There are so many things to do in Jardin Colombia, Antioquia’s best-kept secret. Learn about what to do in Jardin for the perfect, truly-local Colombian experience.
Many travellers are still to discover one of Colombia’s best-kept secrets, the colorful, vibrant town of Jardin. Jardin feels like it’s stuck in time, a by-gone time of coffee farmers, and cowboys where both Colombian folklore culture and Spanish styles can be felt. Visiting Jardin can help you discover more of Colombia’s culture and allow you to rub shoulders with friendly locals and their customs.
From hiking to discovering waterfalls, from coffee farm tours to exploring the town, there are so many things to do in Jardin Colombia that will keep you busy for a couple of days.
Unlike Guatape or Salento, Jardin has yet to be discovered by mass tourism. It’s not a stop on the general traveller’s or backpackers’ trail but it won’t stay secret for long. For this reason, Jardin still has a very authentic vibe. You’ll see farmers and locals in cowboy hats and boots having a drink together in the main square or locals heading to church on a Sunday.
For a glimpse into real Colombian village life, a visit to Jardin is a must, just don’t wait too long, it won’t be long until the secret is out. Here are the best things to do in Jardin Colombia- Colombia’s most authentic town.
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BEST TIME TO VISIT JARDIN, COLOMBIA
Jardin and this part of Colombia- Antioquia is an all year round destination with temperatures staying pretty much constant all year round with highs of 25°C/77°F and nightly lows of 11°C/50°F. The best time to visit really depends on the levels of rainfall that vary throughout the year.
Jardin is generally a rainy place we got rained on quite a bit during our stay. The driest months are December and January. The wettest months are April and May and then October and November. These months also coincide with rainy seasons all over Colombia so it’s generally better to visit outside of those months.
Note that Colombians take their vacations in January so you might want to avoid this time along with Christmas, New Year and Holy Week, right before Easter when things get really busy not just here but around the whole country.
Finally, try not to visit Jardin on a weekend if you can. It’s generally a super popular place for locals living in the surrounding cities of Medellin and even Manizales and things can be pretty busy during the weekends. It’s much more enjoyable to come on a weekday.
HOW TO GET TO JARDIN, COLOMBIA
You can reach Jardin, Colombia by car or by bus. The easiest point of departure to Jardin is from Medellin. It takes about 4 hours to reach Jardin from Medellin. You can also reach Jardin from more southern destinations like Manizales or Salento but you will have to change buses.
To get to Jardin by bus, you’ll need to take a bus to Jardin from Medellin’s Terminal Sur. Take a bus from the company Rapido Ochoa whose buses depart several times a day. Tickets cost about 30,000 COP.
The second way to get to Jardin is by rental car. This is what I did because we rented a car for a 6-day road trip of this part of Colombia. Renting a car gives you the ultimate flexibility and freedom to leave when you like and stop when you like.
Renting a car in Colombia is very affordable but I’d say only rent a car if you have a lot of driving experience. The roads are long and winding and you need to get used to many local road users who do not follow normal driving etiquette and road rules.
Check the box below for the best car rental rates from Medellin.
WHERE TO STAY IN JARDIN
A beautiful, minimalist and eco-friendly hotel, Hotel Plantacion feels like you’re staying in nature. With simple modern rooms with all the mod-cons- some of which come with private balconies with garden access, this hotel is one of the most design-forward in Jardin.
We also loved its sustainable and eco-friendly concept and they provide no plastics or disposables for guests. Their on-site cafe/restaurant is one of the best plant-based options in town. My top pick for Jardin!
Hotel Valdivia Plaza
A brilliant truly Colombian hostal, this simple yet charming hotel is located right on the main plaza. Opt for one of the rooms at the front and you’ll have amazing views of the Cathedral from your own private balcony (be wary of the noise here in the evenings and weekends though). Rooms are charming and decorated in a tasteful style with lots of local charm.
La Casa de Ana
This is where we stayed when we visited Jardin, a lovely locally owned B&B, in a traditional, old house in the centre of Jardin. The B&B is simple yet beautifully decorated, clean and comfortable. There are only four rooms each with its own (external) bathrooms.
The breakfast here is one of the best hotel breakfasts we’ve had in a long time which included beans in tomato sauce, grilled vegetables, arepa and fresh fruit and juice. You can also opt to add eggs and the local speciality, chorizo.
La Casa Del Sol
If you prefer to stay a little further away from town and really make the most of being in nature, La Casa del Sol provides a beautiful oasis not far from the town center. This beautiful, old Colombian farmhouse has plenty of local charm, beautiful gardens and simple rooms. A wrap-around terrace with hammocks offers an amazing place to pass the afternoon with stunning views of Jardin and its cathedral.
A beautiful wooden hideaway surrounded by nothing but nature, this is the place to come if you’re looking for some time to simply retreat. Built with local wood and sustainable practices, this simple yet comfortable ecolodge has one of the most amazing wooden deck terraces for yoga and morning rituals. It’s located outside Jardin on the road to La Cueva del Esplendor and near several waterfalls.
WHERE TO EAT
For such a small little Colombian town in the middle of Antioquia, Jardin has some real gems to discover when it comes to eating. There are also quite a few healthy and plant-based options.
Consulado Vegetal – One of the hippest, coolest cafes in Jardin, Consulado Vegetal is actually Hotel Plantacion’s restaurant and cafe so if you’re staying there you needn’t go far.
Full of wonderful, creative spins on Colombian classic dishes, their breakfast and lunch menus are unique and delicious. Dishes include plant-based waffles, burgers and homemade soups.
As if you needed another reason to visit, Consulado Vegetal is also a zero-waste establishment. There are no disposable napkins, straws or cutlery here. If you’d like take-out you’ll need to bring your own Tupperware.
El Jardin de Jardin – A plant-based cafe and a plant nursery, this amazing place provides a beautifully decorated, natural setting for a meal or a delicious Colombian coffee.
Order a coffee and something sweet or any one of their delicious Colombian dishes- we tried the vegan bandeja paisa and it was amazing. They also have sandwiches, burgers and salads on the menu too. Have a seat on a cosy sofa or in the coolest little corner surrounded by vegetation.
When you’re done you can browse all their plants. If you do happen to live in Colombia you can buy any one of them to take home.
Óleo Bistró Restaurante– Another great eating option with tons of vegetarian options is Oleo Bistro, a french-inspired restaurant in the heart of Jardin. Go for their lovely risottos, salads and soups or try their local trout if you eat fish.
Macanas – Probably the coolest and best coffee shop in Jardin, it’s located right next to the town’s Cathedral. If you come at the weekend, you’ll no doubt recognise it by the queue forming outside onto the street.
With thick, syrupy espresso straight from the farms around Jardin, great pastries and cakes and a variety of savoury dishes too, this is the perfect place to come for breakfast or a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. They also sell bags of their coffee beans to buy and take home-we couldn’t resist.
THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN JARDIN COLOMBIA
There are so many things to do in Jardin Colombia, a fair share both in town and in the surrounding countryside. There are plenty of hikes to embark on, cafes to sip the local coffee at and curious local attractions to visit.
Make sure not to miss these amazing things to do in Jardin Colombia from your itinerary.
One of the best ways to get your bearings and uncover some new gems is by exploring the main town. Jardin is really small and it probably wouldn’t take you longer than an hour to walk around the whole town but that’s not the idea.
When exploring, you’ll soon see how authentically Colombian Jardin really is. Sellers sell fruit and vegetables from tiny stores in the side streets, cowboy-hatted local farmers meet in the town’s main square on a Saturday night for a beer, pool halls blast out Cumbia music and couples enjoy each others’ company in the local cafes.
Walking the streets will give you a glimpse into local Jardin life and into what’s on offer. It’s the best way to meet people and discover gems of your own.
Hike to La Cueva del Esplendor
La Cueva del Esplendor is probably Jardin’s most popular and well-known attraction and it really is something special.
It’s a huge waterfall that floods down in a giant torrent entering through the roof of a cave. It really is quite spectacular. Once you’ve seen the waterfall, there isn’t that much to do here apart from taking photos and going for a swim in the pretty frigid water.
The best way to get to the Cueva del Esplendor is to hike. It takes about 3 hours to hike up to the Cave, amid beautiful country scenery and coffee farms.
If you are a bit short on time, however, you can also do a tour. This tour will take you to the Cueva del Esplendour in a jeep without you needing to hike. It also includes the entrance fee and some snacks. Doing a tour will also allow you to schedule another activity for the afternoon.
La Cueva del Esplendor is an amazing place, especially in the mid-morning when rays of light shine through the roof of the cave. It is a small place however and it does get crowded so make sure to set off as early as you can.
Ride La Garrucha
La Garrucha is a cable car that’s operated by a mechanical pulley system used to get people and goods across from town to the adjacent hills of Jardin.
For years it was used and still is by locals who want to transport themselves and their goods from the hills to town or vice versa. There are two cable cars in Jardin and originally both were made out of wood making them some of the last of these types of cable cars left in the world. Recently, however, one of the cable cars was replaced by a newer metallic structure.
Taking a ride on La Garrucha to the adjacent hill is a great way to get panoramic views of Jardin and to experience the ride. While it is perfectly safe, it’s probably not suitable for those seriously afraid of heights, however.
To ride the newer, metallic, La Garrucha you’ll need to get to the end of Calle 12. A one-way ticket costs 5,000 COP or it’s 10,000 COP return. You can go up have a coffee at the lovely cafe at the top of the hill and then come down, or go up and then continue on the short hike around town, which will bring you back to Jardin via country roads, waterfalls and splendid views.
Go on a Coffee Tour
The area around Jardin grows some of Colombia’s best coffee beans, making this area a brilliant opportunity to learn more about how coffee is grown, harvested, processed and brewed into the delicious drink we all know.
Coffee tours are one of the best things to do in Jardin and a great way to sample the coffee too. A coffee tour in Jardin means visiting a finca– a traditional country house and farm and getting a guided tour around the coffee farm’s facilities and production areas. Unlike coffee tours in Salento and Guatape, the tours in Jardin, due to the lack of mass tourism are still very authentic and private- you’re bound to see the finca and production process as it truly is.
On the tour, you learn about how coffee is grown and harvested and about all the different steps the beans go through to make the everyday beverage we know so well. A knowledgeable guide will take you around and you can ask any questions you wish. Normally at the end of the tour, you’ll have a chance to taste the finca’s coffee. Some fincas also have a beautiful property you can relax at or even their own onsite cafe to sample some more exquisite brews.
One of the best coffee fincas to visit in Jardin is Finca Milena. At Finca Milena, you can tour the grounds and learn more about their beans and their coffee production methods.
Another great tour is this Los Correa Coffee Tour, giving you a great authentic experience from authentic coffee farmers in the area.
While a coffee tour is one of the best things to do in Jardin Colombia, it’s also possible in Guatape, Salento and Filandia so if you’re pushed for time you can leave this for one for Colombia’s other coffee towns.
Hangout in Plaza del Libertador with the Locals
Plaza del Libertador is one of the most unique, authentic and buzzing places you’ll see in Colombia- especially if you find yourself in Jardin over the weekend. With traditional, colourful cafes and bars lining the outside of the square, the looming neo-gothic style cathedral, street stalls selling juices and snacks and colourful tables and chairs full of locals enjoying their day.
There’s no better place in town to take photos, relax or people watch. Grab a vividly coloured seat with the locals, order a Club Colombia or a coffee and soak up the vibe.
Hike to the Cristo Rey Viewpoint
If you look to the immediate hills surrounding Jardin you’ll notice a large, white statue of Christ looming over the town. This is Cristo Rey who supposedly watches over town, keeping it and its people safe. If you’re not religious, the statue might be of little importance to you but the viewpoint from here is pretty sweet and it’s worth the short walk from town.
To get to the Cristo Rey viewpoint, head up and out of town on Calle 13. The road will go through the valley and then snake around to the viewpoint. Just keep walking along the road to get there.
Alternatively, there is also a much shorter path up to the viewpoint. At the top end of Calle 11, there is a hiking path that goes straight up the hill to the viewpoint. The path also continues past the Cristo Rey viewpoint to another viewpoint further up and back for another great vantage point. This path doesn’t show up on Google Maps so it’s better to download Maps.me on your phone which is much better for showing hiking paths.
Go on a Short hike around Town
If you don’t have much time but you’d like to get your hiking boots on for a little walk around the outskirts of town to see nature, rivers, waterfalls and splendid views then make sure not to miss out on this short circuit.
Start at the top of Camino de la Herrera, a beautiful cobblestone path, surrounded by foliage and blooming flowers. Camino de la Herrera is located at the junction of the main Andes-Jardin Highway and Calle 13. Walk down La Herrera and onto the Camino a Charco Corazon. You’ll soon find yourself at the Cascada del Amor waterfall- a great place for a cold plunge and a photo before continuing up to the Cueva de Los Murcielagos. There’s another more hidden waterfall to check out here too.
Continue upwards and keep following the road around. Soon enough you’ll have an incredible view of the town of Jardin below and the surrounding hills all planted with coffee. You can keep going around until you get to Calle 9 or you can come back down via La Garrucha.
If you prefer the easier i.e. downhill hike then you’ll want to do this hike in reverse- so start with going up via La Garrucha and making your way down to Charco Corazon. It’s probably better to do this walk in reverse too if you want to bathe in the river at the end of the hike rather than at the beginning.
The hills around Jardin provide a really amazing spot to go paragliding and if you’re if have a preference for adventure this is one of the best things to do in Jardin Colombia. Rolling green hills, the pretty town with the cathedral spires towering over everything else and the colourful buildings shining bright in the sunlight.
You can do a tandem jump with a local instructor or rent the equipment if you already know what you’re doing.
If you’d like to go paragliding in Jardin, make sure to check out Parapente Jardin, one of the best outfitters in Jardin for paragliding with experienced guides and a professional manner. The whole tour begins in their office and takes about 2-3 hours. Flight time is about 20 minutes depending on weather conditions.
Swim in the Charco Corazon River
On the south side of Jardin there’s a beautiful river that runs down from the hills, surrounded by wild, green vegetation and large boulders that make perfect seats.
If you’re visiting Jardin in the summer months and you’re looking for a place to take a dip and cool off for a few hours, or just to hang out in nature, heading down Camino a Chardo Corazon to Charco Corazon is a great idea. The river is just down the road from Cascada del Amor- just keep following the road away from town until you get to the bridge that crosses the river.
From here it’s easy to just hop down and make your way to the water’s edge. You can choose whether to go upriver or downriver. There aren’t really so many places to swim per se, this is a choppy river with lots of boulders but the are little pools to take a quick dip. Keep in mind though that the water is not warm.
Discover the Hidden waterfall of Chorro Blanco
If you have a couple of days in town then trekking up to the hidden waterfall of Chorro Blanco is probably one of the best things to do in Jardin. Unlike the Cueva del Esplendor, this waterfall barely sees any visitors, and while it is definitely an adventure getting up here, you’ll be rewarded with incredible country views and a beautiful, gigantic waterfall at the end.
Hiking up to Chorro Blanco takes about 2.5 hours from the start of the trail. You can get to the start of the trail by mototaxi (probably the easiest way), by the public, shared jeep or by walking.
There are mototaxis all over town and you can easily find one on Jardin’s main square. Ask them to take you to Alto de las Flores from where you’ll need to continue on foot. Make sure to agree on a time for the mototaxi driver to come and pick you up to come back down unless you plan on walking all the way back down.
Once at Alto las Flores follow the path and horse tracks in the mud. You need to also go through a few gates and barbed wire fences to get there.
There is nothing to buy on the way to Chorro Blanco so make sure to bring enough food and snacks for a day hike. You’ll need to bring lots of water too.
Visit the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
There is no avoiding the gorgeous, neo-gothic church in Jardin’s town square.
In every Colombian town, you’ll find a church in the main square but Jardin’s is probably the most beautiful out of any small town in Colombia, (except maybe Barichara) and it’s super easy to visit as it’s on the main square.
The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is the name of this splendid church, built by the donation of the local people. It’s worth popping inside to check out the vaulted and ribbed ceiling as you would get in any gothic church, as well as the detailed paintings and statues. This definitely is one of the best attractions in Jardin.
If you love horses and horseriding, Jardin is a brilliant place to go on a horseriding tour to explore the town or the surrounding hills. Horses here are generally well-kept and well-looked after, or the ones we saw were anyway and the surrounding countryside is perfect for a ride. Locals are proud of their horses and their horse-riding skills and often prance their horses through the main square for onlookers to notice.
Horseriding tours normally last for a few hours where you’ll follow your guide through coffee plantations, valleys and down unpaved country roads. You’ll be able to get to know the local countryside more and experience it in the same way Colombians did here hundreds of years ago.
Horse riding tours can be booked through your accommodation or through a local tour outfitter. To secure your horseriding tour online in advance, have a look at this horse riding tour in Jardin via Viator.
Ready to explore all these amazing things to do in Jardin Colombia? Let me know your questions and comments below, I’d love to hear from you.
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