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Santa Barbara Church

Santa Cruz de Mompox (also known as Mompox or Mompós) is a city and a UNESCO World Heritage site in Bolívar, Colombia.


Mompox (often spelt Mompós) is a friendly, sleepy town on an island on the Magdalena River, which thrived during colonial times as it was the main resting port for ships travelling up the Magdalena from Cartagena to Honda. It has beautiful colonial architecture which rivals Villa de Leyva’s. The historic centre of Mompox was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.

Mompox used to be isolated on an island in the Magdalena river and was only accessible by ferry, but since March 2020 a set of bridges around 12 kilometres long (called the Reconciliación bridge) now span the Magdalena, reducing travel time from the Caribbean coast by some 3 hours. This means that by far the best way to travel to Mompox is by road from Cartagena or Santa Marta. Nevertheless, it is not on the usual backpacker route, and most Colombian tourism is concentrated around religious festivals, Christmas and Holy Week in particular. Outside of these periods, prices for accommodation are reasonable, and the town still feels like a hidden gem.

Image showing the pedestrianized river front and typical Colonial architecture

You should plan to stay overnight for at least one night, ideally more. It is a town for relaxed strolling along the pedestrianized river-front, for taking a river tour along the Magdalena, and for drinking in the sleepy, sultry atmosphere. The climate throughout the Magdalena Medio valley is hot and humid, so accommodation with air conditioning is highly recommended. Also bring insect repellent, as the river is rich with highly diverse insect life. While most don't bite, they can be annoying through their sheer numbers if they land on you, especially at dusk.

Get in[edit]

Please note that because Mompox is now connected to the Ruta del Sol highway by the new Reconciliación Bridge (a sight in its own right), some of the travel information below is now of date, and travel times are much shorter.

  • From/to Valledupar or Maicao, there are some early morning buses which take the ferry straight to Mompox with Cotracegua (6 hours from Valledupar, COP$30,000).
  • From/to Medellin, you need to travel to Magangué via Sincelejo. Then take a chalupa across the river, and take the short trip to Mompox.
  • From/to Cartagena, you can catch the Unitransco bus that come directly from Cartagena to Mompox and includes the ferry trip or you can opt for a later bus to Magangue and then do the chalupa and taxi combo from there. The Unitransco bus leaves Mompox for Cartagena at around 6am and you need to confirm the day before if indeed it is leaving at all!
  • From/to Bogotá and Bucaramanga, the best route is probably via El Banco. Then from El Banco catch a 4x4 to mompox.
  • From/to Santa Marta or Taganga, there is a "puerta-a-puerta" daily shuttle usually leaving at 3AM or 1PM in Taganga and 30 minutes later in Santa Marta. Travel time is anywhere between 7 and 12 hours depending on weather, traffic and number of people to pick up and drop off. In Taganga, you can book this shuttle at Casa Felipe or Hostel Moramar. Prices: COP$50,000 (from Santa Marta) - COP$60,000 (from Taganga).

As of 2024, it is no longer possible to go by public boat to Barranquilla.

It’s also possible to fly to Mompox if you have a private plane.

Get around[edit]

Mompox is small. Mototaxis take passengers to any point with the town for 600 COP. Note that they may take several passengers to different places at the same time, so they are unlikely to take you directly to your destination.


Parque San Francisco with the Iglesia San Francisco

There are various colonial churches, of which the Iglesia de Santa Barbara is probably the most famous as it appears on many representative photos of Mompox. It is unusual in that it has a Moorish-style tower with a balcony. Most of the churches only open for mass, which is unfortunate. The best time to take photos of most of the churches is in the morning, as their facades are not in the shade.

Walk around the streets of the colonial center and along the river front, which are all very beautiful. If it’s too hot, you can arrange an hour’s tour of Mompox on a mototaxi (COP$10,000); it’s also a good way to get your bearings and if you’re lucky, learn some of the local history.

  • There's a museum on the Calle Real del Medio.
  • The former botanical gardens are now permanently closed due to lack of funding. Information is retained here for historical reasons, or in case you can persuade someone to show you round! The botanical gardens appear, at first sight, to be rather unkept and overgrown. The principal reason to visit this place may be to talk to the guide, Don Ernesto, who resembles a living encyclopedia with his extensive knowledge about all the plants and trees in the garden, including their medicinal properties. Although this man has never received a formal education he is extremely knowledgeable in general. Sadly, the future of the botanic garden seems to be uncertain, as the local council are not supporting it, and the owners are considering selling it as they cannot afford to keep it running.
  • It is possible to go on tour to the Cienaga del Pijiño if you are interested in seeing wildlife such as birds and reptiles. These tours can be arranged by calling at “La Cuarta” hotel and talking to a guy named Chipi.


  • Stroll along the pedestrianized river front, stopping at the many local cafés.
  • Poem by Candelario Obeso (nineteenth-century black Colombian poet) about the Magdalena River, on placard in Mompox
    Read the many local placards with historical information about the colonial houses and famous visitors (such as the Liberator Simón Bolívar).
  • Strike up conversations on the street with the friendly locals, and they may let you peek into their Colonial mansions.
  • Swim at hotel Doña Manuela for a small fee.
  • Climb the water tower for a small fee.
  • Take a lancha on the river for a small fee.
  • Rent a bike and tour the town.
  • Take a city tour and be sure to visit the cemetery.


Try the local wine at ViniMompox (Cra 3 No. 20-34), where they sell various wines made of banana, guayaba, Spanish lime, orange and tamarindo.

Buy silver jewellery at various workshops around the Calle Real del Medio. Gold jewellery is also produced, but is less common.


  • Mompos has plenty of informal eateries catering to appetites of all sorts with local delights but be very picky about the chosen venue ensuring minimum sanitary standards are met.
  • The newly opened Mompoj Restaurant located at Bioma Boutique Hotel serves reasonable fusion dishes and the bar offers a variety of exotic cocktails. Service is not great and it is the priciest place in town.
  • Walking upriver two blocks from the Santa Barbara church you can find El Fuerte, where Austrian chef Walter, prepares stone-baked pizzas and homemade pasta in his eclectic bar.


The so-called “Zona Rosa” has several bars along the riverfront, quite a pleasant place to have a drink in the evening. The bar at Bioma Boutique Hotel offers a nice selection of exotic cocktails and natural juices guaranteed to quench your thirst, delight your taste buds and get you in the mood for further enjoyment.


All the prices quoted here increase substantially during the Christmas vacation and Holy Week. Mompox is hot, and you may want to consider staying in a room with air conditioning.

  • 1 Bioma Boutique Hotel, Calle Real del Medio # 18 - 59, +57 315 308 6365. Check-in: any time, check-out: 2PM. Restored expanded colonial house in the heart of Mompox's historical center; opened in April 2011. Rooms with air conditioner & ceiling fan, high definition TV with local and international channels, WiFi and iPod docking station. Amenities include gardens, restaurant, swimming pool, terrace with 360-degree views of the city, jacuzzi and lounge.
  • La Casa Amarilla, Cra 1 #13-59 (Located right in front of the river by the Iglesia de Santa Barbara, in front of El Kiosko de Angelita.), +57 5 685 6326, +57 3013627065, . Check-in: anytime, check-out: 2PM. Hostal opened in 2008. Has an excellent movie selection, beautiful front rooms and a communal kitchen. The owners are an Anglo-Colombian couple very knowledgeable in things to do in the region, other hostels throughout Colombia and transport links. COP$15,000 per night for a backpacker style dorm bed (four to a dorm with private bathroom) and then prices increase upwards from there. For a private room you are looking at COP$20,000 per person based on double occupancy.
  • La Cuarta, Cra 4 No. 18-57, +57 95 684 6127. The cheapest, least atmospheric place in town. Prices for a double are COP$25,000 COP with fan and COP$35,000 with air-conditioning. It’s a building of modern construction. Friendly service.
  • The mid-range hotels which are set in colonial buildings are Hotel La Cassona at Cra 2 No. 18-58, Tel. (095) 685 5307 which costs COP$22,000 for a double with a fan, COP$35,000 for air-conditioning, and Casa Hotel San Andrés at Cra 2 No. 18-23, Tel. (095) 685 5886 which costs COP$35,000 COP for a double with a fan, and COP$50,000 with air-conditioning.
  • Hostal Doña Manuela, Cr 2 No. 17-41, +57 95 685 5142, +57 95 685 5621, +57 95 685 6175, . A double room with air-conditioning here will set you back COP$95,000. The rooms don't seem any better than other rooms in hotels set in colonial houses. Its amenities include one of the only two hotel swimming pools in Mompos. If you want to stay at a colonial hotel, and save a bit of money, it may be best to stay at a cheaper hotel, and pay the COP$8,000 daily swimming pool entry fee.


Go next[edit]

  • The route to 1 Magangué Magangué on Wikipedia (around 1.5 hours by car) is highly scenic, crossing large stretches of the ecologically important Ciénaga wetlands thanks to the Reconciliación suspension bridges.
  • From Magangué, continue on to 2 Cartagena de Indias. In total, Cartagena is now a 5-6 hours' drive from Mompox, via Magangué and the Ruta Caribe.
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