Getting to Villa De Leyva from Bogotá is so easy, that you’ve got no excuses not to visit the lovely little colonial town. It only takes around 3 hours and doesn’t cost much at all.
To make the journey from Bogotá, you can follow these steps:
Step 1: Terminal de Transporte de Bogotá
If you’re staying in Barrio Candelaria, as backpackers and tourists generally do, then one of the easiest options is to hop in a taxi. We left early in the morning when the traffic was light so this cost less than COP$20,000. You can also catch a bus if you’re on a budget, but of course they take longer and are less frequent. You can catch bus 19 for COP$1,500 (check with your hotel or hostel to make sure this is the best bus for you).
Step 2: Choosing a Bus
There are at least two companies which travel this route, the most reputable of which appears to be Expresso Gaviota. This was a mid-sized bus which cost COP$22,000 per person. The journey can take as little as 2.5 hours, but usually takes a lot longer on the way as the buses tend to scour the streets looking for extra passengers. Be prepared for the journey to take up to 4.5 hours, but it will be much shorter on the way back.
The companies each run a couple of buses a day, but it’s best to get there early to ensure a seat on the morning bus.
Step 2: Arriving in Villa de Leyva
You’ll arrive at a small-ish station, with room for around 5 buses. There are a couple of shops / restaurants in the station and a tourist information office (which is never open, for some reason).
When you get off the bus, walk through the station and across a small courtyard to the road. Turn right along this road and after about 500 metres the tarmac turns to cobble stones and after about a 1000 metres (5-10 mins walk) you’ll reach the centre of Villa de Leyva.
Step 3: Returning to Bogotá
There is actually more choice in bus companies on the way back as Bogotá is a large city. Each of them offer the journey for the same price (COP$22,200) but some of the larger buses have wi-fi and toilets on board, so shop around. The return journey to Terminal de Transporte de Bogotá took us around 3 hours.
The cost of a return journey from Bogotá to Villa de Leyva and back should be no more than COP$44,000, less if you are an expert haggler!
EDIT: Jonathan Hemming of translationengland.com suggested another route in the comments below. It wasn’t the right choice for us at the time, but it might be for you!
“You can also go via Tunja. Buses from Bogotá to Tunja leave every 10-15 minutes so if you miss one of the direct buses to Villa de Leyva, I would recommend this option. Tunja is only 2 hours from Portal Norte (buses stop outside Éxito), and then from Tunja you can easily catch a minibus to Villa de Leyva (~1 hour), they leave every 30 minutes or so.”