Dabbling in Jet Lag
Nestled in the Andes of Colombia’s coffee region lies the ever-quaint Salento. This colonial town is home to only 7,000 people, yet its beauty has attracted travelers from all over the world. Here you’ll find magnificent, lush green mountainscapes, colorful old-world architecture, one-of-a-kind coffee, and palm trees that stretch to the sky. So, whether you’re looking for an adventure or just want to relax, Salento has something for everyone.
I stopped in Salento after my Lost City Trek, and it was the perfect place to relax. Its laid-back vibe, warm-hearted locals, tantalizing trout, and beautiful landscapes were nothing short of spectacular. I spent three wonderful days in Salento and loved every minute. So, to help you plan your trip I’ve put together a three-day itinerary for Salento. It covers some popular sites to help you get aquatinted with the city as well as some hidden gems. There’s everything you need to guarantee an amazing trip!
Table of Contents
- Salento Itinerary – Day 1
- Salento Itinerary – Day 2
- Salento Itinerary – Day 3
- Tips for Visiting Salento
Salento Itinerary – Day 1
Watch the Sunrise at Mirador Alto de la Cruz
There’s no better way to start off your trip than taking in the views from Mirador Alto de la Cruz. At the end of Calle Real there are a set of stairs that lead to this magnificent mirador. Colombians are late sleepers so the streets will be empty, and you’ll have this magnificent viewpoint all to yourself. Once at the top, there are gardens and a series of walking paths that are worth a visit.
Visit a Coffee Plantation
If you’re visiting a Salento, then you must tour a coffee plantation. After all, this is where all that delicious Colombian coffee comes from! There are several plantations to choose from, but the best is The Plantation House. You’ll learn about how coffee is made, tour the fields, and try several different kinds of coffee. It’s an informative and interactive experience that will open your eyes to the life of an average coffee grower in Colombia. Tours in English are Monday to Saturday (9:00 am) for 30.000 COP per person ($7.50 USD).
Useful Tip: The Plantation House also has a wonderful hostel. The beds are comfortable and there’s free fresh-brewed coffee every morning!
Address: Alto de Coronel, Calle 7 1-04
Explore Calle Real
If there is one thing Salento is known for it’s its vibrant colonial architecture. And the most colorful street is Calle Real. Here every building, door, window, and terrace is painted a different color. So, make sure to have your camera ready, this street is a photographer’s dream. And if you want the place to yourself, set out early in the morning.
Salento Itinerary – Day 2
Breakfast at Brunch de Salento
For the best breakfast in all of Colombia, head to Brunch de Salento. From sweet pancakes to savory omelets and piping hot coffee, they have everything you could imagine. This combined with their cozy, welcoming atmosphere makes this place a backpacker haven. They also sell healthy packed lunches, which you’ll need for the next activity. They have a wide variety of options that accommodate all diets.
Address: Cl. 6 #3-49
Hike the Valle de Cocora
Now for the most anticipated activity of your tip, hiking the Valle de Cocora. But first, you’ll need to catch a ride with Willys Jeeps. They line up in Plaza Bolívar as early as 6:00 am and leave when full. A round-trip ride costs 8000 COP ($2.60 USD) and takes 20 minutes. Once you arrive, you’ll pay the 7000 COP ($1.75 USD) entrance fee and follow a well-trodden trail. This muddy path will lead you through a magnificent cloud forest before coming to an open field that is filled with gigantic wax palm trees. Their gangly appearance is almost cartoon-like and standing next to one is a surreal experience!
Dine at Bernabé Café and Bistro
Bernabé Café and Bistro is the best restaurant in Salento. Every dish is cooked to perfection and the service is impeccable. From the first bite to the last your mouth will be bursting with flavor. You’ll want to savor every bite! Be sure to try the chocolate cake, it’s divine.
Check out their menu, here.
Address: Cra. 6 #3-29
Salento Itinerary – Day 3
Watch the Sunrise at Mirador de Salento
Mirador de Salento is another spectacular viewpoint that gives way to the lush green valley behind Salento. So, wake up early and head out for one last sunrise. As the sky fills with color, you’ll see the valley come to life. It’s the perfect ending to the perfect trip. Afterward, meander down one of the many hiking trails that diverge from the viewpoint. Most of these paths are unknown to tourists, so it’s a chance to get off-the-beaten-path and explore something new.
Useful Tip: If you plan to hike one of these trials, download maps.me on your phone beforehand.
Visit La Carbonera
Now, for something truly unique! Head over to Salento Cycling and sign-up for a tour of La Carbonera. This hidden gem has yet to become too touristy so it’s an absolute must. You’ll head out in a jeep to La Carbonera where you’ll have lunch and explore a forest full of wax palm trees. But, unlike the Valle de Cocora, this place is untouched. In fact, it’s often referred to as Salento’s best-kept secret. Then, if you’re up for an adventure, you can bike down the mountain! In total, the tour is five hours and costs 190.000 COP ($47.50 USD).
Address: Cra. 2 #6-02 (in front of the Fire Station)
Try Some Trout
After a day of adventuring, there’s nothing like a hearty meal. So, why not try some trout or trucha. You can get it fried, grilled, or baked, and it usually comes with a variety of sides like fried plantains and rice. Since trout is Salento’s specialty, nearly every restaurant serves this mouthwatering dish. But for the best trout stop by Rincon de Lucy or Donde Laurita.
Address of Rincon de Lucy: Cl. 2 #4-45
Address of Donde Laurita: Cl. 5 #5-34
Tips for Visiting Salento
- The best time to visit Salento is from December to February. I would, however, recommend avoiding January. This is when Colombians go on vacation. In January, you can expect higher prices, fewer accommodation options, and a lot of parties.
- There is plenty of accommodation in Salento, but The Plantation House and Casa de Lili are the best. The service is outstanding, and the owners are some of the nicest people you’ll meet.
- If you are visiting Salento, three days is enough to see even some of the hidden gems.
- Salento is easily reached from either Medellin or Bogota. From Medellin, Flota offers a direct bus that takes five to six hours. Make sure to book your tickets on busbud, for the best price. From Bogota, it’s best to fly. The Plantation House has a reliable taxi service that can be booked through their website.
- Salento’s climate is temperate. On average, the temperature hovers at a comfortable 22 degrees Celsius (71 degrees Fahrenheit) throughout the year. Rainfall is also common in the afternoons, even during the dry season.
Much like Colmar in France, Salento has retained the charm of a small town. It’s a colorful and vibrant city where the locals have infectious smiles. So, if you’re looking for a place that combines adventure with a laid-back vibe then Salento is for you. And use the guide to help plan your next trip!
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