Updated February 26th, 2020.
Situated among the rolling hills of Colombia’s coffee plantations lies the magical town of Salento. Verdant green fields cover the landscape which is startlingly embellished with the worlds tallest wax palm trees, which grow up to 60 metres tall!
Located in the Zona Cafetería, for all you coffee addicts out there, Salento is of course THE place to get a good blend or even take a tour and learn more about how the world’s favourite drink is made!
The town of Salento itself is a colourful pueblo of quaint cafes, delectable eats, and plenty of local flavour all housed within bright and cheerful Paisa architecture.
Besides stunning natural scenery and clean charming streets, the town is also full of some of the most welcoming locals we’ve ever met! During our first night here we were met with a shortage of available rooms, without a moment of hesitation an eighty-year-old woman invited us to use her guest room and join her in the morning for strong and plentiful cups of Tinto (black Colombian black coffee). Salento is the kind of place where you feel instantly welcomed and part of something oddly familiar.
Read more about travel in Colombia here!
Where to Stay in Salento
Salento is a small town meaning that no place you stay will be too far from the action. Here are some of our favourite places to stay in town…
Coffee Tree Boutique Hostel – One of the loveliest and most popular places to stay in Salento, this gorgeous hostel is located in a beautiful old building with a great location and fantastic views from every terrace. There are loads of activities to do around the hostel from horse-riding to hiking and the hearty hostel breakfast (and strong Colombian coffee!) will set you up for the day! Dorms start at $12 US per night.
Viajero Salento Hostel – Part of the famous ‘Viajero’ chain of hostels across Colombia, the Salento hostel is no less popular than the rest. With amazing views, plenty of opportunities to meet fellow travellers, morning yoga, a free breakfast and lots of chill areas, it’s easy to see why this place gets top reviews! Dorm beds start at $15 US per night.
Hostel Tralala Salento – Located right next to the central plaza (1 minute walk) this place boasts clean rooms, fast wifi, a communal kitchen, free coffee, and a great hammock hang out area. Staff are super friendly and can help to organise tours and anything else you might need during your Salento visit. Dorm rooms start at $9 US per bed.
Yambolombia Hostel – One of the more unique housing options in Salento. This eco-hostel is located about 20 minutes (walking) from the centre of town, meaning that the views are incredible and you feel more like you are living with a family than at a hostel. Ideal for those wanting to be right in the heart of nature. Double rooms start at $16 US per night
Things to do in Salento
Hike in the Valle de Cocora
Covering the foothills of the Los Nevados National Park and mountain range lies this incredible natural landscape. Plenty of walking trails are on offer, with the most popular and best day trip being the Reserva Natural Acaime. This 2 and a half hour long loop takes you through the centre of the forest where you can play hide and seek among the massive palm trees! To get to the park, take a jeep which leave from Salento’s main square, the trip takes about an hour.
Go on a Coffee Tour
What’s the difference between Arabica and Robusta coffee beans? Well here’s a hint – it has to do with quality and when it comes to coffee Colombia is at the top of its game! Take a tour around the plantations that cover Salento’s surrounding areas, sip on some of the world’s best brew, and get a better sense of how your morning pick me up is so perfectly prepared.
Hike up Alto de La Cruz
At the end of Calle Real (the towns main street) lies a set of stairs leading up to grand views of the small pueblo and surrounding landscape. Best climbed in the early morning, when clear skies may make spotting snow-capped volcano’s possible, or at night to take in the sunset.
Play a game of Tejo
In seemingly indiscrete entrances lies one of Colombia’s best games! You’re going to have to ask around to find a ‘cancha de tejo” but the hunt is well worth the reward. The idea of the game is to throw rocks at a target laden with gunpowder. If your aim is good, expect both points and instant fame as the room is filled with the crackle of success. Something you must try for yourself in order to understand!
How to get to Salento
From Bogota – Salento is located South West of Colombia’s capital city, Bogota. To get to town you will need to first take a bus to Armenia, approx. 8 hours, once in Armenia hop on a minibus which will get you to Salento in about ½ an hour.
From Medellín – Buses also run from Medellín to Armenia, this trip takes around 5 hours. Once in Armenia take the minibus to Salento.
Where to go next?
Manizales: This large town within the Zona Cafetería is best known for its booming university scene. Head here for great hiking opportunities, a fresh nightlife, and a range of adventure tour operators.
Pereira: This is the areas largest city, and because of this, a bit less atmospheric than its nearby options. That said it’s a great place to get your late night groove on, visit the nearby thermal hot springs, and take in a less touristy side of the Zona Cafetería.
Medellín: Colombia’s modern, progressive, and entertaining city of Antioquia is simply one of the most friendly cosmopolitan centers of the world. Don’t miss out on a visit here!