Last updated on November 18th, 2023 at 05:38 am
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Culture, tradition, and adventure converge in the Coffee Axis. Let’s explore the cultural treasures of this region!
Explore Salento and Cocora Valley
Salento, a town in Quindío, is famous for its colonial architecture and colorful houses. It’s the birthplace of Quindío and a great starting point for coffee region exploration. Learn about coffee and local culture here.
Cocora Valley is a natural reserve with the world’s tallest wax palms, Colombia’s national tree, and other natural wonders.
Cultural Activities in Salento
- Visit Salento’s Calle Real, a colorful pedestrian street with wooden balconies and decorated doors. Climb to the Alto de la Cruz viewpoint for a panoramic view of the town and Cocora Valley.
- Explore the Historic Center with Bolívar Square, the colonial church, and local craft markets.
- For dining, we recommend Quindu Restaurant, offering regional cuisine with local ingredients at Calle 2 #4-46, Salento, Quindío.
- Salento hosts various festivals, including wet T-shirt contests, music competitions, Camperos and ‘Willys’ (vintage jeeps) exhibitions, Tejo championships, beauty pageants, fishing contests, and more.
- For adventure and nature lovers, Salento offers activities like rafting, canopying, kayaking, horseback riding, mountaineering, and cycling.
How to Get to Salento?
From any major city, take a bus or flight to Armenia or Pereira, two of the nearest cities to Salento. Then, take a bus from each city’s transport terminal.
- From Armenia: Buses depart every 30-40 minutes, covering the 36 km to Salento in about 45 minutes.
- From Pereira: Buses depart hourly, taking about 50 minutes to reach Salento, which is also 36 km away
Cultural Activities in Cocora Valley
- Cocora Valley is home to the world’s tallest wax palms, reaching heights of over 60 meters. Take a guided ecological hike through the cloud forest to appreciate its rich flora and fauna. You can even plant your own wax palm.
- Visit Acaime, a refuge known as ‘the house of hummingbirds,’ where you can observe various hummingbird species.
- Don’t miss the Condor Andino viewpoint, where you can see one of the largest flying birds, with a wingspan of up to 3.5 meters.
- For lunch, try local cuisine, including trout with patacón (fried green plantains) or bandeja paisa, accompanied by a natural drink.
How to Get to the Cocora Valley?
- Take a bus or flight to Armenia or Pereira from any major city. Then, take a bus from these cities’ terminals to Salento, the nearest town to Cocora Valley.
- In Salento, you can catch a jeep or willys from the main square (about 6 times a day) to Cocora Valley, which is approximately 12 km away. The round-trip fare applies.
In the Coffee Axis, coffee tours at traditional Quindío estates are highly popular. Learn about coffee cultivation, harvesting, processing, and roasting, and sample various coffee varieties and preparation methods.
Here is an example.
Coffee Tour at Finca Buenos Aires
Finca Buenos Aires is a top spot to explore nature, enjoy the landscape, and savor Quindío coffee. The tour lasts around 3 hours and is led by the Ramírez family, who have over 50 years of experience in coffee cultivation. It is usually done with groups of a maximum of 10 people and it is necessary to book in advance.
Llano Grande area, 2.5 km from the coffee highway via the Los Pinos route, or 6 km from Salento, Quindío, via the Palestina route.
- Take round-trip transportation from Salento in a jeep Willys.
- Join a guided tour through the coffee fields to learn about coffee varieties, care, and harvesting methods.
- Enjoy viewpoints of the coffee cultural landscape and birdwatching
- As a tourist, participate in coffee harvesting, wearing traditional chapolera and collector attire
- Visit the wet coffee processing mill to see the pulping, fermentation, washing, drying, threshing, roasting, and grinding of the beans.
- Taste coffee prepared using different methods (French press, Chemex, Aeropress, etc.) and learn about their sensory characteristics.
- You can purchase ground and roasted coffee at the estate’s shops.
The tour is an opportunity to get to know the coffee culture from beginning to end and to support the work of local producers.
No, there is a per-person fee for the estate tour.
From 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., seven days a week.
English and Spanish.
How to Get to Finca Buenos Aires?
There are several options, including:
- From Armenia and Pereira: Both cities have transport terminals where you can take a bus to the town of Salento, which is about 25 kilometers from Armenia and about 36 kilometers from Pereira. The journey can take between 40 minutes and an hour, depending on the starting point.
- Once in Salento, you can take a jeep willys or a taxi service to Finca Buenos Aires, which will take you through the Palestina route, approximately 7 kilometers from there, and the journey can take around 30 minutes.
Filandia, like Salento, is a Quindío town known for its colonial architecture and mountainous landscapes. It’s a top tourist destination in the Coffee Axis, drawing thousands of visitors annually to explore coffee culture and local attractions.
- In Filandia, you will find the iconic Mirador de la Colina Iluminada, with a height of 18 meters, offering beautiful views of the coffee landscapes and the Andes mountains.
- Stroll along the Calle del Tiempo Detenido (Street of Frozen Time), one of Filandia’s most iconic streets. Here, you’ll see colorful houses with wooden balconies and zinc roofs, as well as various shops, artisan workshops, cafes, and restaurants serving regional cuisine.
- Visit the Maria Inmaculada Church, the town’s most beautiful temple. It was built in 1936 and is the religious symbol of the town. The interior is decorated with stained glass and sacred artwork.
- Hike in the Barbas Bremen Nature Reserve, a protected area that hosts a great diversity of flora and fauna, from howler monkeys and birds to butterflies and orchids. The trail stretches for 7 km, passing through forests, waterfalls, and rivers.
- You can dine in many places, but we especially recommend visiting Helena Adentro restaurant, located at Carrera 9 #7-05, Filandia, Quindío. It offers a menu with traditional dishes made with locally sourced ingredients.
How to Get to Filandia?
From any major city in the country, you can take a flight or a bus to Pereira or Armenia airports or bus terminals.
- From Armenia: From the transport terminal, you can take a direct bus to Filandia, which is located about 30 km away, and the journey takes around 40 minutes.
- From Pereira: From the transport terminal, you can take a direct bus to Filandia, which is about 30.5 km away, and the journey takes approximately 45 minutes.
What to Do in Armenia: The Festivals of Armenia
The Festivals of Armenia are annual cultural events celebrating the foundation of Armenia, the capital of the Quindío department. They take place in October and last for over a week, featuring various folk activities.
These festivals highlight the coffee culture and Paisa pride of the region’s inhabitants, known for their entrepreneurial and hardworking spirit.
- Yipao parades, featuring a procession of vintage vehicles transporting typical regional products.
- Chapoleras Beauty Pageant, a beauty contest that selects the best coffee picker from the coffee farms.
- Cuyabro Parade, a folkloric showcase bringing together different regional dance and music groups.
- Cuyabro Beauty Pageant, a beauty contest where the representative of Quindío is chosen based on charisma and knowledge of the region.
- Craft exhibitions by local artists in disciplines such as painting, sculpture, photography, and video.
- Local “food street” showcasing regional gastronomy.
- Horse fair and horse parades.
- Trova and outdoor theater festivals.
Yes, most of these events are free to the public, including parades, exhibitions, contests, and festivals.
Number of Attendees
Approximately 50,000 attendees per edition.
Parque del Café
At the Coffee Park, you can have a day full of fun. The coffee-themed park offers mechanical attractions, folkloric shows, historical and ecological exhibitions, as well as various cultural activities for visitors. You can also take a cable car ride for a panoramic view of the Coffee Axis landscape.
It is located near the Pueblo Tapao district of the municipality of Montenegro, about 12 kilometers from Armenia, the capital of Quindío.
- Explore the Coffee Museum to discover the history, process, and global significance of Colombian coffee. The museum includes interactive rooms, audiovisual displays, and antique coffee-related items.
- Musical shows that showcase the culture and folklore of the coffee region through typical dances, traditional costumes, and popular songs.
- Take the cable car for a panoramic view of the coffee landscape and the park. It’s 300 meters (984 feet) long, reaches a maximum height of 80 meters (262 feet), and accommodates 192 people. The ride lasts approximately 15 minutes.
- Savor coffee and regional cuisine at various restaurants and cafes in the park. Enjoy dishes like bandeja paisa, garlic trout, chicken sancocho, candied figs, and more.
- Horseback rides through the park’s facilities with scenic landscape views.
- Tours of the coffee trails, where you can see the coffee production process, from harvesting to post-harvest and roasting.
- A ride on the traditional coal-powered train, paying tribute to this means of transportation, which played a significant role in the history and development of the country.
No, there is an entrance fee per person.
Number of Attendees
Between 600,000 and 900,000 visitors approximately come each year.
How to get to Parque del Café?
- By bus or by plane, depart from your city’s bus terminal or airport and head to the airport or bus terminal in Armenia or to a nearby municipality in Quindío, such as Quimbaya, Pueblo Tapao, Filandia, or Circasia.
- From Armenia or any of these municipalities, there are bus services or taxis that take you to the Coffee Park, and depending on your starting point, the journey can take between 10 minutes and 1 hour.
From 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. For information on available days, check the official website.
Quimbaya Gold Museum
The Quimbaya Gold Museum in Armenia is a major tourist attraction. This archaeological museum showcases the cultural richness of pre-Columbian civilizations like the Quimbaya and Emberá.
Founded in 1986 by the Bank of the Republic, it houses over 400 objects made of gold, ceramics, stone, and more. It provides an opportunity to learn about the history and art of the indigenous peoples who lived in the Cauca region before the Spanish arrival. The museum’s building, designed by architect Rogelio Salmona, received the National Architecture Award in 1988.
Cultural Center of the Bank of the Republic, at Cra. 14 #40 norte – 80, in Armenia, Quindío.
- Learn about the history and origin of the coffee hearth, an ancestral indigenous gastronomic tool.
- Exhibitions of artwork from the 18th century to the present day.
- Stone sculptures carved by indigenous communities.
- Creative workshops such as oil painting, digital photography, or crafts with recycled materials.
- Lectures on topics related to pre-Columbian art and the Quimbaya culture.
- The museum’s design allows you to explore the paths surrounding the structure and the cultural center, where you can appreciate the native flora and fauna.
- Predetermined programming with cultural activities like concerts, temporary exhibitions, or craft fairs.
- Visit the Regional Documentation Center (CER), where you can access information about the life, work, and critique of architect Rogelio Salmona.
- Open-air forums.
- Spaces to savor local typical cuisine.
- Literary spaces about the history and geography of the Cauca region through maps, books, and documents displayed by the museum.
Yes, the museum offers free access to all types of visitors.
English and Spanish.
The museum has a maximum capacity of 1,000 people.
Monday to Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Concurso Nacional de Velas y Faroles in Quimbaya
The National Contest of Candles and Lanterns in Quimbaya is an annual December festival that pays tribute to the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception.
It’s a vibrant artistic and cultural event that highlights the creativity and talent of the town’s residents. They craft thousands of candles and lanterns in various shapes, colors, and with different messages, adorning over 200 streets with more than 200,000 lanterns. This creates a stunning visual spectacle enjoyed by both locals and visitors.
The contest spans two days, on December 7th and 8th, featuring a main stage and a variety of cultural activities, including music, dance, theater, exhibitions, and children’s contests.
In Quimbaya, a municipality located in the northwest of the Quindío department, approximately 22 kilometers from Armenia.
- Music contests.
- Lantern contest that rewards creativity using different materials and designs, including the creation of the world’s largest lantern.
- Presentations of popular, regional, parrandera, symphonic, and rock music.
- Folk, contemporary, and urban dances.
- Exhibition of gold and silver craftsmanship made by the municipality’s residents.
- Awareness-raising workshops to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of the municipality among visitors and the local population.
- During the contest, you can visit the Parish of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, where you can see the Christ of Hope, a 10-meter-tall sculpture that has been cataloged as one of the largest in Latin America, decorated with lanterns and candles.
- Puppet theater performances.
Yes, the festival offers free access to all types of visitors.
Number of Attendees
More than 35,000 attendees per day.
How to Get to Quimbaya?
Quimbaya has two nearby airports: Armenia in Quindío and Pereira in Risaralda. You can also reach it by land.
- From Armenia: Take a bus from the public transport terminal to the municipality of Montenegro, which takes about 30 minutes. Then, take another bus from Montenegro to Quimbaya, which takes about 15 minutes.
- From Pereira: Take a bus from the public transport terminal to the municipality of Alcalá, which takes 1 hour and 30 minutes. In Alcalá, take another bus to the municipality of Quimbaya, which takes about 30 minutes.
Exploring Buenavista in Quindío
Buenavista, a municipality in Quindío, is renowned for its natural beauty, rural culture, coffee tradition, and unique tourism offerings. With a population of around 2,800 residents and covering 41 square kilometers, it is actively developing sustainable tourism.
It is located 27 kilometers from Armenia within the Quindío department.
- Visit the San Alberto and Concorde estates to learn about coffee collection and production, and savor a cup of coffee from a gourmet terrace with stunning Coffee Axis views.
- Immerse yourself in rural life on local farms, taking part in activities such as harvesting, planting, and food preparation, and getting hands-on experience with farming families.
- Experience the thrill of paragliding from Cerro de las Tres Cruces, soaring over Juanes Canyon.
- Join the pilgrimage to Cerro de las Tres Cruces, occurring every May 3rd, to celebrate the Holy Cross and the Prayer of the Jesuses, a religious tradition of the Buenavista residents.
- Explore the town’s urban area, where you can admire the typical Antioquian colonization architecture, reflecting the migration of Antioquian farming families during the 18th and 19th centuries. You can also visit traditional sites like the Parish of Our Lady of Carmen.
- Enjoy Buenavista’s anniversary festivals held every March, featuring a rich program of cultural activities, dances, orchestras, parades, music, and theatrical performances for both locals and visitors to relish.
How to Get to Buenavista?
- From your city, take a bus or a plane to Armenia, which is the nearest city to Buenavista.
- Then take a bus service from the Armenia bus terminal to Buenavista, but the journey can take more than 1 hour and is a slower and less frequent option.
- You can also take a cab to the municipality of Buenavista, the trip can take more than 30 minutes. However, we recommend that you book organized transportation to get there.
Cacao has been one of the region’s most vital agricultural products for over two centuries, shaping the identity of its inhabitants.
The Coffee Axis is not only known for its high-quality coffee production but also attracts thousands of tourists annually who come to learn about cacao’s cultivation and production process, from planting to roasting. Visitors can also take part in various activities related to artisanal chocolate production.
Here is one of the several places to explore the world of cacao:
Casa Riviera del Cacao
Casa Riviera del Cacao is a hotel and culinary experience center that began as a Colombian-French venture producing chocolate from organic cacao originating in Quindío.
It follows the ‘tree to bar’ scheme. Promoted by the renowned French chocolatier Thierry Mulhaupt, the project is part of the Coffee Cultural Heritage routes and is a popular tourist destination.
Casa Riviera del Cacao offers an innovative experience of tasting, producing, and learning about cacao and its ancestral culture.
Situated in the Sardinero district, near the junction between Pijao and Córdoba, it is 21 kilometers from the city of Armenia in the Quindío department.
- Learn to make chocolate from scratch, going through each step of the chocolate-making process, starting from the cacao tree to the final product.
- Sample various types of chocolate, from the finest to the most intense, including special varieties like chocolate with nuts, honey, or spices.
- Participate in artisanal chocolate workshops, where you can create your own artisanal chocolate using 100% Colombian cacao seeds from Quindío. You’ll also taste your own creation.
- Besides cacao, you can explore the coffee plantations on the estate.
- The estate offers a tasting menu with a local gastronomic experience, allowing you to explore various Colombian cooking techniques and locally harvested products, all in the style of Casa Riviera del Cacao.
- Farm tours and birdwatching.
- Wine, Colombian coffee, and traditional regional spirit tastings.
No, there is an entry fee for this activity.
English, Spanish, and French.
Monday to Saturday from 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. / Sundays from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
How to Get to Casa Riviera del Cacao?
- If you’re traveling by plane, the nearest airport to Casa Riviera del Cacao is El Edén in Armenia.
- From Armenia, head to the transportation terminal and take a bus with a route to the municipality of Pijao, which takes about 50 minutes.
- When you arrive in Pijao, you’ll see a sign for Casa Riviera del Cacao. Turn right onto the Pijao road, drive 1200 meters further, then turn onto the first dirt road you see on the left. You’ll see a sign that says Casa Riviera del Cacao at 89 meters, and finally, cross the bridge to reach your destination.
Quindío Botanical Garden
The Quindío Botanical Garden is dedicated to ecological conservation and scientific research. It offers guided 2.5-hour tours and covers 15 hectares of forest housing around 600 plant species.
It also features a butterfly garden with over 2000 specimens and additional forest reserves in Filandia and Circasia municipalities, showcasing the region’s biodiversity.
Notably, the garden has received international recognition for its national palm collection, which includes almost all of Colombia’s native palm species.
Avenida Centenario No 15-190 km, via al Valle, Calarcá, Colombia.
Cultural and Natural Activities
- Tour the butterfly garden, where you can observe nearly 1500 butterflies from 30 native species.
- Walk along an ecological trail of over 2 kilometers, where you can appreciate plants, ferns, heliconias, and palms.
- Birdwatching with more than 100 species that inhabit or visit the forest.
- Tour of the ethnobotanical museum, showcasing objects made from different parts of palms (hats, baskets, mats, among others).
- Visit the museum of the tunnel La Línea, which recreates the history and construction of the longest tunnel in Latin America.
- Insect museum, where you can learn about the diversity and adaptation of various insect species in the region.
- Gardening workshops, where ancestral and modern techniques for cultivating and caring for ornamental, medicinal, and edible plants are taught.
- The garden also hosts cultural events like concerts, exhibitions, and festivals held periodically.
English and Spanish.
No, there is an entrance fee to the Quindío Botanical Garden.
Number of Attendees
Over 60,000 visitors per year.
Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
How to Get to the Quindío Botanical Garden?
- You can take an inter-municipal bus from Armenia, the nearest city. This bus will take you to Calarcá, which is approximately 15 to 30 minutes, depending on traffic conditions.
- Once in Calarcá, you can either walk or take a taxi to the Quindío Botanical Garden, as it is relatively close, and you’ll arrive at your destination in just a few minutes.
What to Do in Manizales?: The Manizales Fair
The Manizales Fair is the city’s most important festival, held every year in January and lasting approximately 8 days. It is known for its bullfighting season, international coffee queen competition, parades, concerts, and folk performances. It is also considered one of the most important bullfighting fairs in Latin America.
- Attending bullfights at the Plaza de Toros Monumental (Monumental Bullring), featuring national and international figures.
- Participating in the Carretas del Rocío parade, a replica of the pilgrimage in Seville, Spain.
- Watching the International Coffee Queen pageant, where the queen is selected from representatives of coffee-producing countries.
- Enjoying live concerts with national and international artists covering various genres.
- Visiting artistic, gastronomic, and craft exhibitions held in different venues throughout the city.
- Sports activities and tournaments, such as football, billiards, karting, and skating.
- Folkloric parades, dances, and processions on the main streets and avenues of the city.
Yes, the Manizales Fair is a completely free event for the public. However, some events may require tickets, such as the billiards championship or the bullfights, which are one of the main attractions of the fair.
Number of Attendees
Approximately 200,000 attendees per edition.
Visiting the San Lorenzo Indigenous Reserve
The San Lorenzo Indigenous Reserve is inhabited by the Emberá Chamí, an indigenous group with a history spanning thousands of years in the Andean mountains of Colombia.
This reserve, situated across departments like Risaralda, Caldas, and Quindío, offers visitors the opportunity to interact with the Emberá Chamí, where you can learn about their customs, language, and culture. Additionally, you can participate in various cultural activities like corn planting, crafting, and ritual dances.
The reserve is located in the northern part of the municipality of Riosucio, within the department of Caldas.
- Learn about the communities, language, and worldview of the Emberá Chamí, a millennia-old people who preserve their identity and ancestral wisdom.
- Participate in corn planting, which is the sacred food of the Emberá Chamí, representing life and fertility. You can also learn about other species of medicinal and edible plants cultivated by the indigenous people.
- Create handicrafts using seeds, fibers, and natural dyes, which are artistic and symbolic expressions of the Emberá Chamí. You can also purchase some local crafts as souvenirs of your visit.
- Participate in dances to the beat of traditional music, played with instruments such as the drum, flute, and rattle. Dance is a form of communication and celebration for the Emberá Chamí.
- Taste typical gastronomy based on local products such as corn, plantains, fish, and fruits. Some typical dishes include wrapped corn, grilled fish with plantains, borojó juice, among others.
Yes, attendance for these activities is free, but it requires prior authorization from the Cabildo of the Indigenous Ancestral Territory San Lorenzo. This is to check the schedules, activities, and additional recommendations.
How to Get to San Lorenzo Indigenous Reserve?
- From your location, travel to Manizales in Caldas via a flight to La Nubia Airport, or you can opt for a bus service from your city’s transportation terminal to Manizales.
- Once you arrive in Manizales, head to the transportation terminal and take a bus to San Lorenzo town, which is located 90 kilometers away. The journey takes about 2 hours.
- When you arrive in the town, you should contact the indigenous authorities for guidance on how to access different areas of the reserve.
What to Do in Pereira?: Harvest Festivals
Pereira’s Harvest Festivals are a celebration of coffee culture held every year in August, lasting for approximately two weeks. The festival commemorates the city’s foundation and the end of the coffee harvest season.
It is a festival with a wide range of cultural, sports, musical, and artistic events to express gratitude to the land and all the farmers who work hard in their daily labor.
- Live music concerts with national artists, including rock, pop, rap, symphonic concerts, and more.
- Exhibition of the region’s most beautiful orchids.
- Academic spaces for reflecting on sustainable development challenges for the city.
- Cultural activities such as dance, performing arts, workshops, and more.
- Tourism and coffee fairs featuring local enterprises.
- Float parade with the pageant queens and a horse parade.
- Gastronomic, cultural, and fashion events with an Afro-Pereirano concept.
- Open-air public film screenings.
- Athletic events like 5k and 10k runs.
- Fireworks displays illuminating the night sky of Pereira.
Yes, the Harvest Festival is a completely free event for the public.
Number of Attendees
Between 20,000 and 35,000 attendees per edition.
If you enjoyed this content, we invite you to explore our Travel Guide to the Coffee Axis.
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