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.
Table of Contents
- Jardin, Colombia
- Why You Should Visit Jardin Colombia
- Colombia Covid Travel Restrictions
- Travel Insurance in Colombia
- Best Time to Visit Jardin Colombia
- How to Get to Jardin Colombia
- Things to Do in Jardin Colombia
- Wander along its Colorful Streets
- Chill Out at Parque de Jardin
- Drink Tinto at the Many Cafes in Town
- Colombia’s Coffee Triangle
- Visit the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
- Take the Cable Cars
- Hike to Mirador Cristo Rey
- Enjoy the View at Cafe Jardin
- See the Cascada la Escalera
- See the Iconic Cock-of-the-Rock Bird
- The Andean Cock of the Rock Bird
- Hike the Camino de Herrera
- Take a Dip in Charco Corazon
- Hike to Cascada Escondida
- Go on a Tuk Tuk Tour
- Go Horse Trekking
- Hike to Cueva del Esplendor
- Visit a Coffee Finca
- Try Trout Fish at a Trucheria
- Try the Sweets at Dulces de Jardin
- 3 Days in Jardin Colombia: My Recommended Itinerary
- Where to Stay in Jardin Colombia
- Where to Eat in Jardin, Colombia
- Further Reading on 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Cafe Macanas — right on the main square
- de los Andes Cafe — go to their second floor for a nice view
- Ave Cafe — delicious cakes to go with their artisan coffee
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 Rocas — chances 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
Where to Eat in Jardin, Colombia
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.
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
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:
- Is it Safe to Travel Colombia Now ?
- Best Things to Do in Cartagena
- Medellin Travel Guide
- Bogota Travel Guide
- Colombia Itinerary: A Detailed Guide for 10 Days in Colombia
- 2-Week Brazil Itinerary
- Visiting the Galapagos Islands
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