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Colombiafrank’s Tunja Colombia Travel Guide

Church in Tunja

Updated on 01/25/2024

Dear readers

My name is Frank and I run a travel agency in Bogota, Colombia. Have fun while reading!

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

We are a travel agency based in Bogota, Colombia, specializing in custom-made trips.

Why visit Tunja?

Tunja ‘s highlights is the well-preserved historic center with its impressive colonial buildings and churches. The city is also home to several museums showcasing the region’s cultural and historical heritage.

Besides its history and culture, Tunja is also an ideal destination for nature lovers. The countryside surrounding the town is stunning, with rolling hills and stunning mountain views. Visitors can take a trip to nearby Iguaque National Park, which is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna.

In my opinion, the city, with its rich history, cultural offerings and stunning natural scenery, is a must-see for anyone wanting to explore the diverse cultural and natural offerings of this beautiful country.

Facts about Tunja

Tunja is a city in the central region of Colombia, about 130 km (80 miles) northeast of Bogotá. With a population of about 181,000, Tunja is the capital of Boyacá department.

The city was founded on August 6, 1539 by Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Suárez Rendón.

Tunja has a subtropical highland climate with cool temperatures all year round and an average temperature between 10°C and 19°C (50°F and 66°F).

Tunja is located at an altitude of 2,822 meters above sea level and the city receives an average of 600 mm of rainfall annually.

Some of the most important economic activities in Tunja and Boyacá department are agriculture (mainly the production of potatoes and other vegetables), textile industry, mining (including emeralds) and tourism.

The main sights in Tunja

Here are some of the main attractions of the capital of Boyacá:

Plaza de Bolivar

This is the main square and the heart of the historic center of Tunja. It is named after Simon Bolivar, the Venezuelan military leader who played a key role in the liberation of several South American countries from Spanish colonial rule in the early 19th century.

Surrounded by colonial-era buildings and featuring a central fountain, Plaza de Bolivar is a popular meeting place for locals and visitors alike. It’s an ideal spot for people-watching, relaxing on a bench and soaking up the atmosphere, or admiring the surrounding architecture.

Plaza de Bolívar is also a center for cultural and civic events in Tunja, hosting concerts, festivals and other activities throughout the year. An ideal place to experience the spirit of the city.

The lively and festive atmosphere of Tunja, especially during the annual International Cultural Festival, which brings together artists from all over the world to celebrate the city’s cultural heritage.

Tunja Cathedral

Tunja Cathedral is one of the most important monuments in the city and a must for all lovers of history, art and architecture. The impressive church, located on the east side of Plaza de Bolívar, was built in the late 16th century.

The altar is considered one of the finest examples of colonial-era religious art in Colombia.

Over the centuries, Tunja Cathedral has played an important role in the city’s religious and cultural life. It served as a meeting place for the faithful and was the scene of various important events and ceremonies.

Hunzahúa -Fountain or Lagoon

This is a historical fountain in the town of Tunja. It is believed to date from pre-Columbian times and takes its name from Muisca Zeque Hunzahúa, who ruled the region before the Spanish arrived.

The origin story states that the Zeque of Hunzahúa fell in love with his sister and the incestuous siblings married on a journey in search of cotton. Upon their return, the siblings’ mother found out about this, took the chicha stirrer and broke the vessel containing the drink, irrigating the site and creating what is now the Hunzahúa Fountain.

Legend also has it that another Zeque threw all the treasures he owned into the well to save him from the Spaniards. Captain Jerónimo Donato de Rojas found out about this and tried to empty the well in search of the treasure.

The Boyacá Bridge

It is a historic bridge near the city of Tunja in Colombia. The bridge is famous for its importance in Colombian history, having been the site of the Battle of Boyacá in 1819, which marked the beginning of Colombia’s independence from Spain.

The bridge itself is a simple stone construction, but it holds immense historical and cultural importance to the Colombian people.

Visitors to the Boyacá Bridge can explore the historic site and learn about the events that took place there more than 200 years ago. Several monuments and statues commemorate the battle and the heroes who fought for Colombia’s independence.

get from Tunja to Puente de Boyacá you can take a bus or a taxi. If you are driving, you can take the road from Tunja to Ventaquemada, which is well signposted and easy to drive. Once in Ventaquemada you will find signs that will take you to Puente de Boyacá.

Museums in Tunja

The house of the founder Gonzalo Suarez Rendon

It is a historical house-museum in the heart of the historical center of Tunja. The house is named after Gonzalo Suárez Rendón, the Spanish conqueror who founded the city of Tunja in 1539.

The house was built in the 16th century and is one of the oldest surviving colonial buildings in Tunja. It has been restored and turned into a museum, offering visitors a glimpse into the daily life of Tunja ‘s early settlers.

The museum has several exhibition rooms, each dedicated to a different aspect of Tunja’s history and culture. On display are original furniture and items from the colonial era such as ceramics, textiles and religious objects.

There are also exhibits related to the city’s pre-Columbian history, including ancient Muisca artifacts and information about the indigenous cultures that inhabited the region before the arrival of the Spanish.

One of the highlights of the museum is the beautiful courtyard with the central fountain. The courtyard is an oasis of calm amidst the busy city and an ideal place to relax and soak up the atmosphere.

Museum of the House of Juan de Vargas

This museum is located in the historical center of the city. The museum is dedicated to the life and work of Juan de Vargas, a famous Colombian painter and sculptor.

The museum is housed in a beautiful colonial building where Juan de Vargas himself lived. The house has been preserved and restored and now houses several exhibition rooms showcasing the artist’s work and his personal collection of art and objects.

Visitors to the museum can see a variety of works by Juan de Vargas, including paintings and drawings. The museum also hosts exhibitions on Colombia’s art history and places the work of Vargas in the context of the country’s artistic tradition.

Archaeological Park and Museum of Tunja

Tunja Archaeological Park and Museum is a complex of museums and parks also known as Tunja Archaeological Park and Museum. The museum is dedicated to the history and culture of the pre-Columbian Muisca people who inhabited the region before the arrival of the Spanish.

The park-museum complex covers an area of about 12 hectares and is divided into several areas. The park has several walking trails and outdoor exhibits showing the archaeological remains of the Muisca culture. Visitors can view replica Muisca dwellings, ceremonial centers and farming fields, as well as several examples of Muisca arts and crafts.

Located in the park, the museum has several exhibition rooms displaying Muisca artifacts, tools, and everyday objects. The museum also offers information about the history and culture of the Muisca people and their way of life before the arrival of the Spaniards.

Tourist activities in Tunja

Some of the activities you can do in Tunja are:

Explore the historic center of Tunja

This is one of the top activities for visitors to the city. The historic center is home to a wealth of fine colonial buildings, squares and churches, many of which date from the 16th and 17th centuries.

Hiking in Iguaque National Park

Iguaque National Park is a popular destination for hikers visiting Tunja. The park is located about 15 kilometers from Tunja and covers an area of about 6,750 hectares. The park is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, including several endangered species.

A hike in Iguaque National Park is a great way to explore the park’s natural beauty and get some exercise while enjoying the fresh air and stunning scenery. There are several hiking trails in the park, ranging from easy to difficult and varying in length and elevation.

One of the most popular hiking trails in Iguaque National Park is the Páramo de Iguaque , which runs 16 kilometers through diverse ecosystems such as forests, moorland and alpine tundra. Along the way you can enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys and spot wild animals.

Playing golf in Tunja

The Campestre Club Potrerillo is a golf club on the outskirts of Tunja. It is a private club that offers an 18-hole golf course with beautiful mountain views.

The Club Campestre golf course Potrerillo is well maintained and has a variety of challenging holes that will challenge players of all skill levels. The club also offers various services such as a clubhouse, restaurant and practice facilities.

Visitors can at Club Campestre Play Potrerillo Golf by purchasing a day pass or becoming a member. The club also organizes tournaments and events throughout the year.

Best time to visit Tunja

The best time to visit Tunja is between December and February, which is the dry season in the city. During this period, visitors can expect sunny weather with temperatures between 18°C and 24°C. It is the ideal time to explore the city’s attractions outdoors and enjoy the numerous cultural events.

Besides the pleasant weather, a visit to Tunja at the end of the year can also coincide with the International Culture Festival.

Events in Tunja

The International Culture Festival is the most important cultural event in Tunja. It takes place annually in October and November. It is a multi-day festival celebrating the diversity of Colombian and international culture through a wide range of artistic performances including music, dance, theater and visual arts.

The festival attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world and presents local and international artists as well as workshops, exhibitions and other cultural events.

The festival has been held since 1973 and has become an important platform for promoting cultural diversity and dialogue in Colombia. It also offers local and international artists the opportunity to showcase their talent and connect with audiences from diverse backgrounds.

Attending the International Cultural Festival is an excellent way to experience the richness and diversity of Colombian and international culture while enjoying Tunja’s vibrant and festive atmosphere at this time of year.

Nightlife in Tunja

There are bars, taverns and nightclubs all over the city. In the historic center there are a few cafes and bars near Plaza de Bolivar, but Avenida Norte is where the largest number of nightspots are concentrated.

Here are some recommended places to eat:

Liptus Cafe-Bar Tunja

Carrera 10 # 17-50

https://liptus-disco-bar-tunja.negocio.site/

Don Chorro nightclub

Avenida Norte # 56-03

Don Chorro Night Club

https://donchorro.com/tunjaa/

Joaquina Magic Club

Carrera 6 #n 47-43

Typical food in Tunja

In Tunja there are many restaurants and eateries offering delicious and authentic Colombian cuisine. Here are some recommendations:

El Maizal

Carrera 9 # 20-30

With more than 50 years of existence, this is one of the most traditional restaurants in the city. It offers an extensive menu, with a focus on mondongo and meat dishes. It is located in the city center, just a few steps from Plaza de Bolivar.

La Pila del Mono

Calle 20 #8-19

It’s a restaurant with 30 years of experience. It offers an exquisite menu with dishes specialized in the gastronomy of the region. It is located in a historical place with an incomparable architectural beauty.

El Palacio de la Gallina Gourmet

Calle 25A # 7-04

This family restaurant specializes in the typical Boyacan Creole chicken. If you want to enjoy a unique chicken consommé, you’ve come to the right place.

The restaurant is located near the historical center and the Independence Stadium.

Salon de Onces Tipicas

Calle 20 # 8-95

Something very typical in Colombia are the onces. In Tunja there is a traditional eatery specializing in serving the best pandeyucas, pandebonos, local products, chocolate, panela water and coffee. The Salon de Onces Típicas is located just a few steps from Plaza de Bolívar and is designed like a traditional village shop.

Accommodation in Tunja

Here are some recommended places to stay in Tunja:

Hotel Parque Santander Tunja

Calle 23 # 11-57

CLICK HERE TO GET THE BEST RATES FOR HOTEL PARQUE SANTANDER TUNJA

Hotel Parque Santander is located in the historic center of Tunja and offers a restaurant, 24-hour reception, free WiFi and breakfast. The hotel is just 300 m from Bolivar Square.

Apartasuite

Carrera 15 # 15-12

CLICK HERE FOR BEST RATES FOR APARTASUITE

Apartasuite offers accommodation with free WiFi, a flat-screen TV and a kitchen.

How to get to Tunja?

Tunja is located about 130 km (80 miles) northeast of Bogotá, the capital of Colombia. Tunja is best reached by land as the town does not have a commercial airport.

Getting around Tunja

Getting around Tunja is relatively easy due to the city’s compact size. Here are the most common modes of transportation in the city:

On foot

Tunja’s historical center is pedestrian-friendly, and many sights are within walking distance of each other. The city’s cobblestone streets and colonial architecture are easy to explore on foot.

Taxis

Taxis are widely used in Tunja and are a convenient way to get around the city. Fares are relatively cheap and can be requested on the street or through apps like Cabify.

Buses

Tunja has a public bus system that runs throughout the city and surrounding areas.

Cycles

Tunja has a bike-sharing program called ” BiciTunja” that offers bike rentals for a small fee. The program has multiple stations across the city, making it easy to borrow and return bikes.

Car rental

Several car rental companies have offices in Tunja and you can choose from a wide range of vehicles.

  • hertz
  • Avis
  • ABC

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About Author

Frank

Frank

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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