Let’s dive into the vibrant village of Salento, right in the heart of Colombia’s amazing Coffee Triangle. Here’s a complete guide to make your trip to Salento and the surrounding coffee region absolutely epic.
There’s just something special about this colourful mountain village that seems like time stands still. You’ll find men with sombreros sitting in the pubs, conversing over life and perhaps an Aguila beer or two. Every other weekend you’ll encounter a farmers market with coffee, sweets and other produce from the area.
Salento got it all – natural beauty, charming architecture, and a huge coffee scene. Locals here are warm and ready to share their culture with open arms. Plus, you can get a peek into the whole coffee-making process, complete with stories and traditions.
Things to Know Before Going to Salento & Colombia’s Coffee Region
Where is Salento?
Salento is nestled in the Quindío department, part of Colombia’s famous Coffee Triangle. It’s all lush green coffee plantations and stunning mountain views, tucked away in the Andes mountains, southwest of Bogotá.
To get to Salento from Medellin, you have a few options:
- By Bus: You can take a direct bus from Medellin to Armenia, the capital of Quindío department, which is the closest city to Salento. The journey takes approximately 5-6 hours. From Armenia, you can take a local bus or a jeep to Salento, which is about a 30-minute ride.
- By Air: Another option is to take a domestic flight to El Edén International Airport in Armenia and take a taxi or bus to Salento. The flight and bus ride should take about 1 hour each.
How to get to Salento from Bogota:
- By Bus: There are direct bus services from Bogota to Armenia, which take around 7-8 hours. Once in Armenia, you can take a local bus or jeep to Salento.
- By Air: An alternative and faster way to reach Armenia from Bogota is by taking a domestic flight to El Edén International Airport in Armenia, which takes approximately 1 hour. From the airport, you can then take a taxi to Salento.
How Many Days Is Enough for Salento?
Plan to spend at least 3-4 days soaking up the charms of both Salento and the Coffee Region. That way, you can explore the town, visit some coffee farms, and take in some awesome hikes. If you’re on a bigger Colombia trip, I’d suggest heading on to other villages in Quindio and up north into Antioquioa with Jardin, Jerico and Medellin.
Best Places to See and Visit in Salento and Colombia’s Coffee Region
And then there’s the iconic Cocora Valley, with its crazy tall wax palm trees, lush forests, and epic hiking trails. It’s just a quick jeep ride from Salento and a must-see for nature lovers and photography buffs.
When you’re in Salento, take a stroll down Calle Real – the main street lined with super colorful buildings. It’s the kind of picturesque street that just screams “Instagram-worthy.”
This bustling main street with its vividly painted buildings, charming artisan shops, and local markets is hard to miss. It’s a perfect place for leisurely strolls and to soak in the town’s vibrant atmosphere.
Mirador Alto de la Cruz
Head to this viewpoint for breathtaking panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains and valleys. It’s a great spot to capture stunning photos and appreciate the natural splendor of Salento – make sure to go early!
Coffee Farm Tours
When in Salento and the Coffee Triangle you just have to join a coffee tour of one of the numerous coffee farms in the area. Learn about the coffee-making process, from bean to cup, and gain insights into the region’s rich coffee heritage. If you’re short on time you could join the Height Coffee Tour and still learn the whole coffee process.
Pro Tip: Visit Cafe Jesus Martin it’s one of the award-winning cafes in the country! Another great one for coffee is Andariego! Coffee to go by the Plaza.
Did you know that Colombia is the country with the highest biodiversity of birds in the world – with 1,900 species? The region boasts an impressive variety of bird species, including but not limited to the dazzling Andean cock-of-the-rock, the vibrant Golden-headed Quetzal, the striking Andean condor, and the iridescent Mountain Velvetbreast.
Birdwatchers can also spot a range of hummingbirds, tanagers, and toucans among the lush foliage. There’s a great option to visit The Camino Nacional and enjoy a prime birdwatching tour.
Salento is surrounded by some captivating landscapes, making it an ideal base for various outdoor activities such as trekking, birdwatching, and exploring the diverse ecosystems of the nearby Andes mountains.
By now you’ve heard of glamping, but did you know there is a thing such as bird glamping? Yes, about 15 minutes outside of Salento is a gorgeous finca that combines glamping with a true birdwatching experience.
With over 250 birds living in the area, birdgalmp9ing agriturismo is the ideal place to search, observe and capture rare and colourful birds.
The highlight for us was spotting the Green Toucan and the Tiger Frog.
Cocora Valley (Valle de Cocora)
Located just a short 20-minute jeep ride from Salento you’ll find one of Colombia’s best places to visit. The iconic Cocora Valley is famed for its towering 60-meter-tall wax palm trees which are the tallest in the world. Furthermore, the area is famous for its lush cloud forests, and picturesque hiking trails. It’s just a nature lover’s paradise, offering opportunities for the best hiking adventures and truly unique natural scenery.
The valley offers a range of hiking trails that lead you through Andean terrain, alongside crystal-clear rivers, fluffy mountain cows and past the impressive wax palms.
How to Get To Cocora Valley
To reach Cocora Valley from Salento, you can take a short jeep ride from the town’s main square to the entrance of the valley. These traditional Willys Jeeps are a fun and popular mode of transport in the area. The ride takes approximately 20-30 minutes and offers picturesque views of the surrounding countryside. I’d suggest you go as early as 6.30 am to be one of the first in the valley.
The price is 4000 COP (1 US$) for a one-way Willy Jeep ride.
To get back to Salento, you’ll find Willy Jeeps on the nearby parking area, leaving as they are full.
Since I saw it in its raw state in 2013 I was somewhat shocked and disappointed about the ‘nest picture spots’. It lost a bit of its charm since you can’t walk freely around the palm trees as you used to.
Cocora Valley Hikes & Coffee Tours
Once you’re at the entrance of Cocora Valley, you can embark on the various hiking trails. One of the most popular hiking routes takes you through the valley to Acaime, a charming hummingbird sanctuary. This one will take around 4-5 hours and ends at the palm trees. The extended loop trail also leads to the famous Finca de la Montaña, a farmhouse offering refreshments and a remarkable panorama of the valley. Keen for a combined tour? Book your Cocora Valley Tour and Hike here.
If you’re just here to see the beautiful giants, head straight up and you’ll see a few newly built restaurants and entrances. It’s been getting commercialized in the last couple of years, so you now have to pay climb up to the hill. The entrance fee to Palm Grove is about 10.000 COP.
If you’re a coffee lover and short on time, I’d recommend booking a combined tour of Cocora Valley and a Coffee Tour.
Either way, hiking among those palms and soaking in the lush landscape is an experience you won’t forget!
Best Hotels in Salento
Salento’s got a bunch of accommodation options to fit your style – from cozy guesthouses to boutique hotels and eco-friendly lodges.
Birdglamping Los Arboles is a real little gem and a fantastic mix of glamping plus the chance to participate in birdwatching or horseback riding. The cabins are a short walk away from the main house where you’ll be served freshly brewed coffee, hot chocolate, and even the local delicacy – trout or trucha. The rustic cabins have a wonderful view and are equipped with a private shower. Every evening after dinner, the staff would prepare some tea and hot water for you to take to back.
If you’re looking for a cute and affordable hotel right in the center of Salento, check out Hospedaje Camino Real.
Salento Day Trips Quindio & Circasia
In the Quindío region, you’ll always be enchanted by picturesque coffee plantations sprawling across the rolling hills. The region is also home to diverse and vibrant wildlife, thriving within its biodiverse cloud forests and national parks.
Wellness Day & Staycation
Bio Habitat Hotel, situated in the heart of Quindío, presents a unique place to indulge in sustainable luxury while immersing yourself in the region’s natural beauty. The hotel’s eco-conscious ethos harmoniously combines environmental conservation with the rich cultural experiences available in Quindío.
It makes the perfect staycation spot for nature enthusiasts and those craving a tranquil retreat.
Bio Habitat is one of the best hotels that I’ve stayed in Colombia – perfect to unwind, relax, and have a slowcation. The highlight was the spa experience that awaits with 3-4 differently heated outdoor pools and jacuzzi. Another bonus is the wide area in which you can go on a wonderful hike and indulge in some epic wildlife watching. Colourful birds, Green toucans, agoutis and a lush forest – need I say more?
What Else Is There to See in Colombia’s Coffee Region?
I’d highly recommend you make your journey to the north into Antioquia and visit the charming villages of Jardin and Jerico. From Circasia, it takes approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to get to Jardín and approximately 2 hours to get to Jericó. Both towns are part of Colombia’s Coffee Region and are known for their beautiful landscapes, colorful colonial architecture, and coffee culture.
Check out my ‘2-Week Unusual Colombia Itinerary‘ with the best things to see and do in Jardin and Jerico!
While there are many gems to see in Colombia, I’d without a doubt recommend you to visit Salento and the coffee region. The small-town vibe, unreal landscapes and welcoming attitude of the locals is just something you shouldn’t miss.
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If you’re keen on more island life, check out my Dominican Republic Itinerary + Gems to See!
For more Caribbean trips, head over to my Barbados Itinerary & The Best Eco Activities!
Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. If you purchase using these links, I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only recommend services and tools I know and trust myself. Some of the hotels were sponsored stays, all opinions are my own.
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