Zipaquirá is one hour north of Bogotá. Almost all tourists go straight ahead to a salt cathedral and forget to visit the city center. And that is shame, because this is a calm oasis near a city of eight million. Why should you consider visiting Zipaquirá’s center? Because of its beauty, coffee, Indigenous market and tranquility.
“Para Zipa!” Buses depart at Bogotá’s Portal del Norte and arrive at Zipaquirá’s only bus station. Most of the things that you see on your way to Zipa are the capital’s suburbs. But Zipa is not BogoTown, because Zipa is Zipa.
It seems that the quarter around el terminal, the bus station, is somewhat edgy, but I never felt uncomfortable after staying in the capital for a few days. But the city center is a surprise for me: colorful houses, almost only locals and good coffee bars at every corner.
Zipaquirá is famous for its salt cathedral. After reading some critical reviews on travel blogs (it seems that this is really touristic), I decided to discover the city center. And this is off the beaten track, because until now you won’t find that many foreigners here. El centro de Zipa is the real Colombian experience.
In and around Zipa, you can find railway infrastructure. That’s said, the railway station is an art gallery nowadays. Sometimes a train for touristic purposes is running. Probably with a lot of gringos on board, straight ahead to the salt mines.
But… If you come on Tuesday to Zipa, you’re lucky to visit a weekly market with tons of Indigenous products. There are arts and crafts, kitsch objects, a lot of necessary things and… Aphrodisiacs. When they tried to sell this to me, I played the angry tourist: “What, I’m too young for this!” They understood the message quickly.
So, if you plan a visit to this town, I recommend to go on Tuesday because of the market. In the city center itself, you can find good coffee in almost every pedestrian street. Working class restaurants are located in the commercial zone, upscale bars at the Plaza de la Independencia. If you enjoy life and you like to talk with strangers, you can spend a whole day here.
How to get there? By bus from Bogotá’s Portal del Norte bus station. Buses for Zipaquirá run every 15 minutes during daytime. Zipa’s stunning center is located at walking distance from the bus station.