Small and colorful Salento is the closest town to the Cocora Valley, home to the tallest palm trees in the world. The buildings are well maintained, the streets are clean, and there are many restaurants and cafés to choose from.
There are two airports in neighboring cities, Armenia and Pereira. We flew into Armenia, which is a little closer, from Bogota.
When you land at the Armenia airport, head to the Armenia Transportation Terminal in the center of town to grab a bus to Salento. It’s about 10 miles away. You can take a taxi for 20,000 – 25,000 COP (Colombian Pesos) or a green and white bus from the airport to the bus terminal for 2,800 COP per person.
Buses from Armenia to Salento depart every 20 minutes for 5,000 COP per person. The ride takes about an hour. Tickets are sold on a walk-up basis and you can just ask around the terminal for the next Salento-bound bus.
Where to Stay
There are many accommodation options around town to choose from. We’ll just recommend the guesthouse we stayed at because we really enjoyed it. There’s a kitchen with a fruit basket guests can help themselves to, a purified water dispenser, and a hot tub pool. The bedrooms themselves are a bit small but there is plenty of space to sit in the quiet courtyard.
Our stay included breakfast at Quindú Restaurante next door, with eggs made to order and a buffet of fresh fruit, pancakes, banana bread, peanut butter, jams, fresh squeezed orange juice, and more.
The hotel is also home to Roberto the parakeet.
Where to Eat
We found a really awesome hole-in-the-wall restaurant on Google Maps with glowing reviews about the chef and the open kitchen experience, so we decided to go and see for ourselves. The chef changes depending on the time of day, but one of them is an artist who paints wildlife on feathers and cooks on the side.
She’s especially friendly and will talk up a storm if you speak Spanish. We liked her so much we came back a second night, but she wasn’t there! On our first night, we went a little later in the evening, around 7 or 8 PM, so you could try around then.
In addition to an a la carte menu, three menu del dia options are available all day – chicken, trout, or vegetarian (which is a homemade lentil patty with sautéed veggies). We had trout for dinner both nights, a Salento speciality. You’re given a generous portion of fish for the price (15,000 COP) and it comes with a soup (get the zanahoria cream if it’s on offer), a blended juice, and a small bite of cake for dessert.
Around the corner is a lady who grills up arepas (corn flatbreads) every evening. She also has empanaditas (mini fried empanadas) and a hot panela drink. You can have a chicken or cheese arepa for 2500 COP, or a chicken empanadita for 1000 COP. There’s always a crowd.
What to Do
The town itself is quite cute and worth walking around to see all the colorful buildings.
For the best sunset view, walk up to the Mirador de Salento, from where you can see the whole town below, set amidst the verdant green of coffee estates.
You can walk an hour out of town to see some beautiful landscapes and coffee farms. From Salento, take the road to Finca El Ocaso Salento, a coffee estate offering tours and tastings. It’s a pleasant 4.2 kilometer walk. Take a rain jacket, as it’s prone to rain at any time in this region.
Here are some of the views along the way.
And of course, the most famous thing to do from Salento is to hike amidst the tallest palm trees in the world in the Cocora Valley.
Don’t forget to read our Cocora Valley Hiking Guide with Trail Map and 2020 Prices so you don’t get lost!