In this article you will find our expert advice and practical information for planning your exceptional stay in Popayan.
Popayan and its surroundings: History
Founded by the Spanish in 1537 in the green valley of Pubenza, at the foot of the Puracé volcano, it is one of the best-preserved colonial towns in the country.
Rich in diversity and tradition, the holy city was the first to be named UNESCO City of Gastronomy, paying tribute to the high culinary quality of the region, born of various cultural mixtures and syncretisms.
Did you know? Popayan comes from Pupayam, which means “hamlet” in the native language.
Our suggestion: we recommend a visit to the workshops where the procession floats used for Holy Week are made. They can be visited all year round and are well worth a visit.
Popayan, the white city
Popayan is the religious heart of Colombia and is a highly spiritual and joyful city. It is a city known worldwide for its Holy Week celebrations, but it is still authentic and not very touristy.
We recommend that you visit the so-called white city during your stay in southern Colombia. Popayan is a peaceful city, rich in culture and tradition, where it is pleasant to stroll through its paved streets with lime walls and wrought-iron balconies.
Capital of the department of Cauca, it is the city with the highest number of churches per inhabitant, built during the 17th and 18th centuries. Popayan is therefore a real religious centre for Colombia.
With its baroque churches and sumptuous stone streets, the city is illuminated by its colonial houses with white walls, wrought-iron balconies and flowering bushes. The centre of Popayán is a world-renowned historical and architectural heritage. You will even have the chance to see many active volcanoes in the Popayán area.
Climate in Popayán
In Popayán, summers are short and hot, winters are short, comfortable and wet, and the weather is cloudy all year round. Over the course of the year, the temperature generally varies between 14°C and 25°C and rarely falls below 13°C or exceeds 27°C.
The best time of year to visit Popayán for warm-weather activities would be from early June to late September.
When to visit Popayan and its surroundings?
Although the town of Popayán can be visited all year round, the best time to visit the Puracé Volcano is in December/January.
Health and equipment needed to visit Popayan and its surroundings
Tennis shoes, walking shoes for the Puracé volcano, sandals, warm clothes for the evening, sun cream, mackintosh.
What are the events in and around Popayan?
Holy Week : This is the event NOT to be missed if you are in the area!
In Popayán, the Holy Week lasts 8 days, this tradition started in 1556 and has been declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Religious processions and parades can be seen throughout the week. The ceremonies are very impressive and authentic.
During these processions through the streets, you will see men carrying heavy religious statues belonging to various artistic schools from all over the world (some of them are more than 200 years old). In addition to the processions, there are exhibitions of religious art and music with speakers from all over the world!
How to get to Popayan?
BY AIR: The Guillermo León Valencia de Popayán airport is located behind the bus terminal near the centre. The airlines Avianca, LATAM, EasyFly and Satena offer daily flights to Bogotá or Guapí.
BY BUS: the bus terminal connects Popayán to the main cities of the country: Medellín (12h), Bogotá (12h), Puracé (1h30), Tierradentro (5h), San Agustín (6h), or Armenia (7h).
Popayan and its surroundings: Crafts
EL TALLER Created by the Foundation School Workshop of Popayán, you can find many creative objects made by the students. Address: Cl. 4 #10-21, Popayán Opening days and times: Mon – Fri: 9am – 5pm
The Silvia market on Tuesdays (1.5 hours from Popayán), allows you to discover the indigenous Guambia crafts.