There are several reasons you should add Salento, Colombia, to your travel itinerary. First, the area is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in South America.
The second reason is that Salento is an excellent place to learn about Colombian culture and history. Finally, Salento offers a variety of activities and attractions that will appeal to travelers of all ages.
However, there are some things you need to know before visiting Salento. This article will give you some insider tips on what to expect and how to make the most of your time in this beautiful corner of Colombia.
What To Know About Salento, Colombia
Nestled in the Andes Mountain range, Salento is a fairy-tale town located in the heart of Colombia’s coffee country. With its red-tiled roofs, colonial architecture, and lush green mountains, Salento looks straight out of a storybook.
In fact, Salento is behind the inspiration of the Oscar-winning ‘Encanto’ (‘The Enchantment’), a movie about a town that is under a curse.
Even though Salento appears to be stuck in time, the town is quite modern and has all the amenities you would expect from a small Colombian town.
There are plenty of hotels, restaurants, and cafes to choose from, as well as a variety of shops and boutiques.
While the town itself has a lot to offer, most visitors arrive with an expectation to see Valle de Cocora.
Valle de Cocora is a nature reserve located just outside of Salento. The highlight of the reserve is the Wax Palm trees, the tallest palm trees in the world.
The Wax Palms grow to be an impressive 60 meters (200 feet) tall and can live up to 500 years old. You will feel like you are in Dr. Seusses’ The Lorax when you see them.
It’s understandable why people from all over the world would want to visit. First, however, we want to give you a few insider tips on what to expect and how to make the most of your time when visiting Salento.
8 Tips for Visiting Salento, Colombia
You have to understand that Salento is a colonial town. Therefore, it won’t have the technology, high-end restaurants, or modern conveniences you may be accustomed to.
It’s easy to be spoiled when visiting cities like Medellin or Bogota. However, Salento is a different type of place. The pace of life is slower, and the people are more laid-back.
That’s not to say that there isn’t anything to do in Salento. On the contrary, plenty of activities and attractions keep you busy.
But it’s important to go into your trip with the right expectations. So here are a few tips to help you make the most of your time when visiting Salento, Colombia.
1. Expect Tons of Tourists When Visiting Salento
If you have made a weekend trip to Guatape, you understand what it’s like to be in a tourist hot spot. Salento is very similar.
The town is small, and there are only a few things to do. However, the area surrounding Salento has plenty to offer.
With that, you will see a new influx of tourists arriving at this colorful pueblo every day. In the evenings, the streets and plaza will be filled with people, and it can be difficult to find a seat at a restaurant.
If you are looking for a slower pace with hiking, waterfalls, and authentic experiences, we recommend visiting Jardin. It’s a 4-hour bus ride from Medellin, which is close to half the journey to Salento.
This is not to stop you from coming to Salento because it is worth the trip. Jardin is another destination to add to your list for future travels in Colombia.
We want to set the expectation that when visiting Salento is a very touristic town, and on weekends it can feel like Guatape 2.0.
2. There is One Supermercado in Salento
If you need groceries or supplies, there is only one main supermarket in Salento. It is called SuperCocora, and it is in the plaza.
It isn’t huge like an Exito but has most of the essentials. However, you may have to go to a larger city like Pereira if you need something specific.
There are also several small tiendas (stores) around town that sell snacks, drinks, and some household items.
These are usually more expensive than the supermarket, but they are convenient if you need something in a pinch.
3. Be Prepared for a Workout
If you had the chance to hike El Penon in Guatape, then you know how challenging the ascent can be. The main streets of Salento will be giving you flashbacks.
The entire town is built on a steep hill, with very few flat surfaces. So, be prepared to take your daily steps while you are here.
To make things more challenging, the sidewalks are made of uneven cobblestone, making it difficult to walk in flip-flops or heels.
However, once you make it to Plaza de Bolívar Salento, you can take a breath and enjoy the view.
4. Bring Cash When Visiting Salento
This is a tip for anywhere you travel in Colombia. If you are out of the main city, bringing cash is always a good idea.
When visiting Salento, you will find that most restaurants, boutiques, and vendors only accept cash. There are a few ATMs in town, but they often have long lines and sometimes run out of money.
There are two main ATMs you will find in Salento, which are located near the central plaza. The first one is next door to Cafe Quindio in the plaza. This ATM gets a lot of traffic, so there’s always a chance it can run out of cash.
The second one is next door to Hotel El Jardin. Hotel El Jardin is about a 3-minute walk from the plaza and is less crowded than the one at Cafe Quindio.
We recommend getting cash out early in the day, so you don’t have to worry about it later.
If you find a restaurant accepting cards, don’t be surprised if there is a fee. You will find in Latin American countries that the restaurants and stores get charged twice: once from the credit card vendor and once from the government.
This is why a lot of businesses only accept cash. So, if you use your card, be aware that a fee may be tacked on.
5. There is Limited Parking in Salento
The smaller the town, the more difficult it is to find parking. Salento is no different.
You will find that most of the streets are very narrow and there are few places to park. We recommend getting dropped off at your destination and finding a parking place if you are driving.
There is one public parking lot near the plaza behind Fika Cafe. You may need to pay, but it is better than getting a ticket or having your car towed.
They may have their own parking lot or garage if you are staying at a hotel. Be sure to ask before you book, so you know what your options are.
6. Wifi is Hit and Miss
Even though Salento is a tourist hot spot, the Wifi isn’t so hot. In fact, you can walk into several cafes to find that the Wifi is down or they don’t have any at all.