The Colombian Coffee Zone (Armenia, Salento and Calarcá)
The Coffee Zone has an inspiring landscapes, charming “fincas”, nature, friendly people, great food and coffee. Enough to make everyone happy and entertained for a few days.
The Coffee Zone is considered by many travelers to be the most beautiful region of Colombia, with its mild spring-like climate year round, friendly people and breathtaking natural beauty. The people in the region have a unique laid back charm, the hustle and bustle of the big cities is readily forgotten, hospitality and friendship take on a new meaning, there is always time for a coffee, or a beer and a chat.
The region pleases us with charming small towns such as Salento and big cities such as Armenia, full of colorful facades, traditional architecture and friendly faces. Staying on a farm will make the experience even more amazing, everything surrounded by the coffee flavor. Yumi!
What are the “must see/do” attractions?
- The Coffee Park (Parque del Café)
- Recuca (Typical coffee farm where I get to learn about the coffee production process)
- Valle del Cocora (Horse riding or 3–4h trekking trough the world’s highest palm trees)
- Pedestrian street between Bolivar and Sucre Square
- Parque de La Vida
- Get around with a Willy (tradional Jeep that used to be for carrying coffee)
- Mariposario (butterfly garden of Calarca)
- Archaeological Museum of Quimbaya (Gold Museum)
- Walk around Salento and go up at the top of 253 stairs
What are the best restaurants for backpackers? What those restaurants has to offer?
In Armenia: Tierra Morena Cocina Saludable and Natural Food plaza (veggie), Container City Armenia (food trucks of lots of options), Arepas of Constitution Square (best arepas ever!), La Fonda Antioqueña (typical cuisine of the region — bandeja paisa, sancocho or mazamorra) and the coffee at Expedición Café, Cafe Quindio or with guys between Bolivar and Sucre Square.
In Salento: Ríncon del Lucy (lunch, dinner or trying a nice trout — must eat), Sueño de Fresas (Ice cream and fruit), La Eliana (breakfast, pizzas and sandwiches).
What are the best nightclubs? What did you specially liked about them?
Zona Rosa (nightlife zone) has the bigger concentration of bars and clubs (most of bars became clubs at some ponit of the night) to go to, but the only stay open until 3AM. The Guitarra y Rumba (is the longest-running club in the zona rosa and has live music) and Club 3AM (crowd goes to keep the party going after everything else closes) are good options.
What are the best bars? What did you specially liked about them?
La Carrera 14 and Zona Rosa provides lots of options one next to the other. Some good bars are: El Solar (good food and drinks, there’s live music and happy hour prices), La Fonda Floresta (traditional and popular bar), Maria Juana (outside of the city but a nice one), Mirador de la plaza Taberna (good option for a beer and see the photos of Armenia before the earthquake)and La Habana (the spot of university students of Armenia)
What are the coolest places around the city you’ve visited?
That I’ve been:
- Salento (village) and Valle del Cocora
- The Coffee National Park
- Recuca (coffee farm)
- The Botanical Garden
That people recommended also:
- Cordoba Waterfalls
- Finlandia (village)
Where backpackers usually continue after the place you’ve been?
Most travelers don’t usually stay in Armenia, they will pass through the city only long enough to change buses or relax for a few days. Most of them (such as myself) stay at the small cities around such as: Montenegro, Salento, Calarcá, etc. And afterwards they usually go to: Salento, Manizales, Pereira or Cali.
From where they are usually coming?
Almost all of the backpackers are from US and Europe (English, French and German, specially). Rarely see people from Latin America (there are a few Argentinians), Asia or Africa.
What did you feel was missing in the city? What could make your visit to a perfect one?
Armenia feels more like a big town than a departmental capital. There is not much in the way of attractions here for visitors, most of them are outside of the city, such as Salento, The Coffee park and coffee farms. The region has beeeeeatiful landscapes worth checking but is not a place to stay longer than 3–4 days.
Eventually, please write in your own words your opinion and describe your personal experience.
“The coffee zone brought me back the memories and feeling to be at my gradma’s house. I felt comfortable, I had good food, I saw some amazing places and drank a lot of coffee between nice talks and laughs. Those are the kin of days that I will remember and a smile will come again in my face.”
Ariadne Nardeli (Brazilian Backpacker Researcher for Selina Hostel)