Rach landscape views in Salento Colombia

This is one of our favourite places in this vibrant country, and we’re sure you’ll love it too.

Enjoy the warm village atmosphere, stroll through quaint streets, eat home-cooked Colombian dishes and taste fresh coffee in this central hub of Colombia’s coffee region. 

10 Best things to do in Salento, Colombia!

1. Hike around the Cocora Valley

The Cocora Valley (Valle del Cocora) is the main drawcard for visitors to Salento.

This breathtaking landscape boasts wax trees, the tallest palm trees in the world, and only found in Colombia and northern Peru. And the scenery everywhere around here is stunning! 

Cocora Valley Hike wax tree palms in Salento Colombia

We recommend heading to the main town square in Salento before 08:30 to beat the crowds. Buy a return ticket for a Willy, a very colourful jeep, for COP 10,000 (USD 2.50) per person. 

Upon arrival, you have a few choices for how to visit the Cocora Valley, and there are some helpful staff to give you some information and send you in the right direction.

One main loop (trail) that passes sensational viewpoints is the 4 – 6 hour hike known as the Valle de Corora loop.

We chose this option, and it was spectacular; you’ll pass through jungle and cloud forests, cross small streams on rickety wooden bridges, and marvel at the towering wax trees.

The entire loop is one of the best things to do in Salento Colombia!

Remember that you must take some cash to pay entry fees. The first entry fee is COP 6000 (USD 1.50), a fee to pass through private property along the hike.

An optional fee of COP 20,000 (USD 5.00) must be paid if you wish to enter the Hummingbird Sanctuary ( we didn’t go inside here, and a few hours into the hike, you must pay COP 20,000 (USD 5.00) to enter the stunning National Park.

We recommend that you hike in an anti-clockwise direction to enjoy the quiet hike and the beautiful views and then end with the wax palms.

Note: Drones are not allowed inside the Cocora National Park.

Cocora Valley in Salento Colombia
Visit the Cocora Valley; it’s one of the best things to do in Salento Colombia.

If you’re not a hiker and don’t want to trek for hours here, there is an option to take a horseback ride in the Cocora Valley, or you can pay the COP 20,000 National Park fee, enter and walk to a few different miradors or viewpoints to admire this gorgeous valley.

2. Horseback Riding

Sign up for an unforgettable experience in Salento and go horseback riding! This activity is one of the best things to do in Salento, especially amidst the towering wax trees of the Cocora Valley. 

Discover the stunning landscape from a fresh perspective with your local guide to experience the area’s hidden wonders.

Set off on a journey through open green meadows, across peaceful rivers and enchanting waterfalls. Gaze at the awe-inspiring vistas at the Valle del Cocora’s most spectacular viewpoints.

horseback riding in Salento Colombia

You can go directly to the Valle de Cocora and arrange a guided horse ride here, starting from 30 minutes for COP 60,000 (USD 25.50) for one person and up to 4.5 hours for COP 400,000 (USD 100) for one person.

We recommend this Horseback Riding Tour in the Cocora Valley.

3. Join a Coffee Tour – One of the Best Things to do in Salento Colombia

One of our favourite activities and things to do in Salento is to visit a coffee farm. You will notice many farms dotted around the gorgeous countryside of Salento; however, we read excellent reviews online for El Ocaso.

Better yet, this farm was about an easy (and beautiful) walk from the centre of Salento, taking us about 1.5 hours, with a few photo stops along the way.

Best coffee tour in Salento Colombia
One of the best things to do in Salento Colombia is a coffee tour!

The standard coffee tour here is COP 40,000 ( USD 10), takes approximately 90 minutes, and is available in English and Spanish. You can check tour times on El Ocaso website. You can pre-book your ticket online or pay on arrival; cash or card is accepted.

We did the 90-minute tour, and our guide was engaging and knowledgeable; we learned so much about the entire coffee-making process; we even had the chance to pick some coffee beans; it was so much fun. 

The tour took us through the steps from seed to roast and finished with a tasting session that expanded our understanding of flavours and aromas in coffee. 

best coffee tour in Salento Colombia

There is also an interactive 3-hour coffee tour for COP 100,000 (USD 25), and you can also book the 3 hour tour here, including hotel pick-up/drop-off, which is very convenient.

4. Hike up to El Mirador

Behold the remarkable beauty of Salento and its picturesque countryside from the Mirador de Salento (viewpoint). 

Despite the steep staircase, a mere 5-10 minute climb promises a rewarding panorama of the charming town, lush mountains, and landscapes. Witness the sunset spectacle for an extra touch of magic, although be prepared for crowds during this popular time.

The Mirador de Salento is entirely free and an unmissable experience in Salento.

Mirador de Salento
Don’t miss the views from up here! One of the best things to do in Salento Colombia

5. Take a Day Trip to Filandia

Just 30 minutes from Salento, Filandia is another gorgeous town that beckons with its vibrant charm. Like Salento, it boasts colourful houses adorned in bright rainbow colourings yet offers a quieter escape from the crowds. 

Beyond its picturesque streets, Filandia boasts a renowned food scene, thriving coffee farms, and stunning nearby waterfalls like the beloved Doble Cascada. 

The easiest way to get to Finlandia is to take a Willy (jeep), departing from the town centre.

6. Eat Fresh Trout Like the Locals

Trout, or “trucha,” in Salento, Colombia, offers a delicious culinary experience you must try here. Thanks to the region’s pristine mountain streams, the trout served in local restaurants is exceptionally fresh, contributing to its delicious taste and quality. 

Dining on trout provides a genuine immersion into Colombian mountain cuisine, reflecting the region’s cultural heritage.

With various preparations available, there’s something to satisfy every palate. 

best place to eat trout in Salento Colombia
Try some local trout in Salento; grilled or cooked in cream and garlic!

We enjoyed fresh trout prepared two ways at Cocina y Horno restaurant and recommend this place.

We indulged in a plate of simple, freshly grilled trout and another trout dish cooked in cream and garlic; this preparation is very popular with the locals.

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7. Plaza de Bolivar

Plaza de Bolivar Salento
Plaza de Bolivar

Plaza de Bolivar symbolises the essence of Salento’s vibrant lifestyle. Situated at the heart of town, this lively square is flanked by the church and verdant trees.

It serves as a focal point for dining, with numerous restaurants and essential amenities like ATMs, currency exchange, and decent cafes nearby. 

Additionally, it serves as the departure point for Willy vehicles headed to the Cocora Valley.

Try to visit the local markets here during the weekend, with many artisan handicrafts and souvenirs to take home. It’s also a great place to sit and capture photographs of this lively, colourful town.

8. Santa Rita la Cascada

Salento Landscapes

Amidst the numerous waterfalls near Salento, Santa Rita la Cascada stands out as a true gem. Located just 5km from Salento, this breathtaking waterfall offers a serene oasis in nature, inviting visitors to cool off and enjoy a refreshing swim.

Upon arrival at the nearby Finca (farm), an entrance fee of COP 8000 is required to access the waterfall, as it is situated on private property. 

Following this, embark on a 1.5 km hike to reach the waterfall. The trail is flat, winding through open farmland, past cows grazing in the fields, and surrounded by serene rivers.

For those seeking a more extensive trekking experience, there is also the option to follow a more extended 6 km trail.

9. Enjoy a Menu del dia (Menu of the Day)

Things to do in Salento Colombia - Enjoy menu del dia
We love eating menu del dia. This is one of the best things to do in Salento Colombia

“Menu del dia” in Colombia refers to the daily set menu offered by many restaurants, especially in urban areas during lunchtime. It’s a popular option for locals and visitors, offering a convenient and affordable way to enjoy a complete meal. Many eateries and restaurants in Salento offer a menu del dia.

Our Tip: You can enjoy an excellent menu del dia in Salento at La Posada de Rubi from around COP 16,000 (USD 4).

They usually offer meals between the hours of 12 and 3, and you can order them to take away if you wish.

10. Explore the colourful streets

Best things to do in Salento Colombia is to stroll the colourful streets

Remember your camera as you wander the town’s charming, colourful streets.

Cafes, souvenir shops, and countless photo opportunities await you at every turn. For a taste of local flavour, indulge in some street food—Salento boasts many options, from cheese-filled arepas and chorizo sausages to empanadas. 

While Calle Real is popular, I recommend veering off into the smaller side streets to discover many hidden gems and photogenic houses and buildings.

try the street food. The best things to do in Salento Colombia
Try some street food! One of our favourite things to do in Salento Colombia

Where to Stay in Salento

Salento is a small town, and there are many accommodation options available.

If you want to meet other travellers, I recommend staying at a hostel in Salento. The most popular is the Coffee Tree Boutique Hostel; what a place! And if this hostel isn’t available, Viajero Salento Hostel is also recommended.

If you’re searching for a clean, comfortable and affordable private room, I recommend Casa Salento, and Casa La Eliana.

For those wishing to stay in the city centre and have a more significant budget for accommodation, the Ecohotel Piedmonte and Hotel Terasu Hotel tick all the boxes.

And, if you seek a secluded getaway, consider the exceptional lodging choices in the Cocora Valley.

Perhaps you’re keen to experience boutique eco-resorts that offer breathtaking vistas of the surrounding landscapes. If so, here are our top picks!

How to Get to Salento

bus medellin to salento
Salento Bus Station. This is the bus you take from Pereira to Salento.

Salento is reachable by bus from major Colombian cities such as Medellin, Jardin, and Bogota. Yet, departing from Bogota poses a challenge because the Andes mountains divide the journey, resulting in a longer, more complex road trip.

The bus ride from Bogota to Salento typically takes around 8 hours.

To simplify your journey, consider flying from Bogota or Medellin to Pereira or Armenia airport, which takes approximately 1 hour. From there, you can easily catch a bus or taxi for a journey of just under an hour.

The road is generally good, albeit a bit winding, as you traverse into Salento’s mountainous and scenic valleys.

From Bogota:

There are no direct buses from Bogota to Salento, so your best option is to take a bus to Armenia.

Check the schedule and book your ticket from Bogota to Armenia with Busbud. The journey takes around 7-8 hours, and prices start at about COP 78,000 (USD 20 USD)

From Armenia, you will then take a connecting bus to Salento. You can usually reserve a seat on Busbud; if not, the buses along this route are frequent, and you can buy a ticket at the station.

Another option is to book a cheap flight from Bogota to Armenia or Pereira with Skyscanner and then take a straightforward bus to Salento.

From Medellin:

We travelled to Salento from Medellin by bus, which was easy and comfortable. Take a bus directly to Salento from Terminal del Sur in Medellin via Flota Occidental. There are approximately four departures daily, but this can change anytime.

Tickets are COP 78,000 (USD 20) and can be easily purchased on Busbud or at the Flota Occidental desk in Terminal del Sur. The bus ride takes about 7-8 hours, depending on traffic. 

Another Medellin option is to book a flight to Armenia or Peirera. Upon arrival, you can take a shorter bus or taxi to Salento from either of these two airports.

We recommend using Uber or Didi ride-sharing apps to book a ride.

From Armenia:

Take a taxi from Armenia to Salento or a bus from the Armenia Transportation Terminal. Buses leave regularly, and prices are very affordable, starting at just COP 5,000 (USD 1.30)

How to Get Around in Salento

Willy Jeep in Cocora Valley Salento

Salento’s compact size makes it incredibly convenient to navigate. You can explore the entire town on foot, including the nearby Mirador de Salento viewpoint.

The popular Willys (jeeps) are a very affordable and convenient way to get around town or the surrounding area, with short trips starting at COP 4,000 (1.10 USD) per ride.

These vehicles offer daily trips to must-see attractions like the Cocora Valley and local chocolate and coffee farms.

Best Restaurants and Cafes in Salento

We always try to find the best places to eat when we travel, and the cuisine in Salento was better than we expected.

Here are some of our favourite places to eat or enjoy the perfect cup of fresh Colombian coffee.

Cumana Bistro Food – A fantastic place to enjoy typical Venezuelan food! Order the signature Venezuelan dish of Pabellón Criollo; you won’t be disappointed.

Restaurante Cocina y Horno – Fresh trout cooked in many ways, and other great dishes on the menu, too! We had an excellent, affordable meal here. It is highly recommended.

Cafe Jesus Martin – Excellent coffee! And, if you’re just after a simple breakfast, then stop by here for some scrambled eggs and toasted baguette; quick and affordable.

Coco Bowl – A cute little spot serving vegetarian food.

La Posada de Rubi – The best menu del dia in town! Home-made soup, your choice of main dish, accompanied by fresh juice.

Best Time to Visit Salento

Cocora Valley Mirador

The optimal times to visit Salento are typically from December to February and July to September, coinciding with the dry season.

However, the weather can be unpredictable due to Salento’s elevated location in the hills. Days may begin with warm sunshine but quickly transition to mist and rain, with a high likelihood of rainfall, particularly at night.

We hope you enjoyed reading more about the best things to do in Salento, Colombia. We’d highly recommend it if you can find the time in your travel itinerary to spend a few extra days in Salento.

Here’s our recommended itinerary for the Perfect 2 Days in Bogota.

For food lovers, you need to try these 11 Most Popular Foods From Colombia, and we suggest you buy an eSIM for Colombia to stay connected!