museum
– Panteón de los Próceres