Filandia is only half an hour away from Salento, but this charming little town sees a fraction of the crowds of its neighbour. Compared to the much more popular Salento, Filandia is right off the beaten track, and has retained all of the magic and charm of a traditional Coffee Region town. Read on for some ideas and inspiration on how to make the most of just 24 hours in Filandia.
When you first arrive in Filandia, the best thing to do is simply to walk around the little town, taking in the authentic coffee town vibes and enjoying the gorgeous traditional architecture. Although it might be Salento’s colourful buildings and quaint atmosphere that steal all the magazine headlines, Filandia has retained just as much traditional style, and thanks to a relative lack of tourism, has a more authentic feel to it. The town’s roofs are covered in red tiles, and the buildings are whitewashed and adorned with colourful doors and balconies. Then there’s the delightful town church, a pretty blue and white building that dominates the central square.
Once you’ve taken a stroll around Filandia, head out to La Colina Iluminada. Also known as the Viewpoint of Quindio, this wooden lookout tower is over 18 metres (60 feet) tall and offers breathtaking panoramic views over three different Colombian departments: Quindio, Risaralda and Valle del Cauca. On a clear morning, it’s even possible to spot the distant snowcapped peaks of Los Nevados National Park. The view from La Colina is truly stunning, as the rolling green hills mingle with traditional coffee farms, woods and rivers: it’s about as close to idyllic as it gets in Colombia.
In the afternoon, the best plan is to take a coffee tour. After all, you’re in the heart of the Coffee Region, and what better place to discover what makes Colombian coffee among the best in the world? There are a few coffee farms around Filandia that offer tours, and they are all as non-touristic as the town itself, making for a much more authentic and relaxed experience than many other coffee tours in the region. You can ask at your hotel or hostel which coffee tour is the best to take, but both Don Eduardo and Finca El Mirador are close to town and popular with visitors.
In the evening there’s really only one place you should get dinner: Helena Adentro. This excellent little restaurant is a cool and innovative spot serving up some of the best and most creative Colombian-inspired dishes in the country. Dinner at Helena Adentro is far from simply a nice little postscript to your day in Filandia – it’s an unmissable part of the experience. The menu varies based on seasonal ingredients, and there are always fresh tapas-style dishes made up of local ingredients, as well as tasty twists on traditional Colombian dishes.
If you still have any energy left after a full day, head to Cancha de Tejo Café Pueblo after dinner in order to try your hand at Colombia’s national sport, and one of the most bizarre games you will ever experience: tejo. This traditional Colombian game involves throwing heavy chunks of metal at gunpowder while drinking beer, and is exactly as fun as it sounds. You can literally finish off your 24 hours in Filandia with a bang (assuming you’re any good at the game, that is).