A beautiful town square in Jardin which is a big factor when deciding to visit Salento or Jardin

Salento or Jardin: Which Coffee Town is Best for You?

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The Coffee Region is at the top of many people’s bucket lists in Colombia. It’s a spectacular mountainous region producing some of the world’s best coffee. Many travelers who are short on time have to decide between visiting Salento or Jardin.

If you have enough time you should visit both. They each have pros and cons and are beautiful towns with much to do for tourists. But if you have to decide, we made a comparison between Salento or Jardin to help you decide which town is best for you!

Where are Salento and Jardin?

Salento and Jardin are both located in Colombia’s Coffee Region. On a map, it looks like it would be easy to travel between Jardin and Salento but it is not!

A lot of the Colombian countryside is very undeveloped. So to travel from Jardin to Salento will take many hours on dirt roads in traditional Colombian buses called Chivas. Read about your transport opinions here.

Jardin is located further north and is only easy to access from Medellin by bus. Salento is further south and you can get there by bus or air from Medellin and Bogota.

Because Salento is easier to access from multiple locations in Colombia, it tends to get more international visitors than Jardin. It is also easier to keep traveling south to Ecuador from Salento so many backpackers end up there.

Read here: How to get to Salento cheap ✈️

Map showing the location of Salento or Jardin
Jardin and Salento on the map📍

1. Best Atmosphere: Salento or Jardin?

In terms of the overall atmosphere between Salento and Jardin, I think Jardin is the clear winner. Even though Jardin is no secret to local tourists, it still retains its small-town charm and feels like you are stepping back in time.

At the beautiful main square, you will see old farmers with cowboy hats on sipping on coffee. Locals will be riding horses down the streets on their way to and from farms.

People relaxing in a town square in the evening which is one of the reasons to choose Salento or Jardin when visiting Colombia
Jardins’ main square is beautiful and always full of local life in the evenings
A street lined with colorful colonial buildings in Salento Colombia
Salento has pretty streets but they lack the local life of Jardin

Salento on the other hand feels a lot more like a town for tourists. During the week the town feels a bit deserted. Then it fills up with tourists on the weekend. This is not a bad thing either as we are tourists too! But Salento just lacks the small-town vibe Jardin has.

Winner: Jardin 🏆

Read also: Best Things to do in Jardin

2. Who has the Best Activities?

Salento and Jardin offer similar activities. Because they are both in the Coffee Region with beautiful landscapes around, visiting coffee farms and hiking are very popular in both.

In Salento, the town is set up for mass tourism. So the activities are easier to take part in particularly if you do not speak Spanish. You just need to head to the main square and buy a ticket for one of the Jeeps that will take you to multiple different activities.

Salento also has more tours in English. Whereas in Jardin you will most likely have to pay extra to have an English-speaking guide.

In Jardin, the hikes and coffee farm tours are not as easy to find. You will have to do a bit of research to book them. But we did the hard lifting for you already: Read this Jardin Travel Guide to plan your activities in Jardin!

I enjoyed the coffee farms and hikes in Jardin even more than Salento. Jardin also has a few more quirky things to do such as a tiny cable car, a bat tunnel and a cock of the rock bird sanctuary. Read about all of them here.

So I think for activities between Salento and Jardin it is a draw. Both offer a great selection, the activities in Salento are easier to take part in but I enjoyed the ones in Jardin even more.

Draw 🤝

Read also: Best Things to do in Salento

3. Prettiest Town: Salento or Jardin?

In my opinion, Jardin is easily prettier than Salento. The main square in Jardin is one of the prettiest I have seen in Latin America. In contrast, the Salento one is nothing special at all.

Both Jardin and Salento are similar in that they are full of colorful traditional buildings. But Jardin just looks after its streets and buildings a bit better than Salento.

Jardin is also surrounded by hills that are covered in coffee farms. Whereas in Salento all the attractions and hills are a bit more spread out. Salento is still a nice place but between Salento and Jardin the prettiest town is most definitely Jardin in my opinion.

Winner: Jardin 🏆

Read also: Don’t miss Salentos Pretty Twin Filandia

A woman sitting at a table at a restaurant overlooking Jardin Colombia
The beautiful hills surrounding Jardin

4. Who has the best Coffee Farms?

Even if you are not a coffee lover you have to visit a coffee farm while you are in Salento or Jardin. Coffee is so common in your everyday life. Yet you never stop to think about where it came from or how it was made.

Going on a coffee farm tour is super interesting and will give you a greater appreciation of coffee. Salento and Jardin both have great coffee farm tours with their pros and cons.

In my opinion, the coffee farms in Jardin are even prettier and more accessible from town. You can walk straight from the town center and stroll through the farms on the hills.

The coffee farms in Salento are more outside of town so it is a longer walk or a Jeep ride to get there. But the coffee farms in Salento are more set up for mass tourism. This means it is easier to just turn up for a tour and you do not have to book in advance.

In Jardin, you will have to pay extra for an English guide. But in Salento, there are multiple English tours every day at most farms.

So I think when it comes to coffee farms it is a draw. Salento has the most tour options and is easier if you do not speak Spanish. But Jardin has the prettiest farms that are more accessible from town and with fewer crowds.

Draw 🤝

Book here:
👩‍🌾 Best Coffee Tours in Jardin
🫘 Best Coffee Tours in Salento
☕️ Medellin’s Best Coffee Tour
💛 Say thanks with a coffee

5. Who has the Best Hikes?

Between Salento or Jardin it is Salento that has the most famous hike. That is the Cocora Valley with its towering wax palms that attracts tourists from all over the world.

I enjoyed the Cocora Valley hike and it is a stunning area. But overall I enjoyed Jardin’s hikes even more. My favorite hike was the Seven Waterfalls hike in Jardin.

This is a hike that is not a walk in the park. The trail can be hard to find and there are sections where you have to use ropes to climb down muddy slopes. But you will be rewarded with multiple amazing waterfalls in the middle of unspoiled forests.

Also, the hills around Jardin are very nice to walk around and check out all the farms. Plus there is the amazing Cueva del Esplendor waterfall to check out.

In Salento, you just have the Cocora Valley and the Santa Rita waterfall hike. The Cocora Valley is stunning but because of the variety, I have to give the winner here to Jardin.

Winner: Jardin 🏆

Read here:
🥾 6 Amazing Hikes in Jardin
🥾 How to hike Cocora Valley

6. Restaurants: Is Salento or Jardin better for Foodies?

There is good food in Jardin and Salento but I think that Salento wins this category quite comfortably. Because it attracts more international guests it has a larger range of cuisines.

In Salento, there is an amazing Venezuelan restaurant called Cumana that you have to try. You can also get great Ramen at Maji and more Asian food at Wabi Asian Kitchen. Plus many other restaurants are serving traditional Colombian food.

While in Jardin we had a lot of Colombian food that we enjoyed. Such as trout (trucha) with plantain at Otra Cocina and Restaurante Dona Hilda. But the options were more limited. So the winner for best restaurant in terms of variety has to be Salento.

Winner: Salento 🏆

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7. Best Cafes: Salento or Jardin?

It is no surprise that Salento and Jardin have great cafes. They are both located in the middle of Colombia’s Coffee Region so it’s a coffee lovers paradise.

In Jardin are cafes with amazing views such as Cafe Jardin and De Los Andes Cafe at the main square. Cafe Macanas is also a great colorful cafe with popular brunch.

In Salento, we loved La Casa Cafe Galeria. It is a cozy little cafe on a backstreet that is easy to miss. Stopping in for a coffee at Finca El Ocaso and Las Acacias Coffee Farm is also a great idea. Both places are coffee farms outside towns with nice views and scenery.

While almost a draw, overall I think that Jardin had a better variety of different cafes in and around town so they take out this category by only a bit, especially when it comes to views.

Winner: Jardin 🏆 (almost drew)

Read also: 12 Best Cafes in Medellin
Do you like this blog post? 💛 Say thanks with a coffee

8. Which Town is Most Accessible?

In terms of accessibility, the clear winner is Salento. There are two airports within an hour’s drive. This means can fly to either city and then take a bus or cab.

Flights around Colombia are cheap as well. So if you travel with carry-on they can often be just a little bit more expensive than the bus.

Jardin on the other hand is a 3-4 hour bus ride from Medellin which is easy to do and depending on the bus comfortable.

But except for Medellin, Jardin is not easily accessible from any other major city in Colombia. Which is probably why Jardin has retained its small-town charm.

Winner: Salento 🏆

Read here: How to get to Salento ✈️ Find cheap flights here 👇

A colorful chiva is a bus traditionally used in the countryside in Colombia parked on the side of a dirt road near Jardin Colombia
These colorful Chivas run between Salento and Jardin

9. Cleanest Town: Salento or Jardin?

Regarding cleanliness, I think that Jardin is the clear winner here. Calle Real is the main tourist street in Salento and I was quite surprised at how messy it was when I arrived.

It is not that there is trash everywhere but the town could do a lot to make the street nicer. The roads and footpaths are quite rundown and the benches are in bad condition.

In comparison, the public areas in Jardin felt a lot tidier and more pleasant to stroll around. Also, there was a lot of dog and horse poo on Salento’s streets but barely in Jardin.

Winner: Jardin 🏆

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A dog with a pink collar on sitting in front of a blue wall in Salento Colombia
Salento’s most photogenic dog

Overall Winner: Jardin! 🏆

If I had to choose between Salento or Jardin, I would go to Jardin. It is one of our favorite towns in the whole of Colombia. It is such a pretty place with an amazing atmosphere. We would love to go back if we had the opportunity.

Salento on the other hand was cool to visit but did not inspire us to return. Although we had such amazing Airbnb hosts that we would return just to see them again!

At the end of the day, it’s the experiences you have and the people you meet that will make one place more special than the other, even though one town is better on paper than the other.

Choosing between Salento or Jardin also highly depends on your situation. If you are a solo backpacker you might meet more people in Salento. But if you want to experience a charming Colombian town off the beaten path, Jardin is the better choice.

If you can visit both! 🙂

Read also: Find hidden travel gems 🤫

The colorful town square in Jardin Colombia
The colorful chairs in the main square of Jardin Colombia

Where to Stay in Jardin

We noticed while hiking around Jardin that many of the hostels are located in the hills around town. The benefit of this is that it will be nice and quiet.

We stayed in an Airbnb in town and had a noisy street in front of our window because of all the loud tuk-tuks and motorbikes. That’s why we recommend these places instead:

Best Hostels, Jardin, Colombia

🛌 La Tangara Hostel is a beautiful hostel on the outskirts of town that is great for a peaceful place to stay. Quite special, the dorms do not have bunk beds! Book it here.

🛌 Sgt Peppers Hostel is a great choice if you want to be in town close to the action. It has very good reviews and is just two blocks from the main square. Book it here.

Search for more hostels in Jardin here or here 👇

Best Hotels, Jardin, Colombia

😴 Hotel Plantacion – if you are looking to splash out on a hotel then look no further. We ate at the vegan restaurant here and the hotel looked amazing. It is on the edge of town so it will be quiet but close enough to walk. Starts at 90 USD, book it here.

😴 Hotel Kantarran is a good option if you are looking for a more budget option. Rooms start at 40 USD and many have great views of the surrounding countryside. Book it here.

Search for more hotels in Jardin here or here 👇

Where to Stay in Salento

Salento’s town is much quieter than Jardin’s because fewer tuk-tuks and motorcycles fly by. So you need to worry less about noisiness except if you stay directly at the main square. As in Jardin, you can choose to stay in town or the green hills near coffee farms.

Salento Hostels

🛌 Yambolombia Hostel is a great hostel in the countryside. It is a 35-minute walk from Salento but in beautiful peaceful farmland. There are plenty of common areas and breakfast for 15,000 COP (4 USD). Dorms start at 8 USD and privates at 28 USD. Book it here.

🛌 Hostel Tralala is the better choice if you are looking for a hostel closer to town. It is just one block from the main square and has excellent reviews. You can book a dorm bed for just over 10 USD so it is great value for money. Book it here.

Search for more hostels in Salento here or here 👇

Salento Hotels

😴 La Posado de la Plaza is a great choice if you are looking for a budget hotel in Salento. They have double rooms for around 45 USD per night. It is centrally located and also has a shared kitchen if you would like to make your own meals. Book it here.

Search for more hotels in Salento here or here 👇

Salento Airbnb

We stayed 2 weeks in this Airbnb in Salento and loved it. It was more of a homestay than an anonymous private room, so if you are up for living with a local family and practicing your Spanish this is the right place for you!

🏠 Book this Airbnb here.

Read here: 5 Ways to get Free Accommodation. Sign up to TrustedHouseSitters + use code HAPPYHEALTHYNOMADS at checkout for a 25% discount on your membership! 🐶 Read about our experiences here.

Are you going to visit Salento or Jardin?

Ideally, you should not have to decide between Salento or Jardin. They are both amazing places with lots to do. So if you have enough time you should visit both of them.

But if you are short on time I hope this in-depth comparison of accessibility, prettiness, activities, hikes, food and coffee farms has helped you figure out which town would be better for you!

I liked Jardin a lot and a bit better than Salento. I have visited many small colonial towns throughout Latin America. After a while, they can all seem the same. But Jardin has such a special atmosphere that it made it a better experience than Salento for me.

Let me know in the comments which town you are thinking of visiting! Also, read our other articles about Colombia’s Coffee Region to help you further decide where to go.


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Hi, I am Allan, a travel, health and fitness fanatic from New Zealand. I'm a former lawyer who turned into a full-time nomad in 2020. For the last 4+ years I've been traveling the world. I'm always on a hunt for good food, activities on a budget and workouts on the go. I hope you find my tips helpful and get inspired to travel more!

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