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Simón Bolívar, the famous liberator of much of South America once said "If to Caracas I owe my life, then to Mompox I owe my glory”. This small town on an island in the Magdalena River had almost all of its able bodied men recruited by Bolivar for the successful battle in Caracas. Once a thriving town built by the slave and tobacco trade, it is one of Colombia's most perfectly preserved colonial towns. In steep decline since the 19th century due to the silting of the river, it has risen from obscure legend into fame: now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, full of boutique hotels, restaurants and a thriving tourist industry, we have selected the best places to stay in Mompos so that you may retreat back through the pages of history and bask in its splendour.
A hidden gem, it is no wonder why the town is barely known on the world stage: it takes 6 hours to get there from the coastal city of Cartagena, via a truck and boat ride. Mule-driven carts outnumber cars and old rickshaws are used as taxis. Down the cobbled streets you encounter 500-year-old buildings in the form of multicoloured churches, decaying facades and palatial riverside mansions. Street vendors selling fresh fish and lemonade holler into crowds and down by the river, you can see leatherskin men in straw hats unloading bananas from their canoes. The riverside restaurants serving fresh fish are wonderful and for dinner, locals congregate in the main square and eat from the vendors. A vibrant place, locals love to party, and the riverside bars are full of friendly and fun locals eager to meet the clutches of tourists who dare make the long journey to their beautiful town.
What not to miss:
Read up on your history before visiting La Piedra de Bolivar. This modest monument is a powerful indication of Bolivar’s influence on the town.
Santa Barbara Church is small and beautiful, great to visit in the twilight when the lights come on.
A mark of Spanish colonisation, Plaza de Mercado is the historic market building that sits amidst a host of small bars and restaurants.
For dinner go to the main square and eat with locals from the street vendors, then head to the riverside bars.
Mompos is picturesque and perfectly preserved, a true rareity in our, at times, artificial and inauthentic world. Make no mistake, it is a trek getting there, but your destination is worth every bump on the unpaved roads. Our collection of the best places to stay in Mompos will transport you back to a simpler and friendlier time, and allow you to bathe in the colour of their colonial past.
The best places to stay in Mompos
For a riverside location
Portal de la Marquesa is situated beside the beautiful Brazo de Mompos river and was once a prestigious colonial house. Stunningly renovated, it now features traditional architecture and light, airy rooms. It’s also only a short walk to the town centre.
For an apartment or villa
- Our partner Booking.com has a wide range of apartments and villas.
- The temperature rarely drops below 30 degrees, but to avoid the inevitable tropical monsoons it is best to go between December and March.
- Fly to Rafael Nunez International Airport and take the Toto Express to Mompas.
- Make sure you get vaccinated against typhoid.
Still not sure what to book?
Best Hotels in Mompos
Portal de La Marquesa 5 rooms from £71Mompos (Bolivar)
A large and airy colonial house turned boutique hotel. Beautifully renovated throughout highlighting the buildings original features; think beamed ceilings, intricately carved doors and arched doorways. Boasting views over the river and just steps from the historic centre. Highly recommended.Local exploring - An atmospheric colonial house reminiscent of days gone by close to the historical centre of town.Birdwatching - The town's surrounds are an enormous area of low wetlands making this an ideal jump off point for birdwatching trips.Sights nearby - Numerous churches to explore the most noteworthy being the Santa Barbara, the San Francisco and the San Agustin.Swimming Pool - Outdoor pool.