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Colombiafrank’s Pasto Colombia Travel Guide

Sanctuary Las Lajas Ipiales

Updated on 03/22/2024

Dear readers
My name is Frank and I run a tour operator in Bogota, specializing in custom-made and Colombia luxury travel.

At the end of this guide you will find a list of many other helpful travel guides for Colombia.

Introduction to Pasto

Pasto is the capital of the department of Nariño with around 460,000 inhabitants who are called Pastuso. The municipality is at an average elevation of 2,527 meters above sea level.

Due to its geographical location, Pasto has a fairly cool climate, with average temperatures between 7°C and 17°C, although temperatures rarely drop below 6°C or rise above 19°C.

Pasto is one of the oldest cities in Latin America and has one of Colombia’s richest histories, but it is not known exactly when and by whom the city was founded between 1535 and 1540.

During the liberation of the Latin American peoples, the pastusos remained loyal to the Crown and refused to be liberated for many years. Pasto was believed to be the stronghold of royalty in America.

During the Spanish colonization, the town was known as Villaviciosa de la Concepción in the province of Hatunllacta.

The city’s name changed after the slavers were driven out, adopting a word (pasto) from the Quechua language meaning “blue river”.

Over the years, the department of Nariño was created and Pasto was given the status of departmental capital.

Top attractions and things to do in Pasto

Colombia has many beautiful landscapes and Pasto reflects that.

Churches in Pasto

Due to its history with the Spanish Crown, Pasto is home to many colonial churches:

  • San Juan Bautista
  • La Catedral
  • La Merced
  • Christo Rey
  • San Agustin
  • San Andres
  • San Felipe

Even if you are not a believer, you can enjoy the beautiful architecture of these buildings.

Nariño Gold Museum

The Gold Museum in Nariño houses a large collection of pre-Columbian relics found in the region. Each exhibition tells about the life of the people in pre-Hispanic times.

The best part is that entry is free.

Taminango Museum

The Taminango Museum, located downtown, has exhibits that explain the processes used by the ancient pastusos to make their handicrafts. The architecture of the museum is also admirable as it is a 17th century building.

Lagoon La Cocha

Cocha Lagoon is 40 minutes from Pasto. In the surroundings of the lagoon you can admire the beautiful landscape of the moors and in the port, you can enjoy traditional dishes.

Colombia’s best specialty coffees in Pasto

Narino department have the ideal climate for growing coffee, but the volcanic soil also produces one of the best coffees in the world. So, if you are visiting the capital of Nariño, we recommend a tour with tasting of the best coffee beans in Nariño.

Best time to visit Pasto

Pasto is a cool town.

  • From January to June, the probability of precipitation is high and the average temperature is 16°C.
  • From June to September there is little chance of precipitation and the average temperature is 18°C.
  • From November to December, the chance of precipitation is in the medium range and the average temperature is 16°C.

Cultural program in Pasto

Some of Colombia’s most important festivals take place in Pasto.

Black and white carnival

This festival is so steeped in history that it has been declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

The Black and White Carnival was created to commemorate a minor slave victory. It was created on January 5, 1807, when a letter arrived from Spain granting the slaves a day of freedom.

On the appointed day, the slaves had the opportunity to relive their past. They put on folklore performances, danced in the streets, accompanied by music. From the beginning of the festival and in search of equality, they painted the white fellow citizens with charcoal.

Nowadays, the festival consists of five main stages, with a day dedicated to each stage. Usually the carnival starts on January 2nd, but the beginning can be postponed by a few days.

  • Carnavalito is the opening of the Carnival, where the children mimic the adults’ activities by performing a parade of small floats.
  • Canto a la tierra is a preliminary stage in which the choreographic collectives compete to take part in the final parade.
  • The Castañeda family: parades are held in which this important family is impersonated with the most cartoonish costumes.
  • Day of the Blacks, a day to commemorate the slaves, when the Carnival Queen rides around on her chariot handing out makeup.
  • Day of the Whites or Day of the Great Parade, as a contrast to the day before, people paint themselves white to take to the streets and see the nearly 7-kilometer parade. In this parade one can see individual costumes, comparsas, murgas, mini floats and floats. Each of the above contains allegorical messages on this important date.

Pasto International Film Festival

The international film festival was founded with the aim of promoting audiovisual culture in Southwest Colombia. Feature films as well as regional, national and international short films are shown at this festival, which are awarded in various categories.

The festival has already seen 18 editions and usually takes place in October.

International Theater Festival of Pasto

The Pasto International Theater Festival takes place in the city for ten days, hosting various theater groups. In recent years there have been guests from Argentina, Brazil and Chile.

During these ten days you can experience plays, debates, drama workshops and conservatories. The best part is that it brings theater to the streets, as plays are performed not only in theaters but also in public squares.

Where to eat in Pasto?

In Pasto you will find a very innovative gastronomy. We introduce you to some of the best restaurants.

La Merced

Carrera 36 #12-14 Aurora Panamericana, Pasto Colombia

In this restaurant you will find excellent cuts of meat and the best of Colombian cuisine.

La Vereda Cocina de Origen

Carrera 36 # 19-110, Pasto Colombia

Colombian recipes are prepared here at the highest quality level. There are also vegetarian options.

Cafe La Catedral

Carrera 26 # 16-37

Calle 20 #34 -34, Pasto Colombia

A perfect place for a delicious coffee.

Where to stay in Pasto?

Conclude your adventure in Pasto with a stay in a hotel that combines comfort and ideal location near the Historic Center of Pasto or the Carnival Museum.

Don’t miss our lodging recommendations in The Best Hotels in Pasto.

How to get to Pasto

By plane

From Bogota you can reach Antonio Nariño Airport in the municipality of Chachagüí, which is about 40 minutes from Pasto. The flight from Bogota takes 1 hour and 30 minutes. The journey from the airport to Pasto takes around 40 minutes.

The airlines that offer connections are as follows:

By bus

You can also travel by land, which is cheaper than flying. But you should keep in mind that these are very long journeys as it takes up to 18 hours from Bogotá to Pasto by bus.

The easiest way to buy tickets is through Pinbus.

How to get around in Pasto?

To get around Pasto you can use public buses. There are about 20 different routes that allow you to visit every corner of the city.

Besides buses and taxis, you can also use platforms like Uber and Cabify to get around, although the latter are more expensive in comparison.

Colombia Travel Guides

Here you will find travel guides for the most popular regions in Colombia, which we have put together during our extensive travels around the country.

Travel Guides to Colombia’s Small Towns

Here you will find travel guides for less popular destinations in Colombia. Some of these destinations are even real insider tips and not even known to the Colombians as travel destinations.


About Author



Hello! I'm Frank Spitzer, the founder and the heart behind Pelecanus, a specialized tour operator for Colombia travel. My journey in travel is vast and rich – I've explored over 60 countries, absorbing cultures, experiences, and stories along the way. Since 2017, I've been channeling this wealth of global experience into creating unforgettable travel experiences in Colombia. I'm recognized as a leading authority in Colombian tourism, with a deep-seated passion for sharing this beautiful country with the world. You can catch glimpses of my travel adventures and insights around Colombia on my YouTube channel. I'm also active on social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, where I share the vibrant culture and stunning landscapes of Colombia. For professional networking, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Join me on this incredible journey, and let's explore the wonders of Colombia together!

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