4.5350° N, 75.6757° W
EVEN THOUGH IT IS ONE-THIRD OF COLOMBIA’S COFFEE TRIANGLE, ARMENIA HAS SOMEHOW BEEN ABLE TO STAY UNDER THE TOURIST RADAR. BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN IT IS NOT WORTH EXPLORING - HERE IS WHY.
We didn't know much about Armenia when we decided to move there for a month. In truth, the only things we really did know was that the weather would likely be nicer than Cartagena (goodbye 100+ degree heat), that there would (hopefully) be more access to nature, and that the city was part of the Colombian Coffee Triangle (or Axis). In the end, our decision to head towards Armenia really just came down to a gut feeling and a hope that it would be a good place to spend some time.
So without doing too much research, we followed our intuition and jumped on a bus headed straight for the interior of Colombia. Luckily, within a couple of days we knew our guts had steered as right. We LOVED Armenia. So much so that we ended up extending our Airbnb for almost a whole extra month.
And during our almost two months in the city we explored a lot - especially the restaurant & coffee shop scene and the nearby surrounding towns (and national park). Below is our comprehensive, field-tested guild to the city of Armenia, a place that for some reason is not on many travelers lists.
THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO ARMENIA, COLOMBIA
\\ A Quick History of Armenia
The city was founded in 1889 by Jesús María Ocampo, also known as "Tigrero" ("tiger killer") due to his love of hunting jaguars - which are known locally as tigers. Ocampo first arrived in the area because he was looking for shelter in the mountains of Quindío while running away from General Gallo.
He soon paid one hundred pesos in gold coins to Antonio Herrera for the land on which to build a fonda, or trade center, not only for himself but also for other colonists who came from the nearby settlements of Salento, Antioquia, Manizales, and areas surrounding the Quindío River and La Vieja River.
Ocampo then proceeded to encourage settlement of the land (that he also happened to be selling). To speed up the settlement process, he eventually returned to his hometown to ask for the help of his friend Juan de la Cruz Cardona and to marry thirteen-year-old Arsenia Cardona.
Six months after its founding, Armenia had already reached a population of 100 people, which allowed it to gain legal recognition by the government.
But, despite Armenia's quickly expanding economy at the time, the means of transport were still very limited. Due to the mountainous terrain, the main form of transporting people and merchandise to the city was by mule. It was not until the construction of the first asphalt road—in 1927 (almost 100 years after settlement) that transport was improved.
The 1999 Earthquake
On Monday, January 25, 1999, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake occurred in Quindío. The epicenter was located 17 km south of Armenia. The earthquake was one of the most devastating events to have occurred in Colombia in recent history, with an estimated 1,900 casualties.
The earthquake was also felt in Risaralda, Valle Del Cauca, Tolima, Antioquia, and Cundinamarca, but Armenia was the hardest-hit city. But, in just 15 years the city was entirely rebuilt. Though, due to the earthquake, many of the colorful historic buildings you see in nearby towns (Filandia, Salento) are no longer in Armenia.
Scientists estimate that a large earthquake, approximately 6–7 in magnitude, will hit the area every 20 years due to high seismic activity.
How Did Armenia Get its Name?
This was one of the first questions we actually had about the city. And after doing some research, this is what we found.
During the founding meeting of the city, which occurred in October of 1889, the name Villa Holguín was suggested, in honor of Carlos Holguín Mallarino, the then-current president of the country. However, the proposal was rejected, and the name Armenia was put to a vote and approved in November of the same year.
So in fact, the belief that the name was changed to Armenia after the country of the same name, in memory of the Armenian people murdered by the Turkish Ottomans in the Hamidian Massacres of 1894–97 (and later the Armenian genocide of 1915–23) is false. For the murders happened a number of years after the town was already named.
It is more likely that the city was named after the historical Kingdom of Armenia and not the Hamidian Massacres, for it was common for early colonists and settlers all over the world to look to the Bible when naming their cities.
\\ Where is Armenia, Colombia
Armenia is one part of the Colombian coffee triangle, which sits in the central region of the country. The medium-sized city is the capital of the Quindío Department, the second smallest department in the country, and one of the four main departments for coffee cultivation.
The city is located on the edge of the central Cordillera mountain range, which is one of three mountain ranges that run the entire length of Colombia.
Armenia is about 7 hours away from the capital city of Bogota and the large metropolis of Medellin - that is when the roads are clear (landslides are common). You can reach both, as well as the large city of Cali, by bus, car or by air.
ELEVATION OF ARMENIA: 1,551 meters // 5,089 feet
POPULATION OF ARMENIA: 295,208 people
Weather in Armenia
Due to its location near the equator and its relatively high elevation, Armenia‘s climate is pretty mild and unchanging. The average temperature ranges between 18–23 °C (64–73 °F) and light rain showers are common.
If you are planning to head out for an adventure in and around the city, we suggest going early in the morning for we found the afternoons tended to have the most rain showers. During our two months in Armenia we had a fair amount of thunderstorms - especially at night. As long as you have waterproof shoes and maybe an umbrella, you should be completely fine.
TOP 5 THINGS TO DO AND EXPLORE IN ARMENIA, COLOMBIA
Due to its central location, Armenia has a lot of interesting places to explore. But one important thing to note is that, though Armenia is very well located, the city itself does not have a lot to offer besides tasty restaurants, hip cafes and large shopping centers.
1 | Visit the Quindio Botanical Garden & Butterfly Park
The Quindío Botanical Gardens, located just outside of Armenia in the smaller town of Calarca, is one of the neatest natural places in the whole coffee triangle. For starters, the garden is a great place to explore and learn about the local flora, especially endemic ferns, palms, and colorful tropical flowers (the owner of the garden - it is privately owned - has the goal of growing and preserving every types of palm tree in the world in the garden). Similarly, while you walk around you also have a great opportunity to see various species of birds; including, crimson-rumped toucanets, spectacled owls and 14 types of hummingbirds.
Secondly, the large, vibrant garden (it is around 14 hectares big) is also home to not only a massive building in the shape of a butterfly - which you can clearly see from the 22 meter tall metal tower you can climb up to the top of - but also 2,000 butterflies.
GOOD TO KNOW: you must explore the botanical garden and butterfly park (mariposario) with a guide. We were lucky and got a fantastic lady who spoke really good English. The tour lasts between1.5-2 hours and along the way you get to learn about all of the different plants, birds and mammals that call Quindio (and the Andes of Colombia) home.
| COST: 50000 COP ($12.63 USD // €11.18 Euros) per adult and 30000 COP per child ($7.58 USD // €6.71 Euros)
| GETTING THERE: the Quindío Botanical Gardens is located in the town of Calarca, just outside of Armenia. To reach the garden you need to take a bus marked 'Mariposario'. This ride should take around 40 minutes and cost 2700 COP per person ($0.69 USD // €0.60 Euros). A taxi will cost around 25000 COP.
2 | Walk Around Parque de La Vida (Park of Life)
This hidden oasis is the perfect place for travelers looking to experience a bit of nature while still staying within city limits.
The park has multiple winding paths and covered wooden bridges that crisscross through thick bamboo forests and over bubbling rivers. There are plenty of areas to sit and look at the numerous birds and butterflies, or have a picnic. Similarly, the park is home to a number of interesting animals; including, massive geese, chickens, and a cute little rodent called an agouti.
We suggest visiting the park during mid-day and having a picnic on one of the hills overlooking a small pond or wandering around with a coffee in hand (many of our favorite coffee shops are located nearby).
| COST: 3000 - 6000 COP ($1.26 USD // €1.12 Euros) to enter
| HOURS: it is open 7 AM - 7 PM (7 days a week)
| WHERE: the park is located on the northern side of Armenia off of Carrera 14. You can reach it either by walking, taking a taxi or grabbing one of the public buses (all buses will likely pass right by the park). The exact location is here.
EXPLORE MORE | THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO COCORA VALLEY
3 | Explore Parque del Café (The Coffee Park)
This coffee-themed amusement park is located just outside of Armenia in the small town of Montenegro. Considered one of the most important theme parks in all of Latin America, as well as one of the most popular attractions in Colombia, Parque del Café is a great spot to head to on the weekend to not only get your adrenaline pumping on some of the rides, but to also learn about all things coffee.
The park was designed to pay tribute to the more than 500,000 coffee families in the country, as well as the whole culture of coffee in general. In fact, within its boundaries, you can meander through its coffee museum, walk through a coffee plantation and even explore a global coffee garden. And after learning all about coffee, you can then hop on a cable car and head to the actual amusement park area - home to 20 rides, including rollercoasters.
Learn more about the amusement park here.
| COST: 59000 COP ($14.90 USD // 13.19 Euros) per adult, 45000 COP ($11.37 USD // 10.06 Euros) per child
| HOURS: 9 AM - 6 PM (7 days a week)
| WHERE: the amusement park is located around 30 minutes from Armenia and 10 minutes from the small town of Montenegro. You can take a bus to Montenegro and then either try to grab a bus to the amusement park or take a taxi.
4 | Visit the Cute Coffee Town of Filandia
While the nearby town of Salento might get most of the tourist love, we instead suggest heading to the equally cute, but lesser-known town of Filandia.
This small coffee-growing town is full of colorful buildings, friendly locals, delicious food, and a funky alien spaceship-looking mirador. And while this place is not nearly as popular with foreign tourists, we still suggest visiting during the week if you can, for on weekends the town gets quite busy with locals.
We suggest giving yourself a full day in the town - enough time to wander around the colorful streets, try some delicious coffee (we like this place best), walk out to the mirador and then end with a delicious meal at Helena Adentro, a restaurant many people say could be the best in the whole country.
| WHERE: Filandia is located about 45 minutes north of Armenia along the major north to south highway (Hwy 29). Find the exact location here.
| HOW TO GET TO FILANDIA: you can easily grab a bus to Filandia either from the main bus station in Armenia or anywhere along Avenida Centenario (this is a great spot). Just look for the buses that say FILANDIA on the front. It should cost between 5000 COP and 6000 COP ($1.26 USD // 1.12 Euros) each way.
INSIDER TIP: we highly (highly) recommend visiting the famous restaurant Helena Adentro for a delicious, locally sourced meal. The food, the drinks and the views are all spectacular.
EXPLORE MORE | 5 REASONS YOU NEED TO VISIT FILANDIA
5 | Take the Bus to Circasia
Another somewhat underrated town near Armenia is Circasia - which, though small, is full of life. Similar to Filandia, Circasia is a surprisingly exciting town with a rich culture, colorful architecture and interesting things to do. But not a lot of tourists.
If you are interested to see what traditional coffee region architecture looks like and don’t want to head all the way out to Filandia or Salento, then Circasia is a great choice. We recommend spending the day wandering around the older district (near the main square) and visiting the mirador or viewpoint on the east side of town.
| WHERE: the small coffee town is only 8 kilometers (5 miles) from Armenia and takes about 10 minutes to get to by bus or by taxi. The exact location is here.
| HOW TO GET TO CIRCASIA: just like Filandia, you can easily reach Circasia by grabbing a bus either at the main bus terminal in town or picking it up along Avenida Centenario. Just look for a bus with CIRCASIA written on the front. Or you can usually (90% of the time) grab a bus heading to Filandia or Salento and just hop off when they cut through Circasia.
EXPLORE MORE | WHY YOU NEED TO SLOW TRAVEL IN COLOMBIA
ARMENIA | THE NITTY-GRITTY
\\ How to Get to Armenia, Colombia
Due to its central location within Colombia, Armenia is pretty easy to reach. The most common forms of transportation are flying and taking a bus. Below is an outline on what you can expect to pay and the most common routes.
There is in fact a small international airport - El Eden Airport - on the outskirts of Armenia that offers direct flights to Fort Lauderdale, USA three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday), and, (supposedly) starting in late 2021, El Eden Airport will also be providing a direct flight to Panama City, Panama.
The airport also offers regular flights to Bogota and Medellin - oftentimes a couple of times a week. If you are looking to fly to other cities within Colombia you will likely need to first head to Bogota (which is only a 40-minute flight) before connecting to other cities (including, Cartagena, Cali and Bucaramanga).
The main airlines that fly in and out of Armenia from El Eden Airport are Avianca and LATAM (they are also the largest airlines in all of Colombia).
We have flown in and out of El Eden Airport twice: once to head back to the USA and once to land in Armenia from the USA. For the first flight (back to the USA) we had to first take a quick late night flight to Bogota with Avianca - an airline we really enjoyed. Then from Bogota we flew on to Atlanta with American Airlines. The second flight we took was from Fort Lauderdale, Florida (USA) to Armenia. This flight was with Spirit Airlines - which is not really our favorite airline company but it is the ONLY one that has a direct flight in and out of Armenia to the USA. If landing in Armenia from outside the country you do have to go through immigration - which should take around an hour max.
| PRICE (in USD and Euro):
Armenia → Bogota $40 -$45 // ~ €35.50
Armenia → Medellin $50 (direct flight), $42 (first stop in Bogota) // €44 and €37
Armenia → Fort Lauderdale $179 (non-stop), $188 (stop in Bogota); the only airline that runs non-stop flights to the USA is Spirit Airlines // €158 and €166
| WHERE: El Eden Airport is located approximately 13 kilometers (8 miles) south of Armenia. It takes about 20-30 minutes to reach via taxi and 30-40 minutes via public bus. The exact location is here.
| GETTING THERE: you can take a taxi to the airport or the public bus. A taxi will cost around 30,000 COP ($7.55 USD // €6.67 Euros), while the bus will cost you 3000 COP ($0.76 USD // €0.66 Euros) per person . You can pick the public bus up from the main bus terminal (or take it from the airport to the bus terminal). Just look for a white bus with pink and green designs. It will say TERMINAL or AEROPUERTO on the front card.
When planning a trip, both nationally or internationally, we tend to first look at Skyscanner to get an idea of flight prices. Check the site out here.
EXPLORE MORE | WHAT IT IS LIKE TRAVELING IN COLOMBIA IN 2021
The main bus station (terminal transportes) is located on the southern end of town (here). From there, you can pretty much reach any other city within Colombia (as well as some international locations). The most common routes that head to Armenia are from nearby large cities like Medellin, Bogota and Cali.
But you can also reach the city from much smaller cities both near and far, including Buga (a town famous for its beer), Buenaventura, a city located along the Pacific Coast, and Pereira, another city that is part of the Coffee Triangle.
Below is a rough estimate of the cost and time it takes to reach Armenia from other major Colombian cities. Note: prices are based on traveling on a Friday.
| COST: $17 - $26 USD // ~ €19 Euros
| TIME: ~7.5 hours; though this route is infamous for taking much longer and even being completely impassable due to landslides.
This bus ride is surprisingly beautiful, especially if you do it later in the day when the light is all golden and soft. While it technically should only take around 8 hours, more often than not, you will encounter some sort of hold up - either construction work or a landslide - so definitely be prepared for it to take longer.
| COST: $19 USD // ~ €17 Euros
| TIME: ~8 hours; but again expect delays due to construction and landslides (are you sensing a trend here...)
| COST: $5 - $17 USD // ~ €14 Euros
| TIME: ~3.5 hours depending on the status of the roads; though this route is through a valley and way less curvy so usually the expected time is right on
We did this loooong ride (think 26 hours) after our month-long stay in Cartagena. But, even though it was a lot of time on a bus, we actually kind of enjoyed it. The scenery is great, the bus was comfortable and we even got to stop about halfway through for dinner. Note: we used the bus company Brasilia for this long journey.
| COST: $46 - $59 USD // ~ €45 Euros
| TIME: ~24 - 26 hours depending on the roads, traffic, etc.
INSIDER TIP: when doing an overnight bus trip, not just from Cartagena but from anywhere in Colombia, definitely make sure to bring a blanket (they keep the A/C on high), earplugs (the loud radio music often doesn’t stop even at 2 AM) and try to get a seat on the right side so you don’t get passing car lights in your eyes all night.
When planning to travel by bus, we like to first check out the site Busbud to get an idea of prices and to even book our tickets. If you want to see what other cities have routes to Armenia, or vice-versa, definitely check Busbud out.
\\ How to Get Around Armenia
Buses are often the easiest ways to get around Armenia since they run practically 24/7 and reach all across the city. The city buses are a deep red color and say TINTO on the side. You just flag them down from the side of the road, pay the fare and then when you want to get off, either push the button in the back of the bus or just notify the driver.
| COST: 2100 COP ($0.53 USD // €0.47 Euros) per person, per way (you usually pay right when you get on)
One of the best things about traveling around Armenia is that it is a very walkable city. For example, there are sidewalks on almost every road, and even when there aren’t any, most drivers are conscious of you being there and will give you enough space.
If you are looking to explore the city on foot, we suggest heading down Carrera 14 first. This is the main road through town and most things to see and do (in the city) are off of this road, including Parque de la Vida. From there you can stop in at many cafes, restaurants, parks and stores.
While the bus system is great, there are times when you just need to get somewhere quickly and without worrying about which route the bus is taking.
Similar to the TINTO buses, to flag down a taxi driver just stand on the side of the road and wave it down. The only times we had trouble with this was during rush hour traffic along Carrera 14 (between 5-7 PM) or during the early morning hours (especially on weekends) on the quieter roads.
| COST: 4700 COP ($1.19 USD // €1.05 Euros) is the average cost when going around town. There are extra charges for things like leaving the city, riding late at night (after 8 PM) or early in the morning (before 6 AM) and heading out to the airport. The prices are laid out clearly on a sheet in most taxis. Also, every taxi we got in used a meter.
| SAFETY: we took numerous taxis during our 2--months in Armenia and never had any issues of being ripped off or having creepy drivers. Almost 100% of the drivers we had were friendly, talkative and knowledgeable of the area.
One thing you notice pretty quickly about Armenia is just how active everyone is. In fact, besides futbol (soccer) biking is the most popular sport in the country. In Armenia especially, it seems everyone bikes around - especially on weekends. If you want to get in on the action yourself, you can find many bicycle shops along Carrera 14, especially on the northern end of town.
\\ Where to Eat in Armenia
While Armenia might not be the prettiest or most exciting city in Colombia, it does have some darn good restaurants on offer. And one thing that is really nice is that even the fancier restaurants are nowhere near as pricey as places in the USA, or even other Colombian towns like Cartagena.
Below are a few places we definitely recommend checking out.
If you are looking to splurge a bit on a delicious meal that is not traditionally Colombian, then we highly suggest visiting Rusticana Trattoria.
This small, unassuming Italian restaurant is tucked away on the outskirts of town, which makes it almost feel like a hidden local secret. But the best part is that the food is super fresh. In fact, the pasta is made by hand every day. We visited a couple of times during our two months in the city and we were never disappointed with the food or the drink selections (definitely try the house wine).
| COST: the restaurant is definitely more expensive than other local Colombian restaurants in town. BUT, the food is absolutely worth it. We spent about $50 USD on one meal that included 2 huge entrees, an appetizer and two carafes of house wine. Delicious!
| WHERE: the restaurant sits along Avenida Centenario on the northern side of town. We recommend taking a taxi for not many public buses go that way (especially at night). The exact location is here.
Pan Y Miel
An Armenia mainstay, this large café located on the north side of town is a great spot to head to if you are looking for a simple and inexpensive breakfast. Or, if you are like us, if you just want some fresh, homemade bread.
We suggest ordering their cheese croissants (or normal, sencillo, croissants), a strawberry or lemon rollo (a type of dessert), orange juice and milo frio (a cold chocolate drink). Though honestly, you cannot really go wrong with any of their food.
| COST: everything is very cheap - we are talking 6000 COP ($1.60) at the most
| WHERE: sitting just down the road from Rusticana Trattoria (above), Pan Y Miel is easy to reach by taxi or by walking, especially if you are already on the northern side of town. The exact location is here.
INSIDER TIP: their bread is absolutely amaaaazing - and cheap. Definitely pick up one of their homemade loves (or 2, or 3) for 2500 COP ($0.63 USD // €0.56 Euros) each. Just know that they do NOT accept credit cards - cash only.
Due to it being one of the oldest restaurants in town (the family-run restaurant has been around for 60+ years), Lucerna has become a bit of a tourist destination. But for once we totally understood why. Not only is the food very affordable, but it also tastes really good (especially the ice cream). We recommend stopping in while exploring the older area of the city (El Centro).
You can read more about Lucerna’s history and story here.
| COST: the average cost is around 10000 COP ($2.53 USD // €2.24 Euros). But the ice cream plates are actually quite large and can be easily shared if you are looking to just try the delicacies.
| WHERE: besides the restaurant in downtown Armenia (in El Centro), there is also a spot in nearby Pereira. The one in Armenia is off Calle 20 between Carrera 14 and 15. The exact location is here.
Another restaurant located on the northern side of the city, this hip sandwich shop is a great place to go if you are looking to have a delicious and filling meal that is also healthy and fresh.
We ordered the vegetarian sandwich and the roast beef sandwich and oh man was it good. Plus, the outdoor seating, availability of fresh coffee and juices and the chilled atmosphere made us want to keep coming back for more.
| COST: the food is a bit more expensive than other places in town, but the flavors and freshness are top-notch. The vegetarian sandwich cost 21900 COP ($5.53 USD // €4.49 Euros) and the roast beef sandwich cost 24,900 COP ($6.29 USD // €5.57 Euros). While that sounds like a lot, know that the servings are pretty big.
| WHERE: there are actually two Bianco restaurants in town, one close to Carrera 14 (off Calle 22 Norte) and one off of Avenida Centenario. We visited the latter and loved it, but heard from a friend that the other one was also good. The exact location of the restaurant off of Avenida Centenario is here.
Find their full menu here.
If you are anything like us, then it can sometimes be hard to choose what you want to eat for dinner. Luckily, Container City has you covered with 10+ restaurant options; including, sushi, Mexican, pub food, Peruvian, burgers (+veggie burgers) and barbecue. Similarly, the outdoor food hall has multiple bars offering beers and mixed drinks.
Plus, the location and atmosphere is super fun and relaxed - making it a great spot to visit, especially on a Friday night.
| COST: all of the food and drinks are reasonably priced, around 15000 - 30000 COP ($6.30 USD // €5.70 Euros) per plate.
| WHERE: Container City is located off of Avenida Centenario near the main intersection of Calle 13 South and Avenida Centenario (Calle 6). Note: the place comes up as Container Armenia instead of Container City. The exact location is here.
Due to its location within the Coffee Triangle, Armenia is the perfect spot to explore Colombia’s exciting and delicious coffee culture. Below are a few of the best cafés in town:
You could say we stumbled across this coffee shop somewhat randomly. But after spending an afternoon working there, we found ourselves heading back again and again. What really makes FRIENDS Café such a great spot to work from, or to just hang out in, is their commitment to delicious coffee, their strong internet and their wide array of seating (including a large patio area).
| COST: a normal hot coffee costs 3500 COP, a latte 4500 COP (iced latte 6000 COP) and a chai 5000 COP (so around $1.20 USD // €1.10 Euros each)
| WHERE: the café is located on the far left corner of an enclosed square near Parque de La Vida. The exact location is here.
While Colombia is surprisingly devoid of big coffee chains (including Starbucks) they do have one that really took our fancy. As the name might suggest, Café Quindío is from Quindío (aka Armenia) and they really embrace the whole “coffee-triangle-nature-vibe.” This includes having eco-friendly straws (that look like bamboo), big bird designs all over the walls and baby coffee plants on every table.
Plus, their coffee is just darn good (and surprisingly so is their chai). We suggest stopping in for a quick midday pick-me-up or to get some work done (their Wi-Fi is strong and fast).
| COST: even though they are a chain, the price for their coffee is pretty even to other cafes in town. Expect to pay 4000 for an espresso, 4500 for an Americano, and 6000 for a latte ($1.20 USD // €1.10 Euros)
| WHERE: you can find Café Quindío all over Armenia, as well as in nearby cities like Salento and Filandia (there is even one right off the main highway). The one we went to was right next to Parque de La Vida.
INSIDER TIP: there is also the opportunity to visit Café Quindío Gourmet, which is more of a restaurant than a coffee shop. While you can still get their delicious coffee, you can also order sandwiches, salads, pasta and baked goods. We recommend the quinoa salad.
Tienda de Café
Literally translating to Coffee Shop, this small little café is another great spot to spend an afternoon getting some work done. Located right across the street from Parque de la Vida, Tienda de Café serves up classic coffee, including the ever-popular tinto, lattes, and Americanos.
| COST: like all other coffee shops in Armenia, expect to pay around 2000 COP for a tinto, 4000 COP for an Americano, and 5500 for a latte
| WHERE: the café is located off of Carrera 13 right across the street from the entrance to Parque de la Vida. The exact location is here.
A friend mentioned that this colorful café had the best milkshakes in town - so of course we had to check it out. Turns out, they also have really tasty coffee and delicious yucca waffles (don’t diss it until you try it).
You will know you found the right spot when you see the bright turquoise house with floral motifs on the side. Inside there are plenty of tables to work from, an open coffee bar and relaxing music.
| COST: expect to pay around 4500 COP for an Americano, around 6000 COP for a latte and around 8000 COP for the yucca waffle (with chocolate or caramel sauce on top).
| HOURS: 2 PM - 8 PM, 7 days a week
| WHERE: Malawi Café is located in a quiet neighborhood off of Calle 1 Norte. You will see a sign on the corner directing you where to go. The exact location is here.
\\ Where to Stay in Armenia, Colombia
Interestingly enough, there are not a lot of hostels in Armenia. This is likely due to the city not being nearly as popular for travelers as other nearby cities, such as Salento. Therefore when looking for places to stay we suggest checking out Airbnb instead. Below are a few places we thought looked and sounded good, as well as the actual apartment we lived in for the two months we spent in Armenia.
CASA QUIMBAYA BACKPACKER HOSTEL
One of the few real hostels in Armenia, Casa Quimbaya Backpacker Hostel is located in the northern part of the city near the university. Amenities include Wi-Fi, a communal kitchen and lounge, security lockers, washing machine, luggage storage and coffee maker. There is also a restaurant and café on the ground floor. Plus, the location is in the heart of the restaurant and café scene of Armenia.
| COST: for a double bed/private bathroom expect to pay around $31 USD (€27.40 Euros) and for a private 4-bed room with a private bathroom expect to pay around $39 (€35 Euros).
PENTHOUSE APARTMENT ON NORTH SIDE OF TOWN
This is the apartment we stayed in and even though the price was a bit higher than other places in town, we really enjoyed our two months there. For starters, the apartment comes with some super nice amenities, including a gym, outdoor patio area, a pool, parking and bike storage. The apartment was also very new and came with all of the necessary items, like cookware, laundry, and plenty of bedding and towels. Finally, because it is farther away from the main thoroughfare of Carrera 14 it is super quiet. More often than not we would be woken up by the birds or the rain than by traffic or people.
| COST: $649 USD // €574 Euros a month
MODERN STUDIO IN ZONA ROSA
This clean, modern apartment is located in the northern part of the city close to lots of restaurants, cafes and businesses. The apartment has all of the amenities you would need for a comfortable stay, including a large table for working, a kitchen (no oven), a washer, and Wi-Fi. Pets are also allowed and there is free parking on the premises.
| COST: $559 USD // €495 Euros a month
APARTMENT IN NORTH ARMENIA (NEAR PARKS)
This cozy apartment is close to shopping centers, cafes, restaurants and parks, including Parque de la Vida. While it is a bit smaller than the other apartments on this list, it still comes with all of the amenities you would need. Including, a small kitchen, Wi-Fi, washer and dryer, a patio and parking on premises.
| COST: $489 USD // €433 Euros a month
\\ Where to Work in Armenia
While Colombia is quickly becoming a hot-spot for digital nomads, Armenia itself has yet to be hit with the wave of coworking spaces like other places (Medellin and Bogota specifically). Due to this, it seems more common to work at cafes around town instead of coworking spaces - which in truth, we tend to enjoy more (there is just something about that coffee shop atmosphere).
It looks like there is only one coworking space in Armenia: Camellando Coworking. The modern, hip space is all about building community, so they not only offer spaces for remote workers to actually work from, but they also offer events and classes.
Camellando Coworking is located in the northern part of Armenia near Carrera 14 and the university (exact location here). It costs around $2 per hour or $6 per day in the open seating area, and around $44 for a monthly membership ($132 for a monthly membership and private office space).
Learn more about the coworking space and their services here.
Due to Armenia being a highly important part of the Colombian Coffee Triangle, the city is full of cafes selling very local, very tasty coffee. And many of the cafes are also great spots to spend a bit of time getting some work done. While our favorite cafes are listed above, there are a ton more to choose from. And especially when it comes to spots located in the more modern northern side of town, you will likely find plenty of tables to work from as well as strong Wi-Fi and plenty of power outlets.
INSIDER TIP: we noticed many cafes in Armenia (and it seems Colombia in general) do not open very early (it seems 8 AM is the earliest). So if you are looking to work from a café, we suggest heading in around midday.
Is Armenia, Colombia Safe?
We felt very safe in Armenia, both during the day and at night. While we have heard stories of some people getting their phones snatched from them by passing motorcyclists all in all as long as you are being smart (and carrying your belongings in a secure way, there shouldn't be any issues.
GOOD TO KNOW: there is a common saying in Colombia, "no dar papaya" which means never let your guard down. This saying is jokingly known as the 11th commandant to Colombians and it is a defining feature of the country peoples mindset. Pretty much it means that you should never put yourself in a dangerous position, nor give anyone the chance to take advantage of you.
🏥 TRAVEL INSURANCE
For adventurous digital nomads (including those looking to explore more off-the-beaten-path places), we highly recommend signing up and using SafetyWing for all your travel medical insurance needs (including COVID-19 coverage). And don’t worry, policies can still be purchased while already abroad.
MAP OF ARMENIA'S TOP 5 THINGS TO SEE + DO
Armenia is likely not the first place that comes to mind when you think of slow traveling through Colombia. But after spending two months in the city, we can absolutely tell you that if you are looking for a place that combines city life and nature, then Armenia should definitely be near the top of your list. Plus, the weather is perfect year round, the people are super friendly and the coffee scene is top-notch. Honestly, what more could you ask for?
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WHY EVERYONE SHOULD CONSIDER SLOW TRAVELING | Because we need to change the way we see the world
SIMPLE TIPS TO BE A MORE SUSTAINABLE TRAVELER | Easy and affordable ways to be a more eco-conscious traveler
PACKING ESSENTIALS FOR COLOMBIA
| Reusable water bottle: we cannot imagine traveling without our LARQ water bottles thanks to their fancy rechargeable filter that eliminate up to 99% of bio-contaminants.
| Eco-friendly sunscreen: we love MadHippie sunscreen because it’s cruelty-free, vegan, broad spectrum, and reef safe. And even better, they donate $1 for every purchase to conservation efforts.
| Allbirds shoes: comfortable shoes can make or break an adventure or travel day, these eco-conscious and cozy shoes from Allbirds have been our faves for years.
► Find our full sustainable travel packing list here.
STAYING SAFE & PLANNING AHEAD
| SafetyWing: make sure you are staying safe with this easy-to-sign-up health insurance that is specifically meant for digital nomads. You can even sign up once you are already abroad.
| WayAway: this flight aggregator helps travelers find the best rates on airline tickets to tons of different locations.
| BusBud: explore millions of bus routes and destinations in one easy-to-use search; plus, you can compare prices and book your tickets online (in your language).
| Rentalcars.com: check out the world’s biggest online car rental service that is available in over 150 countries.
| iVisa: this site helps make sure you have all of the necessary documents and entry requirements while traveling.
| Wise: this app makes it super easy to transfer money between currencies while abroad, keeping you from worrying about whether you are getting the right exchange rate or not.