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TLDR? Salento is located in the Cocora Valley and is about seven hours away from Medellin by car.
Quindio is a beautiful and quiet region located about seven hours away from Medellin by car. It’s most famous for the Cocora Valley, a mystical feeling place with the world’s tallest palm trees.
You should visit Quindio if you enjoy:
Within Quindio, Salento is the most famous and most popular travel hotspot.
There are three main ways that you can get to Salento:
Salento is located between two cities with airports: Pereira and Armenia. You can arrive by plane, car, or bus to either of those locations.
I recommend traveling to Pereira instead of Armenia. Pereira is a bit easier to manage and it’s close to some beautiful hot springs nearby.
If you’re looking for a relaxing side adventure before flying out you could easily visit them. More details on the hot springs are included at the bottom of this blog.
Anyway, from either main city, you can get to Salento by taxi, rental car, or private transportation. Taxis are the most expensive option because they have to pay an exit tax when leaving their town to go to another.
Hotels can generally arrange private transportation that is more economical than taxis. Alternatively, you can take a Jeep Willy (the most economical option & quite fun!) or the bus which runs regularly.
You can fly out of the regional or international Medellin airports. Flights are very affordable, just make sure to take the size of your luggage into account. If you’re flying with 23kg (about 50lbs) you will most likely need to fly out of the international airport.
If you’re flying with less luggage, however, you can take advantage of the regional airport flights. The regional airport is about a 10-minute drive from El Poblado.
The bus to Pereira is the most economical option and takes about 6 hours (on a good day). Busses often face delays and occasionally break down so this is not my recommended way to arrive. Busses in Colombia are generally safe, but always be aware of where your belongings are.
The weather in Salento is generally wet & foggy. I recommend bringing lots of layers!
The sun will usually come out for a few hours each day and when it does it’s very strong! Make sure you bring sunscreen to protect yourself.
In essence, make sure to bring a couple of different types of clothing so that you’re prepared for anything.
Salento is a relaxed town with lots of outdoor activities. You’ll see most people in casual or comfortable clothing.
I highly recommend layers. During the day you’ll most likely be fine in jeans and a shirt but at night you will want warmer clothing. Make sure to have boots and a rain jacket with you for Cocora Valley hiking.
Expect to pay for things primarily with cash as Salento has unreliable wifi and generally does not use credit cards for transactions.
The Quindio region is very safe. As always, be aware of your personal belongings. Always keep your bag on your lap during meals.
The locals are very friendly and Quindio retains its small-town feel even with an influx of tourism.
If you’re looking to stay overnight in Salento, there are a couple of different places that you can stay. I have two top choices, both of which make excellent places to post up after a long day of exploring.
If looking for a more luxurious stay I recommend Biohabitat. Biohabitat is located about 35 minutes away from the town of Salento.
This hotel is modern and is on a very gorgeous property. It’s built with nature incorporated in every corner.
Their onsite restaurant is delicious. They even deliver breakfast in the morning to your room!
The jacuzzi and sauna are also nice after a long day of outdoor activities. Every facet of BioHabitat is curated to show off the natural beauty of Quindio.
If you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a more luxurious experience definitely check out Biohabitat.
If you’re looking for something closer to town I recommend staying in Hotel Salento Plaza. Hotel Salento Plaza is located one block away from the main plaza.
From the main plaza, you can grab the Jeep transport directly to Cocora Valley. This hotel is clean and friendly with a nice breakfast included in the morning.
If you’re looking to explore the town of Salento or take advantage of the nightlife, I would recommend staying in town.
Address: Cra. 7 #6-26, Salento, Quindío
Salento is a small but lively little town. Apart from its main attractions (nature!), the town has lots of small shops and cute spots to grab a drink.
On the weekends the town comes to life with live music. There are even a few dance clubs walking up the main street towards the mirador.
Salento attracts a lot of backpackers, so expect some buskers playing music in the streets! The city also has a variety of vegan restaurants to cater to the backpacking crowd.
If you’re looking for other small towns like Salento near Medellin, you should definitely check out Jardin or Guatape!
Why does everyone flock to Salento? Although the town is cute, the main attraction is the Cocora Valley. The Cocora Valley is the home of the wax palm.
These unique palm trees grow in the rainy and chilly climate of Salento and are noted for their height! The valley is also home of the Condor, the national bird of Colombia.
Getting to the Cocora Valley is easy. Jeeps leave from the main plaza every 30 minutes or so. Just show up and ask for a ride to Cocora Valley!
Make sure to stand in line early or you might get stuck hanging off the backside of the Jeep, although this is also quite the adventure. The ride is about 30 minutes and is absolutely stunning as you make your way into the Jurassic-like park.
The tickets are for a round trip, so don’t lose your return slip!
Once you arrive, walk all the way up the hill and past all of the restaurants/cafes. At the end of the road, you’ll pass an unassuming entrance on your right-hand side where you buy your ticket and enter the park to go hiking.
Once on the hike, you can choose to do a half hike or full hike. The full hike takes about 5 hours and includes the Cocora Valley viewpoints as well as a few bridge crossings in a forested area.
If you’re a hiking enthusiast I recommend the full loop, but make sure you have appropriate hiking gear! If you’re just there for the views… the half-loop is what you want. The starting point for both is the same.
The half loop takes you through a field of wax palms as well as three stunning view points. At the top of the half-loop, make sure to continue further up to reach the third vista point. In my opinion, it’s the most impressive.
After a long day of hiking Salento grab a hot lunch and a coffee and trek up to the outlook. A few more stairs await but the view of the town and the valley beyond is worth it!
If you opted to stay at Biohabitat this is the perfect time to hit the sauna and jacuzzi to warm up. Definitely take the time to browse some of the local shops and maybe even try a cheese arepa in the center plaza, too.
Aside from the Cocora Valley, there are tons of other things that you can do in Quindio. Here are a couple of things I enjoyed while I was there.
If you want a different perspective on Cocora Valley, check out some of the horseback rides available!
Always be careful to vet the companies to find ones that treat their horses well. Horseback rides can sometimes take you to other parts of the Valley that are not the primary tourist location.
For example, you can see some gorgeous waterfalls.
Salento is also a great place to take a coffee tour! I recommend checking out Finca Momota or Finca Buenos Aires Coffee Tour.
Most good coffee tours will last several hours and include multiple coffee tastings. If you’re really interested I would recommend doing two tours.
Try one at a large coffee farm and the other at a smaller one to see how the operations differ.
These thermal hot springs are a local favorite! The town of Santa Rosa de Cabal is about 20 minutes by car outside of Pereira. The hot springs are about 20 minutes outside of Santa Rosa de Cabal.
A direct taxi is potentially expensive due to the tax leaving Pereira & entering Santa Rosa de Cabal. I recommend asking to arrange transportation with your hotel.
The hot springs have four thermal springs of varying temperatures as well as a waterfall! You can easily get to Santa Rosa de Cabal by jeep or taxi.
If you’re interested in checking out another of the cute towns in Quindio, go to Filandia! Filandia is even more colorful than Salento and has a more local feel. Life in Filandia centers around the main square.
Here are a couple of other things to try out:
Filandia is also the perfect place to go on coffee tours or even just pick up a bag of local roast!
Salento is the perfect long weekend trip from Medellin. It is easily accessible, very safe, and full of activities. Valley of the Cocora is unmissable if you are visiting or living in Medellin.
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