Panoramic view of Barbosa, Antioquia
Panoramic view of Barbosa on the approach into town

Ah, freedom! After almost six months of lockdown, Colombia lifted its national quarantine and strict travel restrictions on Sept. 1. To celebrate, we finally broke down and bought a car, something we’d been mulling over for a while. It’s given us the ability to (safely) start exploring the little towns that are an easy drive from Medellín, such as Barbosa, Antioquia.

Barbosa is our first foray into the Antioquian countryside since our thoroughly enjoyable visit to San Carlos and San Rafael way back in March, and just before the COVID sky fell. Situated about an hour’s drive from Medellín in the northern Aburrá valley, Barbosa is a lovely and quaint colonial town on the banks of the Rio Medellín. It shares Medellín’s beautiful year-round climate and is surrounded by natural beauty: rolling hills in every shade of green and an abundance of waterfalls, lakes, and streams.

Here are our highlights after spending just a few hours in Barbosa, Antioquia.

The Cerro de la Virgen

The commanding statue of the Virgin Mary is pretty hard to miss from any vantage point in Barbosa. She’s easy to reach, just a short walk up a steep hill from Barbosa’s main Plaza de Bolivar. The statue offers stunning vistas of town and a great place for a picnic lunch.

View of Barbosa, Antioquia from Cerro de la Virgen
The Virgen keeps a constant vigil on the town.
A serene presence
Panoramic view of Barbosa, Antioquia from Cerro de la Virgen
Another Virgen’s eye view of Barbosa
Road up to virgin statue in Barbosa, Antioquia
The road up to the Virgen is steep but short. Here we were headed back down towards a cerveza fria and lunch!

The Plaza de Bolivar

The Plaza is Barbosa’s living room. After our walk up to see the Virgen, it was a pleasure to sit in the plaza, cool off with a cerveza, and watch the families out for a nice day in the beautiful weather. I don’t know what we expected, but we were pleased to see that just about everyone was wearing a mask.

The leafy and inviting Plaza Bolivar is a nice place to spend some time and people-watch.
We made a new little friend, Samuel

The Churches

Two beautiful old churches grace Barbosa: the main Iglesia de San Antonio de Padua, and the Capilla de Maria Auciladora, built in 1776.

The Iglesia de San Antonio de Padua
The smaller and much older Capilla de Maria Auciladora

The Well-Tended Colonial Architecture

Barbosa has an abundance of what we’ve come to expect from rural Colombian towns: whitewashed adobe buildings accented with bright colors and lots of beautifully carved woodwork.

Other tips

Barbosa is easy to get to by car, since it’s right off the main highway leading north out of Medellín. You can take a bus from the Terminal del Norte in Medellín, or take a taxi. Another idea: hire a private driver, such as our friend Juan Camilo Aguilar (WhatsApp +57 316 833 4225). He’s not just a safe driver, but an excellent guide who will give you a memorable and personalized experience.

A colorful “chiva,” a traditional means of transportation. You’ll see chivas everywhere in rural Antioquia.

There are plenty of inexpensive and high-quality restaurants just off the main Plaza. Also, check out the numerous shops lining the pedestrian street connecting the two plazas.

The pedestrian street leading to the Plaza de Bolivar

We’ve been told there are numerous waterfalls that are walking distance from the town. We never found them but did try to drive to one – Cascada Ipachanaque – on a very bumpy road a good half hour away, only to find the path to the waterfall completely washed out. Oh well, it was a pretty drive and a nice little hike! On our next visit, we’re determined to come back with some waterfall pictures.


We couldn’t get to the waterfall, but the short hike to the (missing) trail was really pretty!

ABOUT BIOSAFETY: You may be asking yourself, is it safe to be doing this kind of traveling in a country where the coronavirus is still raging? The short answer is yes, we believe so – if you take all of the precautions that public safety experts recommend: constant mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing. As we said, it’s gratifying to see so many people taking those precautions, even in the smallest towns. It’s also a good idea to avoid public transportation if possible (hiring or renting a car is best for now).

Have you visited any small Colombian towns? What’s your experience?

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  1. Amazing views! I’ve heard so much about Colombia. I would love to travel there and see for myself 😊

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Glad you enjoyed the post! Hope you can visit Colombia someday.

  2. Looks like such a cute town. We love Colombia. The people, the towns, the architecture, the countryside. Looks like a great day trip from Medellin.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      We’re starting to realize how much there is to see right in our own back yard! Thanks for visiting 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

  3. Thanks a lot, you two, I already miss Colombia, now I do even more. Congrats on the car. Hope it was a real lemon like that junk heap we sold you in Panama! Keep it coming! Abrazos!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Ha, that thing you sold us was such a piece of junk that we went out bought one exactly like it – even the same color 🙂 We miss you two.

    • Joanne Simpson Reply

      Loved reading this and travelling through your eyes when we’re under UK restrictions.

      • John and Susan Pazera Reply

        Hi Joanne, thanks for visiting. We hope things start to improve soon in the U.K. Colombia is having its own issues now; cases are starting to climb again. What a terrible thing this virus is.

  4. Awwhh: And I thought Vancouver had the most beautiful clouds I’d ever seen. I can no longer say that! Thank you for taking me to these beautiful spots in Colombia.And Bolivar? I’m a history freak. I certainly know who he was. Yeah!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Muriel! We’ve been to Vancouver and we have to agree – the clouds are spectacular (together with all of the other scenic beauty)! Hope we get to see BC and Alberta again someday. Simon Bolivar really is the DUDE in South America – he was the liberator for so many different countries and you’ll find monuments to him everywhere. In Barbosa, the plaza is named for him but his statue was no big deal, not even worth a picture. Usually they’re towering and monumental.

  5. What an adventure! Buying a car and then getting out and about after all of those months locked down. Must feel such a relief? The scenery and views are stunning and the colours in the town so alive. Glad you guys are keeping fit and well.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      It IS a relief, Jonno. It also feels a little strange and daring, since there’s still so much COVID here. Having a car, or access to one, is a big way to avoid exposure and stay distanced. Hope you’re staying safe in the UK; looks like cases have been going up there lately. I think this will be the state of the world until there’s widespread access to the vaccine. Such a strange new reality we’re all living in.

  6. Hi, Susan and John – I’m delighted to read that Columbia has opened up some of their restrictions. Congratulations on your recent car purchase. Your photos and descriptons are just beautiful. I greatly appreciate the vicarious travel!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks so much, Donna! Hope you’re doing well 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks so much, Terri! It’s good to have a little freedom. Hope you and yours are well!

  7. Isn’t it nice to finally be able to wander around again? Last month I left the Greater Jakarta area for the first time since December and it felt really good, although we actually only went to some ancient ruins just a few hours away from Jakarta. But the freedom to somewhat travel, albeit domestically and with biosafety in mind, is just priceless. Barbosa seems like a really nice town to explore, and I can imagine your excitement when you were driving there.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      That’s great, Bama – glad you’ve been able to get out and about. I hope things are continuing to improve in Indonesia. I guess we won’t all be truly free until there’s an effective vaccine – hope we don’t have too many more months to wait for that.

  8. Congratulations on your new found freedom. Getting a car is a great idea, it makes exploring further afield so much easier and safer in times of COVID. This little town looks so charming, nestled in such a perfect setting. I have never been to Colombia, but it is on my list. Keep having fun.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Gilda. Hope you can make it to Colombia someday – we’d love to play host 🙂

  9. What a lovely town. And I love the way you describe the town square (zocalo in Mexico) as the town’s living room. Such a perfect description.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Alison! Spanish is such an interesting language. I was aware that “zocalo” is the town square in Mexico, but here it’s a plaza or parque. That said, there’s another beautiful little town here, Guatapé, that is known for its colorful hand-painted panels on all the buildings. They call those panels “zocalos,” strangely. Here’s a blog post we did about it:
      Hope you and Don are well!
      – Susan

  10. John and Susan, What a charming town with beautiful scenery. Good to see you out and about traveling again. Have fun!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Natalie! Hope you’re doing A-OK.
      – Susan

  11. These views of the mountains are just stunning! I can’t get over how pretty it is. So glad you’re finally out of lockdown and can do a bit of local traveling. And it’s nice to see people are wearing masks and taking precautions.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Becky! There’s so much to explore in Colombia – we’ve decided it’s a perfect place for lots of “stay-cations” until we can feel comfortable traveling internationally again. Everywhere new place we experience just seems a little more gorgeous than the last. Hope you and yours are well 🙂

  12. How nice that you’re finally able to get out and explore again, and with your own car at that. Gorgeous scenery!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Caroline – hope you’re well!

  13. This is the perfect time to buy your own car! I’m glad you’ve been able to take advantage of it already. For many people, travel closer to home is preferred these months. Living in Medellin, every excursion will be a joy and feel like a cultural experience! 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Liesbet. We feel so lucky and blessed to be in a great place with so much to explore, until we’re able to feel comfortable again about international travel. Hope all three of you are well 🙂

  14. Hi guys – every post of yours bring Latin America a couple of places higher on our wish list. So pleased you’ve finally experienced the “jailbreak” feeling of post lockdown. Looking forward to your next post!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, you two! We’re enjoying making the most of being based in Colombia for the near term. There really is SO much to see here – I’m afraid we’ll miss something! Hope you’re both hanging in there and doing well.

  15. What an amazing spot, and only 1 hour from your home! So close, yet so far away from you for months! It must be such a great relief to be able to explore again! Looking forward to the waterfall pics!😊

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Hubby Dave 🙂 We’ve really been enjoying your posts and photos from Alberta and the Banff area, one of our favorite places on earth! Looks like you two are also doing some awesome exploring. We actually did see a gorgeous waterfall today, but at a totally different place. Film at 11!

  16. Gustavo Giraldo Reply

    I love the whole northern area of Medellin, Barbosa, Copacabana, Girardota, nice warm weather with lots of green areas for farming and hiking, there are some waterfalls that used to be very popular.. it was totally worth visiting your blog.. thanks for sharing

  17. Hi. My name is Scott. I am creating tours throughout surrounding small towns of Medellin searching for waterfalls. Is it a bad time to do so? I never believe that. Anyway, I went to Barbosa (which can be done by metro bus from Niqui) looking for waterfalls. I asked a few people in the town and I visited the charcos. No one could tell me about where the waterfalls are. However, I have a friend in Medellin that knows exactly where they are and there are two different ones. I will go there this Sunday (3/20/22) to find them. Now, about the Corona Virus – be very careful about what you hear on tv. American media is lying at every turn. Wearing a mask and social distancing have absolutely nothing to do with your health. Yes, I can prove it. However, your article here is very well written. I also just returned from Reitro a few weeks ago and loved that waterfall there (Tequendamita). So the next month I will be traveling to the small towns chasing the waterfalls that surround us.

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