Visiting the picture-perfect colonial towns in Colombia to admire the architecture and natural settings has become our favorite pastime. We’ve fallen in love with Barichara, hiked and drank coffee in Jardín, and brunched and climbed the rock in Guatapé.
But we didn’t expect to add another favorite town on our list until we discovered Jerico Colombia or (Jericó pronounced hare-i-co). We loved this little traditional pueblo so much that we stayed for six weeks. Now, we plan to make it a home base.
Jerico is a low key, unapologetically traditional town, brimming with pride for their heritage and history. It’s understated-ness is refreshing. Some may be intimidated by its religious appreciation, but rest assured, it’s as welcoming and friendly to anyone with its warm Paisa hospitality that Antioqueño Colombians are known. (Of course, Colombians are the friendliest people in the world, but Paisas are particularly welcoming.)
It’s love of the arts. This town is serious about the arts and creativity, and it highly encourages participation. The museums and galleries are free, and anyone can take art, pottery workshop or drama class for free. Jerico is also home to notable Colombian painters and artisans, which is no surprise because it's a place full of creative inspiration.
Town pride. Maintaining its heritage and appearance is important to this town. Believe it or not, it's a town law that every home must be painted with at least three different colors! Any building in the central area is forbidden from making any change or renovation to the exterior of the building.
A town since 1850, Jerico is one of the 17 official historical towns of Colombia (also known as the Pueblos Patrimonios). It is also the birthplace of Colombia’s first saint, Sister - Saint Laura Montoya, who was born here in 1874. This woman was an important spiritual teacher who worked tirelessly with indigenous people, giving love and bringing Christ’s teachings, and fought to change racial discrimination of their people. When you visit Jerico, you can visit her home and convent at Carerra 3 and Calle 8.
For anyone who isn’t Catholic, or religious, Jerico is still a place to visit. The town’s casual and welcoming attitude prevails, whether you attend church or not. However, don’t be surprised that instead of receiving a “gracias” for your patronage at shops and restaurants, you will hear a gentle and friendly “Gracias a Dios” (thanks to god). Maybe you like to wander around churches? You have a choice among 17 churches within this small town of only 8000 residents! The churches are a great place to wander on a rainy afternoon. The most impressive is Catedral Virgen de las Mercedes (in the main town square), Capilla San Francisco (off of Calle 9 and Carrera 2), and Santurario del Inmaculado Corazón de Maria – the white church – behind the main cathedral south of town off of Carrera 4. The white church is the most impressive of all the churches here, both inside and out.
Love the sound of church bells? Heads up! The churches here ring their bells every 15min, all day and all night. On your first night you might be surprised and awakened, but by the next night it becomes a pleasant background noise. (Bring earplugs if you think this could be an issue for you.)
The best place for History. The town offers a free historical lesson at the Centro de Historia (open 9-11 AM, 1-5 PM every day, except Wednesday), located at the corner of Calle 9 and Carrera 4. Here you will find all the public archives of the town, and the history of the founders of the town. The staff there are ready to share the pride for their little pueblo.
Every town in Colombia has its specialty or something that they are known for throughout the country. Beyond the plethora of coffee farms, orange trees, and avocados, you will find a few other unique things here in Jericó:
The Carriel Bag– It is a man’s leather, only made in this town. The bag looks like a saddlebag, yet it is a very intricate bag made with multiple pockets created in leather, rawhide, black Patton and fur. Traditionally worn by men, it's a symbol of the Paisa culture (People of Antioquia). Nowadays, businessmen all over Colombia use them, and small handbag versions are made for women. You can visit one of the many workshops in Jericó, and the artisans would be happy to show you their extensive craft and options to make one of your own.
Cardamom – Jerico is known for its cultivation and production of high-grade cardamom. This aromatic, savory spice grown in a pod is available everywhere in Jericó, even in candy. This is a unique flavor! You can sample these candies at the small gift shop in El Saturia Café
Cowboys – Jerico is comprised of many surrounding villages in the hills around the main town. Many of the families are coffee, fruit and vegetable farmers. It's not a surprise to see farmers trotting into town on their horses with sacks of fruits and vegetables for sale, and roping their horses in front of a bar and restaurant for a bite and a drink. At night time, the town plaza opens to some families (men and their sons) trotting their stuff on the cobblestone streets, putting on a show for spectators.
There is no shortage of hiking trails and spectacular viewpoints of the town, surrounded by lush, green mountains all around.
Best View Points of Jerico:
Parque Cerro Las Nubes – This is a fantastic morning hike up above the city. Las Nubes (the clouds) will most likely appear, although there is a good chance you will still have great views. There are a few different trails, with the most popular at the northwest edge of town. (You can’t miss the big mountain.) In the 45min to 1-hour climb, you'll find an expansive field and park with places to picnic and stroll. The views of the town are sensational, and along the other side of the mountain (if the clouds don't roll in), you’ll be rewarded with views of Cerro Tusa (the high pointed mountain) and other mountain range views in Antioquia.
Morro El Salvador – This is the hill where the big Christ Statue towers over the town. It is a short hike up, and you are rewarded with panoramic views of Jerico. You can walk up the road, take a cab, or the best option, which is to walk through the back of the botanical gardens.
There is a cable car system here. However, like the town of Jardín, it isn't operational due to the high maintenance costs to keep it running.
Other Natural Wonders:
Los Balsos Botanical Gardens – Completely free to enter and located at the base of the Morro El Salvador hill, this is a place for a casual and easy morning or afternoon stroll through bridges, small fish ponds, manicured gardens, bamboo forests and stone pathways.
Hike and refresh in the river – There is no shortage of fantastic walks through the villages and along the coffee farms. Just take a guide and walk west of town through some of the most beautiful coffee farms and mountains and cool off in the Rio Piedras. You might even get a visit from the resident dog who loves getting thrown a stick in the water and jumping in!
There are many look-out areas where you can witness more green farm vistas as far as your eye can see. You can access some of them by taking a short taxi or tuk-tuk ride, then find your way back by walking. Ask for these viewpoints by name:
Mirador Natural la Soledad - This viewpoint is about a 20-minute drive out of town (approx. 35.000 Cop) and about a 45-minute walk back.
Mirador Natural la Mama – Another stunning viewpoint that is also about a 20-25 minute drive out of town (35.000) and a 30-minute walk back.
Further Waterfall Hiking Getaways:
For more extensive hiking and seeing the waterfalls in the area, you can book a guide to:
Humedal de Montaña La Cascada - Located between the towns of Jerico and Tarso.
Chorros De Quebradona – Waterfalls, forests and natural pools about 5 kms away from town and about a 1.5-hour walk or 30-minute taxi (for a cost around 28.000 COP).
Of course, there are adventure sports in Jericó! On the way into town, you will see the Lookout – or Mirador Natural Puerto Arturo – a place for paragliding and incredible views of the Cerro Tusa and Cerro Bravo mountains, along with the neighboring coffee towns of Fredonia and Santa Barbara.
How to Book Tours:
The main town Square (Parque Reyes) – What is not to love about the main town square where you can sit and watch the world go by? Grab a coffee or beer, kick back and buy some fruit from the market stalls and watch the town in action.
Passage of 100 stairs – This is a simple yet beautiful historical cobblestone staircase – appropriately named “100 stairs” for a good reason. Enjoy the lovely views of the mountains from the steps, too.
Museo Maja- (Art Gallery) – This is a high-quality art gallery like anywhere you’d find in the city – part museum of artifacts and part Colombian Art exhibits – set in a historical house with an outside center garden. On weekends, expect this place to be busy with visitors from Medellin and nearby areas. Admission is free.
Teatro Santa Maria – Traditional on the outside, yet this 374-seat theatre and cultural center are fully renovated on the inside. The quality of this theater is better than what you will see even in the big cities.
Centro de Historical – Free admission to learn about the history of the founders of the town of Jericó.
Museo de Arte Religioso – Located below the cathedral in the main park and open every day to view religious artifacts of Jerico and surrounding areas.
You don’t need to settle for an over brewed tinto in Jericó. There are several European-style favorite cafes to choose from. Here are our favorites:
El Saturia Café– Our favorite café in Jerico. It is a super high-quality café, with a beautiful setting inside and a patio outside. Have coffee any possible way – French press, Chemex – you name it. Buy any of their 32 brands of coffee, lovingly made by growers in the area. We recommend the Café Jericano, and the Granizado de café (frozen coffee). Choose from light, medium or dark roast. It is located on the "poets” street, northeast of the main square. (The Trip advisor map isn’t correct). El Saturia can arrange coffee tours.
Jericafe (the sign says el café y el Bulevar) – It’s a lovely café with high-quality espresso coffees of every kind. The lattés and cappuccinos are exceptional.
Quinke – It’s a brand-new tiny café across the street from Jericafe. The young owner is from Medellin, who wanted to slow down the pace of life by opening a café in Jericó. They have delicious, European-style espresso coffees. It’s worth picking up a bag of his blend to take home with you.
The benefit of a Colombian lunchtime is the hearty and low-priced 10.000-12.000 Cop/$3-5 USD) Plata del día (Almuerzo) that includes juice, soup, and entrée (meat, rice, avocado, salad). Jericó is no exception, and there are lots of options. Here are some of the good restaurants we enjoyed, either for dinner or lunch:
Tomotitos Pizza and Parrilla – Our favorite restaurant.They have excellent high thin crust quality pizza, and their pasta are delicious, including the wok dishes. Food is as good as our favorite restaurant in the big city of Medellin. Vegetarian options are available, too. It is right in the main square on the south side (beside Rio Piedra hotel)
El Meson de la Poeta – This is our favorite place for Almuerzo. It has delicious food, often with different sauces and accompaniments that you find in Colombia. We ate there at least three times, and we loved it. Sometimes they offer just a pizza menu, but we prefer Tomotitos pizzas.
La Gruta – We love their good food and hearty and delicious plate of the day. Take upstairs, with views of the white cathedral, in a nice setting of wood furniture and traditional Paisa artifacts. An excellent choice of venue, especially for lunch.
Isabel – This is the most visually stunning of all the restaurants, with interesting furnishings. The menu is predominantly composed of meat and BBQ dishes. It wasn't our favorite place concerning the food, since there are really no vegetarian options available, but the atmosphere is fantastic. They have great coffee though.
80/80 (Ochenta Ocenta) – They have tasty and affordable Arepa sandwiches. You can choose the type you want and use the buffet of sauces and fixings. It is located on the first set of cobblestone stairs from the central square, two doors down from Bamboo. Vegetarian options are available!
Terra Santa- We only ate here for Almuerzo, and the food was of good quality and tasty.
Bamboo- This is a sandwich, a la carte style place (like subway). (Or you can get lasagna heated up.) They’re good for a sandwich on the go.
Pollo Loco (Crazy Chicken) – It is in the main square just west of the church. Theirs is the most economical meal (10.000 COP) for a menu of the day. They have good food and great price. Sit on the balcony on a stool for the great views of the park.
Our friends shared with us some interesting sweets made in Jerico, including handmade marshmallows and covered treats. Check out El Dulces Jericano. They have their own store, and they sell their treats in some of the tiendas outside the main square.
Jericanos are passionate about their Jericano dessert, called Postre Jericano. You can try it at Isabel restaurant (and available elsewhere just ask). It’s known to be a 120-year-old recipe and 7 layers of happiness – 5 layers of fruit, and 2 layers of sponge cake then soaked in rum. It has a lot of flavors, including papaya, pineapple, coconut, panela and arequipe (Colombian version of caramel), warmed with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. It’s worth a try! You can also ask for it at many other restaurants.
Can't find what you are looking for? There are some well-stocked vegetable and fruit vendors on Carerra 5, east of the main square. There are vendors in the main square as well.
Stay in a Finca or Stay in Town? You have choices!
For European-Colombian style, boutique hotel -- El Despertar hotel is a beautiful old home, with uniquely hand-picked decorations and high-quality stay. The views from the outdoor Jacuzzi under the stars are a huge plus. It’s a super friendly family run the place, and they speak both English and Spanish.
Comfortable homestay – Want to stay somewhere and feel like family? Check out Casa Coffee Jerico. This colonial home has the comforts of home, including shared patio, kitchen, and living spaces. It has gorgeous patio views, and the coffee is always on. Owners Angelo and Luz will take care of you!
Cabañas y Flores – They have cabins up in the hills above the town. Our friends stayed there and loved it.
EThere are just a few bank machines around Jerico. There’s Davivienda in the main square, and two other banks near city hall (behind the main cathedral). We recommend Servibanca (green sign). You can take out 780.000 COP at once, so it reduces your fees. There is no Bank of Bogota or Bancolombia (although they have service desks if you have a bank account and want to make transactions).
Yes! There are places to exercise in Jerico, beyond the beautiful hiking opportunities.
North of the main town (near the entranceway to Las Nubes park) is a recreation center (with an outdoor pool), school running track (open from 6-8am every day for the public), and a fitness gym (1.500 COP/ 0.50 USD). We found that at times these facilities weren't open, even with posted hours. So instead, use the outdoor gym equipment in front of the pool, or the dirt soccer field further east up the hill from the gym.
Jerico is three hours from Medellin, located in the southeast part of Antioquia, surrounded by other coffee areas and towns. To the north are Taros and Fredonia, to the south are Támesis, Jardín, and Andes, and to the west is Pueblorico.
Travel to Jardín from Jericó if you can make the time:
Travel by Chiva (traditional bus) from Jericó to Jardín for a slow journey around the mountains, through the coffee farms and other idyllic villages. These are some of the best views of the Antioquia coffee region anywhere.
From Medellin- It’s easy
Catch a bus or collective (shared van) from Terminal del Sur.
It should cost you around 23.000-27.000 COP ($8-$9.50USD). The quickest route is through Bolombolo. Driving will take around 2.5 hours.
If you are coming from the south, it's a bit of a haul with multiple stops.
From Manizales, you need to connect to Rio Sucio, then onto Jerico (ideally) or Andes (then you would need to take a Chiva to Jerico).
Things are changing in Jerico, with the planned completion of a highway (in 2020) that will cut the travel time from Medellín to just two hours. So, the time to visit is now, to enjoy this best-kept secret of Antioquia.
Have you stayed in Jerico Colombia or visited other historic towns? We’d like to know your tips.
Some of our favorite Colombian towns. Barichara, Minca and Guatapé
By using the links on this page (at no extra cost to you) it will generate a small commission from any sales. This helps us keep providing quality content, tips for you. Thanks for your support and we hope you enjoy these recommendations!
Like it? Pin it!
Dorene is a marketing consultant and freelance writer. She quit her 20-year career in marketing to redesign her career and lifestyle on her own terms by living location independent. Now with her husband Troy, she helps people who want to redefine their midlife and make conscious changes at TravelLifeX. She also trains & coaches travel and hospitality clients to improve their marketing at TravelLifeMedia.com