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Head’s up! This post contains affiliate links. This means I may earn a small commission if you purchase through certain links in this post. That helps me keep this blog up and running so I can provide FREE content for you! 🙂 Alright, let’s get to the Salento itinerary, shall we?
Salento is an adorable town located in the western portion of Colombia tucked into the Andes mountains. This area is known for its mild weather and hundreds upon hundreds of coffee farms, beautiful scenery, and hiking… intrigued? Salento is a must-do when planning your trip to Colombia! The town is a gateway to Los Nevados National Park to the northeast of the city. Salento is small with a population of under 10,000 and it’s extremely walkable. You can walk from one end of town to the other in less than 10 minutes! Despite its small size, Salento is bursting with charm and unique local flavor.
Because of its awesome appeal with culture, hiking, and coffee (my favorite things!), Salento is no stranger to tourists. You can explore everything this town has to offer even if you only have a short amount of time to add on your itinerary. Three days is the perfect amount of time but you could probably swing just two days if you time your arrival and departure correctly! In this article, I’ll be sharing exactly how we spent three days in Salento and what you can expect from a visit to this charming town.
Getting to Salento
Salento is located in the middle between two bigger towns, Pereira and Armenia. There are airports in each town that are about an hour’s car ride away from Salento. Both airports are very small so I recommend choosing whichever one that has better flight times. For example, we wanted longer in Bogotá so we booked a later flight into Pereira. But for our departure, we wanted to get to Medellín earlier, so we booked an early flight from Armenia.
Read also: The Best of Bogotá in One Day
Depending on where you stay, you may have a hotel shuttle from the airport to the town. Otherwise, you’ll have to get a rental car or take the bus. A bus is much cheaper and easier, around $2 USD one-way but will take a bit longer. Rental cars are more pricey and more of a hassle because you won’t need it to get around once you’re in Salento.
You can book a bus ticket from Pereira via Expreso Alcala or from Armenia via Cootracir.
3 Day Salento Itinerary
Once you arrive in Salento, get settled and then put on your walking shoes! Getting here around midday or afternoon should give you plenty of time to explore. Like I mentioned before, Salento is very small–you can walk from one end of the town to the other in about 20 minutes!
Explore the town on foot
Spend some time meandering around Salento Plaza, walking down Calle Real, and popping in and out of the shops. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy people watching from a cafe.
Grab dinner at Parrilla Grill Camino Real. The atmosphere is awesome and no one will have trouble finding something they want on the menu. The menu is large and everything we had was pretty good! Hear me out: you’re not in a foodie destination so this won’t be a Michelin-star worthy meal but the price is right and it’ll fill your belly, for sure.
Tip: the local specialty is trout or “truta” and if you like fish/seafood, this is a must try! Everywhere we tried it cooked the trout excellently and you can have it prepared several different ways.
There are a smattering of bars and cafes to end your night if you’re not quite ready for bed. We definitely were, so we called it a night and got ready for day 2!
Today, you’ll want to get an early start because we’re heading into the Cocora Valley. The Cocora Valley sits about 8 kilometers outside of Salento. It is a huge tourist attraction, complete with photo ops and restaurants but that shouldn’t stop you! You won’t regret heading into the mountains to enjoy the incredible views and see the wax palm trees towering above you.
Getting to the Cocora Valley
After grabbing a solid breakfast, head into Salento Plaza. In the plaza you’ll see a handful of colorful jeeps, called Willys, waiting to take you to your destination. At the time of this writing, a round trip ticket to the valley and back totaled $4 USD. You’ll be in the back (or even standing holding onto the back like we were…) for about 8 kilometers, so prepare for a bumpy ride. But it’s all in the experience!
Read also: Incredible Things to Do in Salento, Colombia
Once you arrive, the Willy will drop you off in a parking lot across from some small businesses and restaurants. Leave the parking lot and head to the left along the dirt trail. Everyone should be heading this way, so just follow them! There is a small fork where you can either head left or right, I recommend heading to the left because the right will take you along the full loop whether you want to do that or not! Follow the left trail all the way up and you’ll pass some more shops and photo op spots. I recommend passing those without stopping and continue on until you get to the park gates.
Hiking in the Cocora Valley
At the park gates, you’ll pay 20,000 COP per person to enter (at time of this writing). Once you’re in, you can hike the trail, take all the pictures you want, and lounge on the grass or hammocks they have available. Someone will be at the gate to describe the trail and lengths to you. The longest option is about 5-6 hours worth of hiking, the middle option about 4 hours, and the main viewpoints will take you 2-3 hours. We chose to go up to the second viewpoint and that was the perfect amount for us.
If you take the 5-6 hour long route, you’ll have to pay again after the second viewpoint as you’ll be entering Las Nevadas National Park. At the time of writing, this cost was 20,000 COP.
Hike first, take TONS of pictures of the beautiful landscapes, and then enjoy the hammocks and sip a café for a while. Be sure to wear good hiking boots or at least sturdy tennis shoes and just like everywhere else in Colombia, pack your raincoat.
Prefer a day tour?
Enjoy a slow afternoon
Once you finish hiking, hop back on the Willy and head to Salento. You can eat lunch in the Cocora Valley but you’ll most likely pay more for the convenience. We chose to go to the city and enjoy one of the food trucks in the Salento plaza. Order the patacones, you won’t regret it!!!
Salento is pretty small, so you can enjoy a leisurely afternoon or take a nap without feeling like you are missing out on anything 😉 But if you’re the go-go-go type, you can certainly explore the town, grab some coffee… or even book a horseback riding tour if you want more time in the Cocora Valley!
But you know what I chose…. A nice nap. No regrets.
For dinner, eat at Bernabé Cafe. It’s one of the nicer restaurants in town and many people also say the best in town! The vibes are immaculate–try to snag a table in the front. With the windows open, you’ll catch a nice view over Calle Real. Prices are low and the food is well-cooked!
Our third day in Salento is probably one of my favorite days from our entire trip. Salento is just so charming and has two of my favorite things: great hiking and great coffee! Today, you’ll venture outside of town to enjoy a coffee farm tour.
Getting to the coffee farms
Don’t feel like you have to rush out of bed. We woke up in time for a slow breakfast at our hotel, enjoyed a second cup of coffee, got ready, and then headed out to the farms. Most of the coffee farms that are geared towards tourists are along the same road. You can choose to take a Willy down to the coffee farms or just walk. It was about 1.5 miles along a dirt road but not treacherous by any means. We thoroughly enjoyed our walk through the countryside! But the Jeeps are there if you’re just over walking.
Coffee farm tour at Las Acacias
The farms, “fincas” in Spanish, line the road and are very inviting to tourists. You typically don’t need reservations, but it can’t hurt! One of the more popular options is Finca del Ocaso, but we chose a smaller farm. We toured Las Acacias and I couldn’t recommend it more! The farm is a small, family owned farm and their coffee is only sold on the grounds. The tour was 16,000 COP (approximately $4 USD) per person and included two cups of coffee or espresso, a tour of the grounds, and a demonstration of how the coffee was made. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and funny! You can also stock up on coffee as souvenirs. At the time we were here, a bag of coffee was only 24,000 COP which is ~$8 USD! For fresh, high quality coffee, that’s an absolute steal. I recommend getting whole beans–it stays fresher longer!
After drinking too much coffee (hey, you need energy for the walk back!), head back to the town. We passed by a place called “the coffee spa” and OH MAN I wanted to stop sooo bad! My husband wasn’t feeling it though. Afterwards, I googled it and it looks legit! Go ahead and plan that into your schedule. What’s better than a coffee massage after drinking coffee all day?! Probably nothing.
Grab some burgers at El Chacharrito to soak up all that caffeine and then sit in the plaza or your hotel patio and enjoy some downtime! Again, that is if you can sit still for long enough 😉
Before dinner, head alllll the way to the end of Calle Real and up the steps to the Mirador Salento. On our first night in Salento, I had no idea what these stairs were and I was sure we couldn’t go up them. But after 2 days, we decided what the heck… let’s just see what’s up there! And what do you know–it’s a beautiful spot to look over the city! Traipse up the 200-something stairs and relax as the sun starts to set. At the top there are vendors, sometimes music, and plenty of spaces to sit down and just relax. The views are breathtaking!
Enjoy dinner at Etnia Arte y Sabor
After you enjoy the view, it’s time to head to Etnia Arte y Sabor. This small hole-in-the-wall restaurant holds about 10 patrons but it is so worth it! You can see the owner cooking up the delicious meals right in front of you. She is so kind and her food is delicious! Also, ask if you can try the spicy seasoning! A friend of the owner makes it and let me tell you… it is HOT. A little goes a long way! This was our favorite meal while in Salento so make sure you don’t miss it.
Day 4 – Depart
On day 4, it’s time to head to your next destination. We chose to leave early and take a quick 40 minute flight to Medellín at 8 am so we could have most of the day there. But whatever time you leave it totally up to you! No matter where you’re heading next, I hope you’ve enjoyed your 3 days in Salento using this itinerary!
Where to stay in Salento, Colombia
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.
Salento is a must-visit on your trip to Colombia. The town perfectly embodies Colombian culture and you’ll enjoy strolling along the brightly colored streets and popping in and out of the local boutiques. Along with jaw-dropping views as you hike through the Cocora Valley and fresh local coffee, this town may quickly become your favorite place in Colombia! Three days is the perfect amount to stay in Salento to see and experience this tiny paradise. Use this itinerary completely or pick and choose your favorite parts–no matter what, you’re sure to have an excellent time!
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