The pretty little colonial town of Jardín in Colombia is a beautiful spot to escape the bustle of the city for a few days. Home to colourful buildings, lush hills, vibrant birdlife, rich coffee and smiling locals, the laidback pace of life in Jardín is perfect for travellers looking to decompress.
Located in Colombia’s Antioquia department, this pueblito hasn’t yet found its way onto the Gringo Trail, adding to its charm. While the town itself is tiny, there are a variety of activities for travellers, although ultimately the best thing to do is to soak it all in streetside with a cup of the region’s finest tinto. ¡Vamos!
Travel Guide to Jardín, Colombia
Jardín Map & Resources
Best Time to Visit Jardín
Jardín (pronounced har-deen) is located in the Antioquia department of Colombia. It is around a three or four-hour journey from Medellín and benefits from a similar climate, making it spring-like year-round. The best time to visit the town is during the dry seasons, which run from December to March and July to September.
Be warned though, a visit during the dry season doesn’t guarantee good weather! Luckily, the climate seems to follow a pattern. You can expect sunny mornings and thunderstorms in the afternoons. If you’re visiting Jardín, don’t forget to bring a waterproof jacket!
In terms of the holiday seasons, the months of December and January can get very busy in Jardín, so if you are travelling during this period, make sure you book your accommodation in advance. It is also worth mentioning that many city goers from Medellín venture here for weekend breaks, so if you are looking for a quieter visit, aim to arrive on a weekday.
Is Jardín Safe?
Jardín is one of the safest places in Colombia and South America as a whole! Obviously, you should take the usual precautions but there is very little to fear when visiting. The biggest risks come from poorly marked or sketchy hiking trails. Make sure you have an offline map and prepare for routes to be steeper than they appear. Jardín is in a small valley, so it always feels like you’re going uphill when hiking!
“On my last trip to Colombia, I spent three full months there. Of all the places I visited, I easily felt the most safe in Jardín. The people are friendly and there is a real sense of community as everyone knows everyone else. I even felt comfortable walking around town with my camera out – a pretty rare thing in Colombia!”
Where to Stay in Jardín
Jardín is very small so there isn’t too much choice when it comes to choosing where to stay. Your main options are either in the main square or a couple of blocks back. Luckily, the whole town is very compact and safe, so you shouldn’t have to walk too far!
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Best Hostels/Hotels in Jardín
Situated a couple of blocks from the main square, this is the most popular hostel in town. Offering a mix of private and dorm rooms, including those specifically for women, this is an ideal spot for backpackers. The hostel is known for its cleanliness and offers great value for money.
This boho B&B is run by a friendly local lady and offers private rooms ideal for couples at a reasonable price. A hearty traditional Colombian breakfast is included in the rate and the location is just two blocks back from the main square. Don’t miss snapping a few photos of the picturesque street from the balcony!
For those who have a little more to spend, Casa Passiflora Hotel is a great choice. Situated in a cute colonial building, the service is some of the best you’ll find in all of Colombia! Complete with luxury amenities like a jacuzzi, Casa Passiflora promises a stay you won’t forget. Try to get a room towards the back of the building and away from the road if you can.
Top Things to Do in Jardín, Colombia
Many tourists only come to Jardín for a weekend but you can easily spend longer, especially if you want to participate in some activities a little further out of town. Somewhere in the region of 3-5 days is ideal for a trip here but those with more time may want to stay longer. The draw of experiencing life on rural Colombian time may be too much to resist!
1. Embark on a Coffee Tour
As Jardín sits in Colombia’s coffee belt, it is no surprise that a finca tour is one of the best things to do here. Although overshadowed by the more well-known town of Salento, Colombian coffee culture is thriving in Jardín and offers a fraction of the crowds experienced elsewhere.
Although there are lots of fincas in the surrounding area, few offer tours in English. Our favourite that does is Finca Mariposa. They run a great half-day coffee tour which allows you to learn more about coffee cultivation, pick the beans and enjoy a cup of their finest joe at the end. At present, this experience can only be booked on Airbnb. We recommend confirming the tour language in advance of booking, in case they need to arrange a translator.
2. Ride the Teleferico la Garrucha
This sketchy-looking cable car offers a novel way to see some of the best panoramic views in Jardín. It costs just 5,000COP one way (around $1USD) and takes you on a jerky journey up the mountain where you’ll be dropped off at a wee restaurant.
Once you reach the top, either embark on the hike back to town or kick back with some traditional Colombian fare overlooking the teleferico. Snack and drink prices here are surprisingly reasonable.
Good to know! A lot of outdated pages show photos of a wooden box style cable car in Jardín. While the existing version is in no way a state-of-the-art machine, the wooden shack has been replaced with a metal box. Despite the relative upgrade, this is still not an activity for those of a nervous disposition!
3. Check Out the Basilica Menor
This neo-gothic style church looms large in the centre of Jardín and actually looks a little out of place compared to its surroundings. It takes pride of place in the central square and is likely to be the first landmark that you see as you approach town.
The church as we know it was constructed in 1918, however, there was a vice parish in this very spot for some 50 years prior. Legend has it that Father San Juan Nepomuceno Barrera asked sinners to carry stones from the nearby quarry to build the parish. They were told that in order to atone for their past, the stones that they carried needed to be equal in weight to their sins! I’m not sure the best way to measure that…
“The church steps are a great place to people watch in Jardín – just don’t try to eat anything while you’re sitting there. Trust me when I say that the pigeons will have it out of your hands in no time!”
4. Spot the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock
Native to the Andean cloud forest, this colourful bird is one for any twitcher’s list. Easily recognisable for their distinctive call and bright orangey-red plumage, there are a few places to see them in and around Jardín.
One such option is the Jardín de Rocas, a private nature reserve located next to the river. It costs 12,000COP per person to enter and it is advisable to reserve your space via their website in advance. As the birds are most active in the afternoon, this place is only open between 3 pm and 5.30 pm.
5. Try Your Skills at Beekeeping
Ever wondered what it would be like to be a beekeeper for a day? Wonder no more! Finca la Florida is one such place where you can embark on a beekeeping tour and see for yourself.
This experience gives guests the opportunity to learn about the honey cultivation process and the many different types of bees in Colombia. The tour culminates with the chance to sample some of the delicious honey on offer at the finca. Tours should be booked in advance. You can get here via moto taxi from town in around 20 minutes.
6. Go People Watching
To get under the skin of this town, pull up a chair alongside the locals and watch the world go by. The central plaza is the social hub of town and as all the locals seem to know each other, you’re likely to see some really endearing day-to-day scenes.
Although tejo is widely touted to be the national sport of Colombia, in truth, it’s people-watching and there is no better way to take in the essence of Jardín!
7. Chase Some Waterfalls
While the rainfall in Jardín can sometimes be a drag, the advantage of this is the sheer amount of epic waterfalls in the area. While guided tours do run to some of these, most of them are possible to hike independently. A few of the best include Cascada la Escalera, Cascada del Amor and Salta del Angel. Check maps.me and All Trails for trail maps.
And if hiking doesn’t sound adventurous enough, enquire with the tour agencies in town to arrange a canyoning trip. Who said sleepy Jardín is lacking in adrenaline?!
8. Take to the Skies
The little green gem of Jardín is an incredibly picturesque destination. To see it from a new perspective, why not take to the skies? Paragliding can be arranged by a number of tour agencies across town and costs around 160,000COP (approx. $34USD) for a tandem ride. La Tienda Parapente gets great reviews from travellers.
9. Take in the Weekend Ambience of the Central Plaza
Despite being a sleepy Colombian town during the week, Jardín comes alive at the weekends. And, nowhere is this more apparent than in the Central Plaza. Clusters of street stalls fire up during the evening, selling everything from cheesy arepas to freshly squeezed juices. This is a great place to eat on the cheap!
After you’ve pulled up a very colourful chair and got settled in with a can of Club Colombia, keep an eye out for the horses being paraded through the square. If you’ve wondered why so many of the local men are wearing cowboy hats, you won’t have to wonder much longer!
10. Check Out the Cave of Splendour
Perhaps the most famous attraction in Jardín, Cueva del Esplendor makes for a fantastic day trip. Reachable by 4X4, on foot or horseback, this cave is famous for the crashing waterfall that plunges through a rooftop hole in the cavern.
While it can be hiked independently, the trail is long and we have heard reports of hostile dogs en route. Most travellers prefer to go there via a jeep tour. These tend to cost in the region of around 70,000COP per person and include a guide (specify if you need an English-speaking guide), return transport and a couple of snacks.
“As Jardín is still not really on the tourist track, many of the tours in and around the area will only be offered in Spanish. If you require an English-speaking tour, make sure to confirm this at the point of booking. Bear in mind that for some tours there may be no English guide available – even more reason to get practising your Spanish!”
11. Get a Whirlwind Tour of Jardín
If you’re making a flying visit to Jardín and only staying a day or two, you’ll quickly run out of time. To make sure you see a good overview of what this cute-as-a-button town has to offer, embark on a tuk-tuk tour!
Usually costing in the realm of 20,000-30,000COP per person, these tours will give you a whistlestop tour of town and take you out to one of the nearby trout farms.
12. Hike to Cristo del Rey
The Cristo del Rey statue looks over the town and makes for a wonderful hike. Previously, the broken-down cable car (different to the aforementioned La Garrucha) would have taken you up to this point but at the time of writing, it had been closed for several years and according to the locals, is unlikely to reopen.
The trail itself is marked on maps.me and AllTrails but be warned, this path can get very slippery after rain. Good walking shoes are a must! Don’t miss the opportunity to sample one of the town’s best coffees when you get to the top!
13. Go Ziplining
While hiking is fun, it can be taxing on a warm day. Take the effort out of your journey and instead get ready to fly over the mountains below! There are a couple of places in town where it is possible to go ziplining; including Canopy Jardín and Gulupa Ecolodge.
14. Grab Your Camera and Go Wild
If you have seen any photos of Jardín already, you will know it is a photographer’s paradise. From the colourful colonial buildings to the cowboys and the lush green hills, photo ops present themselves constantly Jardín.
The town is very safe so you should have no trouble snapping photos with your camera while you’re out and about. Whether you’re collating images for a photo album or just want to wow your Instagram followers, Jardín is certain to deliver.
Food and Drink in Jardín
Jardín is famous for its incredible trout so don’t miss trying some while you’re in town. If you’re on a budget, you’ll be pleased to hear there are plenty of places that offer ‘menu del dia’ specials and a lot of fast food available for cheap too; think empanadas and papas rellenas.
As Jardín has begun to attract international tourists and the food scene has shifted to accommodate a different kind of palate. As such, a number of pasta and pizza restaurants have popped up around town, however, most of these are below par.
Despite this, there are a few standout international options as well as some highly recommended places famed for their traditional Colombian fare.
La Parilla de mi Pueblo
This cheap and cheerful local grill restaurant has a wealth of options on its menu, from steaks to salads and fish. Don’t miss the delicious trout dishes which come served with fries and patacones (double carbs – how Colombian)!
An extension of the beautiful Casa Passiflora hotel mentioned earlier, this upmarket eatery offers both international and local cuisine, for very reasonable prices. They have one of the nicest outdoor seating areas in town which feels intimate and private – great for couples.
If you’re craving comfort food, Café Europa is the spot to go. Undoubtedly one of the best spots to enjoy a meal in Jardín and boasting the best pizza in town, this is the place to indulge in European cuisine.
“There are lots of pizza places in Jardín but most of them aren’t worth bothering with. If your heart is set on something cheesy and delicious, make it Café Europa!”
Getting Around Jardín
Jardín is a small town which makes it very walkable. If you are heading further afield, moto taxis (which look like tuk-tuks) are a budget-friendly transport option available for longer distances.
If you’re doing a tour outside the main town, you may be picked up from the square in a Willy jeep. The roads are rough here and a 4X4 is needed to tackle the uneven ground. Jump in the back and don’t forget to hold on!
How to Get to Jardín
Most people travel to Jardín by bus or colectivo. Buses depart from Terminal del Sur in Medellín regularly throughout the day. For spacious buses with air conditioning, check out the Rapido Ochoa bus company. Tickets to Jardín cost around 32,000COP per person one way (around $7USD).
If coming from Salento (and the surrounding area), you will need to take a Cootransrio bus to Riosucio and transfer to Jardín there. Alternatively, it is possible to drive to Jardín, however, be warned… the roads aren’t for the faint of heart!
Where to Go Next:
Medellín: The innovative city of Medellín is a great destination for travellers. This up-and-coming tourist destination boasts a wealth of fascinating yet heartbreaking history, oodles of art and more culture than you can shake a stick at.
Salento: Head to Colombia’s most famous coffee region to see the epic wax palms of the Cocora Valley. Spend your days hiking, birdwatching, and of course, playing Tejo – the national game of Colombia!
Guatapé: Visit the colourful tourist town of Guatapé and climb the famous Piedra de Peñol! While Guatapé is more visited than ever before, the town is undoubtedly beautiful and well worth the stop. Keep an eye on the beer you order – cannabis cerverza appears on many menus here!