One of the most beautiful colonial villages in Colombia, Villa de Leyva is a city frozen in time. Declared a national monument in 1954, the photogenic village has been preserved in its entirety, with cobblestone roads and whitewashed buildings.

Villa's physical beauty and mild, dry climate have long attracted outsiders. The town was founded in 1572 by Hernán Suárez de Villalobos, and early on it was mainly a retreat for military officers, clergy and the nobility.

In recent years an influx of wealthy visitors and expats has slowly transformed this once-hidden gem. Boutique hotels, gourmet restaurants and tacky tourist shops are replacing many of the old family hosterías and cafes, and the authenticity. On weekends the narrow alleys can get downright crammed with day-trippers from Bogotá. But, thankfully, on weekdays it reverts to a peaceful, bucolic village.