Bucaramanga’s generally bland facade of modern skyscrapers doesn’t exactly inspire the romantic notions that many of the other colonial Latin America cities exude. However, there is still something quite charming to this capital of the Santader province. Offsetting the abundance of traffic and boring new buildings that have overtaken the city are a wealth of nice parks and green spaces that offer a natural reprieve to the city. Moreover, as night sets in on “Buca” the city comes to life with one of the most vibrant party scenes in all of Colombia.
Time Needed: 1-2 days
Budget: 25-45 US$
Things to do in Bucaramanga
- The Parks: Locals take a lot of pride in the wide variety of green spaces available for the public in Bucaramanga. Parque Garcia Rovira and the Jardin Botanico are the most popular.
- Paragliding: The winds on the nearby hills make this a great place to catch thermals and go for a paraglide. The cost of paragliding in Bucaramanga is about as cheap as anywhere in the world at about 30-35US$ for a tandom flight. You can even take a course in town to become a licensed pilot.
- Museums: Although the modern exterior doesn’t show it, Bucaramanga is one of the most important historical cities in Colombia. Check out the Casa de Bolivar which is basically a shrine to the hero of independence. Casa de la Cultura is also a very good museum depicting the history and culture of the city.
- Churches: In town there are a two churches worth checking out. The oldest in town is Capilla de los Dolores while the most impressive Cathedral de la Sagrada Familia.
Where to Eat in Bucaramanga
You wont go hungry in Bucaramanga as the choices for food is extensive. You might be surprised to see a lot of goat (cabro) on the menus here, but that is quite typical to the region. If you’re craving the meat sweats head to a place called El Viejo Chiflas which offers huge platters of meat based meals. If you’re looking for a lighter meal you wont have any trouble spotting a fast food restaurant serving up everything from soups to set meals.
Where to Stay in Bucaramanga
Backpackers visiting Bucaramange tend to head directly for a hostal called Hostal Don Juan Turismo y Salud. Although it isn’t a typical backpackers, it offers a great atmosphere and bargain prices. A single room will only cost you somewhere between 15-20US$.
Getting out of Town
Many people use Bucaramanga as a jumping off point for travel into or from Venezuela. If you are heading to Venezuela you’ll need to first head to the town of Cucuta (6hrs) which will be your jumping off point for the border crossing. Regular buses run to Bogota (10hrs), Cartagena (12hrs) and Santa Marta (9hrs). There is also the possibility of organizing a trip to Cartagena via the river and a combination of boat and land excursions. This is the famous last journey that Simor Bolivar undertook before he died, and might be a nice adventure for the more wild at heart.
Back to the Colombia travel guides