Amazing landscapes, coffee farms, delicious gastronomy in the Western Andes

Panoramic view of Medellín and its lovely infrastructure, a city where you can visit coffee farms nearby.
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There are many things to do in Colombia, and visiting the Western Andes is one you can’t miss. Keep on reading and find out more about this gem of our country.

The Western Colombian Andes is a region that brings together three different lifestyles: nature, countryside, and urban culture. It’s also where coffee-growing and flower production beautifies entire cities and towns.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the adventures, gastronomy, and culture the most representative sites of this region have to offer.

Main places to discover in the Western Colombian Andes

Medellín, City of Eternal Spring

Medellín, the second largest city in Colombia, is the capital of the Antioquia department. In this sprawling metropolis, nicknamed the‘City of Eternal Spring,’ you’ll find tons of activities to try, from exploring its galleries to perusing its marvelous vintage buildings.

As such, we recommend you start this incredible experience by visiting its museums and squares. The famous ‘Plaza de Botero’, for example, boasts 23 larger-than-life sculptures by Colombia’s best-known artist, Fernando Botero.

Also, along the western edge of the square, you’ll find the Museum of Antioquia, a place dedicated to artists of the region, as well as more of Botero’s artworks and art samples from the pre-Columbian period.

Fernando Botero is a famous painter and sculptor from Medellín. His iconic style is known as ‘Boterismo.’

If you’re a coffee lover, don’t forget to visit the myriad coffee shops of El Poblado, a beautiful neighborhood known for being a cultural promoter, where you can try different ground coffee roasts from local sites.

Likewise, in El Poblado, you’ll find the Castillo Museum and Gardens, a place where you can admire porcelain and glass objects, antiques, paintings, and sculptures in its permanent exhibition. Along your tour you’ll also learn more of this castle’s story.

You can also visit the Comuna 13, an entire neighborhood that has been completely transformed over the past few years. For this particular destination, we recommend you hire a professional tour guide so you can learn more and relish your visit to this community.

You can finish this fantastic trip in Guatapé, a small town located a couple of hours west of Medellín that is known for its colorful houses, and because it sits by a vast, artificial reservoir.

El Peñol is a massive monolithic structure that defines the landscape with around 649 man-made concrete steps that’ll take you to the top. Once you get there, you’ll get a view of the Guatapé Reservoir unlike any other and a unique backdrop to take a picture in. Consider hiring a tour agency that’ll help you fully enjoy the trip.

View of the colorful houses in Guatapé, a place where you can visit coffee farms nearby.

Credit: Daniel Sánchez / ProColombia

Colorful houses and antique bas-relief decoration of their façades, Guatapé, Antioquia.

Medellín’s delectable food

The bandeja paisa a typical dish from Antioquia and one of Colombia’s most iconic ever. Made up of red beans, fried sweet plantain slices, chorizo, white rice, ground meat, arepa paisa, avocado, fried eggs, and chicharrón (fried pork belly), this highly caloric delicacy can only be followed by a nap.

You may also try frijoles antioqueños, a dish made with red beans, tomatoes, cumin, plantain, scallion, and hogao (a traditional seasoning made of ground cumin, ground pepper scallion, tomatoes, and garlic).

Across the region you can drink mazamorra, a milky side beverage made of crushed corn, sugar, and raw sugarcane known as panela. Afterwards, try mondongo, a classic vegetable, potatoe, agave, and beef tripe soup.

Try a typical bandeja paisa, made of red beans, sweet plantain slices, chorizo, white rice, ground meat, arepa paisa, avocado, fried egg, and fried pork belly.

Credit: Daniel Sánchez / ProColombia

Try the delicious bandeja paisa, one of Colombia’s most iconic dishes.

Beautiful places across Colombia’s Coffee Region

Hands down one of the most amazing destinations in our country, the entire region has been shaped by Colombia’s famous beverage. This unique culture, as well as the beautiful landscapes, led to the declaration of the ‘Coffee Cultural Landscape’ as a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 2011.

Manizales, the City of Open Doors

Manizales is the capital of the Caldas department, and is often known as ‘the City of Open Doors’. This charming, welcoming city in the Coffee Cultural Landscape is also privileged enough to enjoy a beautiful view of the snow-capped Nevado del Ruiz volcano.

When you find yourself downtown, visit the Catedral Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Rosario, the highest church in Colombia. Its imposing neo-Gothic style will leave you speechless.

The Chipre viewpoint is another must when in Manizales, there, you can head to the top of a 40-meter-tall structure known as the‘factory of sunsets’. It’s perfect if you’re looking for memorable 360-degree views that include theNevado del Ruiz and Santa Isabel snowy peaks.

This city is a great base to go visit the surrounding Los Nevados National Park, a place where you’ll explore snow-capped volcanos, paramo ecosystems, and mountain lakes.

 

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Pereira, a beautiful spot of the Western Andes

Pereira, the capital city of the Risaralda department, is located in the foothills of the Western Andes and is well known for its coffee production.

Once in Pereira, you’ll find inspiring landmarks, historical sites, natural parks, and other incredible places. Start with the surrounding coffee farms in the towns nearby, where you’ll sample the exquisite taste of local Colombian coffee.

The Nevado Santa Isabel is a destination where you can enjoy extraordinary landscapes. Likewise, Ukumarí National Park is a wonderful place where you’ll find yourself surrounded by lush and beautiful nature.

Last but not least, you can take a walk through Bolívar Square, Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Pobreza, and the Universidad Tecnológica de Pereira, where you’ll find the planetarium, botanical garden, and other amazing spots.

 

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Armenia, a great landmark of the Colombian Coffee Region

Armenia is the capital city of the Quindío department: its historical center was named part of the Coffee Cultural Landscape by UNESCO in 2011.

Check out its downtown district alongCarrera 14, a modern street where you can find the Bolívar and Sucre parks. You can also visit the Quimbaya Gold Museum, which hosts a wide collection of archeological wonders of the pre-Columbian culture famous for its impressive gold work.

Like many other places in this region, you simply can’t miss a good Coffee Tour that will give you a taste of life in the surrounding coffee farms!

Santa Fe de Antioquia, a colonial gem

Santa Fe de Antioquia is a small town, founded back in 1541, that marked the beginnings of the Antioquia department. Its beautiful colonial architecture and historical relevance have earned it a place among the country’s 18 heritage towns.

Discover its historical center and get closer to the amazing Basilica de la Inmaculada Concepción Cathedral, the Puente de Occidente, interesting museums, and other great spots.

Did you know Santa Fe de Antioquia is one of the oldest towns and has the longest tunnel in Latin America?

You cannot leave this lovely town without trying its delightful foodbandeja paisa, mazamorra and arepa paisa made of corn and cheese.

 

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Salento, a colorful town

Salento, a town located in the northeastern Quindío department, is also a dreamy locale in the Coffee Cultural Landscape. Here you’ll find colorful streets, balconies and façades, and plenty of handicrafts and culinary delights to enjoy, such as trucha de arcoíris (prepared with fish, rice and fried green plantain slices called ‘patacones’); bandeja paisa, and, of course, coffee.

Just minutes away from this picturesque little town, you’ll find the Cocora Valley, a place where you can marvel at the iconic wax palms, Colombia’s national tree and the world’s tallest monocots, which reach over 60 meters high(nearly half the height of Colpatria Tower in Bogotá).

‘Cocora’ was the name of a Quimbayan princess and means ‘star of water.’

Filandia

Filandia is a town in the northern end of the Quindío department known for its colorful colonial façades, coffee farms, and diverse ecosystem where natives cultivate fruits and vegetables, such as pineapple, coconut, mango, guaca, beetroot, and others.

In this lovely town, you can admire lush green hills, find cozy places for a snack, gaze at the landscape from majestic viewpoints, meet grazing horses, and see misty snow-capped mountains in the distance. Definitely a place all nature-lovers must visit at least once in their life.

 

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Jardín

Jardín,another beautiful town in the Antioquia department, is known for its well-preserved colonial architecture, beautiful rivers, and lush vegetation.

Here, you’ll meet lovely people, you’ll be able to explore the town on a Tuk-Tuk tour, and visit places such as the Cristo Rey viewpoint, Basílica de la Inmaculada Concepción, and Camino La Herrera, among others. Definitely don’t miss out on this destination if you visit Medellín.

The mountains of coffee and flowers of the Western Andes of Colombia are full of surprises, and will give you a fantastic glimpse of all the things the most welcoming place on Earth has in store for you. What are you waiting for? Time to plan your next visit!

Related links

Discover why Medellin is definitely worth visiting more than once

Discover the reasons why Colombian coffee is considered one of the best’s in the world

Colombia’s Diverse Mountain Climates