South America Living

Manizales, Colombia Travel Guide

Hummingbird at Recinto de Pensamientos

Manizales lies in the heart of the Eje Cafetero, or the Coffee Region, in central Colombia.

It has a subtropical climate with year-round monthly temperatures around 16.6 degrees C (61.9 F).

It is around 6 hours by bus from Medellin, forty-minutes by air from Bogotá.

Photos       Where To Eat
Map       Where To Stay

Things to Do in and Around Manizales

  • Take a Tour of the Venecia Coffee Plantation. If you do nothing else in Manizales, take a tour of the Venecia Coffee Plantation. For just $20,000 COP ($10.80 USD), they provide transport to and from your hostel or hotel, explain how coffee is grown and roasted and feed you lunch. They offer the tour in both English and Spanish. When you finish the tour, you have the option to swim in their pool so bring your bathing suit! For more information visit the Venecia Coffee Plantation website.
  • The Quaint Town of Salento Near Manizales

  • Visit El Recinto de Pensamientos . This is an ecological park that offers a walking tour to see various types of nature, such as a herb garden, butterfly garden, hummingbird area, and orchid forest. Very beautiful and a great place for taking nature photos. For more information visit the El Recinto de Pensamientos website.
  • Check out one of the tallest Cathedrals in the world – Catedral de Manizales (Manizales Cathedral in English). Neo-gothic architecture plus a panoramic view of the city for those fit enough to climb to the top of the one of the cathedral’s highest spires.
  • Go to Chipre, the highest point in Manizales . At Chipre is the Monumento de los Colonizadores, where you have a free tour in Spanish about Manizales, learning among other things that it is one of the few places with eight micro-climates. You can pay to go up to the lookout tower where there is a bar.
  • Zip through the tree tops at Ecoparque Los Yarumos. If you’ve ever wanted to go canopying, here is a perfect opportunity. It’s $8,900 COP ($4.80 USD) for the short canopy and $23,000 COP ($12.40 USD) for a longer time up above the forest. Both will give you spectacular views and get your heart pumping! Entrance fee for the park is $3,200 COP ($1.70 USD) and includes a nature walk where you can see a variety of plant and animal species.
  • Take a day trip to the small town of Salento. Salento is a beautiful place where you can ride horses through a cloud forest and get a healthy dose of traditional “paisa” culture (the name given to the people from the Antioquia region of Colombia). The restaurants serve trout, a traditional dish of the region.
  • Take a tour of Los Nevados del Ruiz. Parque Los Nevados is one of the few places in Colombia where you can find snow. You hike along snow-peaked mountains and at the top are ‘termas’ (hot springs in English). Your hotel or hostal can make arrangements for a guide.
  • Termales Tierra Viva (Tierra Viva Hot Springs in English. There are multiple hot springs that you can experience while in Manizales, but this one is the most natural. The pools are made of natural stone as opposed to looking like a regular ol’ swimming pool. The water is between 35 and 41° C (95 -105.8° F) and there is a restaurant with bar. For more information visit the official Termales Tierra Viva website.
  • Coffee Theme Park (Parque Nacional de Café in Spanish). In addition to a variety of amusement park rides such as roller coasters and a Ferris Wheel, there is also a variety of cultural attractions centered on coffee such as an interactive coffee museum and farm house. For more details and prices view the official Coffee Theme Park website.
  • Manizales Gold Museum located at Carrera #23. Although much smaller than the Gold Museum in Bogotá, they still have some very nice pieces worth checking out and it is free to enter.

Transportation around Manizales

For some of the main tourist attractions, such as Venecia Coffee Plantation and Los Nevados, they provide transportation to and from most of the hostels and hotels. Apart from that, walking or taking a taxi is the best option.

The taxis are metered, so you don’t have to worry about bargaining; just make sure the taxi driver starts the meter when you enter the taxi. The city center, where the mall and most restaurants and places to stay are located, is very walkable, and it’s nice to explore a bit of the city. People are very friendly so don’t hesitate to ask someone for directions if you find yourself a bit lost.

Best Time to Visit Manizales

The best time to go is in January, February and June – August as these are the months with the warmest temperature and least amount of rainfall. If you go in the Fall (September – December) or Spring (March – May), you run the risk of encountering blocked roads due to rock slides and heavy rains and won’t be able to visit Los Nevados.

No matter when you go, Manizales is generally a rainy city, so be prepared with an umbrella or raincoat. The average temperature is between 10-20 degrees C (50-68 F), so be prepared for both warm and cooler weather.

Where to Stay in Manizales

Note: In addition to the traditional hotels and hostels listed below many of the coffee plantations and thermal springs – as well as El Recinto de Pensamientos – offer accommodation but they are generally not as centralized.

Name: Hotel Estelar El Cable
Address: Carrera 23 C #64 A-60

Name: Palogrande Hostel
Address: Calle 62 # 23-26
Website: Simple, clean though hot water now always dependable. Traditional breakfast of eggs, arepa, and cheese included.

Name: Pit Stop Hostel
Address: Calle 65 #23B – 19
Website: Backpacker’s favorite with onsite bar. May get a little noisy for some.

Where to Eat in Manizales

Name: La Plaza Gourmet
Address: Calle 100 #18A – 30
Website: Located in the elegant Bogotá Plaza Summit Hotel.

Name: La Suiza
Address: Carrera 23 #26-57
Website: None but has a Facebook page! Breakfast, gourmet sandwiches, wraps, salads, appetizers, cakes, and coffee, along with a variety of other sweet treats.

Name: Chuzos al Carbón y Más
Address: Carrera 23 #63 – 22 Local 4
Website: None. Inexpensive, fast food such as chuzos (meat skewered on a stick), grilled meats, patacones (a sandwich made with fried green plantain) and fresh juices.

Interactive Map of Manizales

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Photograph of hummingbird by Yaco Roca all rights reserved.
Photograph of Salento by Mike Hower, all rights reserved.

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