Salento is one of the most colorful towns in Colombia. Couple the colorful town with the stunning Valle de Cocora as well as an abundance of coffee and this is a must see spot for anyone visiting Colombia. Salento can easily be visited as a day trip, however plan to spend a few nights if you want to explore and get lost in this unique town.
Why visit Salento?
Salento is found in the Quindio region in Colombia, nestled among the Andean mountains. This small town allows quick access to the famous Valle de Cocora as well as to many coffee farms. In addition, the colorful houses, amazing coffee and small size will allow for you to feel the Colombian culture ten-fold.
When to Visit Salento?
Salento, Colombia will feel like it’s eternally spring. The temperature will be stable throughout the year with the averages being the same no matter what month you visit. The average lows range from 56-58F (13-14 C) and the average highs are 70-76F (21-24 C). The main factor when determining when to visit will be the rain. Salento receives a lot of precipitation throughout the year, so we recommend to come prepared for rain no matter when you visit. However, March-May and October-November will be the rainiest months.
So, December to February are the best months to visit Salento, however the changes among months is incrementally small. We visited in November and didn’t have an issue with temperature or constant rain, but we did enjoy the small crowds.
How to Get to Salento?
Salento doesn’t have an airport associated with the town, the two closest airports are located in Pereira and Armenia. Once you’re in the town of Salento, you won’t need a car for transportation.
Getting to Salento from Pereira is about a 1 hour drive. If you have a rental car, there is the option to drive out to Salento. The drive itself is relatively straight forward with a lot of highway driving. Once you arrive to Salento, the streets become narrow and one-way so the driving becomes more nerve-wracking. Another disclaimer with driving yourself is the rain. When we visited the rain became torrential, couple this with steep and windy roads then you have a nerve-wracking drive.
Secondly, you can have the option of a bus. With a bus ticket costing 11,000 COP ($2.50 USD), this is easily the most economical option. The buses leave from the Pereira Transportation Terminal and arrive at the Salento bus terminal. The buses leave frequently and will take about an hour, to check out the schedule visit this website. The only hang up with this option is the bus terminal is a 15-minute drive from the airport. So, you will need to take a cab here which costs about $3 USD. This is still the economical option, however the price is not far off from that of a private transfer or taxi.
Lastly, you can opt for a taxi, the price will be around $10-13 USD each way. Uber is in Pereira, but can be inconsistent and not guaranteed to find a driver. For the price and ease of transportation, this is most likely the best option.
The drive from Armenia to Salento is about 45 minutes, so a touch shorter than from Pereira. The options are going to look the same as those from Pereira. The taxi price is about $6-9 USD one way, you can either use a taxi when you land or look into a private transfer.
There is also the option for a bus. The bus is about 1 hour and will cost $2 USD. As with Pereira, the buses leave rather frequently and you can check out the schedule on this website. The bus station is, unfortunately, not located at the Armenia airport so you will need to take a taxi from the airport to the bus station. The bus system is relatively easy to navigate, however you will need to be able to speak some Spanish or translate into Spanish – especially if you have a question.
What to do in Salento?
Hike Valle de Cocora
Valle de Cocora is located about 30 minutes outside of Salento, making it the perfect day trip. The main reason to visit Valle de Cocora is to explore the mountainous area and see the wax palm trees. We highly recommend hiking around to explore this stunning area. With a short and long hike options, there is something for all activity levels. Check out our guide for all the necessary information to plan a day trip.
Day trip to Filandia
Filandia is another small and colorful town, found 30 minutes away from Salento. Filandia is very similar to Salento, however it is more local visitors than international tourists. If you visit, the Helena Adentro is the one of the best restaurants to eat at. The food, views and cocktails should not be missed! Asides from having dinner here, you can wander around the town and shop through all the boutiques filled with locally made goods.
Salento to Filandia doesn’t have a direct bus option, so you could spend 2 hours on a bus but we don’t recommend it. Taking a taxi is about 20 minutes and costs $4-6 USD. Additionally, you can take a Willy, which is a compact, colorful, jeep. The Willys leave from the town square and are extremely affordable for getting around this region.
Visit a coffee farm
Salento is in the middle of the coffee region of Colombia, so we recommend taking advantage of this! You can tour a coffee farm, which is about a half day adventure. Taking a coffee tour offers a lot of insight into the growing and making of a coffee bean.
Sip some coffee
Whether you visit a coffee farm or not, you have to try some of the local coffee. There are plenty of coffee shops around town, however the absolute best (in our opinions) is Cafe Jesus Martin. This is a local coffee shop and they source their beans locally.
Wander the streets
Taking the time to walk around and enjoy this town is a must-do. Calle Real is the Main Street in town, filled with colorful houses and cobblestoned roads. Along this street is where you will find a lot of the boutique shops as well. As with Filandia, we found a lot of the shops were filled with locally made items – so make sure to support these businesses!
Climb up to the Mirador
Lastly, climbing the steps up the Mirador needs to be on everyones list to see. Mirador de Salento is an observation deck that provides sweeping views over the town of Salento and the surrounding valley. The hike up is relatively easy with 242 steps to the top, just don’t forget that you are at a higher altitude so take breaks as needed. From the top, relax and enjoy the views before climbing back down.