Because of its proximity to tourist hotspot Valle de Cocora, Salento has taken all the limelight when it comes to quaint coffee towns. However, Filandia has a very similar architectural style and remains just as well-preserved. Tile-roofed houses here are all brightly coloured in blues, greens and oranges, 200-year-old beams still hold θπ restaurant and hostel ceilings, and the stunning, perfectly preserved blue-and-white colonial church still stands in the well-groomed square. Trust us, you’ll fall in love with this place as soon as you step off that salsa-blaring bus.
Filandia is surrounded by miles of lush green coffee farms, many of which are dotted with dirt tracks perfect for cycling. A beautiful route is to cycle from Filandia to Finca Aprisco La Española: the home of the local priest and goat farmer, located about halfway along the Filandia-Quimbaya road. Upon request, the priest and his family prepare an Antioquian feast in their traditional outdoor kitchen, which includes clay-roasted chicken served with plantains, rice, salad and avocado, and a hearty sancocho soup served in a charming colonial courtyard surrounded by fragrant flowers and fluttering hummingbirds. While your meal is prepared, friendly Jairo will show you around the farm and even let you feed the baby goats! If you fancy going a bit further, continue along the road to the rarely visited town of Quimbaya – just ask Jairo to make a reservation with Bidea Hostel one day in advance.
Filandia, being bang smack in the middle of Colombia’s coffee axis, is surrounded by epic scenery. There are rolling, lush green hills dotted with grazing horses, misty, snow-capped mountain backdrops, and dusty dirt paths leading to centuries-old coffee haciendas. For the best views in town, head to La Colina Iluminada; a wooden structure 19 metres (62 feet) tall that gives you views across the three Zona Cafetera departments. Weather permitting, you might even spot the majestic Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados in the distance.
Serving up innovative Colombian fusion food in a chic, chill, outdoor space, arty Helena Adentro is considered one of the coolest places to eat in the Zona Cafetera – it has even started to gain international acclaim for its creative dishes. A focus on farm-fresh, seasonal ingredients means an ever-changing tapas-style menu, but you can expect Colombian classics with a delicious twist, such as yuca croquettes filled with sour cream and sweet paprika, delicious choripans with caramelised onions and chimichurri, and oven-baked trout with coconut rice. An absolute must-visit while in Filandia.
The coffee region has a popular game called tejo: a game that consists of throwing a metal puck across the room at a surface of triangular targets containing gunpowder. The aim of the game is to make every target explode! In Filandia, the place to go is Cancha de Tejo Café Pueblo. To play, buy a beer at the bar, pick up a puck and join in with the locals. Be forewarned, though: these guys, throwing the puck from more than 50 metres (164 feet) away, they’re absolute pros.
As you would expect from any coffee town in Colombia, Filandia is surrounded by coffee fincas. The special thing about visiting one here, however, is that they’re not too touristy. Most farms in the surrounding areas are relatively small and family owned, meaning you get a more intimate, local insight into how a no-frills coffee finca is run. Don Eduardo and Finca El Mirador are the two most popular farms to visit, but there are several nearby – just ask around.
You’ll hear some rumblings about a doble cascada (double waterfall) while in Filandia. These scenic waterfalls are located inside private land, however the owners are friendly about letting visitors explore the grounds. It’s an easy 35-minute hike from town through lush forest, where it’s likely you’ll only have cows, hummingbirds and colourful butterflies as your hiking companions. If it’s a hot day, it’s an awesome place to spend the afternoon and, if you dare, go for a refreshing dip. Bidea Hostel has a handy map of the route, just ask at the front desk.