4.6747° N, 75.6577° W
OFTEN OVERSHADOWED BY ITS MORE POPULAR NEIGHBOR SALENTO, THE SMALL COLORFUL TOWN OF FILANDIA IS TEEMING WITH RICH CULTURE, DELICIOUS WORLD-CLASS CUISINES AND OF COURSE, DELICIOUS COFFEE.
While the mountain town of Salento, Quindio might be one of the most famous destinations to visit in the coffee region of Colombia (the eje cafetero), we instead urge you to explore another equally colorful and lively town: Filandia, Quindio.
Located about 25 minutes from Salento, the small town of Filandia is similarly rich in culture, cuisine, coffee and nature. But what sets Filandia apart is that it still feels a bit more undiscovered by other travelers. While in Salento you can find people visiting from all over the world, in Filandia you are more likely to see travelers from places like Bogota, Cali or Medellin. Or even more likely, people from the nearby big cities like Armenia and Pereira who are looking to escape the hustle and bustle and get back to the tranquilo life of the small coffee towns.
While we absolutely love Salento and highly recommend every traveler to Colombia spend a couple of days exploring the town and more importantly its surrounding mountains, we also similarly recommend travelers looking to get a better idea of a quintessential Quindio town to spend some time exploring Filandia.
5 REASONS TO VISIT FILANDIA, COLOMBIA
1. The Views of the Countryside from the Mirador
Filandia is smack dab in the heart of the Quindio Department and the Coffee Triangle of Colombia. The colorful town is surrounded on all sides by vibrant green farmland, dense forests and hazy purple mountains.
One of the best ways to get an idea of the surrounding countryside is to head right out of town and check out the famous mirador, which looks weirdly like an alien spaceship.
Known as Mirador Colina Iluminada Filandia Quindio, this interesting architectural piece is the perfect way to get an idea of what the Colombian Coffee Axis actually looks like. Plus, due to the high number of signs dotted around the mirador’s complex, you can also learn a lot about the various small pueblos that dot the landscape - from nearby Quimbaya (home of the famous Candles and Lanterns Festival) to the town of La Tebaida, also known as the “Tropical Eden of Quindio”.
| COST: 8000 COP per person ($2.10 USD/€1.80 Euros)
| WHERE: to reach the mirador head out of town on Carrera 4 towards the town of Quimbaya. After about 5 minutes of walking you should clearly be able to see the mirador. Altogether, it is about a 1.2 kilometer walk from the main square to the mirador.
| TIME: plan to spend about an hour at the mirador, not only to take in the stunning views, but also to read all of the helpful and interesting signs that dot the walk up.
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2. The Colonial and Colorful Architecture
Filandia is the northernmost of the twelve municipalities that form the department of Quindío. And just like many of its neighbors, it is part of the "Coffee Cultural Landscape" a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This internationally recognized designation has helped the city preserve and protect not only its surrounding environment but also its many colonial buildings.
It is also the second oldest town in the department after Salento. Today, it has garnered the nickname, "La Colina Iluminada de los Andes" ("The Illuminated Hill of the Andes") due to its elevated position (and maybe its colorful mirador).
Before Europeans arrived in the area, the spot where the town now sits was occupied by indigenous peoples of the Quimbaya tribe, who not only practiced agriculture but were also noted for their metalwork. The Quimbayan people began to diminish after the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century and it is estimated that Filandia was uninhabited for about 200 years until the19th century.
But by the early 20th century, the town had become a prosperous community. So much in fact that there were estimated to be 250,000 coffee bushes growing just in Filandia. Due to that, many coffee processing plants were created and even today Filandia is still synonymous with coffee.
❔ GOOD TO KNOW: the name Filandia comes from "Filia" (daughter), "Andia" (Andes): Filandia, daughter of the Andes.
One of the best ways to get an idea of Filandia’s rich history is to simply walk down its numerous colorful building-lined streets, especially Calle 7. Or simply grab a quick tinto and sit around Plaza Bolivar, the main square in town and people watch for a bit.
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3. The Easy Access to the Great Outdoors
While Salento has the uber-famous Cocora Valley, as well as an entrance to Los Nevados National Park, Filandia in turn, is surrounded by maybe less popular outdoor areas but definitely no less beautiful.
One of the best areas to explore is Barbas-Bremen Reserve, located on the outskirts of town. Here you can go for short hikes, explore waterfalls and, if you are lucky, even see some wild howler monkeys.
To learn more about the reserve, reach out to Rural Adventure.
| WHERE: the reserve is located north of Filandia, off of Carrera 8. We highly recommend downloading Maps.me to figure out exactly where to go (or ask someone in town).
Another great way to experience the natural areas around Filandia is to go for little walks along the roads that jet out of the town. A great one to explore is the dirt road that runs next to the cemetery near the mirador. This road (unnamed) heads downhill towards the river, through coffee fincas and all the way to La Semilla Nature Reserve. From the mirador to the reserve it is around 3.7 kilometers (2.3 miles) one way. Find the exact road here.
❔ GOOD TO KNOW: if you don’t feel like walking, there are many roads around Filandia perfect for biking, both on pavement and on dirt.
While the town of Filandia is super special, definitely try to explore the natural areas around it. You won’t only get a better idea of the coffee landscape, but you also might have the chance to see some beautiful birds and even wild monkeys.
4. The Delicious Food and Coffee
Every time we told someone we were planning to visit Filandia they would always say, “you have to eat at Helena Adentro.” So safe to say we made a point to stop in for a nice dinner. And it turns out all the hype was absolutely real. The food was darn delicious.
Located in the far corner of town, this locally owned restaurant is a colorful, retro palace of amazing food, drinks and views. Plus, the owners have really put the time and effort into making sure all food is locally sourced at fair prices. In fact, their whole goal has been to look “inside” Colombia and to focus on healthy, environmentally friendly practices.
| COST: for such a well-known place the prices were actually quite reasonable. Expect to pay between 12000 COP and 19500 COP (~ $4.50 USD/€4 Euros) for the small plates and 23500 COP and 37000 COP (~ $8 USD/€7 Euros) for the large plates.
💬 INSIDER TIP: we ordered two small plates, two large plates and two non-alcoholic drinks and it came out to be around 114000 COP or roughly $30 USD/€26 Euros.
| ORDER: we are sure all of the food on offer is absolutely amazing, but a few items we highly recommend ordering are the yucca croquettes (it tastes like the best mozzarella sticks ever), the trout (trucha) plate (the trout is from Salento) and the eggplant on a baguette. Find their full menu here.
| RESERVATIONS: the restaurant is open every day from noon until 10 PM and by 3 PM it is quite busy (some say it is one of the best restaurants in the whole country - and we'd now agree). We definitely recommend making a reservation, especially if you are planning to visit on the weekend. You can make reservations here.
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Just like its neighboring town of Salento, Filandia is also a mecca for delicious, locally grown coffee. And if you are anything like us, you know a day spent exploring Colombia only begins after a cup (or two) of fresh coffee - preferably with panela.
One great café to check out in Filandia is MOCAFE, a locally owned spot with amazing coffee, plenty of tables to work from, strong Wi-Fi and best of all, they are usually roasting their coffee in-house - meaning that the delicious aroma of toasted coffee just permeates around you. It is all very cozy.
💬 INSIDER TIP: if coffee isn’t your thing, definitely consider ordering MOCAFE's Belgian hot chocolate. It is absolutely incredible, especially on a rainy day.
Other cafes worth checking out are Café Filandia and Filandia Quindio Café, both of which are located on the main square.
5. The Local Artisans
Filandia, like many small towns in the area, is home to a strong artisan community. One of the best ways to learn more about the artisans and their crafts is to walk down Carrera 4 towards the mirador. Along the way, you will pass through Barrio San Jose, home to numerous local artisans working on their craft.
The most popular craft is weaving, especially in the form of baskets. In fact, Filandia is well-known for its intricate woven baskets, a trade that has been passed down through generations and which can trace its origins to the early coffee growers that settled in the region.
You can check out many of the local artisan stalls in Barrio San Jose, or if you want to learn more, consider stopping in at the Centro De Interpretacion "Bejuco Al Canasto" (located off the main plaza in town) to get a more in-depth view of the basket weaving process.
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FILANDIA | THE NITTY-GRITTY
\\ How to Get to Filandia
Due to its central location within the Coffee Axis, Filandia is relatively easy to reach. By far, the most common form of transportation to and from Filandia are public buses, which you can often easily pick up from the main bus terminals in other nearby towns - including Armenia and Pereira.
It is quite easy to find a bus heading to Filandia from the main bus terminal in Armenia (located on the south side of town). In the bus terminal, you need to head outside on the right side to catch the bus to Filandia (as well as buses heading to Salento and Circasia). If you can't find the right door, ask any attendant - they will direct you where to go.
Another option is to try to pick up a bus as it heads out of town. The two best spots to do this are along Avenida Centenario (here) close to the D1 supermarket or along Carrera 14 near the Minimarket La Avenida (here).
The bus ride from Armenia to Filandia will cost 5300 COP ($1.30 USD/€1.13 Euros) per person, per way and take about 40 minutes total.
💬 INSIDER TIP: to pick up the bus heading back to Armenia, wait at the corner of Calle 7 and Carrera 5 (here). Be aware that on weekends the buses can get full really fast.
If you are looking to head to Filandia from other cities like Bogota and Cali, you will likely need to first take a bus to Armenia and then catch the specific Filandia bus from there.
We haven’t personally taken a bus from Pereira to Filandia, but we expect it is similar to the process of leaving from Armenia. Expect to pay around 5300-5500 COP ($1.40 USD/€1.22 Euros) per person, per way and for the ride to take about 40-45 minutes depending on traffic in Pereira (it could be longer during rush hour). Similarly, if you are looking to head to Filandia from Medellin you will likely first need to catch a bus to the Pereira bus terminal and then catch a smaller bus out to Filandia.
To get back to Pereira (as well as catch another bus to the nearby town of Quimbaya) wait at the bus stop along Carrera 5 between Calle 5 and 6 (across from La Traviesa Restaurant).
You also have the option to head from the popular town of Salento down to Filandia - though this time you need to take a Willy (the colorful jeeps) instead of a bus. To pick up a Willy, first head to the main square in Salento and buy your ticket at the small white stand near the jeeps. It costs 7000 COP per person, each way ($1.85 USD / 1.65 Euros).
When you are ready to head back to Salento from Filandia you just need to head to the main square in Filandia and grab a waiting Willy. Altogether, this straight-forward transportation option allows you to easily make a day trip down to Filandia from Salento.
From Filandia you can also reach smaller towns nearby, including Quimbaya, Montenegro (home to Parque de Café, a coffee themed amusement park), Circasia and Ulloa. Though often you will need to take a Willy jeep instead of a bus.
🚌 If looking to book bus tickets around Colombia, we suggest first checking out Busbud for the most up to date bus ticket prices and route options.
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\\ Weather in Filandia
While it might seem crazy, Filandia and nearby Salento actually sit at almost the same elevation (around 1,900 meters/6,234 feet), this means that you can expect very similar climates (climas). In truth, Filandia's climate consists mostly of mixed sunshine and rain showers, with the former being more common during the dry season (December-February, June-August) and the latter being more common during the rainy season (March-May, September-November).
In our experience living in the Colombian region during both seasons, we found that no matter the "season" you can still expect a fair amount of sun during the morning and early afternoons and then rain in the evening. This is why we always suggest heading out early to do your exploring and adventuring.