Popayan, Colombia – City Guide for Nomads and Expats

Popayan is the capital of the Colombian department of Cauca, located in Southwestern Colombia.

Due to an abundance of white colonial houses dating back to when Colombia was under Spanish rule, Popayan is known within Colombia as the “white city.” Aside from its picturesque downtown (considered one of the most beautiful and well preserved in Latin America), Popoyan is known for its reputable universities and its educated population.

 

THE BASICS

POPULATION: 300,000

WEATHER: Humid but mild tropical climate (15-30 °C). Driest months are June-September.

MUST DO: Check out the Iglesia de San Francisco, a short walk from Parque Caldas.


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RENT AN APARTMENT IN POPAYAN

$500.00. There aren’t too many apartment rental services around town. I’d recommend using Encuentra24 to search for apartment listings because you’ll pay about half as much as you would on Airbnb in Popayan.

 

NIGHTLIFE IN POPAYAN

6/10 

As a small city, Popayan simply doesn’t the selection that Bogota, Medellin or Cali do. That being said, there are a few chain nightclubs that operate throughout Colombia that have a presence here. Also, this being Colombia, the girls don’t disappoint.

I recommend: I didn’t have time to discover any hidden gems, but Land Disco had a pretty good crowd.

 

IS POPAYAN, COLOMBIA SAFE?

Although Popayan is safer than other Colombian cities like Cali and Pereira, you still need to watch your back in Popayan. Generally, the area around the central square (Parque Caldas) is safe at all hours, but some of the surrounding areas are not. I don’t recommending venturing south from the central square, particularly at night. Also, don’t hang around areas close to the airport. 

 

COST OF LIVING IN POPAYAN

GROCERIES

Milk (1L)= $1.20   Loaf of Bread= $1.50   Eggs= $2.00   Water (1.5L)= $1.20   Cigarettes= $2.00

TAXI

$3. You can walk the main areas of the city in 30 minutes or less

BOTTLE OF BEER

$1.75

HOSTEL DORM BED/NIGHT

$10

 

JOB OPPORTUNITIES

In Popayan you may be able to teach English at one of the universities with a CELTA or equivalent certification.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall, I would say Popayan is worth a visit. If you’re hanging out in Cali and thinking about popping down for a visit, I’d encourage it – it’s one of the more underrated cities in Colombia. I wouldn’t, however, recommend Popayan for a longterm stay. There simply isn’t enough see or do in the city itself or in the surrounding areas. If you are looking to a month or more somewhere in Colombia and prefer a smaller city vibe, I’d recommend the Coffee Triangle instead.


OVERALL RATING: 7/10


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