The Colombian “Coffee Triangle” is named for its production of what many consider the best coffee in the world. A visit to the region will show coffee lovers the very origins of their favorite bean. What you may not realize, is that a trip through the Colombian Coffee Triangle of Pereira, Manizales and Armenia has some hidden gems and a whole lot to offer. Let’s take a look.
As the largest city of the coffee triangle, Pereira is the most commercial point in the region. Capital of the Risaralda department, the bustling city is filled with hard-working and friendly people as well as visitors typically passing through for business. The city boasts a little bit of everything, with coffee farm tours, nearby nature spots such as Los Nevados National Natural Park, and hot springs Santa Rosa de Cabal and San Vicente. Experience an animated nightlife, with bars, clubs and international food options lining the main street. Although Pereira is not a main tourist destination for the Colombia traveller, it can be well worth the trip.
Surrounded by green mountain landscapes, Manizales is the capital of the Caldas department and offers a more colonial style feel than its triangle companions. Coffee culture, thermal springs, and festivals such as the International Theater Festival attract tourists to this mid-sized town. Similar to Pereira, with nature activities and an enjoyable nightlife, Manizales is a quieter destination and a good escape from the typical gringo trail.
The capital of the Quindio department, Armenia runs at a slower pace than both Pereira and Manizales making it feel more like a large town than a city. Within the city, there is a museum displaying work of indigenous Quimbaya goldsmiths as well as serene botanical gardens to explore. Venture into the lush verdant landscapes to nearby coffee farms and learn about the cultivation process. Many tourists only pass through Armenia, but it is worth a day visit to explore the nature in the area and discover the coffee culture.
Salento and the Valle de Cocora
Just a 45-minute bus ride from Armenia exists a small town with a fantastic treasure not to miss. The town itself consists of the typical square with a church, surrounded by quiet streets. The main road ‘Calle Real’ is lined with shops selling local crafts and coffee. At the end of the street, there is a staircase climbing up a hill with a cross, from which you can look out over the quaint and beautiful town.
The real treat of Salento, however, is visiting the Valle de Cocora. Hop on a Jeep and be whisked up into the lofty green mountains covered by the famous looming wax palm trees. Horses will take you through nearby trails or you can explore the fields yourself, crossing rickety bridges and admiring the tall spindly palms in misty mountainsides. For the full experience, spend a night camping in the valley to see the fog clear at dawn. On a trip to the coffee region, the Valle de Cocora is a magical experience not to be missed.
Colombia’s Coffee Triangle is a must-visit if for no other reason than the beautiful views and landscapes that await you.