Salento Or Jardin? Which Coffee Town Is Best For You?

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

If you have enough time I think that you should visit both. They each have their pluses and minuses and are beautiful areas with a lot to do for tourists. But if you have to decide between the two we have everything you need to know to decide which is the best town for you.

Where Are Salento And Jardin?

Salento and Jardin are both located in Colombia’s coffee region. Jardin is located further north and is much easier to access from Medellin.

Salento is further south and you can get to Salento by bus or by air from Medellin and Bogota. Because it is easier to access from multiple locations Salento tends to get more international visitors.

Map showing the location of Salento or Jardin
Jardin is located in the north near Medellin in the blue circle. While Salento is in the south in the red circle.

It is also easier to keep traveling south to Ecuador from Salento so many backpackers end up there. 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. If you want an adventure it will be a cool trip but not super comfortable.

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’ Mains 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 Jardrin

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 atmosphere that Jardin has.

WINNER : Jardin

Who Has The Best Activities?

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

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. Then 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 a tour in English.

In Jardin, the hikes and coffee farm tours are not as easy to find. You will have to do a bit of your research to book them.

But I think 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 the cable car, cock of the rock bird sanctuary, and the bat tunnel.

So I think for activities between Salento and Jardin it is a draw. The activities in Salento are easier to take part in but I enjoyed the activities in Jardin even more.

WINNER : Draw. Salento is easier to go on tours particularly if you do not speak Spanish. But overall we enjoyed the activities in Jardin more it just took a little more effort.

Prettiest Town

In my opinion, Jardin is easily prettier than Salento. The main square in Jardin is one of the prettiest I have seen in the whole of Latin America. But in contrast, the Salento main square 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 little bit better than Salento.

Jardin is also surrounded by hills where 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.

WINNER : Jardin

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

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 pluses and minuses.

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.

Draw : Prettiest Farms Jardin, Best farms for tourists Salento

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 I think 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 steep 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 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

Restaurants Is Salento Or Jardin Best For Foodies?

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

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 making traditional Colombian food.

While in Jardin we had a lot of Colombian food that we enjoyed. Such as Otra Cocina and Restaurante Dona Hilda.

But the options were much more limited. There are not many options apart from Colombian food. So the winner for best restaurants has to be Salento.

WINNER : Salento

Best Cafes, Salento or Jardin?

It is no surprise that Salento and Jardin have great cafes. They are both located in the middle of the coffee region so it is no surprise that there are some great cafes.

If you are in Jardin there are some cafes with some amazing views such as Cafe Jardin and De Los Andes Cafe at the main square. Cafe Macanas at the main square is also a great place to grab a coffee and brunch.

In Salento, we loved La Casa Cafe Galeria. It is a cozy little cafe on a backstreet that is easy to miss. But it is an awesome little place and they make great hot chocolate if you would like a relaxing drink in the evening.

Our other favorite cafe in Salento was at Finca El Ocaso. This is a coffee farm outside of town. But they also have an onsite cafe with an amazing view and fantastic coffee.

Stopping in for a coffee at Las Acacias Coffee Farm is also a great idea they have a little cafe with a great view as well.

Overall though I think that Jardin had a better variety of different cafes so they take out this category.

WINNER : Jardin

Which Town Is Most Accessible?

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

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. It is not easily accessible in any other major cities. Which is probably why Jardin has retained its small-town charm. So hopefully it remains that way in the future.

WINNER : Salento

A colorful chiva a bus that is traditionally used in the countryside in Colombia parked on the side of a dirt road near Jardin Colombia
A colorful Chiva which you will have to catch if you want to travel by bus from Salento to Jardin

Cleanest Town Salento Or Jardin?

In terms so of 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 rubbish everywhere but the town could just do a lot to make the street nicer. The roads and footpaths are just quite rundown and the seats are often on bad condition.

In comparison, the public areas in Jardin felt a lot tidier and much more pleasant to stroll around.

WINNER : Jardin

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!

In my opinion in choosing between Salento or Jardin, I would go to Jardin. It is one of our favorite towns in the whole of Jardin.

It is such a pretty place and just had such a nice 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.

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

Where To Stay In Jardin

Best Hostels, Jardin, Colombia

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 in town.

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

🛌 Sgt Peppers Hostel is a great choice if you want to be in town close to the action. It has great reviews and is just two blocks from the main square which is great for hanging out.

Best Hotels, Jardin, Colombia

Our Airbnb was actually located in a hotel. But because of the noise on the street and also inside the building, we recommend those two places instead:

😴 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 that it is a short walk to town. All of the rooms look beautiful and start at 90 USD.

😴 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.

750*350

Where To Stay In Salento

Salento Hostels

Yambolombia Hostel

Yambolombia Hostel is a great hostel if you want to be out in the countryside. It is about a 35-minute walk from Salento but is located in beautiful peaceful farmland. There are plenty of common areas and a breakfast is offered for just 15,000 COP or just under 4 USD.

Dorms can be as low as 8 USD per night and privates are as low as 28 USD.

Hostel Tralala

If you are looking for a hostel closer to town then I recommend Hostel Tralala. 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.

Salento Hotels

La Posado De La Plaza

If you are looking for a budget hotel in Salento then La Posado De La Plaza is a great option. 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.

Overall Winner Jardin!

In my opinion in choosing between Salento or Jardin, I would go to Jardin. It is one of our favorite towns in the whole of Jardin.

It is such a pretty place and just had such a nice 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.

So Are You Going To Visit Salento Or Jardin?

I think that you should not have to decide between Salento or Jardin. They are both amazing places and if you have enough time you have to visit both of them.

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

If you have been to both Salento and Jardin let me know in the comments which you preferred!

Also make sure to read our other articles about Colombia listed below.

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Travel, health and fitness fanatic from New Zealand. Co-founder of Happy Healthy Nomads and always on a hunt for good food.

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