10 Best Things to do in Salento, Colombia 10 Best Things to do in Salento, Colombia

10 Best Things to do in Salento, Colombia

Beautiful Salento, a town of many colors and stories, backed by one of the most mesmerizing landscapes we’ve ever seen: the Cocora Valley and the world’s tallest palm trees. Spend a few days in Salento, soaking up the warm village culture, admiring the rainbow-colored streets, and drinking freshly brewed coffee in a town that sits at the very heart of Colombia’s coffee region. Enjoy all the top things to do in Salento, Colombia!

The Story of Salento, Colombia

The story of Salento is well known; it was established because of the Quindio pass that crossed from Popayan over to Bogota. When Simon Bolivar, a South American icon of independence, crossed over the Andes mountain trails in 1830, he ordered the pass to be improved. This was done by prisoners of war who built houses and settled on the land.

However, we were also told that the town got its color from a German couple who traveled here as tourists around 20 years ago. They fell in love with Salento, integrating themselves as part of the community and convincing the locals to paint their houses to draw more tourists to the town. We don’t know how true this story is, but it’s nice to imagine! 

salento colombia things to do

Things to do in Salento, Colombia

Salento has a lively center and colorful houses with matching flowers, plants, and painted ornaments. There’s also a small party scene to be found here if you look in the right places, with cute cafes hosting live music events and DJs. Here are some of the top things to do in Salento:

1. Hike in the Cocora Valley

The Cocora Valley (Valle del Cocora) is what brings people from all over the world to Salento. It’s a stunning landscape filled with wax trees (the tallest palm trees in the world) native only to Colombia and northern Peru

salento cocora valley colombia

Cocora Valley Tour

Jump in a Willy (the original Jeep, which is about 60 years old!) at the town square before 9 AM so you can arrive before the crowds. Once you arrive, you’ll be met with a landscape that looks straight from a painting; towering palm trees emerge out of the low-lying clouds as the sun’s rays pass through them.

things to do salento colombia

You can follow a couple of trails, whether on foot, mountain bike, or horseback. There is one main loop (trail) that passes stunning viewpoints which starts about here. However, be aware that the entire Valle del Cocora loop is about a 5-6 hour hike. It’s well worth the effort, though, as you pass through cloud forests, jungle, and wax trees. This is the best thing to do in Salento!

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salento things to do cocora valley hike

2. Calle Real

Calle Real is the most famous street and one of the top things to do in Salento! The pedestrianized street is lined with two-story white houses that have had their windows, balconies, and doorways painted in beautiful bright colors.

salento colombia travel guide

If you visit before 9 AM, you’ll get to see the colorful doorways. After this time, the doors open to show the shops, and the colors won’t be as visible. However, this is still a great time to enjoy a little shopping for souvenirs or enjoy a cup of coffee at one of the cute cafes. You could even head for the local pool bar, where you’ll find the men of the village sipping coffee and playing games; a great insight into the culture of Salento! 

things to do salento Calle Real

3. Mirador de Salento

Enjoy the best views of Salento and the surrounding countryside at the Mirador de Salento (viewpoint). It’s a steep staircase, but walk only 5 minutes up, and you’ll be rewarded with stunning views over the small town, the green mountains, and the luscious nature. Visiting at sunset is even more spectacular, although this is also the busiest time. 

Best of all, the Mirador de Salento is free to visit! 

Mirador de Salento

4. Plaza de Bolivar

Plaza de Bolivar is a place where you can absorb the authentic Salento way of life. The lively square sits at the center of the town, surrounded by the church and beautiful trees. You’ll find most restaurants around this square and other amenities like ATMs. Plus, it’s the Willy collection point to take you to the Cocora Valley.

salento Plaza de Bolivar

5. Bird Watching in Salento

Twenty percent of the world’s bird population lives right here in Colombia, and the stunning landscapes of Salento are home to some beautiful species. Not only can you see exciting birds in the Cocora Valley among the wax trees (toucans and kestrels!), but you can even see parrots chattering and singing on the roofs of Salento town.

There are also plenty of other nature reserves surrounding Salento, where you can join tours to see hundreds of species of birds.

salento bird watching

6. Play Tejo

Do as the locals do and join in on a game of Tejo! The premise of the Colombian game is to throw a rock at targets that sit among thick clay. But this is a game with a difference: the target contains gunpowder and creates a small explosion when hit. It’s more complicated than it looks!

salento colombia Play Tejo

Get a group together from your hostel, drink a beer, and enjoy a bit of competition with one of the top things to do in Salento. There are a few places you can go and play, and it should only cost under 10000 COP for a round of Tejo. Los Amigos is one of the most popular places to play in the area (here is the location).

Tejo colombia

7. Horseback Riding

Horseback riding in Salento is a bucket list experience, particularly amongst the wax trees of the Cocora Valley. You’ll get to see the beautiful landscape from a new perspective and learn so much more about the area from knowledgeable guides. Join a tour and ride through open meadows, across tranquil rivers and waterfalls, and end at the most spectacular viewpoints of Valle del Cocora.

As with all wildlife tourism, do your research very carefully to make sure you choose a sustainable, ethical business that treats the horses with love and care.

salento things to do horse riding

8. Santa Rita la Cascada

There are plenty of waterfalls around Salento, but Santa Rita la Cascada really is the most beautiful of them all! Just 5km away from Salento, the waterfall is a lovely corner of nature and the perfect place to cool down and swim.

Arrive at the nearby Finca, where you’ll need to pay 7000 COP to enter (as the waterfall is on private land) before starting the 1.5 km hike to the waterfall. It’s relatively flat the whole way, through open farmland, roaming cows, and along small winding rivers. If you want a longer hike, there is also the option to take a longer 6km trail. 

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10 Best Things to do in Salento, Colombia

9. Join a Coffee Tour

Salento and the surrounding nature is a designated UNESCO world heritage site, forming an essential part of Colombia’s coffee cultural landscape. Because of this, there’s no better place to do a coffee tour than Salento!

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Join a tour and head to a coffee farm. Here you’ll learn about the importance of coffee in Colombia, the growth, production, and process from bean to cup. You’ll get to try different types of coffee and brew as you picnic under the wax trees of the Valle del Cocora—bliss!


10. Day Trip to Filandia

Filandia is a beautiful town just 30 minutes from Salento. It’s got the same colorful vibe as Salento, filled with beautiful houses that have their doorways, window frames, and roof tiles painted in bright rainbow colors. However, Filandia is much quieter and a good option for a day trip to escape the crowds of Salento.

The town is also famous for its fantastic food scene, coffee farms, and the beautiful waterfalls located nearby (Doble Cascada is a favorite!). 

salento colombia colorful houses

Best Cafes and Restaurants in Salento

Salento may be famous for coffee, but it has some great places to eat too. You can find small cafes with pastries, traditional restaurants serving Colombian classics, and diners serving American-style brunch to backpackers. In short, Salento has variety!

Some of our favorites were:

  • Restaurante Mi Tepuy (Vegetarian / Vegan)
  • Coco Bowl (Vegetarian)
  • Cumana Bistro Food (Venezuelan)
  • Andariego! (Best coffee in town)
  • Café Jesús Martín (Beautiful old style cafe)
  • Cocina y Horno (Pretty good Italian)
  • El Cacharrito (Hamburgers, veggie options)
salento colombia street

Where to Stay in Salento

Salento is tiny, so wherever you stay in the town will locate you near the main streets and squares. However, if you’re looking for a more remote experience, there are some fantastic accommodation options out in the Cocora Valley. For example, glamping or boutique eco-resorts overlooking the most stunning landscapes.

Choose from hostels and guesthouses situated around Calle Real and Plaza Bolivar for a lower-cost option. 

How to Get to Salento, Colombia

Salento is accessible by bus from major cities in Colombia, like Bogota, Medellin, and Jardin. However, if you’re leaving from Bogota, be aware that the Andes mountains sit right in the middle of your journey, making it tricky and lengthy to travel by road (a bus from Bogota to Salento takes around 8 hours). 

For that reason, it’s easier to fly from Bogota or Medellin to Pereira or Armenia airport (around a 1-hour flight). From here, you can jump on a bus or in a taxi which will take you just under an hour. It’s a good road, just a little bit windy at the end as you travel into the mountains and valleys of Salento.

Find flights to Salento ✈️

Getting Around Salento

Salento is very small, making it super easy to get around. You can walk everywhere in the town on foot or up to the nearby viewpoint, Mirador de Salento.

As it’s a popular town for tourists, plenty of taxis and tour groups are also leaving daily to take you to the Cocora Valley or local chocolate and coffee farms. 

salento houses

How Much Does Salento Cost?

Salento is very affordable, although its popularity with tourists can make accommodation a little more expensive than in other cities in Colombia. The majority of your budget will be spent on all the tours and experiences that Salento offers. 

Costs of Traveling in Salento

Travel on a budget in Salento, from $160 − $410 USD weekly per person, mid-range $460 − $720 USD, and high-end from $740 − $1080 USD. However, costs depend on factors like accommodation, transportation, and activities. We did not include flights. Check flight prices here

Best Time to Visit Salento

December – February, and July – September are the best times to visit Salento as this is the dry season. However, be aware that the weather is always a real mixture because of the location of Salento high up in the hills. This means the day can start warm and sunny but quickly turn to mist and rain (there’s a high chance of rain most days, especially at night).


This changing climate makes Salento unique, providing the opportunity to see the wax trees loom out from the low-lying clouds. 

Is Salento Safe?

We felt safe during our whole Colombia trip, but Salento, in particular, felt very safe. The locals are incredibly friendly, and the town’s size makes for a lively yet cozy atmosphere both day and night.

16/08/2023 https://www.saltinourhair.com/colombia/salento-colombia/
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