10 Best Things To Do In Salento And Valle De Cocora

top things to do in salento and valle de cocura colombia

Salento is a small Colombian town surrounded by rolling green hills and coffee farms. This is the perfect place to escape busy city life for a few days of fresh air and hiking. And after spending 2 months in Medellin that’s exactly what we were craving!

With a colorful colonial downtown and a beautiful lush landscape on the outskirts of it, we fell in love with Salento. Besides our time exploring Cartagena, Salento was one of our favorite towns in all of Colombia.

Salento is quite small so you don’t need more than 2-3 days to see all the highlights in this area and hike its famous palm tree valley.

If you’re planning a trip to Salento, here’s my guide highlighting the top 10 things to do in Salento and Valle De Cocora!

Table Of Contents:

Best Things To Do In Salento And Valle De Cocora:

1. Hike Valle De Cocora

Cocora Valley near Salento.

The main attraction that has made Salento one of Colombia’s top travel destinations is the stunning Valle De Cocora.

Valle De Cocora, also called Cocora Valley, is an incredible outdoor destination just outside of Salento. This area is filled with rolling green hills and tall palm trees.

We have driven through all of South America while traveling along the Pan-American Highway and this type of scenery is unique to this area. If you like visiting hidden gems, this is a must-see landmark in Colombia!

top things to do in valle de cocura salento colombia
Incredible hiking trails at Cocora Valley.

To get to Valle De Cocora you can arrange a ride with one of the many jeeps gathered around Plaza de Bolívar Salento for around 55,000 Colombian Pesos (USD 14) each way. You can also arrange a Cocora Valley & Salento Hiking Tour ahead of time here.

The jeep ride is the most expensive part of visiting Valle De Cocora because the entrance tickets to hike the Palm Tree Valley cost only 3000 Pesos (USD 1).

The valley has a few hiking options from short hikes that last around 1-2 hours to longer ones that take half a day to complete.

One of the most popular trails is Bosque de Las Palmas that’s around 2.6 miles long with 700 feet of elevation gain. This is the trail that we hiked on our visit to leave us time for other activities like visiting a coffee plantation afterward.

Valle De Cocora Map:

valle de cocura map

We hiked to two different overlook points of the palm tree valley and enjoyed its gorgeous views before heading back.

The hike was relatively easy and not too strenuous but we took our time and stopped along the way quite a bit to take in the views around us.

Covered in the morning fog the palm tree valley looked especially mysterious. As the sun started coming out some of the clouds burned off exposing a lush valley all around us.

Depending on the hike length that you plan to do, bring a rain jacket, snacks, and water so you don’t end up halfway through a 6-hour hike soaked in rain and with a rumbling belly. There are a few restaurants and shops before the trailhead selling food and snacks.

Book a Cocora Valley hiking tour here! This tour includes transportation, a local guide, and entrance fees.

2. Tour a Local Coffee Plantation

Visiting a coffee plantation in Salento.

After our morning hike at Valle De Cocora, we squeezed in an hour-long afternoon tour at a local coffee plantation in Salento.

We are huge coffee lovers but we have never seen the coffee growing process in person. On our tour, we learned how coffee is harvested and turned into that delicious liquid that we drink every morning.

Salento has multiple coffee plantations on the outskirts of the downtown area. We chose to visit one of its smaller farms called Finca De Don Elias.

what to do in salento colombia visit coffee plantation don elias
A fresh cup of coffee at Finca Don Elias in Salento.

Finca De Don Elias has almost 6000 coffee plants producing around 25,000 coffee bags a year. All coffee grown at this location is sold exclusively to tourists visiting and touring the plantation.

A tour of this coffee plantation felt very personal and cost only 10,000 pesos (3 USD). We even met the the owner on the tour and got to try a cup of coffee at the end.

top things to do in salento finca don elias tour
Coffee plants at Finca Don Elias in Salento.

As soon as we arrived at the plantation we were greeted by our friendly guide, Alejandro. He spoke perfect English and took us around the property while explaining different coffee plant origins and growing processes.

things to do in salento visit coffee plantation don elias
Our guide Alejandro explaining how coffee beans are processed.

He walked us through the entire coffee harvesting process from picking coffee beans to prep and roasting. We even got to pick out coffee beans, grind them, and end the tour with a fresh cup of coffee.

Want to go on a coffee tour but don’t have a car to get there? Book this Coffee Farm Experience at Finca El Ocaso from Salento that includes hotel pickup, a local guide, and coffee tasting!

3. Play a Game Of Tejo

Tejo game in Salento, Colombia.

After a full day of exploring Salento, we wanted something fun to do at night. One of the best evening activities in Colombia is playing a game of Tejo where the main objective is to throw rocks at explosives while drinking lots of beer!

Tejo is a Colombian game where players can play against each other or in teams. The goal of the game is to throw a hand-sized rock at a pile of clay.

Within the clay lay a dozen scattered triangles holding a small amount of explosive powder. If the rock hits the triangle, the contact will make an explosion and a loud pop.

If drinking beer while throwing explosives sounds like an interesting way to spend an evening, all I can say is welcome to Colombia! Things are just a bit different (and more fun) around here.

If this sounds like a great time, head over to Cancha De Tejo Los Amigos in Salento for a night full of fun and games!

4. Plaza de Bolívar Salento

what to do in salento plaza trout restaurant
Local food vendors selling Trout plates… for breakfast!

The lively Plaza de Bolívar Salento is where most of the hustle and bustle takes place in the downtown area. During the day the Salento plaza is bursting with street vendors, liveliness, and noise.

The plaza hosts a variety of local vendors from food stands to merchants selling souvenirs and jeep drivers offering rides to local attractions. This is where you’ll want to go to catch a ride out to Cocora Valley or a coffee plantation for a tour.

The plaza itself is surrounded by picturesque buildings ranging in a variety of colors, from bright pinks to neon greens and blues.

5. Stroll Down Calle Real

Colorful buildings along Calle Real in Salento.

If you’re looking for a place to get great photos, Calle Real is the most colorful street in town. This is the main street in Salento where tourists lazily stroll around taking pictures in front of beautifully painted colonial buildings or pop into boutique shops.

The shops along Calle Real sell anything from handcrafted local jewelry to clothing, coffee, and little souvenirs to take home.

6. Take Stairs To Mirador Alto De La Cruz

top things to do in salento mirador alto de la cruz
Stairs leading to Alto De La Cruz viewpoint.

The Calle Real street ends at colorful stairs that lead to a viewpoint of downtown Salento.

You can take these stairs up to Mirador Alto de la Cruz which provides a panoramic view of the surrounding buildings and landscapes.

7. Iglesia Nuestra Señora Del Carmen

salento colombia travel Iglesia Nuestra Senora Del Carmen salento plaza
Parroquia Nuestra Señora del Carmen in Salento.

While color and liveliness are part of the Colombian culture, there is one place where you are bound to find a bit of peace and solitude – at the local church. Just about every plaza in Colombia has a designated sanctuary and a place for reflection.

The main city church is hard to miss as it usually soars tall above all other buildings. For Solento that place is Iglesia Nuestra Senora Del Carmen, also known as Our Lady Of Carmen Church.

8. Visit a Coffee Shop

top things to do in salento cafe jesus martinez colombian coffee
Tinto and a Latte at Jesús Martín Coffee Shop in Salento.

If you don’t get a chance to visit a local Colombian coffee plantation, Salento has plenty of amazing coffee shops where you can try out a fresh cup of coffee brewed with beans from this region.

Our favorite spot was Café Jesús Martín which sells some of the best coffee in town. This is a small, boutique coffee shop that serves coffee from one of the most popular coffee plantations in the area.

For around 4000 pesos (1 USD) I ordered a Latte and it was just perfection! If you want to drink coffee like a local, ask for a ‘Tinto’.

A Tinto is what Colombians call a plain black coffee. Usually, it’s the cheapest choice and on average costs around 3000 Pesos (1 USD).

9. Try Grilled Trout

Trout in Salento, Colombia.

One of the best ways to take in the local culture is by… well eating it!

One of the most popular dishes served in Salento is grilled trout. During the day the main plaza is packed with vendors selling grilled trout (even for breakfast). Just about any local restaurant will serve it as well!

Pair it a freshly squeezed juice and you’ve got a meal that will make you drool.

10. Stay At a Ranch In Cocora Valley

Photo by Reserva Guadalajara – Cocora Valley

As a great alternative to staying in the busy downtown Salento, book a relaxing stay at the beautiful Reserva Guadalajara in the Cocora Valley. This farm-style hotel has friendly owners who will welcome you like family!

The private terraces offer gorgeous views of the surrounding lush gardens. After a day full of exploring, you can relax in the outdoor hammocks while enjoying the sounds of nature all around.

The guests of this farm can arrange private horseback riding tours with the owners along with other fun eco-activities.

Book Reserva Guadalajara – Cocora Valley Here!

calle real downtown salento top things to see and do in salento
Colorful Streets in Downtown Salento.

FAQs For Visiting Salento And Valle De Cocora

How To Get To Salento And Valle De Cocora

Unless you have a personal car, the best way to get to Salento from Bogota or Medellin is by bus.

Flota Occidental buses make frequent trips between these cities for around 47,000 pesos (12 USD) each way.

Currency Used In Colombia

The local currency in Colombia is the Colombian Peso. At the current exchange rate, $1 will get you 4000 Pesos which means that every time you visit an ATM you’ll feel like a rich man (or lady).

Weather In Salento

The weather in Salento can be quite unpredictable. One moment you’ll be greeted by clear sunny skies and next you’ll be drenched in pouring rain.

If you’re planning a visit to Salento, having a rain jacket and waterproof hiking shoes is a must, especially for hiking Valle De Cocora.

For outdoor activities, I highly recommend this rain jacket by Northface and these waterproof hiking shoes. The trails along Valle De Cocora can get slick with mud so waterproof slip-resistant shoes can make the hike so much more enjoyable!

top things to do in valle de cocura salento colombia cocora valley
Foggy mornings at Valle De Cocora in Salento.

Is Salento Safe?

As a full-time traveler, I get asked this question a lot, no matter which country I visit.

In my experience if you act with caution, don’t go down dark alleys at night, don’t get drunk in public, don’t act like you stand out, and be friendly to locals, you will find that most places are much safer than you think!

From all of the places we have visited, Colombia has some of the roughest history full of drug cartels and civil rebellions. And TV shows like Narcos fuel fear and a bit of misconception of what life is like in Colombia nowadays.

After spending a few months of traveling through all of Colombia, my observation is this – although some of the bigger cities like Medellin and Bogota have neighborhoods I would personally avoid, the smaller farming towns like Salento are very safe.

Most of the businesses in Salento revolve around tourism and we felt welcome in every shop we turned into and every street we walked down.

top things to do in salento calle real street
Rustic, charming buildings in Downtown Salento.

Have you been to Salento? Let us know your thoughts on this beautiful Colombia town in the comments below!

If you’re looking for more Colombia travel inspiration, be sure to check out some of my other popular posts below:

This post is written by Laura Sausina. Hi, I’m the founder of the Fun Life Crisis travel blog and I’ve been traveling the world for the past 7 years. Here I share my experiences and tips to help 100,000 people a month turn their travel dreams into reality! Read more about me here.

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