What To Do in Salento, Colombia

Looking for what to do in Salento during your Colombia trip?  There are a plethora of activities to choose from!  This Salento travel guide will cover what to do in Salento from a couple of days to a couple of weeks.

Salento is an incredibly scenic destination located in the hillside of Colombia in South America.  It may even look familiar from the big screen!  Salento has the honor of providing inspiration for Disney’s ever famous film, Encanto.  If that’s not reason enough for Salento to be on your travel list, I’m not sure what is!

From its stunning Cocora Valley featuring 200ft wax palm trees (trust me you have not seen a palm tree like this before!) to its infamous coffee region, Salento’s natural beauty makes it a high priority on any epic Colombia itinerary. 

Cocora Valley Wax Palm Trees

Salento Colombia Planning Details

Planning a trip to Salento can be simple with the right information.  Useful information includes how to get there, weather, currency, and local transportation.  

Getting There

Bogota to Salento: Plane

Fly into Pereira or Armenia Airport and take a 45 minute cab to Downtown Saleno.  Alternatively, consider taking a cab 5 minutes to the local bus station where you will take a bus to Downtown Salento. 

 

Bogota to Salento: Bus 

The bus ride from Bogota to Salento is approximately 9 hours.  This bus brings you to the Armenia bus station.  You can take the bus from Armenia Station to Salento, or take a taxi from Armenia to Salento.  

 

Medellin to Salento: Plane

Fly into Pereira or Armenia Airport and take a 45 minute cab to Downtown Saleno.  Alternatively, consider taking a cab 5 minutes to the local bus station where you will take a bus to Downtown Salento. 

 

I took a flight from Medellin to Pereira and opted to arrange transportation through my hotel in advance because this came highly recommended to me, but if I were to do it again, I probably would have taken the bus or local cab.  I was short on time during my visit so any option to maximize time was at the top of my list.  

 

Medellin to Salento: Bus

The bus route from Medellin to Salento is approximately 6 hours.  Unlike the bus route from Bogota, the Medellin minibus offers a direct route that goes right to Salento instead of stopping in Armenia first.  A traditional coach bus is offered that stops in Armenia first.  This bus may be more comfortable but the choice is yours if you would like the additional stop. 

Brightly painted doors in Downtown Salento

Weather in Salento

Salento has two main seasons: the dry season and the wet season.  Due to its altitude in the Ande Mountains, its year round temperature remains rather mild.  

  • Dry Season (December – February): Temperatures are roughly 59°F to 75°F.  Rainfall is less common during this time.  
  • Rainy Season (March – November): Temperatures remain similar to the dry season, ranging from 59°F to 72°F.  During my July visit, I experienced days that experienced both heavy rainfall and hours of sunshine.

Currency

I recommend carrying the local currency, Colombian Mil, during your Salento trip.  Bigger restaurants and some hotels will accept credit cards, but there is often a service charge.  Cash is also necessary in order to purchase willy jeep tickets.  

Willy jeeps are the primary method of transportation from Downtown Salento to the Coffee Region, Cocora Valley, and more.  

Salento Transportation

Willy Jeep in Salento!

The most common way to get around downtown Salento is by walking.  You can have your accommodation help book you a taxi, but there are not many taxis to hail from the street.

 

The most common way to get to Cocora Valley, Salento coffee tours, and Flandia is to book a Willy Jeep from the main plaza.  The ticket booth has a picture posted outside of it indicating costs for all trips.  The ticket booth accepts cash only.  

 

I was double charged the second time purchasing tickets here.  This likely may have been human error, but count money carefully to ensure there is no scam. 

How many days in Salento?

Spend at least 2 full days in Salento in order to experience a Salento Coffee Tour, the Cocora Valley, and explore downtown.  

I recommend 3-5 days for travelers looking to build added relaxation into their schedules, and take day trips such as Flandia, Santa Rita Waterfall, Santa Rosa de Cabal Hot Springs, El Machin Volcano, or book adventure activities like paragliding.

What to do in Salento

Salento is known for its colorful town, coffee farms, and world famous Cocora Valley.  Its lush scenery and delicious coffee are just a few things that make a visit worthwhile.  

Downtown Salento

Spotting Encanto characters in Downtown Salento!

Downtown Salento is full of bright colors.  It served as inspiration for Disney’s Encanto, and you can find claim to the movie around town!  Visitors also enjoy boutique shopping and dining at various restaurants in Downtown Salento.

Tip: Guatapé is an incredibly colorful small town as well.  It makes a great day trip from Medellin.  

Plaza Bolivar

Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Carmen in Plaza Bolivar

Located in Downtown Salento, Plaza Bolivar is a spacious square to relax, stroll, and perhaps most importantly for your trip, to purchase tickets for the local Willy Jeeps.  

 

Admire Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Carmen, Salento’s beautiful church with mountains tucked behind.

Mirador de Salento

View from the top of Mirador de Salento

You KNOW how much I love a good look-out!  Salento provides.  At the end of Calle Real, climb roughly 250 steps up a set of steep stairs (tongue twister or what?) to a look-out above the city.  

 

But don’t come right back down!  After admiring the views from the very top, turn left past several local shops and walk for a couple of minutes before being greeted by views overlooking the valley. There is no cost to walk to the top of the mirador.  

 

Salento Coffee Tours

Las Acacias Coffee Farm

Salento is highly known for its Coffee Region.  I highly recommend taking a coffee tour while you are in the area.  I only visited Las Acacias Coffee Farm.  This one is known to be one of the popular smaller farms.

 

An average tour is approximately 1 hour, but you can opt to take a longer tour for 3 hours.  I felt our 1 hour tour was totally sufficient and did not feel the need to stay longer. 

If you do feel you need longer, you can always visit additional coffee farms on the trail.  This is something I may consider for next time, simply because I LOVE coffee and am genuinely curious about different techniques to produce it!  

Getting from Salento to its coffee farms is easy! 

Tip: Carry mosquito repellant.  I got a couple of bites, and the farms in this area can be quite buggy!

Cocora Valley

Cocora Valley Wax Palm Trees

Hike the stunning Cocora Valley trail.  Not a hiker?  It’s still totally worth visiting its beautiful gardens and experiencing the scenery firsthand, on or off the trail.  

 

Getting from Salento to Cocora Valley is easy!  Purchase a ticket for a willy jeep from the white, free-standing ticket booth on Salento’s main plaza.  Willy Jeeps leave approximately every 30 minutes beginning at 8:00am and stopping at 6:00pm (these times are subject to change). 

Speak with the ticket booth workers or check the schedule on the ticket booth upon arrival for the most up to date schedule)

Flower garden at Cocora Valley

When hiking the valley, there are some “tolls” you will need to pay along the way (approximately 3).  Meaning, in order to continue along the Cocora Valley trail, you will pass through some privately owned land that requires a small fee.  

Top of Cocora Valley after a downpour

The first one of which is a garden, which is absolutely beautiful to explore.  Many visitors were ONLY exploring the garden as their full Cocora Valley visit and not completing the hike.  You get some of the most amazing views here amongst vibrant flowers.  

 

Tip: Bring a rain jacket or poncho, and a rain shell for your backpack.  The valley’s lush greenery is thanks to plentiful rainfall.  

Play Tejo

Playing Tejo!

I had never heard of Tejo before.  Maybe you are familiar with Colombia culture or you have seen this game in Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.  Bourdain played in Cali, but the game is common all throughout the Andean region of Colombia.  Tourists commonly play in Salento or Bogotá.

In any case, Tejo is an adventure all its own.  There is one local Tejo bar in Salento.  At 8:00pm, we were easily able to get a Tejo set.  By 9:00pm, visitors were waiting for a Tejo set to free up.  I recommend arriving early!

What is Tejo?

Tejo is a traditional Colombian sport combining elements of target throwing and gunpowder.  It is one of the country’s national sports enjoyed as both a social activity and competition.

Salento Adventure Activities

Salento’s prime location in the Ande Mountains provides thrill-seekers a variety of adventure activities:

 

  • Zip-lining
  • Rock Climbing
  • Mountain Biking
  • Paragliding

Where to Stay in Salento

There are several budget, mid-range, and luxury accommodations available to offer visitors within any type of budget an affordable stay.  

Budget

Hostel Tralala Salento– This hostel comes highly recommended with a 9.3 rating out of 615 reviews on HostelWorld. Its prime location one block from Plaza Bolivar makes it convenient.  They offer private rooms starting at $19.  

Mid-range

Beta Hotel– I stayed at the Beta Hotel and loved my experience.  A delicious breakfast of toast, arepa, fresh fruit, fresh juice, coffee, and eggs is included at its restaurant across the street.  Breakfast begins at 7:00am.  It cost $76 per night, and was $38/person split between two people.  They can accommodate a queen bed or split it into two separate beds. 

Luxury

Kawa Mountain Resort or Terasu Hotel Salento– These luxury hotels offer incredible views over Salento’s mountainous region.  They both offer a hot tub and include breakfast.  

Where to Eat in Salento

I loved supporting small businesses for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  There are great traditional and niche restaurants in the town.  El Cacharrito and Veggie were two of my favorites.  

Breakfast

Fresh Fruit at “Veggie” Restaurant

Beta Bar & Grill– I really liked my breakfast at through the BetaTown Hotel.  

Veggie– The acai bowls here are fresh and delicious.  They also serve smoothie bowls, pancakes, crepes, cassava empanadas, mini veggie burgers, salads, buddha bowls, bagels, and vegan french toast.  Every food order comes with fruit, fresh juice, and your choice of coffee or tea.  Their slogan “Breakfast all day” makes me happy!

Lunch

Brunch Diner- There are no big supermarkets in Salento, and I highly recommend purchasing a packed lunch for half or full day trips like Cocora.  Many businesses offer a packed lunch option.  I purchased mine from Brunch Diner and it was TOTALLY worth it! 

My veggie sandwich was practically gourmet.  The lunch includes: sandwich, drink (juice box or water), peanut butter brownie (LITERALLY AMAZING), granola, banana, crackers, and peanut butter.  I mean, I was inspired to pack more hearty lunches for my day hikes after receiving this.  I definitely recommend! 

The cost was 20,000 pesos ($5) for the big lunch (what I ordered) and option to pay 28,000 ($7.00) for an ultimate lunch (includes large water and gum).  They have vegetarian options included on the sack lunch menu and offer vegan bread.  

Dinner

Fresh lulo juice with milk at El Cacharrito Restaurant

El Cacharrito– I loved my falafel dinner here!  The restaurant was lowkey, provided authentic Colombian food as well as American and Mediterranean cuisine, and had the divey feel to it I had been missing!  There are a couple of tables next to open windows so you can still feel the downtown bustle going on around you. 

 

Serendipia- Another vegetarian restaurant a friend of mine enjoyed! 

Day Trips From Salento

Colorful streets of Downtown Filandia

Salento’s scenic location makes it ideal for equally scenic local day trips.  If you have extra time on your itinerary, consider a full or half day trip to the following locations: 

  • Filandia
  • Santa Rita Waterfall
  • Santa Rosa de Cabal Hot Springs
  • El Machin Volcano.  
  • Quindío Botanical Garden
  • Los Nevados National Natural Park

Salento Packing List

Here are a couple of can’t-miss items to toss in your suitcase when exploring the best things to do in Salento:

Rain jacket– A rain jacket for Salento should be at the TOP of your list!  Rain is unpredictable and downpours can last a couple of hours here.  

 

Backpack Rain Shell– That being said, protect your belongings as well when hiking Cocora Valley with a rain cover for your backpack.  

 

Waterproof Hiking Boots– This is one item I really wish I had with me!  A secondary pair of shoes didn’t fit in my backpack for my combined Colombia and Ecuador trip, but I would have left a couple of items at home to make it work if I knew how muddy our downhill trek from Cocora Valley would be!

 

Swimsuit– There are thermal baths and a waterfall in the Salento area.  Pack your swimsuit in case you decide to take a dip!  

Packable towel– Same reason as the swimsuit.  Some of my hostels have towel rentals for a fee so I usually like to travel with my packable towel which takes up very little room in my backpack.

Is Salento Colombia Safe?

Salento Colombia is SO safe.  My friend and I had no problems walking through the downtown area on our own day or night.  In Downtown Salento, you will primarily see other tourists on their journey.  

 

From Salento Trekking, to drinking world-class coffee, there are SO many Salento things to do! 

Where to go after Salento

If it fits the itinerary, I recommend extending your Colombia trip:

 

  • Cartagena
  • Bogota
  • Medellin

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Alyssa

As a full time employee who loves her job, learn how I honor my wanderlust while working a 9:00-5:00 (because I want to!) This blog welcomes all, and specifically provides resources for those seeking travel intertwined into a busy schedule (3 days to 5 weeks).