Visiting San Gil | A guide to
Colombia’s adventure capital

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Exploring San Gil Where to Stay Where to Eat How to get around

Without a doubt, San Gil is the adventure capital of Colombia. If you’re looking to get the heart pumping and the adrenaline flowing, then San Gil should be on your Colombian itinerary.

San Gil is the place to start ticking off your bucket list items — paragliding, bungee jumping, white water rafting — the list goes on!

An added bonus is that these once in a lifetime experiences aren’t going to break the bank. San Gil is a very cheap place to try all of these things.

If you’re visiting San Gil soon, you’ve come to the right place. After reading this guide, you’ll know which area to stay in, where to find the best restaurants and how to get around this adrenaline-fueled town in Colombia.

Also, check out our list of the best activities in San Gil to plan your adventures.

Is San Gil worth visiting?

Chicamocha canyon in Bucaramanga
Chicamocha Canyon near San Gil

The nature surrounding San Gil keeps the excitement going. Not far from the colonial town are glorious waterfalls, deep canyons and rapid rivers.

Within San Gil, the town offers cobblestone colonial streets and a laidback vibe that’s popular with tourists. With only around 50,000 residents, San Gil is a welcomed escape from Colombia’s bustling cities.

This makes San Gil the perfect place to return to after a busy day of adventures.

How long should you spend in San Gil?

That depends on how much adventure you want to indulge in. Or how many days you want to just spend relaxing, meandering around the town and eating good food.

Most people spend 3-4 days in San Gil. This gives you enough time to take part in a number of adventure activities, and take day trips to the surrounding area and colonial towns.

You can use our Top Things to Do in San Gil guide to plan your time in the town.

Where to stay in San Gil

Locals in front of San Gil Cathedral
Small park in San Gil

Good news if you don’t like doing much research on where to stay in a place! San Gil is a small town, so there aren’t lots of neighbourhoods to stay in.

There’s only one area we’d recommend staying in:

The centre of San Gil

You can walk from one side of San Gil to the other in about 30 minutes, or a 10-minute drive. If you stay around the middle of San Gil then you’ll be within walking distance of pretty much everything in the town.

Accommodation in San Gil

Hotels in San Gil tend to be smaller, family-run or boutique hotels, mirroring the intimate vibe of San Gil itself. You’ll also be able to find plenty of hostels and Airbnbs.

Accommodation in San Gil is also very kind on the purse strings. Private rooms start from $10 per night!

Our favourite place to stay in San Gil has to be Hotel Campestre Palmas del Zamorano due to its infinity pool, jacuzzi and incredible staff.

The best restaurants in San Gil

San Gil is a pretty touristy city as visitors flock here to get their adrenaline pumping. This does mean that you’ll find more restaurants tailored towards tourists here. Think pizzas, burgers, burritos etc.

Though, if you’re in search of some local food, San Gil market is the ideal place to find a menu del dia (a set lunch menu).

To help you avoid the tourist traps, here are our 3 favourite places to eat in San Gil, a mixture of both local and international food:

Gringo Mikes — 14 different types of delicious gourmet burgers

Gringo Mikes is probably one of the most popular places to eat in San Gil. Their menu offers hearty food: burgers, Gringo (loaded) fries, sandwiches, burritos and tacos.

The delicious gourmet burgers are the star of the show. They have 14 different types of burgers but the fan favourite is the Sriracha burger. You’re guaranteed to leave this place feeling welcomed by the friendly staff and very, very full!

Cafeteria El Zaguan — fully-loaded delicious arepas

Arepas are a staple food in Colombia. They’re great for a snack or light lunch, especially for those on a budget. One fully-loaded arepa costs around 3,000 COP ($0.60)4,000 COP ($0.85)!

You’ll have to plan your visit to Cafeteria El Zaguan carefully as they’re only open between 9am-1pm, but it’s certainly worth it. They pack their arepas with pretty much any topping you can imagine — avocado, egg, cheese, chorizo, potato, chicken. Don’t miss the empanadas.

Penelope Pizzería — fresh pizza in a serene setting

The ambience of Penelope Pizzeria only makes the food better. The cute interior creates an environment where you can fully enjoy the fresh and tasty pizzas.

You can pair your pizza with a personal sangria, a glass of wine or beer from Colombia’s famous brewery BBC. Penelope Pizzeria is the perfect end to an adventure-filled day!

How to get around San Gil

Walking will get you to most places that you want to get to. If you want to travel a bit further afield, check out your other ways of getting around San Gil below.

By foot

San Gil has beautiful colonial streets that are best explored on foot. Especially due to the cobblestones that can make journeys in a car a little bit bumpy!

Walking from the east side of the city to the west takes just over 30 minutes, so most places that you want to get to shouldn’t be too far away.

By taxi

If you’re arriving at the bus terminal with your luggage, or just don’t fancy walking, then there are plenty of taxis available in San Gil.

You can simply flag them down in the street and hop in. Make sure to agree on a price before getting in, or check that they have a metre.

By bus

San Gil has a bus terminal right in the centre of town, Terminalito, which you can use for day trips to surrounding towns or attractions.

For example, if you want to visit the picturesque town of Barichara, then you can take a bus from this terminal.

The buses leaving from Terminalito are local buses, so tickets are nice and cheap!

In summary

Now that you’ve finished reading this guide, you’re almost ready for your adventure in San Gil. The next step is to create your personalised itinerary with our top picks of things to do in San Gil. Simply choose your favourite activities and places to visit, and you’re all set to make lasting memories in San Gil.

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Professional Traveller

Kate is a writer, (ex)Management Consultant and avid traveller. She recently returned from a 2-year career break exploring the world and decided corporate life wasn’t for her. She’ll soon be testing life as a digital nomad. She’s visited over 40 countries and fell in love with Latin America in particular. Her travelling has inspired a passion for yoga, salsa, hiking and Spanish.

Professional Traveller & Editor

Aleksandra is a writer and editor who recently moved from Hong Kong to London. She’s worked and studied in four countries (and counting) and picked up a new hobby in each of them. She’s a big fan of long train journeys so you can count on her to take the scenic route, finding a few hidden gems along the way.

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