Santa Cruz de Mompox, also known and pronounced as Mompos, is a hidden gem in Colombia. The city is located on the Rio Magdalena, the most important river in Colombia. Mompox is very much off-the-beaten-track, as it is only visited by a few people. Picturesque squares, colored churches, pastel-colored houses, beautiful facades and interior gardens with endless flowers. The center of town is just beautiful. Behind every door there is a new world opening and you want to start a bed & breakfast or restaurant immediately. In this article I’m sharing my tips for what to do in Mompox Colombia, including some lovely hotels and restaurants.
Welcome to Santa Cruz de Mompox!
Did you ever read a book by Gabriel García Márquez? Then you might recognize the lovely atmosphere and stories of the locals in the fictional Colombian town of Macondo. Santa Cruz de Mompox Colombia, often called Mompos by the locals, could be one of these towns. You will find the tranquility of everyday Colombia here. Locals hang in their chairs in front of their houses and wait for the day to cool down. People are friendly and willing to have a chat or even drink with you. During the day it can be indescribably hot. There is no breath of wind so the only thing you can do is go with the flow of the locals.
Mompox, with a few thousand inhabitants, used to be an important trade center because of its favorable location on the Magdalena river. When other side arms of the Magdalena River began to be put into use, the trade and economy in Mompox collapsed completely and Mompox was left behind. Today, a handful of tourists know where to find the town. There are not many highlights but it’s the unique atmosphere what makes the town so pleasant to visit.
What to do in Mompox, Colombia?
1. Walk around and enjoy the atmosphere
In Mompox Colombia you really just want to walk around, enjoy the atmosphere and have a chat with the locals. Walk along the banks of the Rio Magdalena, spot iguanas, walk through the colonial streets, visit the beautiful churches and take a seat at one of the beautiful squares at the end of the day, such as Parque de la Concepcion and Plaza de San Francisco. In the evening people gather on the streets to play games or join a dance class. It’s lovely to observe.
2. Enjoy a tour on the Rio Magdalena | What to do in Mompox Colombia
Early in the morning or late afternoon (when the temperatures are convenient) you can take a boat trip on the Rio Magdalena. Along the way you see many water birds and sometimes monkeys. You will pass small villages, local fishermen and plantations full of bananas, yucca and mangos. Dozens of iguanas and salamanders are relaxing along the banks. In the beginning they are difficult to recognize, but if you have spotted a few with the help of the trained eyes of the boat people, your eye will start to be trained too. These animals are so relaxed and beautiful to watch!
Most tours go to the Cienaga de Pijino, a large lake where you can also take a dip. With a little luck, you’ll enjoy a beautiful sunset at the end of the afternoon. Boat trips are offered in almost all hotels, but the best thing is to book a private trip with one of the local people in the harbor. That way you support the locals even more and you enjoy the tranquility around you, without other visitors!
3. Stroll along the boulevard and have a chat with the locals
Along the river and on the boulevard, around the Santa Barbára plaza, you will find small bars where the locals come together. You will immediately be invited to have a drink and talk about life! I made many friends over the years and some of them I’m still meeting for a drink when I’m in Mompox Colombia.
5. Taste the local wine: Vino de Mompox | Mompos Colombia
Vino de Mompox is sold in various stores. This is local wine made from banana, orange, apple or tropical fruits such as Tamarindo and Guayaba. Buy a bottle and find a lovely spot on the boulevard or on one of the squares!
Planning to visit Santa Marta? Santa Marta, located on the Caribbean Sea, at the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, is the capital of the Magdalena department and one of the oldest cities in Colombia. You can spend a nice afternoon in the historical center but you mainly use the city as a base for a trip to the Tayrona National Park, the mountain village of Minca, the surrounding beaches and the La Ciudad Perdida trek. In the next article I’m sharing my personal tips for the best things to do in Santa Marta and the most beautiful places in the surroundings.
Santa Cruz de Mompox Colombia hotels
Mompox has many pretty boutique hotels and small-scale bed & breakfasts. You will be surprised about the world behind the closed doors. Most places have beautiful inner gardens full with flowers and greenery, and lovely colonial rooms. People are extremely friendly and helpful. My favorites places to stay are Portal de la Marquesa on the boulevard. Boutique hotel Bioma, because of their spacious rooms and lovely atmosphere. Both of them have a swimming pool and Bioma has a pretty roof terrace where you can enjoy nice views of the surroundings. La Casa Amarilla and Casa Verde Albarrada are a bit more basic but convenient as well.
Best restaurants in Mompox Colombia?
In Mompox Colombia you won’t find a shop or restaurant at every corner. You might have to look a little further, before you find something. But the city offers some cute places for a drink or meal. Read more about the best restaurants and nicest places to eat and drink in Mompos Colombia.
How to visit Santa Cruz de Mompox Colombia?
The town is off the beaten track and a bit harder to reach than the bigger cities. Mompox is a 3 hours drive from Corozal Airport, 6 hours from Cartagena, 5 hours from Santa Marta and 6 hours from Barranquila airport. There are public buses, (in some case your bus journey will include a ferry as well), but if you have a little more to spend and want to travel faster, you can also choose to book private transportation to Mompos Colombia.
Intererested in reading more about Colombia? This is an article with the most beautiful places to visit in Colombia, including the best time to visit. Or check out the Colombia blog page with city guides and things to do in Bogotá, Medellín and Santa Marta. Tips for lovely towns such as Salento and Villa de Leyva. But also the Tatacoa desert and Valle de Cocora. Interested in archaeology? Read more about the mysterious San Agustín statues.