There is no taste like the first sip of a world-beating cup of coffee in the country famous for producing it.
Colombia is the land of the coffee bean and a visit to its magnificent Coffee Cultural Landscape, a proud UNESCO World Heritage site, is a must.The region covers Caldas, Quindio, Risaralda and the north of the Cauca Valley, stretching across mountains and hills covered in lush coffee plantations.
Coffee is more than a product in Colombia. It’s a symbol of the country’s wealth and diversity and key to understanding its rural communities.
Here we give you our top tips for enjoying a visit to the coffee region Colombia.
Cities to visit in the Coffee Cultural Landscape
A visit to Colombia’s coffee estates and plantations is essential for learning how the crop is harvested and toasted, and how coffee beans are prepared.
The city of Pereira has other interesting sights including its Plaza de Bolivar, also known as the Plaza de los Mangos. The square is flanked by state buildings, cafés and restaurants, as well as the Bolivar Desnudo (nude Bolivar statue) and the Cathedral of Our Lady of Poverty.
Armenia has a Plaza de Bolivar too, overlooked by the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the Quindio Government buildings and the Monument to Effort. It also has a popular open-air shopping mall known as Calle Real – a pedestrian walkway surrounded by greenery and full of stores and retail outlets.
In Quindio, visitors also enjoy a trip to the Coffee Park, a theme park with attractions dedicated to this important Colombian product.
The final city is Manizales, capital of the Caldas department, also known as the “City of the Open Doors” because of its renowned hospitality.
The historic quarter in Manizales is a must see. It’s a Colombian Cultural Heritage Site. Manizales’ Plaza de Bolívar is one of the city's main hubs, with the iconic Manizales Basilica Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary on its south side.
Visitors to Manizales always enjoy the fondas. Fondas are traditional restaurants showcasing the greatest delights the coffee region has to offer, from gastronomy to colorful flower-adorned facades and terraces, and quirky decor, including artwork, ponchos, carrieles (traditional Colombian leather satchels) and hats.
Don't forget to stop by the bullring, the epicenter of the Manizales Fair. The bullring hosts bullfights and is also used for musical and cultural events.
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Festivals in the Coffee Cultural Landscape
The cities of the coffee region Colombia are the setting for some major events.
One of the most significant is the famous Manizales Fair, held in January and showcasing the region’s cultural landscape. Manizales also has an International Theater Festival, in September, bringing together Colombian and international stars.
The annual Pereira Festival is a harvest festival that showcases the importance of coffee and coffee culture in the region. It has a procession, vintage car parade, the National Trovas Festival, a beauty pageant, National Orchid Exhibition, and much more.
Hiking and adventure in the Coffee Cultural Landscape
If you enjoy the Colombia landscape, the incredible Los Nevados National Natural Park is an obligatory stop. The park is home to the Nevado del Ruiz volcano, the Nevado de Santa Isabel and the Nevado del Tolima, as well as the Paramillos del Cisne, Santa Rosa and Quindio moorlands.
We also recommend a visit to the Ukumari Biopark, which is the largest of its kind in Latin America, covering 820,000 square meters.
You'll also find the Los Yarumos and Caracolies eco-parks in the region, where you can enjoy tree canopy walking, rappel, rock climbing and trail walking.
All of these natural environments are the perfect setting for bird watching.
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Small towns to visit in the Coffee Cultural Landscape
The Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia offers a marked route around all its key villages. Why not start at Quimbaya? This is home to the aldea del artesano (artisan village), where you can learn about handicrafts made from the guadua bamboo plant and other local materials.
From there, head to Filandia, where you'll also find crafts and have the opportunity to visit the La Colina Iluminada lookout point, which offers a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains.
After that, travel to Salento, a heritage town characterized by its pretty and colorful traditional architecture.
Another popular spot is Santa Rosa de Cabal, in Risaralda, famous for being the entrance point to Los Nevados National Natural Park and for its magnificent hot springs, where you can take a break and relax among the mountains.
Also in Risaralda is Marsella, famous for its houses built in the traditional architecture of Antioquia. Its flower-decked balconies are the perfect backdrop to its plaza.
Salamina is similarly a must-see, a gorgeous heritage town in Caldas that was declared a National Monument in 1982, thanks to its adobe houses with their clay rooftops.
Last but not least is a visit to the Cocora Valley. Its mountains, rivers and giant palm trees ensure it’s the most beautiful natural enclave in the entire Coffee Cultural Landscape, perfect for fishing, trekking and horse riding. You can camp here too.
Now you’re all set to immerse yourself in coffee culture, one of the most important elements of Colombia’s identity. It's time to set off on your travels across the coffee region Colombia. You're going to love it!
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