The 8 best things to do in Salento

In the middle of the coffee region, precisely between the cities of Pereira and Armenia, lies the village of Salento. Most travelers visiting the Valle de Cocora choose Salento as their base. The town is filled with colorful buildings, charming hotels and hostels, and offers plenty of coziness. Admire the tallest palm trees in the world, taste the local coffee, and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. We take you to one of the nicest places in Colombia.

How to get to Salento?

Most travelers come to Salento from Bogota or Medellin, but you can reach Salento from all over Colombia fairly well via the nearest cities Pereira and Armenia. We will discuss the most popular routes.

From Bogota to Salento

By plane: From Bogota, you can fly to Armenia and Pereira by plane. The flight time to both cities is approximately one hour. The airlines Avianca, LATAM, and Wingo offer direct flights to both Armenia and Pereira. Upon arrival, you can take a taxi or bus to the bus station and then travel to Salento by bus in about an hour. Another option is to take a taxi directly to Salento, but this is, of course, more expensive.

By bus: If you want to travel from Bogota to Salento by bus, first take a bus to Armenia. This bus takes about 7.5 hours and departs from Terminal de Transporte in Bogota. At the station in Armenia, you can take a local bus to Salento, which takes about an hour. Alternatively, you can take a taxi if you prefer a more comfortable ride.

From Medellín to Salento

By plane: The airlines Avianca and Easyfly offer direct flights from Medellín to both Armenia and Pereira. LATAM flies directly to Pereira. Upon arrival in Pereira or Armenia, you can take a taxi or bus to the bus station and then travel to Salento by bus in about an hour. Alternatively, you can choose to take a taxi directly to Salento, but this option is more expensive.

By bus: From Medellín, you can take a direct bus to Salento. The journey takes 7.5 hours and departs three times a day from Terminal del Sur in Medellín.

From the Tatacoa Desert to Salento

From Neiva, which is about an hour away from the Tatacoa Desert, you can take a 5-hour bus ride to Armenia. The bus departs from Transport Terminal Module 2. From Armenia, you can then travel to Salento in about an hour by local bus.

From Cali to Salento

From Cali, you can easily take a bus to Armenia. The bus departs from Terminal de Transporte and takes about 4 hours. From Armenia, you can then travel to Salento in about an hour by local bus.

Alternatives for Salento

Salento, located near the popular Valle de Cocora, is by far the most visited town in the region. This means you'll encounter many tourists, and the village is filled with hostels and hotels. In our opinion, Salento is not (yet) too touristy, but there are certainly other charming towns in the coffee region worth visiting. Filandia is the most well-known alternative, just half an hour from Salento. A bit farther away, there are many more delightful places, such as Jardín, Salamina, and Pijao. If you have the time, it's enjoyable to combine two towns.

What to do in Salento?

Salento is a delightful place to stay after the hustle and bustle of Bogota or Medellin. We recommend staying here for at least two or three days as there is plenty to do in the surrounding area.

1. Valle de Cocora

The Valle de Cocora, or Cocora Valley in English, is one of Colombia's most famous hotspots. The valley is filled with wax palms, the national tree of Colombia. Wax palms are the tallest palms in the world, reaching up to 60 meters (200 feet) in height. In the area, you can hike a trail that takes about 5 hours, eventually leading to the Valle de Cocora. Alternatively, you can choose to go directly to the valley and visit some viewpoints without completing the entire trail.

How to get there?
From Salento, jeeps called Willys operate to the Valle de Cocora. These jeeps depart from the central square, Plaza de Bolivar, to attractions in the region. You can simply go to the square and buy a ticket at the counter. The jeeps leave once they are full, and due to the high number of tourists traveling to the Valle de Cocora, you usually don't have to wait long. We recommend going to the valley early in the morning. This way, you have enough time to hike and explore the area. Also, in the afternoon, it is often cloudy, and rain is frequent in the Cocora Valley. In the morning, you have the best chance of a clear blue sky.

2. Explore the downtown area with Calle Real

Salento has a very charming center with many colorful houses. The main street, 'Calle Real,' is the beating heart of the town and exudes culture and atmosphere. Here, you'll find lovely shops with souvenirs and clothing, as well as plenty of places to enjoy local coffee and Colombian dishes. 'Trucha' (trout) is particularly famous in Salento and is a recommendation if you enjoy fish. On the central square, Plaza de Bolivar, there is a lively market on weekends, and even during the week, there is often enough happening. Children often play a game of soccer, street musicians perform, and there are nice cafes and restaurants around the square.

3. Tour to a coffee farm

During your stay in Salento, there's something you can't miss besides the Valle de Cocora: visiting a coffee farm in the area. Almost every coffee plantation in the vicinity offers a tour, and from the central square in Salento, Willy jeeps drive to various farms. The farms vary in size, but the tours are quite similar everywhere. You'll learn about the process from plant to coffee cup, often get to pick some coffee beans yourself, and, of course, taste a cup of coffee.

One of the most well-known farms is Finca El Ocaso. You can easily book a tour through GetYourGuide, and they'll pick you up at your hotel or hostel.

4. Sunset from the viewpoint

At the end of Calle Real, you'll find the viewpoint Mirador Alto de la Cruz. From here, you have a breathtaking view over Salento. The sunset provides the most beautiful scenery, and it gets pleasantly crowded at the viewpoint. Right next to it is Mirador de Salento, offering a view in the opposite direction, overlooking the mountains.

5. Mountainbiking through the hidden valley

A thrilling experience is downhill mountain biking through a valley that is secretly even more beautiful than the Valle de Cocora. During this mountain bike tour, you visit a valley that is otherwise inaccessible. It is private property, so you have the valley all to yourself. The tour starts at 07:30, and before hopping on the bike, you walk through the valley and have a picnic. The mountain bike route itself is not challenging because you only ride downhill. However, you go quite fast, and if it has rained, you can get quite dirty. Truly a unique experience if you enjoy a bit of action. The tour costs approximately 50 dollars and lasts for 5 hours.

6. Get on a horse

Salento is a very nice place for horseback riding. Horses are still a commonly used means of transportation here, and you often see locals riding horses in the area. There are many opportunities to take horseback tours to waterfalls, coffee farms, or even through the Valle de Cocora.

7. Play tejo with the locals

Tejo is the local sport of Colombia, and locals enjoy playing it while having a beer. Or many beers. You can compare the game a bit to jeu de boules, but a bit more rugged. The goal is to detonate explosives. There is a clay pit in which, in a circle, bags with explosives are placed. The aim is to hit the bags with a metal disc, called a "tejo." You earn points for hitting the explosives, the tejo closest to the target (bocín), and hitting the exact center of the target.

A fun place in Salento to play tejo is Cancha De Tejo Los Amigos. If you don't get a chance in Salento, no problem, as tejo is played throughout Colombia.

8. Trip to Filandia

Filandia, like Salento, is a colorful and charming town in the coffee region. Filandia is much less touristy than Salento, giving it a more authentic feel. If you have a bit more time in Salento, it's nice to take a day trip to Filandia and immerse yourself even more in local Colombian life.

How to get there?
The best way to travel from Salento to Filandia is by taxi. This ride takes about 20 to 30 minutes and costs around 6 dollars. Unfortunately, there is no direct bus from Salento to Filandia. The only option is the bus via Armenia, but this takes more than 2 hours and is not recommended. However, you can take a Willy from the central square. Especially if you can share this with other travelers, it's a good option to get to Filandia.

Do you want to read more about Colombia?

See all our articles with the best tips to discover all beautiful places in Colombia.

Do you want to read more about Colombia?

See all our articles with the best tips to discover all beautiful places in Colombia.

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How nice that you are on our website and that you have read this article! We are Mirte and Matthew, two Dutch adventurers with a passion for traveling, discovering cultures, and gaining new experiences. We've translated our love for the world into this website. We hope our articles inspire you to go on adventures! You can learn more about us through the button below.
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