Colombia’s coffee region may be a laid-back place, but it certainly knows how to party. After a long day working the fields, the setting of the sun here means three things: music, food and a lot of aguardiente. From stylish open-air cocktail bars to no-nonsense fondas, here are the best places to drink the night away, Zona Cafetera style.
Fonda Donde Mi Apá, Salento
Bar, South American, Beer, Wine, Cocktails, Pub Grub
Located in the thick of Salento’s central plaza, Fonda Donde Mi Apá is an old-time local’s favourite. The inside is covered floor-to-ceiling with Zona Cafetera antiques, including cowboy hats, vintage radios and dusty gaslamps. But the real draw? Their impressive vinyl collection: 18,000 records sit stacked up to the ceiling available to play at your request – just don’t expect any reggaeton!
Tuk Tuk Restaurante Bar offers deliciously fresh Thai-inspired cocktails with a hell of a view. Located at the end of Calle 7, the chic, open-air terrace overlooks the Zona Cafetera’s rolling green hills, making this an epic sunset spot. Also serves delicious Thai food.
Showing locals and visitors a good time for 50 years, Rincón Clásico is famous throughout the coffee region for its cheap beer, great atmosphere and, most importantly, its legendary music collection. Don Olmedo, the bar’s owner, plays his own 7,000-strong vinyl collection full of bolero and tango classics. Come here to meet some real characters and to take in that “only-in-Colombia” atmosphere.
With just a few tables, candle-lit Kafe del Alma is a cosy, intimate space offering only good vibes. People flock here for their sensational mojitos and awesome live music performed by talented local artists. Keep an eye on the outdoor chalkboards for their music schedule and drink specials.
If you’re looking to see the best tango, vallenato and salsa bands in the region, this is where to go. The drink to try here is carajillo, a strong espresso with a generous splash of rum. Be warned: after a few of these there’s no doubt you’ll be joining the locals for a dance!
More of an experience than a bar, this is a must-visit for every traveller visiting Salento. Cancha De Tejo Los Amigos is where locals come to drink an ice-cold Aguila and play a round of Tejo: a game that consists of throwing a metal puck across the room at a triangle of gunpowder. To play, buy a beer at the bar, pick up a puck and join in!
Introducing yet another music treasure trove. Walls are covered with black-and-white photographs and vintage vinyl covers, chairs are brightly coloured and the air a little smoky. The best bit? Owner Don Asael Noreña has been collecting traditional bolero music since he can remember, meaning the shelves are jam-packed with nearly 7,000 old-school records and CDs.
Billar Danubio catches the eye of anyone who walks by. Why? It’s everything you imagined a small Colombian town to look like. Old men dressed in ponchos and cowboy hats playing pool, the barman picking the next dusty bolero record, and the rickety wooden tables scattered with empty aguardiente bottles. Put simply: it really doesn’t get any more Colombian than this.
If you’re looking for something a little more swanky – or just fancy a change from bolero music – La Belle Vintage bar serves up delicious gin and tequila cocktails (as well as a good selection of imported beers) in a modern, elegant setting. Being one of the few bars that doesn’t blare music at full volume, this is a good option for a romantic pre-dinner drink.
Located on the Marsella main plaza with a lovely view of the town church, this is the perfect spot to watch the world go by over an ice-cold Club Colombia. On a warm evening, locals gather outside under the fairy lights, but the inside – with its black-and-white Marilyn Monroe-covered walls and guitars hanging from the ceiling – is just as atmospheric.