Villa de Leyva, Colombia
A major weekend getaway for Bogotanos, the unbelievably charming town of Villa de Leyva offers something for everyone--good weather, cobblestone streets lined with preserved white-washed houses to stroll, and a relaxed atmosphere surrounded by mountainous beauty. For the more adventurous, nearby Iguaque National Park is one of the most accessible in the country for hiking and biking, while the quaint shops full of woolen goods, jewelry, art and other handicrafts, numerous museums, and multitude of restaurants will keep others occupied for days. As the sun sets, be sure to grab a beer or an ice cream from one of the bars and shops lining the main square, Plaza Mayor--the largest plaza in the country at 14,000 square meters--and sit outside with the friendly local dog population and enjoy. Nothing could be better. Be sure to visit the Iglesia Parroquial on the western side of the square. Built in the 17th century, the church has hardly changed since. Here, the Catholic missionaries understood that in order to appeal to the local population, the focus would have to be on the women who ran society. So instead of concentrating on the importance of Jesus in the imagery, the church placed Mary at the alter. Situated around three and half hours by car or bus from Bogotá, Villa de Leyva is a must for anyone visiting Colombia.