If you’re wondering what to do in Salento Colombia, look no further. There are many things to do in Salento Colombia that will make you want to stay for even longer than planned!
This small Colombian town is known for its coffee farms and palm trees. The colorful town, tall wax palms, and the views will have you wondering why you didn’t get to Salento sooner.
Salento, Colombia is the place with the tallest palm trees in the world. Once you see them in person, you will believe it.
It is a tiny town filled with breathtaking views.
Colombia is a great country and although you might want to stay in one place for a long time, there are other beauteous parts of the country and South America to see. I think staying two full days is a good amount of time in Salento. So, let’s get started with your Salento travel guide.
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Where is Salento?
Salento is an Andean town in Quindio Colombia. It sits south of Medellin and west of Bogota. The town is a gateway to the peaks of Los Nevados National Natural Park to the northeast.
You will have to take a bus to get to Salento because there is no airport there.
East of Salento is Cocora Valley, where you will find tall palm trees.
How to Get to Salento Colombia
From Bogota to Salento, you can drive, take a taxi, take a bus, or fly. If you are following a timed itinerary, I recommend flying. Driving from Bogotá can take up to 5 or 6 hours and flying is about 3.
If you are going to Salento from Medellin, a bus will be around 6 or 7 hours, driving will take around 4 hours. From MDE to PEI it will take 45 minutes to an hour and then you can take the bus from there.
If you decide to fly to Salento, you will have to fly to Pereira or another surrounding city with an airport first.
You can head from any airport to the airport in Pereira, Aeropuerto Internacional Matecaña (PEI)
From Pereira, you have to take a bus to Salento.
To get from PEI to the Terminal de Transporte de Pereira, I suggest you take one of the taxis that will be out front. If you want to take an Uber, just know that it can be risky to book an Uber at any of the airports in Colombia since they are illegal. There are usually police monitoring the airports in the country.
When I was in Pereira I saw an Uber driver get stopped by a cop. I’m not sure what happened to the foreigners but you might not want to take a chance, especially if you don’t speak Spanish.
You can take a taxi from the airport to Terminal de Transporte de Pereira for COP 12,000 (USD 3) and it will take about 25 to 30 minutes.
Once you get to the station, you can buy your ticket to Salento. You can also book ahead online.
At the station, the ticket was only COP 9,700 (USD 3) but online it was COP 55,000 (USD 15). The ride from Pereira to Salento is only about an hour or less.
You will get off at the bus at Terminal Buses Salento and from there, you can take a taxi or walk to your accommodation. If you do not have a lot of luggage, you can walk easily around the town.
I had my carry-on and walked from the bus station to my hostel and it wasn’t too bad.
If you’re going back to PEI, just reverse the steps.
Where to Stay in Salento
It will take about 12 minutes to walk from Terminal Buses Salento to Viajero Hostel Salento.
Viajero Hostel is known throughout Colombia. There are locations in Medellín, Cartagena, and near Tayrona National Park.
Viajero Hostel Salento is one of the best hostels I’ve ever stayed at. The views from the hostel are unreal.
The location is ideal; it is about 5 minutes from Plaza de Bolívar Salento, which is the center of the town.
Where & What to Eat in Salento
If you decide to stay at Viajero Hostel, your breakfast will most likely be included. There are countless restaurants in Plaza de Bolívar Salento.
Parrilla y Vinos Juan Esteban is a bar and grill. The food is affordable and tasty.
You can get both of these desserts around Colombia. But, if you are feeling a bit famished before your Cocora Valley hike, stop and grab an oblea or solterita at one of the stands.
The cost of both desserts is COP 9,000 (USD 2) and they are filled with some type of filling. An oblea is usually filled with dulce de leche in between two wafers. Sometimes they contain jelly, cheese, fruits, whipped cream, or a combination of the fillings.
Solteritas are sweet and crunchy cookies that have cream sauce and sometimes have fruit on top.
Things to Do in Salento Colombia
Near the Plaza de Bolívar Salento, which is the main square in Salento, there will be booths where you can buy your tickets for the day. It is a first come first serve basis. You can also book your tour(s) ahead online if that’s easier for you. Your ride AKA the jeeps will also leave from that same area and drop you off there.
There are various types of tours so you can choose whichever one(s) you like.
Visit Cocora Valley
Out of the many things to do in Salento Colombia, this has to be at the top of your list. You won’t regret it. Just make sure you bring some water, sunblock, and some good hiking shoes.
Most people travel to Salento to see Cocora Valley. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t worth the trip.
If you are lucky enough, when you get to Salento, you will be able to buy a ticket and head out within the next few hours. If you booked your tour ahead online, even better.
The ride to and from Cocora Valley costs COP 8,000 (USD 2). You will get two tickets so be sure to keep the return ticket in a safe place.
Once there are enough people to fill up the jeep, the group will head out to the valley. From the plaza to the valley it will take about 30 minutes.
You can walk freely around the valley. The first place that I suggest going to is where the I Love Cocora sign is. You have to pay COP 6,000 (USD 1.5) to enter. You can take a picture at the sign, then there’s a jeep and also ET is there so there are plenty of chances for a photoshoot.
Once you are done there, you can walk around to see Groot and take a photo with it.
Then from there is the famous Mano de Acaime. There will be professional photos or if you are traveling solo like me, don’t be afraid to ask someone who is standing behind you in line to take a picture.
One of the best things to do in Salento is the Cocora Valley hike. There are two to choose from.
If you decide to take a horseback riding tour, please do research beforehand. I’m not sure if it is ethical or not so I chose to walk on my own.
Please do your own research before committing to anything that has to do with animals 😊
After hiking up to the lookout (mirador), you’ll be happy you did.
From the main road in Cocora Valley, you can just follow the signs to get to the booth and then entrance to the viewpoint.
You will reach the entrance to the mirador and pay COP 6,000 (USD 1.5) to enter.
One is about an hour up and down. The longer one is a few extra hours. You can walk through the valley, the forest, and walk along the streams.
The shorter hike is less touristy and the views are still unbelievable. You can see tons of wax palm trees and how tall they are. The trees look like they can be the size of a skyscraper.
You can spend a long time up there because the views are just that spectacular.
Cocora Valley is hands down one of the best things to do in Salento Colombia.
Take a Coffee Farm Tour
Before you head out on your coffee tour, I highly suggest bringing bug spray. The bugs are not mosquitoes but they are black flies. The bites aren’t itchy but having bug spray on will prevent you from getting the red spots on your body that they leave behind.
If you forget to bring your own bug spray, you can buy a small container at Las Acacias for COP 12,000 (USD 3).
If you like Colombian coffee, then taking a coffee tour should be on your list. Even if you don’t like coffee (like me) the tour is still interesting. I mean, you can’t go to the coffee region without taking a coffee tour!
There are different coffee tours that you can take in and around coffee town. The cheaper one is Las Acacias and I figured since I am not a coffee drinker it didn’t really matter which tour I went on.
Las Acacias offers tours throughout the day in both English and Spanish. At COP 26,000 (USD 7) per person, you can’t go wrong. They are open from 9 am to 4:30 pm every day without reservations and the tour will last around an hour. You can just go buy a ticket at the booths near Plaza de Bolívar Salento.
Once you get to Las Acacias, you will get a complimentary cup of coffee or espresso.
The tour guides are very informative and know everything about coffee that there is to know. You get to see the unripe beans, the plants, and how they’re picked and grown. You can also see the long process it takes for coffee to be made and how each bean is picked.
At Las Acacias, it takes 3 years for the first coffee tree to actually produce fruit, how crazy?! The fact that there are two owners on the farm and they only have help when it is time to pick the fruit is quite impressive.
In the coffee fields, there are many different plants and flowers. You can see the shampoo plant, also called Bitter Ginger and Pinecone Ginger.
At the end of the tour, you will get another cup of coffee or espresso of your choosing.
Walk Down Calle Real
Right near the Plaza de Bolívar Salento, you have Calle Real. It is on Carrera 6.
There are numerous coffee shops, restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops. The whole street is vibrant and alive, you can’t miss it.
Go See Mirador Alto de la Cruz
This viewpoint is northeast of town. You have to walk along Carrera 6 and then you will end up seeing a bunch of stairs. You can walk up those stairs and see Mirador Alto de la Cruz. I have heard the views are even better at sunrise and sunset.
One of the more traditional things to do in Salento Colombia is to play tejo. Tejo also referred to as turmequé, is a traditional throwing sport in Colombia.
You throw the tejo (metal disk or puck) across a board covered with or without clay. The sport uses small exploding targets that contain gunpowder. The impact with the tejo causes an explosion.
Along the streets of Salento, there will be bars that will have tejo signs. If you have some extra time, this Colombian sport may be fun for you. Los Amigos is a friendly bar that will have tejo. Cafe Danubio is another bar that will have it.
If you want to play tejo, you might just have to buy a beer. If you don’t want to play, sit back and watch the locals play.