How to Get From Medellin to Salento Colombia: 2 Best Ways & Why to Visit

medellin to salento Colombia

Are you looking for a seamless journey from the vibrant city of Medellin to the charming landscapes of Salento?

Go on an adventure with me, a travel enthusiast who has navigated the Colombian terrains, as I guide you through the optimal routes and travel options from Medellin to Salento. With firsthand personal experiences and local insights, I bring you practical tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable transition between these two captivating destinations.

Why Salento? Located in the heart of Colombia, Salento beckons with the allure of the world’s tallest palm trees, coffee plantations, vibrant hummingbirds, and a culinary experience filled with delicious organic delights. As one of our favorite towns in Colombia, Salento is a must-do destination that seamlessly blends natural wonders with cultural richness. From the UNESCO-listed Coffee Cultural Landscape to the tranquil charm of its cobblestone streets, Salento offers a retreat into the soul of South America. If you have a little extra time in Medellin, the bus journey to Salento promises an unforgettable escape, ensuring you’re captivated by the town’s unique beauty, and this guide will ensure you make the journey comfortably and without breaking the bank.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • Efficient travel options, from budget-friendly buses to swift flights for those short on time.
  • Insider tips on securing bus tickets, navigating indirect routes, and the fastest way to reach Salento.
  • Recommendations for accommodations that blend comfort with the essence of Salento’s natural beauty.
  • The picturesque attractions of Salento, including the UNESCO-listed Coffee Cultural Landscape.

Rest assured, by the end of this Medellin to Salento article, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to seamlessly traverse from the bustling city to the tranquil charm of Salento.

Where is Salento Colombia?

How to Get From Medellin to Salento Colombia: 2 Best Ways & Why to Visit -

Salento is located in the northeast of the Quindío department, Colombia, just 24 km from the capital, Armenia. As the inaugural settlement of modern Quindío, it boasts unparalleled colonial architecture. This charming town, steeped in history and tranquility, is a gem in the eje cafetero. With its UNESCO-listed historic center, Salento stands out for its preserved heritage, making it a must-visit destination in Colombia.

How Far is Medellin to Salento?

The distance from Medellin to Salento is approximately 243 kilometers (151 miles), a journey that theoretically takes 6-7 hours. However, factors like road barricades, traffic, and weather often extend travel time. For those prone to motion sickness, the ride might feel even longer, making it wise to carry medication to ward off queasiness.

Option #1 – Medellin to Salento Bus

How to Get From Medellin to Salento Colombia: 2 Best Ways & Why to Visit -

Direct Bus From Medellin to Salento

For the budget-conscious traveler from Medellin to Salento, the direct bus with Flota Occidental offers an economical option at $80,000 COP ($20 USD). Operating from Terminal de Transportes del Sur, the buses depart at 8 am, 11 am, 1 pm, and 2 pm. Securing an early ride is advisable to reach Salento before nightfall, as the journey takes approximately 7 hours.

To book your journey, visit the Terminal del Sur Medellin. You can buy tickets in-person or opt for the convenient online booking system through trusted platforms like BusBud. Booking in advance ensures a reserved seat, preventing any last-minute hiccups. If booking online, ensure to enter your passport number, a common practice in Colombia. While spontaneous bookings are possible, reserving in advance guarantees a seat, a valuable assurance for your travel plans.

Whether purchased in person or online, Flota Occidental’s direct bus provides an affordable and straightforward journey for travelers seeking a cost-effective way to reach Salento from Medellin.

Indirect Bus From Medellin to Salento

If the direct bus is fully booked, Flota Occidental provides an indirect option from Medellin to Salento. This route involves a journey to Armenia, where you can then transfer to a bus bound for Salento, adding about an hour to your travel time. It’s a viable alternative for those unable to secure a seat on the direct route.

Option #2 – Medellin to Salento Flight

How to Get From Medellin to Salento Colombia: 2 Best Ways & Why to Visit -

Medellin to Pereira Flight

For those pressed for time, the quickest and smoothest way to get from Medellin to Salento is by taking a flight. Opt for a flight from Medellin to Pereira, a nearby airport, with a duration of approximately 45 minutes. Upon landing at Pereira airport, a taxi ride to the bus station is the next step, typically costing around $11,000 COP. From the bus station, you can easily catch a 1-hour bus to Salento for an additional $7,000 COP, completing the journey in 2 to 3 hours if all goes smoothly.

This option bypasses potential road complications like traffic, police checks, and roadblocks, offering a hassle-free travel experience. Flights start at an affordable $62 USD for a one-way ticket, although quite pricey in comparison to the bus.

Is Salento Closer to Medellin or Bogota?

Salento is equidistant from both Bogota and Medellin, with a travel time of approximately 6-8 hours by car from either city. The scenic drive offers travelers flexibility in choosing their starting point for a visit to the picturesque town of Salento.

How Long Does it Take to Get From Medellin to Salento?

The duration of the journey from Medellin to Salento varies based on your chosen mode of transportation. Opting for a plane offers the fastest route, with a 45-minute flight. However, factoring in the time to reach Medellin Airport and the subsequent one-hour drive from Pereira to Salento brings the total to around 3 hours.

On the other hand, the bus journey takes approximately 6-8 hours. While Google Maps may suggest a shorter time, the unpredictabilities of travel in Colombia, including unexpected stops and delays, mean it’s prudent to expect a journey of around 8 hours or more. The choice between speed and a more leisurely journey depends on your travel preferences and schedule.

Driving from Medellin to Salento By Car

For the driving enthusiasts, the road trip from Medellin to Salento spans 243 km (151 miles), taking around 6-7 hours due to narrow and winding roads. Despite the journey duration, the flexibility of a car allows for personal exploration, like driving to the Cocora Valley independently. Renting a car is convenient, with options available at Medellin Airport or in the city center, and the journey is toll-free, adding to the appeal of a scenic drive to Salento.

Is A Weekend Trip From Medellin To Salento Enough?

Absolutely! A weekend trip from Medellin to Salento is ample time to savor the highlights. You can explore the breathtaking Valle del Cocora, visit coffee plantations, and immerse yourself in the charming small-town atmosphere. However, if you’re keen on truly soaking in the natural beauty and coffee region vibes, extending your stay is a great option. Some opt for a swift round-trip, focusing on Valle del Cocora with just a one-night stay – a feasible choice if time is limited, though we recommend longer for a more relaxed experience. Planning ahead ensures you can fully enjoy the Valle del Cocora and make the most of your weekend getaway to Salento.

When is the Best Time to Visit Salento?

The best time to visit Salento is during the dry season from December to February and July to September. These months offer pleasant weather with minimal rainfall, ideal for exploring the beautiful landscapes and enjoying outdoor activities like hiking in the Valle del Cocora. However, if you prefer fewer crowds and vibrant landscapes, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of March to June or October to November. Keep in mind that Salento’s popularity peaks during festivals like the Coffee Cultural Festival in June, providing unique cultural experiences. Regardless of when you visit, Salento’s charm and natural beauty make it a captivating destination year-round.

Where to Stay in Salento?

In the heart of Colombia’s coffee region, Viajero Salento Hostel welcomes guests to a colonial house with breathtaking mountain vistas. Accommodations include private bedrooms with balconies (premium) and shared dorms, some exclusively for female guests. The hostel offers daily free activities like Spanish lessons, dance classes, yoga sessions, and evening bonfires. As night falls, unwind at the outdoor bar, engage in board games, and marvel at the stars in the serene atmosphere.

Coffee Tree Boutique Hostel, situated on the edge of town in the Boqueron and Frailejones neighborhood, offers a unique blend of tranquility and accessibility. Located just 6 blocks from the town center, it provides a quiet and safe residential setting with a stunning view of the surrounding mountains. Positioned alongside the Frailejones mirador, the hostel ensures a picturesque and peaceful stay.

For those seeking an eco-friendly retreat, Yambolombia Hostel is a haven of sustainability. This eco-hostel offers various accommodations, including a 4-bed dorm and private rooms with shared or private baths. As night falls, the hostel transforms into a stargazer’s paradise, allowing guests to revel in nature’s peace around a campfire. This hostel is a perfect choice for those desiring an environmentally conscious and tranquil stay in Salento.

What to do in Salento?

How to Get From Medellin to Salento Colombia: 2 Best Ways & Why to Visit -

Not sure why you should visit Salento? Here’s 8 good reasons.

  1. Cocora Valley Hike:
    • Explore the iconic Cocora Valley, home to the world’s tallest wax palms.
    • Choose from various trails, including an out-and-back hike or the main loop with stunning scenic views.
    • Rent gumboots for muddy parts or hike in supportive footwear.
    • The main loop is around 11 kilometers with approximately 1,000 meters of elevation gain and descent.
    • Enjoy the interactive journey, with small shops and restaurants along the way.
  2. Coffee Farm Tour:
    • Immerse yourself in the local coffee process on a coffee farm tour.
    • Learn about coffee cultivation, roasting, and tasting.
  3. Horseback Riding:
    • Experience the landscape on horseback, trekking through forests and across rivers.
    • Choose from different routes, such as Rio Navarco y Boqueron, for an adventurous ride.
  4. Mirador Alto de La Cruz:
    • Climb the staircase at the end of Calle Real to reach Mirador Alto de La Cruz.
    • Further ascend to Mirador de Salento for panoramic views of the city and valley below.
  5. Tejo – Colombia’s National Sport:
    • Play Tejo, a traditional Colombian bar game, at Los Amigos or the basement of the pool hall.
    • The game involves throwing rocks at gunpowder targets on a clay backboard.
    • Enjoy a lively atmosphere with friends and fellow travelers while sipping on beers.
  6. Jeep Willy Rides:
    • Experience Willy Jeep rides, the local mode of transportation, to explore the valleys around Salento.
    • Catch a Willy from the town square for various routes to hikes or coffee plantations.
    • The front seat and back of the Jeep offer a unique and fun way to travel the winding country roads.
  7. Stroll Through the Town:
    • Explore the charming town of Salento, stroll through Calle Real, and wander into side streets.
    • Discover cafes, souvenir shops, and numerous photo opportunities.
    • Indulge in street food, including pastries and empanadas, as you capture the essence of Salento.
  8. Santa Rita Waterfall (Weather Permitting):
    • If weather allows, venture to Santa Rita waterfall for a scenic off-the-beaten-path experience.
    • Reach the waterfall via bus and hiking, horseback riding, or biking.
    • Check with your hostel for the best way to visit and weather conditions before planning your trip.

What to Eat in Salento?

Indulge in Salento’s local delicacy, trucha (trout), a must-try dish. Savor the mouthwatering flavors of perfectly cooked trout, expertly smothered in rich sauces, and accompanied by crispy fried plantains. Nearly every local restaurant features trucha on their menu, making it easily accessible for visitors. Our favorite was from the food stall Carpa la Mona. Whether you opt for a cozy restaurant or a bustling food stall, trucha promises to delight your taste buds with its delectable taste and local flair.

Is Salento Worth Visiting?

In closing, our comprehensive guide unveils the allure of Salento, a gem in Colombia’s coffee region. With details on traversing from Medellin to Salento, we equip you for an enriching journey amidst breathtaking landscapes and cultural richness. Salento, with its towering wax palms, serene valleys, and historic charm, beckons travelers seeking a respite from the ordinary.

For those wavering on the decision, consider this a resounding endorsement to explore the beauty of Salento. It’s a destination that promises not just a visit but an immersion into a world of natural wonders and tranquil retreats.

Share your thoughts, questions, or tales of your Salento adventures in the comments below. Here’s to a remarkable journey in Salento and beyond! Safe travels!


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