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Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira, how to get there, what to see?

We tell you how to get to the Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira, Cundinamarca. In addition to telling you what you can see on a visit.

A cathedral 180 meters deep? Yes, that is the salt cathedral in Zipaquira, we will tell you how to get there from Bogota and what can be seen when visiting it. From now on I warn that it is an expensive visit, but if you have time and budget, give this visit a chance. Here we will give you some reasons.

A bit of history

The salt cathedral of Zipaquira was conceived to honor miners who showed great religious devotion. The place we visited was not that Cathedral that was inaugurated in 1953, this one that we see now is new and construction began in 1991, the architect in charge of the project was chosen by competition and finally in 1993 the place that we visit now was inaugurated. It is made up of three large sections: The Way of the Cross, The Dome and the naves. And yes, masses are held in this church underground, exactly 180 meters deep.

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Information to visit the Zipaquira Salt Cathedral

Hours: from 9 AM to 5:30 PM (after doing the guided tour, you can stay in the enclosure as long as you want)

Can you take photos? Yes, as many as you want.

Zipaquirá salt cathedral entrance fee: for Colombians 49,500 pesos. And here comes the strong blow: foreign price 77,500 pesos. (updated prices 2022)

I have to admit that at that moment I was about to turn around and walk away. I understand why this is done about the different prices since the country’s citizens already contribute to preserving the monuments with their taxes, but the difference was exorbitant and shameless. They practically make you feel like “oh well, if you’ve already come here, you’re swimming in money”… It was unpleasant.

Once we had our tickets in hand we went to the entrance to wait for a guide.

How to get to the Zipaquira Salt Cathedral?

There are several options, now you have to decide how to get to the Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira, it will be your choice depending largely on the situation that day and your budget.

Note: for the first three options, once in Bogota, check if they are still valid, due to the changing situation, some services could be suspended

Only bus

This option requires getting to the Bogotá Transport Terminal, which is located on Diagonal 23, in the Salitre sector. Once there, you have to look for the intermunicipal buses and look for the one that goes to Zipaquira. It takes about two hours to get there. Then you have to walk to the cathedral, but in general it is well signposted.

Transmilenio and bus

Another option is to take the Transmileno that leads to the Portal Norte, once there you have to look for the Intermunicipal module heading for Zipaquira. The route in this case takes less, about 45 minutes, but of course you have to add the time to get to the North Portal.

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In both cases, ask the driver when boarding if he can drop you off as close as possible to the Cathedral, since if you look at the map, there are almost 2 kilometers between the terminal and the cathedral.

Tourist train

Yet another option is to take the tourist train, which is apparently picturesque since it is about steam trains, for us this was not a viable option since it only works on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. But it is another possibility of transportation and if you have to visit Zipaquirá on a weekend, now you know how to get to the Salt Cathedral by train.

The train in Bogota, is taken wether at the Sabana or Usaquen stations, you have to look for them on the map to see which one is more convenient for you. There are two departures in the morning and one back from Zipaquira in the afternoon, check the schedules on the turistren site. The price per adult is 63,000 Colombian pesos.

You can agree with a taxi

Basically the idea is that you have an agreement with a taxi that will take you there, wait for you in Zipaquirá and bring you back to Bogotá. Of course, you have to agree very well on the price from the beginning so that you don’t suffer what happened to us, at the end of this article I will tell you that story so that you do not get scammed.

Putting aside the scam attempts, it is a fairly comfortable option, but it can be very expensive and does not include anything more than transportation.

Hiring an excursion

Another way, but which already includes more things in addition to transportation, is to book an excursion to the Salt Cathedral, but make sure you are clear about what is included so you don’t get any surprises.

Driving yourself

Of course, another option on how to get to the Salt Cathedral is if you have a car and feel like driving there. Take the Autopista Norte passing the Portal del Norte of Transmilenio, to have the most detailed instructions of which tolls and exits to take, use a service like Google Maps, which will take into account the possible jobs or traffic jams that there are at that moment 🙂

Arriving at the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira

A new day in Colombia, we wanted to go to the Salt Cathedral and how were we going to get there? in the economic way: that is, with public transport. But an endless rain was falling, so we decided to go down to the hotel reception to see what “other options” there were, luckily they did have alternatives.

So we would have to go to Zipaquirá with a taxi that would take us, wait and bring us back for a fixed amount already agreed with the hotel (I owe them the price, I can’t find my notes. But it was expensive, expensive). The downside of this is that we would not have the time freedom that we would have liked to have.

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The taxi took us to Zipaquirá, we passed through green fields with cute cows (although there was not much surprise, that area was green, green).

We also went through the tolls where we learned a curiosity about Colombian highways: motorcycles do not pay tolls. Just as you read it. They have a special lane that they go through without even stopping and if I understood correctly it is like that in the whole country. That is something that does not happen even in Mexico and much less on the highways of France.

Allá vamos
There we go

Our visit to the Zipaquira Salt Cathedral

The first part of the visit is done with a guide who takes us through the different parts of the cathedral. The group was quite large and it was difficult to take photos, the guide told us not to worry because after the guided tour we would be free to wander around the grounds and take all the photos we wanted.

Mapa de la catedral de sal
Map of the area

The Way of the Cross

In the first stage of the tour he takes us through several stations that represent the way of the cross, this stage lasts a long time since at each station he explains the reason for the patterns used as well as other curiosities of the place. I have to admit that in the first part I began to feel a bit disappointed since I did not find the charm of the place, I think that having paid a foreign ticket and the fact of being in a large group following the guide did not help.

Cruz catedral de sal
Viacrucis cross

The miner’s route

Along the way they told us that there was the “miner’s route” which is an extra ticket in which visitors take instruments and become miners for a little while. We did not take this option since there was no time and with the claustrophobia that I have, perhaps I could not have endured it.

The huge cross

After going through the stations of the cross, we arrive at a huge room with an equally huge cross. The play of lights was very beautiful and the guide asked us if how much we thought the cross weighed, several numbers were heard to make us realize that it weighed nothing. That’s right, the cross is drawn on the stone and that hole is filled with light and that gives the illusion. At this point I began to tell myself that it might have been worth all the effort to get there.

Cruz catedral de sal
The great cross

In the surroundings of the great main room we entered other smaller naves, one of them with a Christ that when taking the photo of it because it was behind glass, gave the illusion of being two due to the reflection. Along the way they explained a little about Mi Sal (yes, like a missal), which is the brand under which the salt extracted from the mine is sold (yes, salt is still extracted from it, it is not just a tourist attraction).

We saw a nativity scene, a Virgin of Guadalupe, a “waterfall” of salt, as well as statues representing passages from the Bible. Once we went through all this we took to the lively shopping area… no wait, did I read that right? an underground shopping area, sure, you read that right. In the Salt Cathedral there is a large shopping area that sells various souvenirs, emeralds, they have a projection room for the 3D movie included in the ticket, a cafeteria and another room for the light show. Oh and I forgot, there are also bathrooms. Everything you need to spend the day underground 🙂

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Carcel de ladrones de esmeraldas

The emeralds

When our free time started, I began to see the emeralds without thinking of taking anything with me. But I couldn’t, I fell, after much thought I took some beautiful emerald earrings.

Emeralds (the ones I bought are not in the photo)

After buying emeralds and other souvenirs, we went for coffee and empanadas at the cafe 180 meters underground 🙂

And now yes, we calmly returned to the naves to take photos. The one I most wanted to photograph was the big cross 😀 now I did have all the time in the world, wait, not so much, we had an agreed time with the taxi driver and we didn’t want to go over there so he wouldn’t overcharge us. Anyway, even so we were able to take the opportunity to take many photos.

And we missed the 3D movie because we were taking pictures, but at least not the light show. It’s relaxing to sit and look up at the ceiling 😀

And anyway, after the show we left the place and called the taxi driver. In the end we left the place very happy and even melancholic for not being able to stay longer. Of course, we did not want to leave without taking a quick tour of the town.

Small tour of Zipaquirá

The taxi driver gave us a tour of the town, we saw the church, the train station and its peaceful streets, regretting a little that we could not have the freedom to walk through them. The man was still asking us if we wanted to eat something… but how? if we stayed to eat we were going to go over the agreed time. Then I understood why.

Don’t be scammed!

To get to Bogotá we had to go through a big traffic jam, but we still arrived at the agreed time. Only that the very “intelligent” taxi driver told us no, that the rate was for the outward journey, he would wait there but that the return journey was already out of the price and he wanted to charge us more. I told him that if things were like that, he had to agree with the hotel, since they had told us that the rate included going, waiting and RETURN. I didn’t accuse him of anything (although it was obvious that he wanted to see our stupid faces), rather I told him in a tone “well, you deal it with the hotel”, it seems that that was enough since he saw that we did know what we had contracted and he charged us only what was agreed with the hotel.

As always, you should not let them…

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Olga Grijalva Alvarez

Olga is a traveler and travel content creator with 17 years of experience. Her goal is to share useful information to help you plan your adventures. She has visited more than 40 countries and is excited to share her experience with you.

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