Hiking the Cocora Valley is one of the best things to do in Salento

10 Best Things to do in Salento, Colombia

Home » Colombia » 10 Best Things to do in Salento: Coffee, Culture & Cocora

Salento is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Colombia for good reason: There are tons of unique things to do in Salento!

People flock there to see the stunning Cocora Valley and its towering wax palms. The town of Salento is also super pretty with its traditional colorful Colombian buildings.

It is also a coffee lover’s dream as Salento sits in the middle of Colombia’s Coffee Region. I enjoyed my time in Salento and hope you enjoy my list of all the best things to do in Salento Colombia! 🤠

1. Hike the Cocora Valley (Must-Thing to do in Salento!)

Hiking the Cocora Valley is the most popular thing to do in Salento and what attracts most tourists to the area.

The Cocora Valley is just a 25-minute drive from Salento. It is a spectacular area that is covered by giant wax palms. I had seen pictures of the palm trees many times before arriving but you really cannot appreciate their size until you see them in person.

The palm trees can grow up to 60 meters or 200 feet tall and the valley was turned into a national park to protect them. They were becoming endangered due to their use in religious celebrations.

Luckily the government stepped in to protect them and they are now one of Colombia’s biggest tourist attractions!

A woman hiking through the Cocora Valley one of the best things to do in Salento Colombia

The best thing to do in the Cocora Valley is to go for a hike. It’s a 4-5 hours hike and you will need to be in decent shape for it. We saw a few people struggling but we had no problem with it.

If you don’t feel like hiking or are short on time you can still visit El Bosque de las Palmas (The Palm Forest). This is the famous hilltop that is covered in massive palm trees that you see in the image above.

It is one of the most beautiful areas in the whole valley so even just visiting this part is worth the visit. Entrance to the Palm Forest is 20,000 COP or 5 USD per person.

Cocora Valley Hike

If you choose to do the Cocora Valley hike (which you should do!) it will take you about 5 hours to complete. But you have one big decision to make and that is whether to do the hike clockwise or anticlockwise.

If you do the hike clockwise you will start at the Palm Forest and end the hike going down the valley on the other side. If you go anti-clockwise you will start in the valley and hike uphill to end at the Palm Forest.

A group of wax palms on a grassy hll in the Cocora Valley one of the best things to do in Salento

I recommend going clockwise because, during our 10 days in Salento, the weather was often better earlier in the day. So you want to have the best weather possible when you see the Palm Forest.

Plus the hike up the valley is very steep and rocky so I would rather go down than up it. We passed a few people who were struggling going up the hill.

When you do the hike clockwise you will walk over private land at the end of the hike where you should pay the landowners 6,000 COP (1 USD) to pass over their land.

Although when we went through in the afternoon there was no one at the gate. So if you pass later in the day there might not be anyone there to collect the money.

Read here: Detailed Cocora Valley Hike Description 🥾

Colorful Cocora Valley hiking map
Cocora Valley hike map
A path going through fields in the Cocora Valley one of the best things to do in Salento Colombia

How to get to the Cocora Valley

Getting to the Cocora Valley is super easy. You just have to head to Plaza Bolivar which is the main square in Salento and look for the lineup of colorful jeeps called Willys.

Next to the Willys is a ticket booth where you can buy a ticket for 4,500 COP (1 USD) each way. On busy days the jeeps leave every 15 minutes or when full. There is a schedule on the ticket booth saying they only leave every hour but that’s not true.

The last Willy will leave the Cocora Valley back to Salento at 5 pm.

Tip: 2-3 people will have to stand on the back of the jeep and hold onto the roof. I recommend doing this for a better view. If you sit in the back you can’t see out the windows and it is quite cramped. But if you stand at the back you will have an awesome view while you drive through the Cocora Valley plus it’s fun! 🤠

A group of colorful jeeps parked in a line at Salento's main square
These jeeps will take you to the Cocora Valley, coffee farms & Filandia

Cocora Valley Tours

We enjoyed exploring the Cocora Valley solo but many tours are available if you prefer a guide. Most tours include a pickup from your accommodation in Salento or surrounding towns like Pereira or Armenia, an optional lunch and of course a guide through the Valley.

You can book Viator’s most highly rated Cocora Valley Hike Tour here or here 👇

2. Go on a Coffee Farm Tour (Best Thing to do in Salento for Coffee Lovers)

Visiting a coffee farm is the best thing to do in Salento if you are a coffee lover. Salento is located within the Coffee Axis of Colombia and grows some of the best coffee in the world.

I already knew a bit about coffee before I arrived in Colombia. But after spending 3 months in Colombia I definitely became a coffee snob!

When you go on a coffee tour you will see what it takes to make a good cup of coffee. You will also see the bad ingredients (including worms 🤢) that many companies use to make cheap coffee which will most likely inspire you to never drink cheap coffee again!

The main buiding at the Ocaso Coffee Farm which is red and white and built in the old Colombian colonial style
Finca El Ocaso – one of the prettiest coffee farms near Salento

Where to go on a Coffee Tour in Salento?

Salentos’ coffee farms are located a little bit outside town so you can either hike to them (what we did) or jump in a jeep. Or do one way on foot and the other by jeep.

The Willys leave from Salento’s main square. You just have to show up and buy your ride at the ticket booth between the jeeps.

At the ticket booth, you will see posters listing all the available coffee farm tours including tour times (often every hour) and if in English or Spanish. You can choose one and jump in a jeep straight there. So it is super casual and easy to organize.

We chose to walk and enjoyed to get there on foot. It took about 40 minutes from town to reach the coffee farms and it was a peaceful walk on a dirt road. But we went during the week, traffic might be busier on the weekend.

Finca El Ocaso

Finca El Ocaso is the most popular place to take a coffee tour in Salento. They have been doing tours for a long time so everything is well organized.

A tour costs 40,000 COP (10 USD) and takes 1.5 hours. You can also pay 100,000 COP (25 USD) for a premium tour that lasts 3 hours and has a smaller group. Book a tour here. You can also stay at their farm which is super beautiful! Check their rooms here.

You can also just visit their onsite cafe. We had already done two coffee tours in Colombia when we arrived in Salento. So we just walked to Finca El Ocaso and enjoyed a coffee on their terrace. The view is beautiful and they make excellent coffee.

Book here:
🧑‍🌾 El Ocaso Coffee Tour
🛌 Room at Finca El Ocaso

A cup of coffee sitting on a table at Finca El Ocaso one of the best things to do while in salento
The view from Finca El Ocaso cafe

Las Acacias Coffee Farm

We stopped at Las Acacias Coffee Farm on our way to Finca El Ocaso. It is also a great place to grab a coffee or do a tour. I liked the coffee here even more than at El Ocaso.

The cafe at Las Acacias is much more basic than at El Ocaso but it has a beautiful view and fantastic coffee. We sat there for about half an hour and saw many birds.

A coffee tour at Las Acacias is 1 hour long and costs 25,000 COP (6 USD). You will most likely be in a smaller group as it is a smaller farm. Book a tour here.

Book here:
🧑‍🌾 Las Acacias Coffee Tour

☕️ Best Salento Coffee Tours

You like our tips? 💛 Say thanks with a coffee here!

A cup of coffee sitting on a wooden board overlooking a green forest at Las Acacias coffee farm
Amazing coffee at Las Acacias

3. Walk Calle Real

Calle Real is the main tourist street in Salento and is lined by pretty colonial buildings. It is a great place to go for a walk and check out the shops and souvenir stores.

But even though it is a nice street it could be kept in better condition. The footpath, road and benches were falling apart despite the high amount of tourists coming here. Still, the colorful buildings and doorways are really beautiful and great for taking photos!

I am usually not a fan of souvenir shopping but most of the stores along Calle Real had some really interesting products. So it’s worth having a look around.

Tip: Make sure to visit Calle Real in the morning before all the businesses open their doors so you can take photos with the colorful wooden frames 📸

4. Climb El Mirador de Salento

For the best view of Salento, you need to head up to Mirador Alto de la Cruz. Just walk Calle Real to the very end and the staircase all the way up.

From the viewpoint at the top, you can see Armenia in the distance on a clear day. Vendors are selling souvenirs and there is a cafe & restaurant if you walk a bit to the left.

Tip: Make sure you follow the past to the left past the restaurant to go to Mirador de Salento that has a beautiful view of the Cocora Valley 🌴

The view of Salento from El Mirador one of the best things to do in Salento
View over Salento, the city in the distance is Armenia
A woman standing on a wooden lookout with a view of the Cocora Valley in the background
Second Mirador overlooking the Cocora Valley

5. Day Trip to Filandia (Top Thing to do in Salento!)

Filandia is another colorful colonial town just a 25-minute drive from Salento. It is nowhere near as popular with international tourists. But I think that the town itself is even prettier than Salento.

Going on a day trip from Salento to Filandia is one of the best things to do in Salento, Colombia. I recommend visiting on a Sunday because there is a farmer’s market at the main square. Sunday is also when most tourists are in town but to me, it added to the atmosphere.

The colorful main square of Filandia in Colombia with a Sunday market taking place

How to get to Filandia from Salento

To get to Filandia from Salento you can catch a Willy from the main square. They leave every hour on the hour and cost 8000 COP (2 USD) each way per person.

You cannot buy an open-ended return ticket like to the Cocora Valley. When you arrive in Filandia you will have to buy your return ticket for a specific time at the main square. There will be a guy hanging around the Willys in Filandia to buy the ticket from.

Read here: Things to do in Filandia, Colombia

Two colorful jeeps parked on the street at the main square of Filandia colombia with colorful buildings in the background and locals sitting on the square on tables at local cafes

6. Hike to Santa Rita Waterfall

The Santa Rita Waterfall hike is nowhere near as impressive as the Cocora Valley. But it is still a very nice area to explore if you have some spare time in Salento. There are a few small waterfalls and paths through thick jungle and tunnels which are cool to check out.

To get to the hike you need to make your way to Finca Santa Rita. First head to the Salento bus terminal and take any bus that is going to Armenia.

It’s really easy: Just tell the driver that you want to go to Finca Santa Rita. He will then drop you off at the start of the road that leads to Finca Santa Rita which is marked here.

You will have to walk up a dirt road for about 20 minutes before you reach Finca Santa Rita. It is a nice walk through the countryside that passes alongside a river and through farmers’ fields.

Once you reach Finca Santa Rita you will have to pay 7,000 COP (2 USD) to enter the property. There is a map at the entrance that will show you all of the trails on the property.

It is cool that they made a map but we found it confusing to follow! So make sure that you have Maps.me downloaded before you arrive so you can follow the paths on there.

If you are short on time you can look into these tours combining different activities 👇

7. Visit La Fabrica de Chocolates

We always love to try high-quality chocolate. Because just like coffee if you buy the low-quality stuff it not only tastes way worse but the farmers also get ripped off. Read more about this here.

La Fabrica de Chocolates is a family-run chocolate factory in Salento that makes very good chocolates with locally grown cacao. They have a little chocolate shop in the front and a lovely sitting area in the back. You can even stay here! Book a room here.

I tried the cold brew cacao drink and it was super interesting! It almost smelt alcoholic but then tasted like a strong tea. It is not for everyone but if you want a new experience give it a go. Otherwise, try their hot chocolate or one of their many pralines. Yum!

Check here:
🛌 Stay a night at La Fabrica de Chocolates
🍫 Learn how real chocolate is made

A table at a chocolate factory in Salento Colombia with a cup of hot chocolate and a wine glass filled with cold brewed cocoa which is one of the best things to do in Salento
Try the cold cacao brew!

8. Go on a Cacao Farm Tour (Best Thing to do in Salento for Chocolate Lovers)

Colombia’s Coffee Region is not only a great place to grow coffee but it is also the perfect climate to grow cacao. So there is some very good chocolate that is made in Colombia.

While in Grenada we visited 5 different chocolate factories. So we didn’t feel the need to visit another cacao farm in Colombia. You can read about our experience here.

But I highly recommend visiting a cacao farm and learning about the chocolate-making process. You will gain a much greater appreciation for chocolate and the effort that it takes to make a high-quality bar of chocolate.

The best place to do a cacao tour in Salento is at Finca Evelyza. There you will learn the whole chocolate-making process from bean to bar plus get a pickup from Salento which will be cheaper than organizing your own transport. Book a tour here.

Book here:
🧑‍🌾 Cacao Tour at Finca Evelyza
🍫 Salentos best chocolate tours

A hand holding a red cocoa pod

9. Play Tejo (A Unique Thing to do in Salento)

Playing Tejo is the best thing to do in Salento at night if you want to have some fun with friends and a few drinks.

Tejo is a traditional Colombian game where you throw discs at small packages of gunpowder. It is a lot safer than it sounds and is fun to play in a group.

The game is thought to have originated from a game played by the indigenous people of Central Colombia. So the game has hundreds if not thousands of years of history.

Cancha de Tejo los Amigos is the best place to play Tejo in Salento. It’s close to Salento’s town center and a game costs 5,000 COP. Plus you need to buy a drink which costs about 7,000 COP. So in total, you will have to pay around 12,000 COP (3 USD). Fun and cheap!

Read here: Like Salento? Visit Jardin! 🤠

The enrance to Los Amigos bar in Saleno, the best place to play Tejo
The entrance to Los Amigos

10. Explore Los Nevados National Park

If you are into hiking and want an adventure then the best thing to do in Salento, Colombia is to visit the Los Nevados National Park. This national park is located high up in the Andes and has a unique landscape covered in Volcanoes, glaciers, and high-altitude swamps.

We did not get the chance to go hiking there but it looks like a very unique place. You technically could go hiking there by yourself but you would need to be very experienced. The weather is very unpredictable in the national park so you could get in trouble very easily if you are not prepared.

The best place to book a guided tour is with Salento Hikers and Paramo Trek. They do many hikes in and around Salento and have excellent ratings.

Book here:
🥾 Los Nevados Tours with Salento Hikers
🥾 Los Nevados Tours with Paramo Trek
✈️ Flexible cheap travel insurance with SafetyWing. Read about our experience plus other options here. We are already 2+ years insured with SafetyWing!

Nomad Insurance by SafetyWing is one of the best travel insurances for Salento Colombia

Where to Eat in Salento

There are a lot of great restaurants in Salento if you are willing to spend a bit of money. But we are budget travelers so all of the options below will be light on your wallet.


Cumana is a Venezuelan restaurant that was one of our favorite places we tried in Salento. We had never eaten at a Venezuelan restaurant before and Cumana made a very good first impression.

The food is super tasty and beautifully presented. They have many traditional Venezuelan dishes that we had never heard of and the food was delicious, filling and healthy. I recommend trying some of their traditional drinks!

Read here: How to eat healthy & cheap while traveling 🥑

La Posada de Rubi

La Posada de Rubi is a relatively new small restaurant that we stumbled across because everything else was shut. But we are glad we found it.

The prices are very reasonable with mains for 20,000 COP (5 USD) and generous portions. The food was really good and nicely presented. If you want to fill yourself up try the Cazuela Paisa. It doesn’t look like a lot when it arrives but it is incredibly filling!

Read here: 30+ Proven Ways to travel cheap 🌎

A plate of traditonal colombian food on a metal serving dish at one of the best restaurants in Salento Colombia

Restaurante Cocina y Horno Salento

Cocina y Horno Salento is a traditional Colombian restaurant close to the main square. Trout (trucha in Spanish) is one of their specialties and they do it very well.

They serve the trout on top of a giant patacon which is a traditional Colombian side dish made from plantain. Usually, they are quite thick and small. But in Salento, they are made super thin and like a giant tortilla chip. I wasn’t the biggest fan of them but it was interesting to try.

Read here: How to stay fit while traveling for free 💪

A trout on top of a fried patacon a traditonal Colombian meal from Salento

El Rincon de Luci

El Rincon de Luci is the place to go if you want the cheapest meal possible in Salento. Their Menu del Dia is only 16,000 COP (4 USD) including a main, soup and drink.

You can choose from trout, beef, or chicken for the main. There was a bit too much fried food for our liking on the plate but we had just finished a hike so it was the perfect place to refuel. Plus it was the only place that we could find that was open!

Read here: 5 Ways to get FREE accommodation 🏠

A plate of lentils and rice with a piece of trout on top at El Rincon de Luci one of the cheapest restaurants in Salento

Arepa Fusion Food

Arepas are a popular street food and kind of the Colombian version of tacos. I am usually not the biggest fan of Colombian Arepas. They are usually quite bland and lacking flavor.

But at Arepa Fusion Food in Salento, they make tasty Arepas with lots of flavor. When you arrive you will be given a paper to select all the toppings you want. So you can customize it and even create a Hawaiian-style arepa with pineapple.

Arepa Fusion Food is great if you want to sit down and grab something quick to eat.

Read here: Salento or Jardin – which town is better? 🤔

Donde Laurita

Donde Laurita is one of the most well-known restaurants in Salento. It is usually packed with tourists on the weekend and has a fun quirky interior.

The food at Donde Laurita is traditional Colombian food such as trout and Bandeja Paisa. The food was good but a little more expensive than other places we tried. But the restaurant has a nice atmosphere and is worth a visit.

Read here: Best destinations for foodies 🤤

Bandeja Paisa on a plate at Donde Laurita Salento

Coco Bowl

Coco Bowl is a vegan restaurant located at the end of Calle Real near Salento’s Mirador. They make a range of healthy vegan meals such as buddha bowls, burgers, pad thai, and more. It’s healthy, delicious and Instagrammy.

Read here: 25 Free Things to do in Medellin ✌️

Bumi Cocina Natural

Bumi Cocina Natural is a small restaurant on the outskirts of town that focuses on organic ingredients. Many of their dishes are a healthier twist on traditional Colombian dishes.

They have many vegan and vegetarian dishes but also meat that is organic and locally sourced. It is not the cheapest restaurant and we had to wait quite a while for the food because it’s all prepared fresh. But all the dishes they serve are full of flavor.

Read here: How to from Salento to Medellin fast ✈️

Plates with healthy food on a table

El Rincon de Lucy Campestre

El Rincon de Lucy Campestre is a great budget restaurant to eat at while visiting Salento’s coffee farms. It’s close to Las Acacias Coffee Farm. There is another El Rincon de Luci in Salento’s town but they are not connected in any way (we asked).

There is a great view from the restaurant into a green valley and the food is cheap and tasty. The Menu del Dia costs 18,000 COP (5 USD) and was very good.

Read here: How to get from Bogota to Salento cheap 🚌

A plate with rice and meatballs on a table

Where to Stay in Salento

Since Salento is a touristy town in Colombia’s Coffee Region there are plenty of options to stay. You can choose the countryside, in town or at a coffee farm. We have listed the best budget options in Salento below for you.

Salento Hostels

🛌 Yambolombia Hostel is a great choice if you want to be out in the countryside. It is about a 35-minute walk from Salento and in beautiful peaceful farmland. There are plenty of common areas and breakfast is offered for 15,000 COP (3.5 USD). Dorms start at 8 USD and private rooms at 28 USD. Book this hostel here.

🛌 Hostel Tralala is one of the best options in Salento’s town. It is just one block from the main square and has excellent reviews. You can book a dorm bed for 10 USD, which is great value. Book this hostel here.

Check out more hostels in Salento here 👇

Global deals 845x275

Salento Hotels

😴 La Posada de la Plaza is a great choice if you are looking for a budget hotel in Salento. They have double rooms for 45 USD per night. It is centrally located and comes with a shared kitchen which is handy if you want to make your own meals. Book this hotel here.

Check out more hotels in Salento here 👇

Salento Airbnb / Homestay

For a local experience, I highly recommend our Airbnb hosts. They are a super friendly family and staying with them was one of the highlights of our Colombia trip.

The downstairs of the property is a shop and bakery. So every morning they made us freshly baked buns and coffee. It is not healthy food but it smelled and tasted amazing.

The family was also very talkative which helped us to improve our Spanish big times and gave us many tips for hikes and activities in the area.

So if you want an awesome local experience and to practice your Spanish then this is the place for you! Book this Airbnb here.

Read also: What to see in Colombia’s Amazon 🐒

Housesitting Colombia

Another unique way to stay for free in Colombia or any other country in the world is to look after someone’s pet and home while they are on holiday. That way we have stayed in ocean-view villas and amazing city apartments rent-free!

So if you love pets and are interested in living like a local, check out Trusted House Sitters. There are not a lot of housesits in Colombia but a few times a month some pop up.

Sign up to Trusted House Sitters for free + use code HAPPYHEALTHYNOMADS for a 25% discount on your yearly membership! 🏠 Read about how it works and our experiences here.

TrustedHousesitters - See the world in a new way

Salento Activities & Gym

If you are staying in town for a while and work online like us you may be looking for a gym. There is only one option in Salento and that is Energym. It is a small gym but has everything you need and only costs 10,000 COP (2 USD) for a day pass. Go for it!

Another very popular activity in Salento is going on a bike tour, a hike, bird watching or horseback riding. The best place to do horseback riding in Salento is the Cocora Valley. There are several tour companies in Salento you can book these with.

Book here:
🚲 Bike tours Salento
🥾 Hiking tours Salento
🐴 Horseback riding Salento
🦜 Birdwatching tours Salento
🐒 Howler Monkey Tour Salento

Dirty mountainbikes leaning outside an open door of a colorful building in Salento

Salento FAQ

We have answered here some of the most frequently asked questions about Salento. Still in doubt? Ask away in the comment section at the end of this blog post!

How to get to Salento

The two main options to get to Salento are to fly or catch the bus. Flights within Colombia are very cheap so flying will be the best option for many people. But if you are on a very tight budget the bus will be the best option. See here all the transport options to Salento.

How to get around Salento?

Salento is a small town with many footpaths. It’s also only a 45-minute walk from one town end to the other so I recommend walking everywhere. Colorful jeeps called Willys parked at Salento’s main square are Salento’s public transport and will bring you to the Cocora Valley, coffee farms and Filandia nearby.

How many days do you need in Salento?

Salento is a small town and most people only come for 2 or 3 days. If you just want to see the main sights 3 days in Salento is enough. If you want to take things a bit slower then I recommend staying for 4-5 days. We stayed for 12 days and enjoyed our time mainly because of our amazing Airbnb host family. Plus we work while traveling.

Where to go after Salento?

Salento sits in between Medellin, Bogota and Cali which are all popular tourist destinations in Colombia. Don’t miss out on a day trip to Filandia, which is only a 40-minute drive from Salento, or traveling to other towns in Colombia’s Coffee Region like Jardin.

Is Salento worth visiting?

Absolutely! There are many unique things to do in Salento like seeing the tall wax palm trees in the Cocora Valley, visiting a coffee farm, playing tejo or walking down Calle Real gazing at all the colorful wooden frames.

Colorful doors of Salento's streets

Enjoy the Top Things to do in Salento Colombia!

Together with Jardin, Salento is one of our favorite towns in Colombia. The day we left we were already talking about coming back one day. A big reason for that is that our host family was so amazing and brightened up our stay.

But even without an awesome host family, Salento is still one of the best places to visit in Colombia. The Cocora Valley and coffee farms are stunning and any traveller would love to experience them.

I hope you enjoy Salento! Bookmark this page for later, leave a comment below if you have any questions or say thanks for all our tips with a Colombian coffee here 🤠


Hey there! Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means that if you choose to make a purchase we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us to generate income and keep creating content for you. So we greatly appreciate your support! Thanks!

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!

Helpful? Share it!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top