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Colombiafrank’s Manizales Colombia Travel Guide

Basilica Cathedral de nuestra señora del rosario Manizales Caldas

Updated on 04/02/2024

Dear readers
My name is Frank and I run a tour operator in Bogota, specializing in custom-made and Colombia luxury travel.

At the end of this guide you will find a list of many other helpful travel guides for Colombia.

Why visit Manizales?

Manizales is a charming city in the heart of Colombia with a rich history, stunning scenery and a vibrant cultural scene. Founded in 1849, the city has become the capital of the department of Caldas and is a popular destination for national and international visitors.

Manizales has a unique history that reflects the struggles and triumphs of Colombia as a whole. The city has faced numerous challenges over the years, including devastating earthquakes and political unrest. But it was also a center of innovation and progress, with a strong coffee industry and a growing reputation as a center of learning.

In my opinion, Manizales is an excellent destination, with a thriving arts scene that includes theatre, music and dance. The city hosts several festivals throughout the year, such as B. The International Theater Festival of Manizales and the Manizales Fair.

Facts about Manizales

Manizales is the capital of the department of Caldas. In 2021, the city had about 400,000 inhabitants. The city lies at an altitude of about 2,150 meters above sea level, between the central and western Andes.

The climate is classified as a subtropical highland, with mild temperatures year-round, although sudden changes in temperature and rainfall can occur, particularly during the rainy season. Manizales is known for its coffee cultivation as well as for a significant processing industry in the fields of textiles and food.

The city also has a strong education sector with several universities and higher education institutions in the area. In addition, Manizales is emerging as a major tourist destination, particularly for ecotourism and adventure tourism due to its proximity to parks and nature reserves.

Tourist attractions in Manizales

The following are the sights that can be found in Manizales:

Monumento a los Colonizadores (Monument to the Colonizers)

This 15-meter-high bronze sculpture is located at the southern entrance to the city. Designed by Colombian sculptor Rodrigo Arenas Betancur, it depicts a group of men and women with their tools and animals, representing the pioneers who settled in the region and helped found the city.

The monument represents the pride of the people of Manizales. It commemorates the origins of the city and the struggles and triumphs of those who built it. The plinth of the monument is made of stone and features reliefs depicting scenes from the history of the region.

Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary

The basilica is not only a beautiful neoclassical church, but also an impressive architectural feat. With a total height of 113 meters, it is the tallest cathedral in Colombia and the fifth tallest in all of Latin America. The cathedral was built between 1928 and 1960 and combines neo-Gothic elements with classical touches.

The grandeur of the cathedral is enhanced by its impressive size, which can seat 5,000 people. Visitors to the cathedral are greeted by an impressive facade adorned with decorative columns and intricate details. Upon entering the cathedral, one can admire the beautiful stained-glass windows, paintings and sculptures that adorn the interior.

The Cathedral Basilica of Nuestra Señora del Rosario is an important cultural and religious landmark of Manizales. As the seat of the Diocese of Manizales, it serves as a central place of worship for the city’s residents and attracts pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. The cathedral’s impressive height and beauty make it a must-see for any visitor to Manizales.

San Esteban Cemetery

San Esteban Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in the city. Built in 1922, it houses the tombs of many famous people, such as former President Mariano Ospina Rodríguez, writer Luis Vidales and poet Guillermo Valencia.

The architecture of the cemetery is a mixture of different styles, including Gothic, Neoclassical and Modernist elements. Visitors can admire the intricate details and ornate designs of the tombstones, sculptures, and mausoleums on the site.

In addition to its historical and cultural importance, San Esteban Cemetery is also known for its tranquil gardens and serene atmosphere. The cemetery provides a tranquil setting for visitors to reflect and pay their last respects to the departed.

Chipre vantage point

This is the highest point in the city and offers visitors a spectacular panoramic view of the area. It is located in the Cyprus district in the west of the city.

In addition to the stunning views, visitors to Chipre Viewpoint can also visit the Chipre Tower, a circular structure with a revolving observation deck that offers 360-degree views of the city and surrounding mountains.

Hot Springs Tierra Viva

These are natural thermal pools located about 40 minutes from the city of Manizales. They are fed by the waters of the Nevado del Ruiz, which are said to have medicinal properties for the skin and respiratory tract.

In addition to the natural hot springs, Termales Tierra Viva offers a range of services and amenities for visitors. There’s a restaurant that serves traditional Colombian food and a spa that offers massages and other treatments. The complex also has several ecological hiking trails that allow visitors to explore the surrounding forests, as well as some accommodation.

Los Nevados National Natural Park

This stunning natural park is located in the central Andes of Colombia near Manizales. It owes its name to the snow-capped peaks that can be seen throughout the park and belong to the Nevado del Ruiz volcano.

The park is home to a variety of ecosystems, including glaciers, wetlands, and páramo, a type of high-altitude grassland found in the Andes. It is also home to a variety of wildlife including spectacled bears, condors and Andean deer.

Visitors to the park can enjoy a variety of activities such as hiking, bird watching, and horseback riding. The park also offers a number of hiking trails that wind through the park’s stunning scenery and offer spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

Los Nevados National Natural Park is an important protected area and efforts are being made to protect its unique ecosystems and wildlife. Although a popular tourist destination, it is still relatively unspoilt and visitors are urged to respect the park’s natural beauty and minimize environmental impact.

How to get to Los Nevados Park

To get to Los Nevados National Natural Park from Manizales, you can take a bus or rent a car. The park is approximately 2 hours from Manizales and the road can be winding and steep in some areas.

In the park itself there are several hiking trails for visitors of different skill levels. Prices for guided tours and hikes vary depending on the length of the visit, the number of people in the group, and the specific trail.

Please note that access to the park requires a permit, which can be obtained at the park’s visitor center. The cost of the permit is also subject to change and should be queried before visiting the park.

Tourist activities in Manizales

Here are some of the most attractive things to do in Manizales:

Visit the Manizales Fair

The Feria de Manizales takes place annually in January and is considered one of the most important events in Colombia. A fusion of Colombian and Spanish cultures, the fair features a variety of activities that showcase the best of both worlds.

The Feria de Manizales features colorful street parades, music concerts, art exhibitions and gastronomic performances, giving visitors a chance to experience the region’s rich culture and heritage.

The Feria de Manizales is a must for anyone wanting to experience the best of Colombian and Spanish folklore in one place.

Visit to a Fonda Paisa

Visiting a Fonda Paisa is a great activity for anyone interested in learning about the culture and gastronomy of the Paisa region. A fonda paisa is a type of traditional restaurant that serves typical dishes of the region, such as B. Bandeja paisa, empanadas and arepas.

In addition to the delicious food, the Fondas Paisas usually have a lively and festive atmosphere with music. It’s a good way to immerse yourself in the local culture and have an unforgettable experience.

Coffee tour

Do you want to know everything about the process of coffee production and the history of coffee growing in Colombia?

During a coffee tour, visitors can see the coffee plants up close and learn about the harvesting, roasting and preparation process. You can also taste different types of coffee and learn to recognize the different flavors and aromas.

This will give you a better understanding of the coffee production process and the impact it has on the local community.

Enjoy the coffee landscape

The coffee landscapes of Manizales are among the most beautiful and unique in the world. The region is known for its stunning natural landscapes of lush green hills, colorful flowers and meandering rivers.

But in addition to their natural beauty, the Manizales coffeelands are also an important cultural and economic resource for the region. Coffee growing has been a way of life for generations of families in the region and is still an important source of income and employment for many people today.

In addition to their cultural and economic importance, the Manizales coffee landscapes are also recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, underscoring their importance to the entire world.

Best time to visit Manizales

January is definitely a good time to visit Manizales. The weather is mild and dry, ideal for outdoor activities. The Manizales Fair is also held at this time.

January is also a good time to visit because the coffee harvest is in full swing and visitors can take coffee tours and sample some of the best coffee in the world. Also, the natural landscapes around Manizales are at their most beautiful at this time of year, with lush vegetation and unobstructed mountain views. So if you want to experience the best of Manizales, plan your visit for January.

Events in Manizales

Feria de Manizales (January)

Considered one of the most traditional and emblematic fairs in the country, the Feria de Manizales combines elements of Spanish, European and Colombian culture. The fair includes bullfights, handicraft exhibitions, concerts of popular and folk music.

International Theater Festival (October)

This festival has been held every two years since 1968 and brings together national and international theater groups who present their plays on various outdoor and indoor stages. The festival also includes workshops, conferences and cultural activities for all audiences.

National Colombian Pasillo Festival (October/November)

Musical event in honor of the traditional pasillo, a musical genre that originated in Colombia and Ecuador. The festival includes concerts, parades and competitions between the best performers of this genre.

Children’s Carnival (October)

Event for children and young people with cultural and leisure activities such as dance performances, parades and street games.

Nightlife in Manizales

If you love to party and enjoy music and dancing, you have many opportunities to have fun and meet people.

Roof terrace La Cupula

Calle 20 # 22-14

This bar is located in the historical center of the city. Here you can enjoy delicious food, cocktails and beers while listening to live music on Thursdays or DJs on weekends. The atmosphere is elegant and sophisticated, ideal for a special evening.

JSB Manizales

Santander Avenue # 63-66

If you like jazz, you’ve come to the right place. This bar has a wide range of spirits, cocktails and craft beers to pair with tapas or main courses. The music is at the ideal volume to have a good conversation or just relax to the sound of trumpets and saxophones.

Los Faroles

Calle 24 # 22-46

For tango lovers, this bar is an excellent choice. Here you can learn to dance this Argentine rhythm or simply enjoy the milongas that take place regularly. The service is excellent and the space is cozy and decorated with a tango theme.

Klan destino Groove Bar

Calle 6 # Local 3

This bar has an alternative and tropical style that invites you to dance and enjoy. Here you will find reggae, salsa, rock, hip-hop and other genres that will make you move your body. You can also try different drinks like mojitos, caipirinhas or margaritas.

Food in Manizales

Manizales is a Colombian city that stands out for its culture, its landscape and its gastronomy. If you want to know where to eat in Manizales, we present you with a list of the best and most emblematic places to delight your taste buds:

Typical food

If you want to taste the traditional dishes of the region such as sancocho de gallina, tamal caldense or chicharrón with arepa and hogao, we recommend a visit to the El Colmado Cocina restaurant (Calle 10 # 12-25). Here you can enjoy homemade and authentic food, accompanied by good service and a welcoming atmosphere.

Restaurant chains

If you like chain restaurants that offer variety and quality, Manizales has several options for you. For example, Crepes & Waffles, which offers an extensive menu with sweet and savory crepes, salads, soups and homemade ice cream. Another option is Kokoriko, which specializes in charcoal-grilled chicken with a variety of side dishes.

For vegans

If you’re vegan or vegetarian, don’t worry, Manizales has options for you too. One of them is Shagra – Positive Market (Carrera 23c # 62-73), a restaurant that offers dishes made from natural and organic ingredients, such as veggie burgers, burritos, salads and vegan desserts. Another option is Govinda’s Muy Natural Manizales (Carrera 23 # 25-21).

Accommodation in Manizales

Here are some recommended accommodations for your visit to Manizales:

Hotel Carretero

Carrera 23 # 35A – 31


The Carretero is a large hotel in central Manizales, 6 km (3.7) from La Nubia Airport. It offers modern rooms and facilities such as a gym, restaurant and 2 bars.

Dormitories MARGARITA

Calle 17 # 22-14


Residencias MARGARITA is located in Manizales, 1.1 km (0.6 miles) from Manizales Cable Car Station and 48 km (30 miles)  from Pereira – Dosquebradas Viaduct.

How to get to Manizales

By plane

The most convenient way to get to Manizales is by plane. The city has its own airport, La Nubia Airport, which has daily flights to and from Bogotá and other major cities in the country. Airlines such as Avianca, LATAM and EasyFly have regular flights to Manizales. The flight time from Bogotá to Manizales is approximately 45 minutes.

The airlines that offer connections are as follows:

By bus

Another way to reach Manizales is by land. The city has a bus station that connects it to the main cities in the country. Buses from Bogotá depart daily from the Salitre bus terminal. The journey takes about 7 hours. There are also bus connections from other major cities such as Medellin, Cali and Pereira.

The easiest way to buy tickets is via Pinbus.

Door to door transportation

For those who prefer a more convenient and direct option, there are private transportation services from Bogotá and other cities to Manizales. Offering door-to-door transportation in comfortable vehicles, these services are a good option for those who want to avoid the hassle of public transport.

How to get around in Manizales?

Manizales is a city with various public transport options. One of them is the cable car, whose central hub is the Fundadores station, connecting the different sectors of the city.

Another option is the city buses, which operate on more than forty routes along major avenues such as Avenida Santander, Avenida Kevin Angel and Avenida Panamericana. In addition, there are about 2,500 taxis for those who prefer a faster and more convenient service.

For those who prefer more flexibility, there are car rental companies in the city that provide a variety of vehicles.

The following companies rent cars in Manizales:

  • hertz
  • advice
  • ABC

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About Author



Hello! I'm Frank Spitzer, the founder and the heart behind Pelecanus, a specialized tour operator for Colombia travel. My journey in travel is vast and rich – I've explored over 60 countries, absorbing cultures, experiences, and stories along the way. Since 2017, I've been channeling this wealth of global experience into creating unforgettable travel experiences in Colombia. I'm recognized as a leading authority in Colombian tourism, with a deep-seated passion for sharing this beautiful country with the world. You can catch glimpses of my travel adventures and insights around Colombia on my YouTube channel. I'm also active on social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, where I share the vibrant culture and stunning landscapes of Colombia. For professional networking, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Join me on this incredible journey, and let's explore the wonders of Colombia together!

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