Hidden among the Andean mountains, you will find the beautiful city of Armenia, Colombia. Armenia is the capital of the department of Quindío and it is an important commercial and economic region for the country. Known as the coffee-growing region of Colombia, Armenia’s perfect weather makes it impossible to not want to stay, but this area of the country boasts of many small towns and beautiful cities
History and Culture
Many years ago Armenia suffered a devastating earthquake, at the moment the people of the city were scared and upset, of course many lives were lost and there was a lot of destruction, but the people of this region took this opportunity to rebuild the city and after years of rehabilitation it became known as “La ciudad milagro” (Miracle city), a nickname given prior and strengthened after its recovery.
After the reconstruction of the city, Armenia became a major tourist destination. In Armenia and its surroundings, you can find many natural activities, walks, and coffee tours, not to mention some of the best gastronomy in the country. If you’re going to eat traditional this is one of the best places to enjoy, the “cuyabros” (what the people from Armenia are called) are excellent cooks and will make you the best bandeja paisa, calentao, empanada or arepa ever!!
Arriving and staying
So let’s get there first, you can arrive to Armenia many ways, most likely on airplane or by bus. If you book with time you can find a cheap flight, if it’s close to the date, probably not. There are several bus companies that you can use, I recommend Bolivariano and Velotax, both give you option to buy tickets online ahead of time.
Once you’ve made it to Armenia, your best bet is to grab a cab to wherever you decide to stay. If you are travelling with a group, renting a “Finca” (farm, or country home) near La Tebaida or Montenegro are excellent options. You can also find boutique hotels, and other lodging options in Armenia.
There are many things you can do in Armenia, but you only need about 4-5 days. One of the most beautiful parks of Armenia is “El parque de la vida” (Life park), this is a big park which you can take a morning to explore, full of beautiful trees and flowers it is representative of the biodiversity of the region. El parque de la vida is a great plan to arrive to a more residential part of the city and to spend a nature filled morning. Outside of the park you will find many food stands selling empanadas, corn on the cob, and arepas.
After exploring this area, you can take a 10-minute bus or taxi to the Museo del Oro Quimbaya (Quimbayan gold museum). This is one of the most beautiful museums Colombia has and it is filled with history. Here you will find history of the region and its indigenous people as well as handcrafted goods made by them in ceramic and gold. If you’re interested in learning more about Armenia and its origins I definitely recommend this place. The museum is open from Tuesday-Sunday from 9:00 AM- 5:00 PM.
A place for nature lovers
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous and wanting to take a good hike you can visit Ecoparque Peñas Blancas which is located in Calarca, Quindio about 25 minutes from the center of Armenia. You can take a bus from the center of Armenia just around the corner from a supermarket called Ventanilla Verde or you can get one from the bus station. Once you’ve arrived you will find that you can take a hike up to mountain or do any type of extreme sports of activities. The hike is approximately 3,5 kilometers with a medium-high difficulty level. There are also caves you can explore which are filled with indigenous history of the region.
The park also offers the possibility of camping, getting a room, or renting a cabin for up to 10 people (this is a great option for groups!). This is an excellent place to enjoy eco-tourism, beautiful scenery, and excellent weather.
If you plan on staying a few more days in this region, you can visit El Parque Nacional del Café (National Coffee Park), this is one of Quindio’s most representative parks and it speaks about how important coffee is as the identity of this region. This park mixes history with diversion because it includes many types of activities and has a museum that has to do with coffee but on the other hand it has attractions that people of all ages can enjoy.
This activity will take up most of your day, there are many things to explore. This park is not in the actual city of Armenia but in the small town of Montenegro. Montenegro is a small town that is built around tourism and commerce. This area boasts of the best coffee farms in the region, so while you’re at it, take a coffee tour! You can find out more about this in the town plaza or outside El Parque del Café. If you will be staying in Montenegro area, you can find many boutique hotels as well as hostels or “hospedajes” which are just the basics.
If you are a true nature lover, you will find El Paraiso del Bambu y la Guadua ) The Bamboo and Gaudua Paradise. In Quindio and many parts of Colombia you will become familiar with “guadua” which has no English translation but is a bamboo like type of wood. All throughout the country people use these material to build and construct homes as well as furniture, it is a true symbol of the region.
El Paraiso del Bambu y la Guadua is found inside of a farm called El Bambusal, an organically certified farm, that doesn’t only show the natural beauties of Colombia but also practice organic agriculture. This is a great stop before moving onto the rest of the country. If you wish to move onto Cali after Armenia your best bet is to enjoy this area along with Quimbaya and then head out, it is very close to the Valle department where Cali is located.
The coffee-growing region is filled with natural wonders and a lot of bio-diversity. This region is wonderful for nature and coffee lovers, who are interested in the natural qualities of the country and love to enjoy a fresh morning coffee.