Looking for an ideal escape from Medellin for a few days to enjoy tradition, while in lovely colonial Spanish architectural setting? Couple that with super friendly and proud Paisa hospitality (even more so than in Medellin), and a burst of fresh air and green mountain views. Now, you’ve got Garden (to English speakers) or in Spanish, welcome to Jardín. (pronounced: Hardeen)
Colombian towns are the best places to get your front row seat to culture, preserved traditions and nature all around. Jardin Colombia is one of the 17 historical Colonial towns in Colombia, called the Pueblos Patrimonios, led by the prettiest town in Colombia, in the department of Santander.
Jardin is changing rapidly. We have visited it several times, and in just over a year, tourism has increased double-digit, becoming the no-longer-hidden destination for hiking, birdwatching, paragliding, and coffee. (YES! There are more coffee regions in Colombia than the Zona Cafetera or coffee zone in southern Colombia.) There are exceptional, world-class coffees and coffee farms here.
Located in the department of Antioquia, it’s 131 kilometers south of Medellin – Of course, that is a deceiving short distance, since it takes 3.5 to 4 hours from Medellin due to the winding roads around the mountains and coffee farms and two-lane highway sections. So, we recommend that your stay should be more than a day trip from Medellin, unlike Guatapé or Santa Fe de Antioquia, you will need more than half a day to explore it.
Jardin Antioquia is a hiking paradise, and watching this video will let you see why.
Take a look below!
El Salto de Angel – A waterfall in a dense jungle with a 50-meter drop
La Cueva de los Guácharos – a spectacular cave, perfectly carved by the flowing river waters (this is the same tour to the El Salto de Angel)
La Cueva del Esplendor – a hike on private land through caves that cuts into the rock, revealing waterfalls. Depending on the season, it’s possible to rappel down this cave. Unfortunately, these lands have been closed to the public due to erosion. So, it’s unlikely this hike is available, although it’s worth asking when you arrive!
La Camino de la Herrera – Part of this hike you can do without a guide, with a hike up the La Garrucha (the old wooden cable car). You can do a more in-depth tour with Jardín Ecotours that include touring the nature reserve and waterfalls. The extensive hike is about 3-4 hours. We wouldn’t recommend the cable car; it really doesn’t look safe! (Others have tried it and lived though.)
Cristo Rey Hill – This is a hike up to the big Christ statue to see spectacular views of the town.(see details further in this post)
Check out our video of these amazing views:
For More Laid Back Adventures: Tours beyond hiking, include horseback riding, and coffee tours to learn the process in micro-producers from picking, drying, processing and roasting. (See below where to book). Birdwatching is quickly becoming a top adventure in Jardin. Some species of bird are only native to this area.
For More Adventurous: There are a paragliding and canopy options here, which is no surprise given the views and forests are spectacular here
Tour Pricing: (Based March 2018 Pricing)
Hiking: Prices range from 60.000-130.000 COP ($21-$46USD) with a local guide during the time of this post and depending on the type of hiking.
Paragliding: Pricing runs around 110.000 COP ($40USD).
Canopy: 30.000 COP ($10USD) for 1-hour long Canopy tour (which looks pretty basic but probably worth an add-on to another tour).
Rappelling: There are 3-hour rappelling adventures available in the area. Current prices are around $70.000 COP ($25USD).
1. Jardin Eco tours have fantastic hiking, and they also run birdwatching tours, coffee tours. You can find them at theiroffice near the center of town on Calle 10 #6-05.
2. Jardin de Aventura – These guys are well known in Jardin, and they do hiking and biking adventures.
The best view is the hike up the Cristo Rey Hill. The Cable Car system that operates up this mountain is out of service until further notice. Unfortunately these systems have hefty maintenance costs, and the town is unable to keep up with the costs. The better option: put on your hiking boots and take the lovely hike up the hill starting at the edge of town at the end of Calle 11, at the north end of town.
The hike is uphill, but it takes no more than 40 minutes across the river, up through the plantain farms, and winding up to the top. You will be rewarded with a lovely café -restaurant at the top where you can take a break and enjoy the views. (If its open!)
El Libertador square is the best seat in town. We have visited a lot of central town squares in Colombia, and Jardín has one of the coolest gathering areas in the country. You can spend hours sipping coffee, fresh juices or cold beers. You will never get bored of watching children playing, families gathering, or the local cowboy entertainment of horse trotting and prancing around the town square.
The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception really stands out in Jardin, with it's Neo-Gothic design. The cathedral just celebrated its 150th anniversary of the start of it's construction which only finished in 1940. All the stones used to build the church are all found around Jardin.
Every small town has an industry, coffee is their thing in this area of Antioquia. Although, only in the last few years when it has developed into a formidable coffee culture that we are accustomed to in Western countries. The mainstay coffee is a "tinto" a small cup of usually over boiled coffee. just over a year ago there was only one artisanal spot for coffee in Jardín. Now, at least three new cafés have opened up in Jardin, with espresso style specialties. Did you know that main drink in the morning in Colombia isn’t coffee? It’s hot chocolate.
The best places for coffee (and to buy coffee for gifts)
Café de Los Andes: In the main square across from the church. Upstairs and lower levels.
These guys have a wonderful café, and they also process and roast their own coffee. Upstairs in the café, you can check out their production facility and buy your own bags of coffee to treat your friends and family back home. You get fresh coffee. A pound of coffee here is ½ the price of quality coffees in Medellin.
Café Cuchillas – This is a newly renovated café, before it was a more local, traditional place. But now, it has upgraded to a brewed and espresso-style coffee shop that you may be used to back home. It is located in the main square on the corner at the same side as the cathedral. The coffee is great here, and they also serve breakfast. It is best to sit outside to watch the interesting life of the town go by.
There is one other newly upgraded café on the east end of the main square that features espresso-style coffee drinks and sells coffee by the bag.
Café Europa- Fabulous Italian food – thin crust pizzas, pastas (try the pesto), with ingredients you don’t normally find in typical Colombian food (like goat cheese). It’s no wonder it's the favorite restaurant spot in town.
Bon Appetit – Asian in a small town in Colombia!? Heck, yes! This place is a cross between Italian, Asian and Mediterranean. The rice bowls, ramen and noodle dishes are fabulous. Ask the staff for their favorites and they will gladly tell you.
La Parrilla De Mi Pueblo- This is a modernized little BBQ place that serves great grilled dishes and traditional Colombian dishes. Their Ajiaco is fantastic (traditional Colombian chicken stew), which is more popular in Bogotá, and it's a regular item on the menu.
Restaurante El Zodiaca – It’s a great local Paisa food and very economical, with super value plate of the day or the massive breakfast plates. Take your pick of meat, and you get all the fixings of a Colombian plate. You’ll leave by spending only $10.000-12.000 COP. And you won’t leave hungry. It’s easy to find on the south end of the plaza on Carrera 4 #7a.
If you are tight on time, try a minimum of 2 nights in Jardín, arrive early, enjoy an afternoon and a full day of activities. If you are interested in just kicking back and relaxing for a few days and doing activities as part of your stay, we recommend a 3 to 4-night stay. The more nature you can soak up, the better.
Now, there is a plethora of great places to stay in Jardin, although the prices have gone up. (Taxes have also increased for tourism businesses here, so this is not a surprise.) So, expect to pay a little more than competitive prices in Medellin, even though it's a small town.
Apartamentos Primavera – Jardin has apartment style stays! These are perfect if you want to stay for a longer period. They are super spacious, with all the comforts of home and kitchen (even a microwave). We recommend staying in the upper level apartments instead of lower street level.
Hotel Kantarrana Urbana Jardin – This place has a lot of character. Cozy rooms, and breakfast included. It’s perfect for a couple night’s stay max (the standard rooms are a little small otherwise). But there are places to sit and enjoy their gardens, and it’s just a couple blocks from the main square.
Hotel La Casona – Well-priced guest house with comfortable rooms. The courtyard is lovely with lots of places to relax. It’s a great location since it’s only a few blocks from the main square.
Jardín has become a popular place for Colombian families on weekends. So, if you plan to go there, make sure you book ahead. During low season, some of the restaurants are closed, although now there are many options to dine (with new ones opening all the time), so this should be less of an issue. We recommend going during the weekdays but stay at least a Friday night to check out the nightlife around the main square and drink a beer in El Liberator square.
Taking a bus to Jardín is simple, affordable and comfortable, although you will need to get used to the winding roads. But the views along the coffee farms and farmlands are sensational and worth the price.
There are at least 5 buses per day to Jardín from Medellín, leaving from the south terminal station, from multiple bus service lines. Two good services are Transporte Suroeste Antioqueño or Rapido Ochoa busline. There are also vans with a max of 9 seats available which tend to be faster than the bus service. Expect to pay about 26,000 COP ($9USD). Although prices will vary depending on the type of vehicle.
Taking a bus from the south of Colombia to Jardín – It’s possible to take the bus from the coffee region (Manizales) up to Jardín. You will need to take a bus to Rio Sucio and transfer to Jardín, which will be a small van. Times will vary as they will wait to fill the van before they leave. Prices are $16.000 COP from Manizales and another $20.000 COP for the 2 journey to Jardin Antioquia.
For an adventure, you can visit Jardín and Jericó, two of the nicest historical colonial towns in Colombia. However, you will need to take a Chiva (traditional Colombian transport) around the mountains and coffee farms.
Paisas from Jardin are friendly people, and are still getting used to the influx of tourism to their town. Show them how friendly and warm foreigners can be! Say hello and good day to the people of Jardin when you pass by on the street (in Spanish!) Tipping is customary in Colombia, at least 10% in restaurants and bars, but not required for public transport and taxis.For more about traveling to small towns Colombia you can find our posts here:
Have you traveled to Jardin Colombia? What did you enjoy doing and what did we miss? Please let us know.
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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