Bucaramanga - located in north-central Colombia - is one of the ten largest cities in the country. Bucaramanga has grown over the years, and now contains a population of around 530,900 people. The city boasts a well-sustained economy, with a low unemployment rate, and new neighborhoods have developed to the east of the city. Bucaramanga is home to the Petroleum Institute, which is the research branch for the oil company Ecopetrol.
There are many high-rise buildings, but these are balanced by attractive green spaces – in fact, Bucaramanga is known as one of the most beautiful cites in Colombia due to the number of parks that it has (around 160), and the agreeable climate, averaging 20 degrees Celsius. There are so many great things to do in Bucaramanga, such as paragliding or visiting the beautiful Museo Casa de Bolivar. Experience the fantastic atmosphere at night, when many bars, clubs, and restaurants come alive. Below is our Bucaramanga travel guide with information on all the best things to do, places to go and what not to miss.
MUSEO CASA DE BOLIVAR – This museum contains historical items and archaeological exhibits, some of which are weapons, documents, and other artifacts of the tribal people who were living in the area before the Spanish arrived.
CASA DE LA CULTURA - This museum features an exhibition of paintings and art donated by local artists. It is located right near the Casa de Bolivar, so it is worth a look while you are there. This offers a great chance to see some local artwork.
CATEDRAL DE LA SAGRADA FAMILIA – This is one of Bucaramanga’s larger and more defined pieces of architecture: it took almost a century to build (1770-1865) and stands looming over the city. It has stained glass windows and a ceramic cupola from Mexico.
PARAGLIDING BUCARAMANGA – One of the most popular sports in Bucaramanga is paragliding. Located atop the Mesa de Ruitoque, here you can try tandem paragliding, and there’s even the option to become a licensed paragliding pilot - a twelve-day course which includes lodging.
*** WHAT NOT TO MISS ***
One of the most exciting things to do is the paragliding that is on offer. If you are looking for an extreme adventure, this is something you cannot miss. There is also an aerial cable that takes you over the canyon nearby, and this is another spot that has quite the view of the canyon.
There are many places to eat at in Bucaramanga. They offer many of their classic dishes, including Fritanga, which is an assortment of potatoes, yucca, sausage and corn all fried up, Caldo, a traditional soup, and Culonas, a dish of giant ants that have had their limbs and wings removed and then are toasted and salted.
If you fancy Italian, go to Toscana (Avenida jardin casa 1 A). This restaurant is beautifully decorated, and there’s a nice atmosphere. For South American food, try Mercagan Parrilla (Carrera 33), great for meat-lovers. The quality is fantastic, and the portions are very generous, so go easy – you could even share a plate!
For vegetarian options, try Crepes and Waffles (Centro Comercial Megamall, Cra. 33a #29-15). There’s a great salad bar to enjoy, and don’t leave without dessert – the ice cream is delicious! If you’re after seafood, head to Pescocentro Bucaro (Barrio Alarcon Calle 21n 18-32).
Most of the middle class and upscale bars can all be found within walking distance of each other. The locations are:
Parque Las Palmas Calle 44 Carrera 29,
Calle 52 between Carreras 34 and 35,
Carreras 34 and 35 between Calles 47 and 48.
Here within these streets and blocks most of the good places to enjoy the night can be found.
One bar worth checking out is Make It PUBLIC (Cra. 29 #47 - 24). Here you can enjoy a variety of music, including rock, pop, funk, and electronica, and grab some cocktails – this is the place to get you in the mood to party! Another place to go to is Vintrash (Cl. 49 #35A-33), which has a cool décor, and plays indie, Latin, and electronic music.
The climate on average is between 18 to 21 degrees. Bucaramanga experiences rainfall all year round, with the rainiest months of the year being March, April, May, October and November. The driest month of the year is January.
There is an airport located about 45 minutes from the city. There are national flights from Bogota (1 hour and 5 minutes), Medellin (55 minutes), Barranquilla (1 hour 15 minutes), Cartagena (1 hour 15 minutes), and Yopal (50 minutes), amongst others. You can also fly into Bucaramanga from other cities in South America.
The bus terminal in Bucaramanga is very clean and well-kept, and is located south of the city. There’s the option to travel by bus here – from Bogota it takes 6 hours, and from Cartagena is takes around 12 hours. There are connections with all the major cities in Colombia, as well as with Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.
There are a few hotels, with one of the more interesting places to stay being near the launch site for the paragliding. You can wake up and see the people all launching off on their paragliding adventures.
One option is Hostel Kasa Guane (Calle 11 #26-50), which is situated close to many bars and restaurants, in the studenty part of town. There’s a friendly atmosphere and it’s easy to meet new people. The hostel is nicely decorated, and you can prepare your own meals in the communal kitchen.
Always be wise if choosing to go paragliding: check that the guides are confident and well prepared.
Be careful when getting into taxis and cars: makes sure that they are safe.