Discover the beauty, taste and aromas of the Coffee Region's Cultural Landscape
Colombia is the land of the coffee bean, which means a visit to its magnificent Coffee Region's Cultural Landscape, a proud UNESCO World Heritage site, is a must.
The region, which covers the districts of Caldas, Quindío, Risaralda and the north of the Cauca Valley, offers a unique experience with scenery worthy of exploration on land, since its mountains and coffee bean plantations present landscapes you'll never tire of admiring and photographing.
And it's no wonder, because these mountains produce the highest quality coffee renowned the world over and enjoyed in every corner of the planet. So, sign up for the coffee experience. Coffee is more than a product, it's a symbol of the wealth and diversity of the Colombian culture.
What to do in the Coffee Cultural Landscape?
There's no doubt about it, you've got to live the coffee experience to the full. So, we recommend you visit the estates and plantations where you'll be shown how the crop is harvested and toasted and the coffee beans are prepared.
You can also visit Coffee Park, a theme park situated in Quindío with attractions dedicated to this important Colombian produce.
We also recommend that you get behind the wheel and go for a drive around the beautiful roads of the Coffee Region's Landscape. Not only will you take in the gorgeous landscapes of the area, but you'll also come across charming cities like Pereira, Armenia and Manizales.
The city of Pereira, affectionately known to the locals as ‘Querendona’, ‘Trasnochadora y Morena’ (the dark, sleepless lover), the "City with no Doors", and the "Pearl of Otún", has several interesting sights to see.
One of them is the Plaza de Bolívar, also known as the Plaza de los Mangos. This square is flanked by a mix of state buildings and cafés and restaurants. It's a great meeting place and a number of monuments and sights can be seen from there, such as the Bolívar Desnudo (Nude Bolívar statue) and the Cathedral of Our Lady of Poverty.
Armenia is also home to a Plaza de Bolívar, overlooked by the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the Quindío Government buildings and the Monument to Effort.
The city of Armenia also boasts the open-air shopping mall known as "Calle Real". This is a pedestrian walkway surrounded by greenery where you'll find all sorts of stores and retail outlets.
Lastly, we've got Manizales, capital of the Caldas region, also known as the "City of the Open Doors" because of its well renowned hospitality.
A must-see in Manizales is the historic quarter, which is a National Colombian Cultural Heritage Site.
It's got lots of tourist attractions, such as the Archdiocese of Manizales, the Manual Sanz building, the Caldas Government Buildings and the Plaza de Bolívar. The plaza is one of the city's main hubs, among other reasons because the iconic Manizales Basilica Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary stands on its south side.
A trip to Manizales would not be complete without a visit to one of the "fondas". "Fondas" are traditional restaurants that showcase all the greatest delights the coffee region culture has to offer, from gastronomy to colorful flower-adorned facades and terraces, and also quirky decor, like traditional artwork, ponchos, "carrieles" (traditional Colombian leather satchels) and hats.
Finally, don't forget to stop by the Bullring, the traditional epicenter of the Manizales Fair. This bullring hosts bullfights and is also used as a venue for musical and cultural events.
The cities of the Coffee Region Cultural Landscape are the setting for some major events you can enjoy.
One of the most significant of these is the famous Manizales Fair, which is held in January and showcases the cultural wealth of the region.
Then, in the capital of Caldas, we have the International Theater Festival, held in the month of September and bringing together the biggest theater stars on the Colombian and international scene.
The annual Pereira Festival is a harvest festival that showcases the importance of the coffee crop and coffee culture in the region. It features events such as the procession, a vintage car parade, the National Trovas Festival, the famous Beauty Pageant, the National Orchid Exhibition, and many other activities.
Activities you won't want to miss out on
If you're traveling through the Coffee Region Cultural Landscape, the amazing Los Nevados National Natural Park is an obligatory stop. This park is home to the Nevado del Ruiz volcano, el Nevado de Santa Isabel and the Nevado del Tolima, as well as the Paramillos del Cisne, Santa Rosa and Quindío moorlands.
We'd also recommend a visit to the Ukumarí Biopark, which is the largest of its kind in Latin American, covering an expanse of 820,000 square meters.
In this region you'll also find the Los Yarumos and Caracolíes Ecoparks, where you can get out in nature and do some fun adventure sports, like tree canopy walking, rappel, rock climbing and trail walking.
All of these natural environments are the perfect setting for bird watching.
You can also follow the marked route around all the key villages in the Coffee Region Cultural Landscape. Why not start out at Quimbaya? This is home to the "Aldea del Artesano" (our artisan village), where you can learn about the arts and crafts made from the "guadua" bamboo plant and other typical local materials.
From there, you can head to Filandia, where you'll also encounter beautiful crafts and have the opportunity to visit the "La Colina Iluminada" lookout point, which offers a panoramic view of the mountains of the coffee region.
After that, you'll arrive at Salento, a heritage town characterized by its incredibly pretty and colorful traditional architecture.
Another place to visit while you're here is Santa Rosa de Cabal, a district of Risaralda, famous for being the entrance point to the Los Nevados National Natural Park and for its magnificent hot springs, where you can take a break on your journey and relax among the mountains.
Another lovely village located in Risaralda is Marsella, famous for its houses built in the traditional architecture of Antioquia; some have flower-decked balconies and provide the perfect backdrop to the Plaza de Bolívar.
Another must-see is Salamina, a gorgeous heritage town situated in the Caldas region which was declared a National Monument in 1982 and will charm you with its collection of houses made from adobe and clay rooftops.
Last on your route is a visit to Cocora Valley. With its mountains, rivers and palm trees, this is one of the most beautiful natural enclaves in the Coffee Region Cultural Landscape. There, you can go fishing, trekking or horse riding. You can even go camping in this magnificent place.
The temperature in the Coffee Cultural Landscape is temperate and pleasant; however, it might be an idea to bring a jacket or cardigan for the evenings just in case.
Cities like Armenia and Pereira have international airports with connections to the United States and Panama. However, the most interesting way to get around the Coffee Cultural Landscape is by land, so you can get around freely and be absolutely dazzled by the wonderful mountainous landscapes.
In the cities of the region, you'll find Tourist Information Points (TIPs) that will provide you with all the information you need for your visit.
With these simple recommendations, you'll be all set to get into the coffee culture vibe, one of the most important elements of our Colombian identity. It's time to set off on your travels across the marvelous Coffee Culture Landscape. You're going to love it!