A border city steeped in history and beauty
San José de Cúcuta welcomes all who seek to discover the warmth of its people, its traditions, its culture and its gastronomy. In every nook and cranny there is nature and history to be found and the cross winds that breeze through every corner of the city, swaying the leaves on the cují and almond trees, bring the perfect refreshment.
This beautiful city, capital of the North Santander district, is linked up by road with Bogotá, Bucaramanga, Valledupar, Tunja and Cartagena de Indias and, due to its border location, also with all of Venezuela.
In fact, its geographical location means that Cúcuta can offer visitors plenty of trading opportunities and its shopping centers offer a wide variety of brands.
Its stunning beauty has earned it nicknames such as the "Pearl of the North". And, thanks to its copious trees, which far outnumber its inhabitants, Cúcuta is also known as the "Green City".
In fact, one district alone boasts 71 different tree species, including the cují tree, one of the symbols of Cúcuta.
A noteworthy fact about Cúcuta is that it is the only city in Colombia to have been founded by a woman: Juana Rangel de Cuéllar. Not only that, but one of the country's most highly renowned sportspersons, footballer James Rodríguez, was born right here in the city of Cúcuta.
During your stay, you'll enjoy a modern city with beautiful architecture where new structures blend in with the well-preserved buildings of the colonial era.
So, if you're looking for a fun and dynamic place, full of art, culture, tradition, history, nature and the tastiest culinary delights, Cúcuta will always make you feel welcome.
What to do in Cúcuta?
In the capital of North Santander you mustn't miss a stroll on the boardwalk to enjoy the cooling breeze of the Pamplonita River, and a wander along the broad sidewalks of Avenida Cero.
The boardwalk, also known as the "Paseo de los Próceres" (or the promenade of the founding fathers), is located on the banks of the river, on Avenida Los Libertadores, a place where locals and visitors mingle and enjoy the evenings in the city. Built in 1980, it immediately became the hub of this north-eastern Colombian city, offering a wide variety of restaurant options and an exciting nightlife.
Another must-see is the Clock Tower, which was declared a National Cultural Heritage site in 1982. An interesting fact about the clock tower is that when the hands of the clock strike the hour it chimes to the tune of the Colombian national anthem; this is also a venue for exhibitions and artistic and cultural events.
The Cathedral of San José is also worth a visit. Located in front of Santander Park, this neoclassical cathedral is stunningly beautiful, decked with enormous imported stained-glass windows.
Another significant temple is the Church of Our Lady of Chiquinquirá, a Gothic creation with a main tower evoking a needle pointing to the heavens. Inside, the temple conserves an original painting of Our Lady of Chiquinquirá, dated from 1587.
Other major attractions in the city include the Julio Pérez Ferrero Public Library, the Palace of the Regional Government (also known as the "Palace of Cúpula Chata"), the Bolívar Column and the Santander Park, which forms the city's main plaza.
You should also make time to visit the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Fatima, located between the city's San Miguel and Loma de Bolívar neighborhoods. The monument is 40 meters high and is one of the city's main vantage points.
Cúcutan gastronomy is a major draw for all visitors. Some of the most popular dishes include "mute" (corn soup), "hallacas" (tamales), "cabrito" (suckling goat meat), "dulce cortado de leche de cabra" (sweet goat's milk slices), and "solteritas" (rosette cookies).
Cúcuta's wonderful local annual fairs and festivities are held each year in mid-July.
They feature shows by international and local performers and showcase genres from traditional "vallenato" to electronic music. The city also holds processions, beauty pageants, comedy festivals and a host of other activities.
Another important highlight of the year are the Easter passions, celebrated with great fervor in the churches and on the streets of Cúcuta.
Activities you won't want to miss out on
During your stay in Cúcuta you'll have the opportunity to pursue a range of activities. For instance, you ought to add a visit to Cerro Jesús Nazareno to your list. A striking 35-meter-high monument topped with a stunning metal sculpture of Christ carrying the cross.
From the monument, you will have a full 360-degree view of the lovely city landscape below.
Another popular attraction in Cúcuta is the open air "Cielo Abierto" Shopping Mall, the largest of its size in Colombia.
Situated in the center of the city, it offers a whole host of options, including big brand department stores, a food hall and a movie theater, all in a pretty setting that blends urban and natural elements and where you can enjoy a pleasant stroll in the warm climes of Cúcuta.
Another awesome activity you really won't want to miss is an excursion to "Pozo Azul". This natural pool characterized by its intense blue waters can be found out in the beautiful wilderness of San Cayetano. To get there, you'll have to walk a beautiful ecological trail from Cúcuta for about an hour and a half until you reach the pool itself.
You should also make it your business to visit Villa del Rosario, a picturesque neighboring district steeped in history. This was the birthplace of Francisco de Paula Santander, a hero of Colombian independence who became the second president of Colombia.
In Villa del Rosario, you can view the house where Santander was born, and also visit the historical complex where the country itself was literally founded.
- You can get to Cúcuta by land, but also by flying into the Camilo Daza International Airport, which has several major national and international connections.
- Bear in mind that the climate in Cúcuta is warm all year round, with an average temperature of 27.6 °C. You should bring light clothing, use sunscreen and be sure to stay hydrated at all times.
- To get around the city, you'll find buses, coaches and taxis.
Follow these simple tips and go with the flow of this wonderful city full of history and beauty. Don't miss out on your opportunity to get to know Cúcuta!