Updated on 02/27/2024
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.
Why visit Valledupar?
Valledupar is a Colombian city that offers a wide variety of tourist, cultural and gastronomic attractions. It is the epicenter of vallenato, a typical Caribbean music style that finds expression in festivals, concerts and museums.
With its beautiful landscapes, rivers, waterfalls and parks, it is also an ideal destination for nature lovers. Valledupar is a city for all types of visitors.
Facts about Valledupar
Valledupar is a city in the Caribbean region of Colombia, in the department of Cesar. With around 400,000 inhabitants, it is the capital of the department. The city was founded on January 6, 1550 by Hernando de Santana, a Spanish conquistador.
Located at an altitude of 168 m asl, Valledupar has a tropical savannah climate with high humidity all year round and an average temperature of 27°C. The local economy is mainly based on agriculture, with coffee, cotton and tobacco being the main crops in the region. Other important economic sectors are animal husbandry, mining and tourism. Valledupar is also known for its music and cultural festivals, which draw visitors from across Colombia and beyond.
Tourist attractions in Valledupar
Valledupar has a variety of attractions to offer. Here are some of Valledupar’s most outstanding sights:
Alfonso López Square Valledupar
This is the heart of the city and the place where the most important events take place, such as the opening of the Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata and various competitions. The square is surrounded by colonial buildings that give it a historical and cultural touch. Here you can admire the equestrian statue of General Alfonso López Michelsen and the parish church of Nuestra Señora del Rosario. You can also enjoy the typical gastronomy of the region in the numerous restaurants and stands around the square.
Park of the Vallenata Legend
This is the main stage of the Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata, where the last and most important competitions and awards take place. The park pays homage to the great exponents of Vallenato and the legends that inspired its songs. Here you can visit the monuments of the great representatives of Vallenato such as Diomedes Díaz, Rafael Escalona and Leandro Díaz. You can also enjoy concerts, competitions and folkloric performances that will make you swing to the rhythm of Vallenato. Outside there is also the Monument to the Pilonera Mayor.
House Beto Murgas
If you want to learn more about the history and evolution of Vallenato, be sure to visit Casa Beto Murgas, an interactive museum dedicated to this genre of music. Here you can see a collection of ancient and modern instruments such as accordions, guitars, boxes and guacharacas. You can also listen to audios and videos of the main Vallenato artists, from the pioneers to today’s artists. You can also learn to play some instruments and take part in workshops and cultural activities.
If you want to cool off and relax surrounded by nature, Hurtado Spa is a good choice. This is where the Guatapurí and Badillo rivers converge, creating an area of white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. Here you can take a swim in the river and sunbathe in the hammocks. In the restaurants along the beach you can enjoy typical dishes such as sancocho de gallina (chicken stew) or bocachico frito (fried bocachico).
If you want to have a different experience and learn about the indigenous culture of the region, we recommend a visit to Nabusimake, the spiritual capital of the Arhuacos. This village is located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, where you can admire the traditional architecture of round houses with thatched roofs. You will also have the opportunity to talk to the local people who keep their ancient customs and beliefs. You can also admire the mountainous landscape and the biodiversity around the village.
Tourist activities in Valledupar
Here are some of the best things to do in Valledupar.
Try the local gastronomy
Valledupar’s gastronomy is a blend of flavors and influences from the Caribbean coast and inland. Some of the signature dishes not to be missed are sancocho de gallina, a thick soup made with chicken, vegetables and plantains; chivo guisado, a slow-cooked, seasoned goat meat; patacón con queso costeño, a fried plantain cake with salty cheese; and bocadillo veleño, a guava and panela dessert. There is nothing better to accompany these dishes than a coconut lemonade or a cold beer.
Visit to the Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata
The Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata takes place in Valledupar between the end of April and the beginning of May every year. For five days, the city is filled with music, dance and joy, with concerts, parades, competitions and cultural events.
The festival brings together the best singers, composers and accordionists of Vallenato who compete in different categories for the title of King of Vallenato. This event attracts thousands of people from all over the country and abroad, making it one of the most important celebrations in Colombia. Participating in the Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata is a unique experience where you can immerse yourself in the culture and music of the region, enjoy the local gastronomy and meet people from different regions who share the passion for Vallenato.
Best time to visit Valledupar
The best time to visit Valledupar depends on the interests of the traveler. If you want to enjoy the cultural festivals, the ideal time is between April and September when the most important events take place. If you prefer a drier climate for outdoor activities, the months of January, February and March are the best months, although you should bear in mind that the heat can be intense at this time.
If you prefer cooler weather, the months of April, May, October and November may be more pleasant, but there can also be more rain.
Events in Valledupar
Valledupar offers a variety of events throughout the year that attract national and international tourists who want to know and enjoy the essence of Vallenata. Here are some of the main events taking place in Valledupar throughout the year:
Feast of the Leyenda Vallenata
It is the city’s most important event and takes place every year at the end of April when the anniversary of the founding of Valledupar is celebrated. This festival brings together the best composers and performers of the different Vallenato styles: Merengue, Puya, Paseo and Son. There are also concerts, parades, conferences and cultural activities related to the history and tradition of Vallenato.
Livestock and Agro-Industry Fair
Livestock and Agro-Industry Fair is held in August. Its aim is to promote the economic and social development of the region. Agricultural and industrial products are exhibited and marketed at this fair, but also handicrafts and typical gastronomy. There are also musical, cultural and sporting events.
Feast of Vallenato Indio Tayrona
This event takes place in October and aims to highlight the influence of the indigenous culture in Vallenato. This festival features artists playing the vallenato with indigenous instruments such as the drum and flute. In addition, there are academic, cultural and environmental activities aimed at preserving and spreading the legacy of the indigenous peoples of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.
Valledupar also celebrates some public holidays that are specific to the city or have special meaning for its residents. Some of these days are:
- January 6, Epiphany Day.
- May 18, Day of the Cacique Upar
- June 29, Saints Peter and Paul Day
- July 16, the day of the Virgen del Carmen
- November 11th, Cartagena Independence Day
- December 8th, Day of the Immaculate Conception.
Nightlife in Valledupar
Here is a list with information about the main clubs in the city.
Carrera 7 # 16ª-30L 2
If you like Vallenato this is the ideal club for you. Here you can listen to and dance to the best hits of this music genre, performed by well-known local artists and special guests. There is also a large selection of spirits, cocktails and snacks.
Club El Higueron
Carrera 19 # 9-05
There is live music, drinks, dancing and fun for all tastes. The club has a capacity of 500 people and is modern and comfortably furnished.
Carrera 19 # 9-05
This is a club for those who prefer urban music, reggaeton, merengue and salsa. It features a large, modern dance floor, a modern sound and lighting system, and a bar serving spirits and cocktails.
Typical food in Valledupar
If you want to visit this city and enjoy its flavors, here are the best and most famous restaurants in Valledupar.
Calle 12 #6-56
This restaurant offers a Caribbean and international menu with dishes such as fish, seafood, paella, meat and pasta. The atmosphere is elegant and cozy, with an open-air terrace.
Compae Chipuco Bar Restaurant
Carrera 6 # 16-24
This place pays homage to Vallenato folklore, with a typical decoration and live music. Here you can sample traditional dishes like sancocho de gallina (chicken stew), chivo guisado (stewed goat), arroz de camarones (crab rice), and patacón con queso (fried plantain with cheese). Drinks such as beer, aguardiente and corozo juice are also offered.
Donde Siempre Restaurante Salads & Grill
Carrera 13A # 6C-02
If you like grilled food, you’ve come to the right place. There is beef, pork and chicken, along with salads, French fries, arepas and sauces. The atmosphere is informal and cozy, and the service is quick and friendly.
Montacarga Canahuate Restaurant
Calle 13B # 8-65
This restaurant specializes in typical dishes of the region such as mute, mondongo, sobrebarriga and tamales. It also offers quick meals like hamburgers, hot dogs, and salchipapas.
Diagonal 10 # 6N-15
This restaurant offers a mix of Colombian and international cuisine, with dishes such as quinoa risotto with shrimp, lomo al trapo with passion fruit sauce, and mango ceviche biche. The ambiance is contemporary and sophisticated, and there’s an extensive wine and cocktail list.
Calle 11 # 8-15
A place for meat lovers where you can choose from different cuts like steak, rib eye, tomahawk and t-bone. There is also chicken, pork and fish, as well as salads, soups and desserts. The atmosphere is relaxed and cozy.
Carrera 11# 9D-05
If you’re in the mood for a wood-fired pizza, you’ve come to the right place. Here you can choose from more than 20 types of pizza, from the classic margherita and pepperoni to the original tropical and vegetarian variants. There is also pasta, salad and desserts. The restaurant is small but nice and offers a delivery service.
ArteSano Natural Cafe Restaurant
Calle 13 # 6-81
If you’re looking for a healthy and natural option, you’ve come to the right place. Here you can enjoy vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes such as lentil burgers, quinoa salads and vegetable wraps. There are also natural juices, herbal teas and organic coffee. The atmosphere is calm and cozy.
Where to stay in Valledupar?
If you’re planning to visit the world capital of vallenato and are looking for hotels in Valledupar, you’ll be interested to know that there are several ideal areas to stay. One of them is near Plaza Alfonso López, a vibrant place full of culture. Another recommended area is around Balneario Hurtado, perfect for those seeking relaxation in nature without straying too far from the city center.
How to reach Valledupar?
There are several ways to reach Valledupar from Bogotá or nearby cities:
Alfonso López Pumarejo Airport in Valledupar has daily flights from Bogotá and other major cities such as Medellín and Barranquilla. Flights usually last around an hour and are operated by various airlines such as Avianca and Latam.
The airlines that offer connections are as follows:
You can also reach Valledupar by bus from Bogotá or other cities. There are several transportation companies offering bus services with different amenities and prices. The drive from Bogotá usually takes around 15 hours, while from closer cities like Barranquilla it takes around 5 hours.
The easiest way to buy tickets is via Pinbus.
If you prefer to drive, you can rent a car or use your own vehicle to get to Valledupar. From Bogotá, the most common route is via Honda (Tolima) and then via the Ruta del Sol to Valledupar. The journey takes about 12 hours.
The following companies rent cars in Colombia:
How to get around Valledupar?
Valledupar offers its residents and visitors several transport options. Some of the available means of transport are:
The bus is the most used and most economical means of public transport. There are several routes covering different areas of the city and its surroundings. The fare ranges from 2,000 to 2,500 Colombian pesos ($0.5).
This is a faster and more convenient alternative, but also more expensive. You can take a taxi on the street, by phone or via mobile apps. The minimum fare is 6,000 Colombian pesos (US$1) and varies depending on distance and traffic.
This is a mode of transport for one person on a motorcycle driven by another person. It is very popular for its speed and accessibility, but also very risky due to the lack of safety and regulations. The price depends on negotiation with the driver and is usually cheaper than a taxi.
The bicycle is an environmentally friendly and healthy alternative that is becoming more and more popular in Valledupar. The city has a few bike lanes and public bikes that can be rented by the hour or by the day. The costs vary depending on the provider and duration of use.
Valledupar is a relatively small and flat city that is easy to explore on foot. This is a good way to get to know the culture, the people and the landscape. However, you have to pay attention to the climate, safety and distance.
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.
- Colombia Travel Guide
- Bogota Colombia Travel Guide
- Medellin Colombia Travel Guide
- Cartagena Colombia Travel Guide
- Santa Marta Colombia Travel Guide
- Cali Colombia Travel Guide
- Coffee Triangle Colombia Travel Guide
- Barranquilla Colombia Travel Guide
- La Guajira Colombia Travel Guide
- San Andres Island Colombia Travel Guide
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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.
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