As you may have read in my last post, I really love Salento. I rave about it on a regular basis for its cuteness as a town and for how close it is to the amazing Cocora Valley.
However, there’s a lesser-known town nearby that is very similar to Salento, but with less tourists and more of an authentic feel! That place is Filandia.
You can think of Salento and Filandia as twin sisters. They look a lot alike: both towns are surrounded by beautiful rolling hills, both have a main square with a park in the middle, and both have similar colourful houses lining the streets. Additionally, they’re only 20km apart and both are part of the department Quindio.
But if we talk of their personality, Salento is the outgoing, social sister while Filandia is the more introverted, laidback, hippie sister. Both are awesome to get to know in their own way but each one offers something just a bit different.
I visited Filandia with my mom as part of our weekend trip through the Coffee region. We stayed in a cute little place on the outskirts of town called Hostal Campestre El Santuario – but here’s where I should mention that Filandia is small. We were on the outskirts, but that meant just a 5-minute walk to the main square.
For that reason alone, I highly recommend Filandia as a day-trip or weekend trip. It’s quaint and comfortable, plus easy to navigate!
We weren’t there very long, just one evening and one morning, but that was enough time to realize how laidback it was, with a really calm, positive energy.
Argentinian Food & Acoustic Despacito
In the evening, we went to a little Argentinian restaurant/bar with awesome live music and great food. We had intended to visit the restaurant across the street from it (Helena Adentro) after reading great reviews on the internet, but the music coming from this place, Nata Lu, drew us in.
We didn’t regret it – the musicians played really well, and even played Despacito on acoustic guitar and a bongo-type drum (I evidently don’t know much about instruments). The waitress even had me and some others up and dancing at one point. All the staff were really sweet, and the food (Colombian-Argentinian fusion) was delicious.
Coffee and Views and Sheep, oh my!
The following morning, after a tasty breakfast in the main square, we were picked up by our guide for a tour at Finca El Mirador, a beautiful coffee farm in the surrounding countryside.
The coffee tour was a highlight for both my mom and me – how could it not be when it was personalized just for us! I organized the tour by phone a few days in advance, and it all worked more than perfectly. Like I said, our guide picked us up (and dropped us off after), and opened the farm just for us.
Even the tour was just us three; she showed us all around and we learned a lot about the process of coffee and how to distinguish between good and bad quality brews. Here’s an abridged version of the (very long) process:
Besides learning lots about coffee, the place was simply stunning. It was a hot, sunny day, and with a name like El Mirador (The Viewpoint), you can just imagine how beautiful it was. But a picture speaks a thousand words so…
My favourite part though, being the animal lover I am, was meeting the sheep that lives on the farm. Her name is Coffee, she’s super friendly, and yes she eats coffee!
I even managed to get her to play with me! Putting my hands out over the fence, she jumped up so her fluffy head would bump my hand. It was toooooo cute.
OK Cool, but how do I get there without a car?
Getting to both Salento and Filandia is easy by bus. You can catch buses to both towns from Armenia and Pereira. And if you want to travel between the two? That’s easy as well!
From Filandia to Salento, catch a bus going towards Armenia, ask to get off at the road to Salento, cross the highway, and wait for a bus there that has a sign saying it’s going to Salento.
From Salento to Filandia, catch a bus going to Pereira, ask to get off at the road to Filandia, cross the highway, and wait for a bus there that that has a sign saying it’s headed to Filandia.
Of course, if there’s any confusion, just ask! Colombians are generally very happy to help with any concern you have.
So, Salento or Filandia?
Ultimately, it depends what you’re looking for!
In general, I’d recommend Salento simply because of its close access to the Cocora Valley. But, if you’re looking more for the town feel of each place, remember the ‘personalities’.
Salento is outgoing: go there if you want to go out at night, try lots of food, and be surrounded by lots of people. Filandia is relaxed: go there if you want a calm getaway, a less touristy atmosphere, and very short walking distances!
All in all, though, both are great places to visit, so hey, if you have time for both, go for it!