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Salento is the exciting, lively town tucked into the coffee region of Colombia. With amazing hiking, delicious coffee, and so much to explore in and just outside of the town, Salento is a MUST when you are visiting Colombia. As soon as I saw pictures of the gorgeous Cocora Valley, I just knew this needed to be a stop on our 2 week trip to Colombia. In just three days, you can cover a lot of ground in Salento and see the best this adorable town has to offer.
Planning a trip to Colombia can be overwhelming. Especially if it is your first visit to South America, like it was ours. There are about a million amazing things to do and things to see but I promise visiting Salento will be a decision you won’t regret. So, where to start? No worries, my travel-loving friend. In this guide, I’m covering everything you need to know about planning a trip to Salento. Keep on reading for where to stay, what to do, what to eat, and how to stay safe.
A little about Salento
Salento is an adorable town in the middle of hundreds of coffee farms located west of Bogotá in the department of Quindio. Salento is home to colorful buildings with friendly locals and a vibrant tourist scene. After visiting Bogotá, Colombia’s capital city, I was so surprised to see so many tourists in this tiny town! You can also experience the amazing wax palm trees and greenery of the surrounding Andes mountains. Many people flock to Salento to hike in the Cocora Valley and sip coffee at one of the several coffee farms just outside of town.
In stark contrast to some of the bustling cities like Bogotá, Medellín or Cartagena, Salento is a small yet lively town that must be on your Colombia itinerary. Now that we have a little bit of background, let’s get into it. In this article, I’ll be sharing the best Salento guide for everything you need to know to plan your trip to this exciting town.
When to visit
Salento is located high in the Andes mountains which is both a blessing and a curse. Colombia’s location nearer to the equator means the temperature is rather similar all year round but the mountains create a constant source of fog and rain. Colombia has a rainy season and a dry season but in Salento you’ll experience much more rain than dry seasons.
The driest months are December through March. The rest of the year, from late March to early December, you can expect frequent rain. When we visited in June, we experienced at least 6-7 rain storms in one day but they were usually light and short.
The temperature is typically mild, falling between averages of 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year.
With that being said, there’s no truly “bad” time to visit Salento. You can’t go wrong with a visit in the summer or winter. However, if you want to avoid the most crowds and the rainy season your sweet spot is March or September.
What to pack for Colombia
The good news… the temperature in Salento hovers around a comfortable 55-75 degrees Fahrenheit all year round. The bad news? Even in the “dry” season, you can’t completely escape the rain. But the fog and the rain is quintessential Colombia, so take it in stride!
The #1 thing to pack for a trip to Salento is a rain jacket (Shocker, I know). You’ll also want a pair of comfy but cute shoes to traverse around the city. Along with a rain jacket, you should invest in a water resistant backpack to protect your things from those afternoon showers. Or just a nice plastic poncho 😉
The town is rather laid back. If you want to fit in with the Colombianos, wear nice pants or jeans and a top. Athleisure isn’t really a thing around here! But you don’t need to dress to the nines unless you really want to! I wore plenty of warm layers–shedding a jacket was nice for those small bursts of sunshine. While hiking in the Cocora Valley or touring a coffee farm, athleisure is absolutely acceptable and encouraged. Hiking boots are strongly recommended due to all the mud and you’ll want comfy and warm layers you can add and shed throughout the day.
How to get to Salento
Salento is tucked into the Andes mountains in between two airports. The easiest and quickest way to Salento is to fly into either Pereira or Armenia and take a bus or car into town. Because of its location in the mountains, you CAN take a bus from whatever larger city you’re coming from… but it will take much longer. Like the whole day and part of your night. If you only have a couple of weeks in Colombia, it’s best just to fly. Luckily, flying is pretty affordable because the local airlines compete with the buses to make fares as affordable as possible! Our flights from Bogota were around $100 for both my husband and me.
Once you get to the airport, you can take a bus to Salento. From Armenia, Cootracir operates a bus to Salento departing every 30 minutes. Expreso Alcala runs a bus from Pereria to Salento hourly. Each costs only $2 one way and the trip from either city to Salento will take you about an hour.
You can also rent a car if you feel you will need it in Salento. Spoiler alert: Salento is tiny and unless you plan to take many day trips, you won’t need it. You can walk or take a very cheap taxi just about anywhere you need to go.
Several hotels in Salento will offer an affordable shuttle from the airport to the hotel. We opted for this because I didn’t feel like navigating the bus station! For 150,000 COP (about $38 USD) we were able to take a private car from the airport to the hotel and back to the airport when it was time to leave. This option is definitely more expensive than the bus but much easier.
Where to Stay in Salento
Salento is small enough that you can find just about any hotel and be just near the heart of town! You can walk from one end of Salento to the other in about 20 minutes. Accommodations vary from your budget hostels to hotels a little more upscale, but you won’t find any luxury Four Seasons or St. Regises around here! Despite not having any major chains or luxury hotels, you will find the perfect, charming place to lay your head while visiting Salento.
Hotel Salento Plaza
Centrally located, you are in the plaza in about 30 seconds and a stone’s throw away from Calle Real. This is where we stayed and thoroughly enjoyed it. The price was fair (but moderate/pricy for the area) and the included breakfast was out of this world! The room was nothing over-the-top special but it was clean and had a decent bed, what more can you ask for?
The hotel also offers a shuttle to and from the airport for approximately $30 USD. This was a good deal for us so we didn’t have to figure out the bus schedule.
Coffee Tree Boutique Hostel
Just a 5 minute walk from the center of Salento, this adorable hostel overlooks the valleys and coffee farms surrounding the area. It costs just $25 USD a night to stay here (at time of writing) and you can choose between dorm-style rooms or private rooms. Breakfast is also included!
Book it here.
Casa Boutique Hotel Salento
In the center of town on the other side of the plaza from Hotel Salento Plaza, this small hotel is very affordable, clean, and adorable. It has great reviews. It is closer to Calle Real though, which means it can be a little loud if you want to go to bed early. Breakfast is offered, but not included.
Terasu Hotel Salento
If we were to return to Salento, this is where I would choose to stay next! Terasu is located five minutes from the town center and looks so dreamy. The rooms overlook the coffee farms and give a rustic-chic vibe. Breakfast is included as well. This hotel is the one of the more expensive places in the area but still very affordable if you’re coming from somewhere more expensive, like the US.
What to Eat
I’m going to be honest right off the bat here, friend. Colombian food is truly nothing to write home about. BUT!!! No Salento guide would be complete without mentioning some of the local eats. There are definitely items that are delicious and you should try them all. Here’s a few places I think you should try:
- Bernabe: a little upscale with beautiful decor and a large selection
- Cafe Jesus Martin: the best place to grab a coffee!
- El Chacharrito: a little burger joint that absolutely hits the spot after hiking the Cocora Valley
- Etnia Arte y Sabor: the best hole in the wall with the most amazing environment and comfy food
- Order patacones from a food truck in the Salento plaza
Safety Tips for Salento
Salento is absolutely a safe city for tourists to visit. It’s small and quaint, we found we could walk from one end of town to another in just a few minutes. I felt extremely safe and comfortable here but just as when traveling anywhere–whether in a foreign country or the US–there are precautions I would take!
- Be mindful of how much you drink and never leave your drink unattended.
- Carry your phone in your FRONT jeans pocket and don’t walk around with it in your hand.
- Leave expensive jewelry at home.
Credit cards are widely accepted but it’s a good idea to have a bit of cash for things like the Willys. There are ATMs in the center of town that are enclosed within the building for safety.
Things to do in Salento
Hike in the Cocora Valley
This was what I was most excited about when visiting Salento. Hiking in the Cocora Valley is an absolute must-do during your time here. You will love traipsing through the beautiful greens and seeing the wax palms set along the Andes mountains.
Take a coffee farm tour
Colombia is known for its coffee production and for good reason. There are tons of coffee farms within this region known as the coffee triangle, and several are within walking distance from Salento!
Shop on Calle Real
The main street through Salento is bustling with tourists and locals alike. You can buy souvenirs, shop for one-of-a-kind clothing and pottery, or just grab a coffee at one of the cafés!
View the town from Mirador Salento
Meaning “Salento Viewpoint”, head to the end of Calle Real and up a couple hundred stairs to reach a viewpoint that looks out over the whole town and surrounding valley.
Tejo is a traditional throwing game in Colombia. It can be found all over the country, but Salento is the perfect town to do it in! Essentially, you throw little clay discs towards targets which are full of gunpowder so they explode on impact. If you walk by a bar or building and hear booms and cheers, you can be sure there’s probably a game of tejo going on inside!
Salento is a great town to visit and so much can be explored in just two or three days. What I love the most about Salento is that you can do plenty of adventuring but also have plenty of free time to just relax and enjoy the scenery. From hiking through the Cocora Valley and taking a coffee farm tour, there’s no shortage of unique and exciting activities to do. The town is the perfect size to walk around and enjoy restaurants and shops as well. Salento makes a perfect addition to any Colombia itinerary. We loved this little town and I think you will, too! Make sure to come back to this Salento guide to plan your very best trip!
Juan Vargas says
Acabó de regresar de colombia mi tierra natal y tuve la oportunidad de visitar Salento y cócora pero porfa tienes qué visitar Finlandia
Muy cerca de hay. El pueblito más hermoso del Quindío. La comida excelente mejor si vas entre semana encontrarás parqueadero
Y no habra tanto turistas. Chao JC
El pueblito parece muy belleza! Irá n el viaje próximo!