Last Updated on January 31, 2022 by Nellie Huang

Jardin is rarely on the conventional tourist trail — that’s precisely its appeal. Here’s my complete guide to Jardin, Colombia.

Coming from Medellin, you’ll welcome the slower pace and laidback atmosphere in Jardin, Colombia. At just four hours away from the big city, the quaint colonial town is ridiculously cute and charming, with traditional houses splashed in bright colors and tropical flowers hanging from every patio in sight. 

The town’s name is no mystery — Jardin means ‘garden’ in Spanish; and it’s easy to see how it gots name from the lush green landscapes, cloud-covered mountains, and terraced fields surrounding the town. Hiking trails criss-cross these mountains, through waterfalls and coffee plantations. In contrast to the chaos of Medellin, Jardin feels like a paradise on Earth.

jardin colombia - colombia coffee triangle

Jardin, Colombia

Why You Should Visit Jardin Colombia

Regardless of where you go in Jardin, you’re never far from nature. Sounds of running streams, flowing waterfalls, and singing birds echo in the background. The mountain air is fresh, wafting with the smell of chimney smoke and coffee fragrance.

At just 4-5 hours from Medellin (by bus), it’s easily accessible and feels like a world away. Jardin is the perfect place for hikers and nature lovers, as well as those who are looking to experience rural Colombia — or some would say, the real Colombia.

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jardin colombia from above - jardin colombia guide


Colombia Covid Travel Restrictions

Colombia will no longer require a negative coronavirus test from travelers entering the country by air. Anyone is welcomed to travel to Colombia.

As of 20 June 2021, Colombia has confirmed more than 4 million cases of Covid-19 and 100,580 deaths. Since 3 June, Colombia has eased several lockdown measures even though it is still fighting a third peak in the pandemic, which has been aggravated by a month of crowded antigovernment street protests.

colorful buildings of jardin colombia

Travel Insurance in Colombia

I always recommend travelers to buy travel insurance, whether you’re traveling for a year or a week. It is particularly important have travel insurance that covers COVID-19 if you’re traveling during the pandemic. 

Safety Wing is the most popular travel insurance company for COVID19-coverage. I use their Nomad Insurance plan, which covers COVID-19 as any other illness as long as it was not contracted before your coverage start date. Refer to my travel insurance guide for more details.

Best Time to Visit Jardin Colombia

Jardin has a pleasant spring weather throughout the year. The temperature doesn’t change a lot throughout the year: with the highest average temperature around 74°F (23°C) in July and the lowest 68°F (20°C) in November. The best time to visit is the dry season between December and February, when there are pleasant temperature and moderate rainfall. 

I traveled Colombia in May, but found the weather absolutely perfect for me. Temperatures were mild at around 64 to 72°F (18 to 22°C) and it hardly rained, making it ideal for hikes in the hills surrounding Jardin.

It rains a lot more during March-May and October-November. However, it does not rain that long even in the wet season, with mostly short afternoon showers. 

lush greenery in jardin colombia lush greenery in jardin colombia


How to Get to Jardin Colombia

Most people travel to Jardin from Medellin — it’s a direct 4-5 hour bus  journey. Buses from Medellin to Jardin leave from Terminal Sur near El Poblado. Book your bus ticket online or get the ticket at the terminal. Rapido Ochoa has buses leaving several times a day and the ticket costs 27, 000 COP (US$7)per person.

The bus tends to stop quite often to pick up passengers along the way. As soon as you leave Medellin, you’ll be weaving up winding mountain roads. If you get car sick easily, it’s wise to bring dramamine. The bus stops at the main square of Jardin although the main bus terminal is a few blocks behind.

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Jardin, Colombia: My Guide to the Cutest Town in the Coffee Triangle


Things to Do in Jardin Colombia

Wander along its Colorful Streets

Jardin is ridiculously cute thanks to the endless rows of colonial houses splashed in rainbow colors. Colonial villages in the Coffee Triangle have a tradition of painting their houses in the brightest colors possible. Here in Jardin, the colorful houses make such a beautiful contrast against the backdrop of the lush green mountains.

jardin colombia - colorful colonial town

Chill Out at Parque de Jardin

All of the colonial towns in the Coffee Triangle share the same layout: a square in the center, with houses built in rectangular grids around it. In Jardin, the main square – Parque de Jardin – doubles as a park with water fountains, lush foliage and chirping birds. Sadly I was there during the weekend lockdown (due to COVID 19), but usually the square is a great spot to sit, people watch and drink some coffee.

 

colombia coffee triangle - main square of jardin colombia

Drink Tinto at the Many Cafes in Town

You can’t come to Jardin and not try their world-class coffee. In Colombia, a cup of strong coffee is known as tinto. The difference between tinto and cafe, is similar to the difference between canned grocery store coffee and what actual home-brewed coffee in a coffee shop. Tinto translates roughly to “inky water” and is thicker, more concentrated, and made with commodity-quality beans. They’re usually sold in small cups.

There are plenty of cafes in Jardin to try a tinto. Smell the aroma wafting from the coffee machine and enjoy the sunshine in their patios or outdoor terraces.

colombia coffee triangle - coffee in jardin colombia colombia coffee triangle - coffee in jardin colombia

Colombia’s Coffee Triangle

Coffee plays an important role in Colombia. The 560,000 coffee farms throughout the country make coffee the South American nation’s biggest export and also its most popular drink. It’s a national symbol and coffee is everywhere — and you’ll only find domestically-grown beans in Colombia. 

Jardin forms part of the Colombian Coffee Triangle, also known as the Zona Cafetera. Located in the Paisa region of rural Colombia, the Coffee Triangle is actually made up of three departments: Caldas, Risaralda and Quindio. This region is famous for producing the majority of Colombian coffee, often considered the best in the world. 

For coffee lovers, here are some of the coffee tours to do in Jardin:

coffee tour jardin to medellin - day trip

Visit the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception

As with every small town or pueblo in Colombia, the church is the centerpiece of the town. Right on the main square stands the beautiful Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, a neo-gothic cathedral built in 1872. It’s quite an impressive size, slightly disproportionate to Jardin considering how small the town is, and it’s built entirely from hand carved stone quarried in the foothills of the town. It’s open everyday from 8.30am to 5pm, and entry is free.

cathedral in jardin colombia

Take the Cable Cars 

Located in a valley, Jardin is enveloped by lush green hills and sprawling coffee plantations. To get up to these hills, there are two old school cable cars (telefericos) that lead to panoramic viewpoints.

  • Cable Aereo Jardin — The station is located at the end of Calle 8. It takes you up to the Mirador Cristo Rey where a cafe and spectacular view awaits. Sadly it was closed during my visit. Cost: 6,000 COP ($1.6) round trip.
  • Teleferico La Garrucha — This is a more traditional cable car, in a wooden box that glides above the river. This ride is more thrilling and fun than the other cable car, and it leads to a restaurant where you can try some trout fish with a view. Cost: 8,000 COP ($2.15) round trip.

cable car jardin colombia - colombia coffee belt

Hike to Mirador Cristo Rey

For the best view of Jardin, don’t miss the hike up to the Cristo Rey statue perched on the top of the hills overlooking the town. The Cable Aereo Jardin that goes up there wasn’t working when I visited so I walked.

But even if it’s working during your visit, I recommend hiking up there as you’ll be walking through farm lands, sloping terraced fields and banana plantations. It’s about a 45-minute hike from town and it’s relatively easy. Follow these directions to Cristo del Rey on Google Maps.

view from cristo rey - jardin colombia things to do

Enjoy the View at Cafe Jardin

From Mirador Cristo Rey, Cafe Jardin is just a short 5-minute hike away. Return to the trail you came from and continue straight instead of turning right to the banana plantations. 

Perched on the hills overlooking Jardin, this cafe is a hot favorite among travelers for its views and coffee. The cafe also has an Instagrammable ‘I Love Jardin’ sign that’s popular with youngsters. Here is its location on Google Maps.

hike at cafe jardin - medellin to jardin colombia

See the Cascada la Escalera

You can easily visit the Cascada la Escalera waterfall on a loop hike along with Cristo Rey and Cafe Jardin. It’s about a 20-minute slightly ascending hike from Cristo Rey. I heard that the falls get pretty crowded usually but during my visit it was absolutely empty (due to the pandemic) and really quite gorgeous. Bring a swimming suit if you don’t mind the icy cold waters!

cascada la escalera waterfall - jardin colombia activities

See the Iconic Cock-of-the-Rock Bird

Jardin is one of the best places in Colombia to spot the Gallito de Rocas, or Cock of the Bird. Native to South America, the flamboyant bird is hard to miss with its bright red feathers and unique crest.

Head to Reserva Natural Jardin de Rocaschances of seeing this spectacular bird here is almost guaranteed. I saw over 10 of them! The best times to visit are 6 am – 7:30 am and 4 pm – 5:30 pm when birds are most active (no advance booking needed). Entrance fee is 10, 000 COP ($2.69).

There are few viewing platforms in the garden where you can patiently and quietly wait for Gallitos de Rocas. Definitely bring a long lens if you want good photos. You won’t need binoculars as the birds aren’t afraid to come near you.

colombia jardin medellin - gallito del roca bird

colombia jardin medellin - flowers in jardin

The Andean Cock of the Rock Bird

The Cock of the Rock bird, also known as tunqui in Quechua, is well known for the incredible beauty of its plumage. Native to the Amazon region, it is the national bird of Peru.  

The bright red-and-black birds are actually male. The females, in contrast, have an austere and dull color plumage, dominated by shades of brown. The male’s energy is devoted to very elaborate display rituals that show off its magnificent plumage. These displays take place in communal leks, where males gather to challenge rivals and beckon the females.

andean cock of rock bird - birdwatching in jardin colombia

Hike the Camino de Herrera 

The best part about Jardin is that it’s surrounded by nature and you’re never far from a scenic hiking trail. One of the best hikes in Jardin Colombia is the Camino de Herrera, a trail that takes you up to a series of falls, rapids, and nature reserves. Plan to take 4-5 hours to complete the trail.

You’ll first walk on a stone trail flanked with colorful begonias and ferns, then you start to ascend a steep road. You’ll pass the Cascada del Amor, a small waterfall that apparently brings good luck to lovers. If a couple kisses under the falls, their love will be eternalized forever.

camino herrera - things to do in jardin colombia

Take a Dip in Charco Corazon

Continue on the trail and you’ll reach Charco Corazon which is a series of rapids and whirlpools where you can swim in. The rapids are named ‘Corazon’ meaning heart, as some of the boulders are shaped like hearts.

It can be dangerous, so please don’t take the plunge if you’re not a confident swimmer. Right by the boulders are three crosses that commemorate the death of those who have drowned here.

charco corazon - jardin colombia

Hike to Cascada Escondida

The trail continues to ascend higher into the mountains, but eventually you’ll reach the Tunel Museo, a tunnel that zigzags its way across the mountains. Apparently it’s filled with bats. I didn’t get to visit this as it was closed but I heard it’s cool. 

To get to Cascada Escondida, you’ll need to go through the tunnel. This waterfall is more impressive than the Cascada La Escalera but entrance is not free (10,000 COP or $2.66). Click to see its location on Google Maps.

Right around here, there’s another nature reserve that’s great for birdwatching. I spotted three gorgeous Green Jay here, with their spectacular blue crest and green/yellow feathers.

jardin colombia medellin - birdlife

Go on a Tuk Tuk Tour

In Jardin, the main mode of transport is the tuk tuk or mototaxi as they call it. Jardin is small enough to walk everywhere, but there are plenty of waterfalls, viewpoints, near the town that can be accessed on tuktuk. For instance, you can actually go to the Charco Corazon and Cascada Escondida by tuktuk.

The fixed price for a 1-hour ride tour of Jardin is 30,000 COP (US$8). My tuktuk driver, Nelson, was honest and friendly (he doesn’t speak English though). Contact him at +57 3107165569. 

tuktuk driver - colombia jardin

Go Horse Trekking

Another popular thing to do in Jardin is horseback riding. You’ll usually see locals with their horses on the streets of Jardin and at the square. I didn’t do due to my allergy (I’m one of the weird people with a horse allergy!), but I’ve heard that horseback riding is a great way to explore Jardin and the lush surroundings. Horses in Jardin seem well-fed and taken care of. Check out this horseback riding tour in Jardin.

horse trekking in jardin colombia

Hike to Cueva del Esplendor

Visiting Cueva del Esplendor is one of the most adventurous things to do in Jardin. Located at 2200m above sea level, this spectacular cave has a 10m waterfall gushing through a large hole in the roof. The cave is only accessible by foot along muddy, sometimes-narrow mountain paths. The entrance is around a 3-hour hike from Jardín.

Since 2017 there’s been a daily limit of 40 visitors to prevent further damage to the cave. Only one operator is now allowed to lead hiking tours; book ahead. Expect to pay around 60,000 COP ($16) per person for the guided trek, including a traditional lunch.

jardin colombia things to do - visit cueva del esplendor

Visit a Coffee Finca

The best way to go beneath the surface of the Coffee Triangle and get a deeper understanding for coffee culture in Jardin is to visit a coffee finca. Many of these coffee farms do tours to demonstrate the whole process from the bean to cup.

Finca Milena has got raving reviews and I personally enjoyed the tour of Marta’s family coffee farm. She explained in details the whole production of coffee and brought me on a walk through the fields of coffee plants. At the end of the tour, I got to try two delicious cups of her family’s coffee and some tasty plantain based snacks. 

jardin colombia things to do - visit a coffee farm jardin colombia things to do - visit a coffee farm

Try Trout Fish at a Trucheria

On the outskirts of Jardin, you’ll find many trucherias or trout farms that serve them fresh for lunch. One of the best places to try some freshly caught trout in Jardin is La Trucheria. They serve trouts grilled, steamed and with garlic sauce. They have a big fish farm, which you can even fish from if you like! 

jardin colombia trout farm

Try the Sweets at Dulces de Jardin

A wonderfully whimsical sweet shop, Dulces de Jardin has made quite a name for itself. Jardin local Mariela Arango Jaramillo started it in 1995, as a labour of love. Mariela loves making jelly, jams and sweets for her family and friends. And it shows from her yummy sweet treats. Even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, come pay Mariela a visit and you’re sure to fall in love.

jardin colombia guide - streets


3 Days in Jardin Colombia: My Recommended Itinerary

I hope my list of best things to do in Jardin has been useful in planning your trip. Based on proximity and location, I’ve organized them into an itinerary for those with 3 days in Jardin, Colombia.

Day 1 in Jardin: 

  • Walk around town
  • People watch at Parque de Jardin 
  • Visit the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
  • Drink coffee at one of the cafes
  • Take a cable car

Day 2 in Jardin:

  • Hike the loop around Cristo del Rey and Cafe Jardin
  • Continue to Cascada La Escalera
  • Try trout fish for lunch
  • Visit a coffee finca
  • Visit the Reserva de Roca in the evening

Day 3 in Jardin:

  • Hike the Camino de Herrera
  • Swim in Charco Corazon
  • Walk the Tunel Museo
  • See Cascada Escondida

jardin colombia - things to do in jardin


Where to Stay in Jardin Colombia

Budget: Hotel Jardin Antioquia

Located right by the main square of Jardin Colombia, this colorful and eclectic hostel is a landmark in town (pictured). Besides the central location, the hotel has cheap rooms that overlook the vibrant Parque de Jardin. Check rates here.

Mid Range: 40 Amigos Hotel

I stayed at this newly renovated midrange hotel further north of the town and really enjoyed it. The hosts were incredibly helpful; one of them even walked me to the bus station at 4am in the morning. My room was small (ask for a twin room if you need more space), but I spent most of my time on the rooftop balcony. Check rates here.

Luxury: Hotel Plantación 

As one of the few upscale hotels in Jardin (most accommodations are simple guesthouses), this boutique hotel is very tastefully designed in simply Scandinavian style. Rooms are huge, with high wooden-beamed ceilings and big French doors that open to beautiful hillside views. Check rates here.

Luxury: Casa Passiflora Hotel Boutique

Located close to the main square, this hotel is housed in a beautiful colonial building and transformed into a modern and bright place. It has a beautiful open patio and even swimming pool with lots of lounging space. And a great restaurant to boot! Check rates here.

Hotel Jardin - jardin colombia hotel


Where to Eat in Jardin, Colombia

Destino Silvestre

A small but chirpy joint, Destino Silvestre serves fresh vegetarian food that’s affordable and delicious. Great for healthy and simple lunches! Read reviews here.

Cafe Europa

If you’re craving something more international, this place has the best pizza in town. It has lots of outdoor seating on the main square, which has a great atmosphere in the evenings. Read reviews here.

La Parrilla del Pueblo

Right around the corner from the main square, this modern and funky restaurant serves the best meat in town, according to locals. Their steaks are fantastic, and so are the local menu del dia which go for only 9500 COP ($2.50). Read reviews here.

Óleo Bistró Restaurante

As part of the Casa Passiflora Hotel Boutique, this stylish restaurant has a great semi-formal ambiance and an international menu. Great for couples looking to spoil themselves. Read reviews here.
 
bandeja paisa - typical dish from jardin antioquia colombia
 

Further Reading on Colombia

So, is Jardin Colombia’s best kept secret? I’ll let you decide. I hope my guide on Jardin Colombia will help you plan a rewarding trip to this gorgeous coffee town.

If you’re planning to travel Colombia, check out other articles I’ve written on Colombia and other parts of South America:


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jardin colombia - colombia coffee triangle jardin colombia - colombia coffee triangle