Filandia, World’s Most Beautiful Town: Guide & Things To Do

The coffee region still remains as a slightly underappreciated destination for the many tourists who visit Colombia each year. While Cartagena, Medellin and Bogota are great, it was the coffee region which was my mum’s clear favorite after years of visits to the country.

Salento is usually where people stay in the coffee axis but Filandia offers the same beautiful architecture, sweeping mountain views, delicious coffee and rich culture but also retains a close community feel and has far fewer tourists.

Originally from the UK, I have lived in Colombia for over 15 years and traveled regularly to the region for work and tourism. I will explain why I believe Filandia should be right near the top of your list of towns to visit when you come to Colombia.

Let’s start wit a map of all the places I listed here:

Why is Filandia Famous?

Filandia was distinguished in 2023 as one of the 54 most beautiful towns in the world by the World Tourism Organization. This charming town is famous for its colorful streets, like a rainbow come to life. Every building is painted in bright, joyful colors, making the town look like a vibrant piece of art.

filandia colorful street to church
You’ll understand very fast why it’s been elected amongst the most beautiful town in the world

It was once an expanding agricultural town but the construction of new highways left Filandia isolated, retaining its great traditions, beautiful architecture, rich coffee culture and close-knit communities.

Today the town is easily accessible from Pereira and Armenia with people rediscovering its charm.

Filandia is referenced as one of the inspirations for the movie Encanto alongside Salento but while the latter has begun to be transformed by tourism, Filandia retains a very authentic, local feel.

Historical Background and Architectural Marvel

The town dates back to pre-Columbian times and was once occupied by the indigenous people of the Quimbaya tribe who focused on agriculture and gold extraction. The name of the town comes from the combination of “filia” meaning daughter and “Andia” as in Andes.

Following the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, the number of indigenous Quimbaya people in the region declined significantly and for around 200 years the Quindío region was almost left completely inhabited. The town began to grow with the settlement of people from Antioquia, the bordering state which today has Medellin as its capital, from 1870 and was formally founded in 1878 by people looking to create a new life.

Rumors of gold and emerald deposits brought growing numbers but coffee quickly became the dominant industry with an estimated 250,000 coffee bushes in Filandia by 1900. Just as the town was growing in importance and prominence, a new highway was constructed to link the major cities of Pereira and Armenia. The dirt roads which brought travelers through the town to visit and trade were no longer used and the town lost prominence.

The expansion of the road network has uncovered a once-booking hidden gem in the beautiful mountains of Colombia. It is now easily accessible but the town of less than 13,000 people still retains the close knit, traditional community feel. The beautiful colonial architecture remains and the people welcome new visitors.

Filandia was a growing town which then stood in time for generations. It is the perfect place to experience the culture, food, music and traditions of Colombia’s coffee axis.

How to Get to Filandia?

Most people will get to Filandia by bus from either Pereira or Armenia. It takes around 30 minutes from Armenia and 45 minutes from Pereira.

Most flights arriving at Pereira’s Matecana International Airport come from Bogota although there are also flights from Medellin and Cartagena plus international arrivals from New York, Miami and Panama. Armenia’s El Eden International Airport mostly serves Medellin and Bogota but also has the occasional flight direct from Panama and Fort Lauderdale.

You can get a taxi from the airport to Armenia’s Transport Terminal which should take 20 minutes and then get any bus up to Filandia, which should cost less than US$2. It is less than 15 minutes from Pereira’s airport to the bus terminal and, again, prices for the bus to Filandia should be just a couple of dollars.

Taking a taxi or Uber from Pereira or Armenia will cost around 125,000 – 150,000 COP (31 – 38 USD).

A bus from Medellin to the Armenia transport terminal takes just over 6 hours and to Pereira is a little more than 5 hours.

If you come by car, you’ll be able to park in the streets of the town center for a little fee. Pay in advance by cash to the person who is showing you where you can park.

street parking filandia
Streets in Filandia can be narrow and parking spots small

Things To Do in Filandia

1. Explore the Colorful Town Center of Filandia

coral in filandia
Coral enjoying colorful Filandia!

colorful building in filandia

patio plaza filandia

Filandia is like a rainbow that decided to settle down in the heart of Colombia. As you wander through the streets, you’ll feel like you’re walking inside a painting. The houses are splashed with every color you can imagine – bright blues, vibrant reds, sunny yellows, and more.

It’s not just the colors that will catch your eye; the architecture here tells its own story. The colonial-style buildings, with their ornate balconies and beautifully carved doors, seem to whisper tales of the past.

The central square is the heart of Filandia. It’s always buzzing with life – kids playing, locals chatting, and the occasional street musician filling the air with melodies.

2. Visit Iglesia María Inmaculada

iglesia filandia

Towns all over Colombia have a beautiful church standing alongside the central square and Filandia has an excellent example of this charming tradition.

Church of the Immaculate Maria has a striking blue and white design and, amidst a very strong field, may stand out as the most beautiful building in a really beautiful town. The church is used for regular mass and it is possible to pay a respectful visit to the impressive interior although opening times are a little irregular.

3. Visit the Handicraft Shops in Filandia

craft shop filandia

This town is a paradise for anyone who loves unique, handcrafted items.

Strolling through the streets, you’ll find little shops tucked away, each one filled with wonders. These shops are like secret chests full of artisanal goodies.

You’ll see shelves lined with colorful woven baskets, hand-painted ceramics, and textiles that tell the story of Filandia’s culture.

filandia shop

Each piece is more than just a thing to buy; it’s a piece of Filandia’s soul, crafted with care by the local artisans.

Taking home a souvenir from these shops means carrying a bit of Filandia’s heart with you.

4. Visit The Mirador Colina Iluminada

mirador colina iluminada

Filandia is surrounded by spectacular scenery but the best views can be enjoyed from the recently constructed El Mirador Colina. This rather unusual structure looks like a large wooden spaceship sitting on top of the hill. The wooden building is impressive but the 360-degree views are even more so.

inside mirador
The staircase inside the mrador
views from mirador
The views on Filandia from the mirador

The viewpoint has nice surrounding gardens and you can take a photo with one of the iconic, almost comically overloaded local Willy Jeeps. From the top, you can see many of the nearby towns and villages with information provided for visitors about what they are and what they are known for.

Entry costs 8,000 COP (US$2) and it is a 1.2km walk from the central square towards the town of Quimbaya.

5. Get a guided tour of a local coffee farm

At the very heart of Colombia’s coffee access, the town is surrounded by some of the world’s top coffee-producing farms. The experience in Filandia of visiting one of these family-owned businesses is a lot less touristy and you get a much more intimate, authentic experience.

There are no coach tours or polished bilingual guides, so you may need to practice your Spanish, but the locals are very happy to show you about their business and their passion for one of Colombia’s globally renowned products.

Don Eduardo and Finca El Mirador are popular options or you can pay 90,000 COP (US$22.50) to head to La Palma with bookings here.

6. Take a dip in the secret double waterfall

Filandia is surrounded by varied, beautiful nature which is perfect for hiking and exploring. One of the best spots is the “doble cascada” (double waterfall) or “cascadas las gemelas” (twin waterfalls) which is a 30-40 minute walk from the town. You will pass along a peaceful forest full of birds, nature and some curious cows.

When you arrive you will find 2 waterfalls facing each other feeding into a central lake. The water is freezing but it can be refreshing after the walk and it’s a relaxing spot to spend a couple of hours. The waterfalls are situated on private land but at time of writing the owners have no issue letting visitors enjoy the area and you will find signs directing tourists to the waterfalls in town.

7. Spot bird and monkey spotting at the Barbas-Bremen nature reserve


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Just 2 km from Filandia’s central park is La Reserva Barbas where you can get a guided tour of the protected natural reserve and spot both rare bird species and red howler monkeys. These are one of the largest primates in Colombia which can only be found in mountainous areas with tropical humid and dry forests.

You can take a 3-hour tour through the reserve with the route covering around 4 km. They take groups of up to 10 and will collect you at the central square in Filandia. Upon arrival you get a cup of fresh coffee and a local expert will point out the key characteristics of this remarkably biodiverse region. The tour costs 110,000 COP (US$22.50) per person and there is an additional charge of 70,000 COP (US$17.50) per group to include an English translator.

Remember to bring comfortable shoes, drinks, snacks and be prepared for a fairly challenging hike. There is also the chance to take a swim in the river next to the waterfall, so bring a change of clothes for that.

At the end of the tour, you can enjoy a fresh lemonade before getting dropped back in town.

8. Explore miles of beautiful cycle routes around Filandia

cycling in filandia

Filandia is a very popular destination for local and international cycling enthusiasts of a range of experience levels.

A popular route is the mostly downhill 17 km route to nearby Quimbaya. If you don’t fancy the workout on the ride back, they manage to squeeze bikes onto the always resilient and versatile Willy Jeeps that leave regularly back towards Filandia.

You can rent bikes at very affordable prices from Colina de la Lluvia Hostel or Bidea Hostel and they have maps available to recommend some options.

Alternatively, you can visit the rather elegant Casa Du Velo cycling-focused hotel in town. They offer guided tours, a range of high-quality bikes to rent, 42 dedicated cycling routes and bike maintenance specialists.

9. Drink some beers and explode some dynamite with a game of tejo


Tejo is a game that dates back 500 years and adds some explosive fun to drinks and snacks with los parceros (“the homies” in Colombian slang).

The aim of the game is to throw a metal puck within a circle of targets in the center of a board which leans at a 45 degree angle. If you get within the target then you will trigger an explosion as the gunpowder is detonated.

The local experts will be hitting the central target from 50 meters away but you can set up much closer and it is a fun challenge. You can play at Viejo Rincon which has a tejo area at the back beyond the shady pool club in the front. The dark room is filled with gunpowder smoke and there are cheers for each new explosion.

Tradition is you order a new round of beers for each round of the game with scores potentially impacted by the rising levels of inebriation.

10. Spend a day at the spectacular Cocora Valley

Getting to Cocora Valley

When visiting Colombia’s coffee region, a day in the remarkable Cocora Valley is a must. The nature reserve has a varied terrain with bright green grassy hills providing the backdrown to 200 feet (70 meters) narrow, towering wax palms.

The view from the top of the hill reminded me of a scene from the movie Jurassic Park with the staggering palms rising into the sky like the long necks of the sauropods. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one future generation will not experience, with half of the trees expected to die out by 2029.

You can take a 6 to 8-hour trek across the full Cocora route which passes through a rainforest and then takes you out to wander through the sparse, surreal palm forest. Some people just arrive at the end of the trek to take photos at the bottom but it is definitely worth the full experience if you are physically up to it.

I went with my mum and we took a mountain bike ride which we organized with this company in Salento. They drove us up high into the hills and then we raced down a number of routes along dirt roads, stopping with a spectacular view high on the side of one of the mountains surrounded by palms. If you are as brave as my fearless 65-year-old mum, then this is a different kind of physical challenge.

You can take a 40-minute jeep from Filandia to Salento for only a couple of dollars each way and from Salento another 20-minute ride to the entrance to Cocoa on a Willy jeep. Salento is another great town which we really enjoyed but it is far busier and more touristy than Filandia.

Local Cuisine

The coffee region in Colombia is famed for its very hearty, substantial, delicious local food. Many of the typical dishes have been created to prepare agricultural workers for a hard day’s work in the fields and then provide something warm and comforting at the end of a long day.

One such local dish is the Bandeja Paisa, an intimidating plate piled high with sausage, ground beef, rice, red beans, a fried pork rind called chicharrón, an arepa, plantain, avocado and a fried egg perched on top.

bandeja paisa colombia
Bandeja Paisa

You also have mondongo, a soup with ingredients such as tripe, potatoes, pork and vegetables, as well as sancocho, a stew filled with ingredients such as beef, chicken and pork, plantain, potatoes, cassava, carrots, cilantro and anything else the chef feels like throwing in.


There is also a lot of trout on the menu with arepas (a maize flatbread) with every meal and buñuelos (cheesy or sweet fritter balls) a Christmas special enjoyed all year round.

Recommended Cafes and Restaurants

While the food across the coffee region is generally very fresh and tasty, Filandia has established a reputation for elevating these popular dishes to a new level and bringing in real innovation.

There are a lot of superb restaurants and cafes in town but these are some of the best:

Helena Adentro

filandia helena adentro
Photo credits: KrisNM via CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED

Helena Adentro is celebrated as one of the best restaurants in Colombia and a reason to visit Filandia on its own.

The restaurant has a colorful, traditional style with lots of flowers and a clear roof above the open central courtyard. Situated at the far corner of town, the restaurant overlooks a vast green valley.

The food is really the star of the show though and the owners ensure ingredients are all high quality, fresh and locally sourced. There has been a real effort to ensure they produce healthy, delicious, affordable food whilst protecting the environment and supporting the local communities.

They also have great service and some delicious cocktails which all helps make your visit a real event.

Some of the popular favorites include trout from Salento, eggplant baguette and yucca croquettes. There is a real focus on celebrating local classics but also incorporating new, innovative techniques. Prices range from 12,000 COP (US$3) up to 40,000 COP (US$10).

Believe the hype, Helena Adentro is superb.

Restaurante Jose Fernando

Restaurante Jose Fernando
Photo credit: young shanahan on

Situated around the corner from the main church and one block from the central square, the restaurant is immediately striking with its perfectly painted and symmetrical look, sitting on the corner of the street. It looks like a carefully decorated chocolate box with balconies overlooking the street and classic, colorful, classy design.

Once you step inside the attention to detail continues, with trees and flowers everywhere. The staff are very welcoming and attentive, further enhancing the excellent first impression.

The food is based around Colombian favorites alongside more contemporary options all with high end presentation. They offer a feel which perfectly balances welcoming and homely alongside elegant and event dining.



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MOCAFE is a quaint coffee shop that sits on the corner of carrera 7 with suitably pretty and more understated decor. There is a great atmosphere with Federico and Alejandra always keen to welcome visitors and talk about the coffee they offer.

The coffee is of exceptional quality and is perhaps the best in town, a glowing endorsement given the excellent ingredients coming down from the surrounding hills. They also have delicious cakes and pastries.

While there may be other cafes with more spectacular views, the quality of produce and friendly welcome is unmatched.

Accommodation Options

There are a range of places to stay from quaint boutique hotels in the heart of the town to activity field hostels and picturesque mountain retreats. As well as the excellent spa and cycling specialists Casa Du Vélo mentioned above, these are some notable options:

El Zócalo Hotel Boutique

A good central, mid-range option is El Zócalo. The hotel is in the heart of the town and perfectly in keeping with the traditional architecture from the street.

Inside everything is very well maintained and modern with a nice central courtyard. Rooms are light, fresh and well-appointed. They have a good breakfast available and the staff are friendly.


Ecohotel Monte Tierra

Monte Tierra is a short drive (8 minutes) or a fair walk (40 minutes) from central Filandia but if you want a really special experience surrounded by the lush green mountains, then it is an excellent option.

The Ecohotel offers windowed dome tent options that have air conditioning, jacuzzis and seating with views or the more expensive chalet option, which is over two stories with floor-to-ceiling windows and lots of places to relax.

Staff are very friendly and professional, they have excellent food options available and you will be surrounded by nature. It is an excellent spot for a relaxing, romantic few days in the hills.


Tukawa Hostel


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Tukawa is an excellent hostel with private and shared rooms available. Set out in the countryside 35 minutes from town, the hostel invites guests to learn about cultivating and harvesting coffee plus they have a farm, horseback riding and arrange ecological walks down to the river.

They have an outdoor swimming pool, restaurant, barbecue, table tennis, darts and a bar with tasty cocktails. Free WIFI and parking is also available. It really is the perfect hostel experience which strikes a nice balance between fun and comfort, you can enjoy drinks with other guests but you can also find peace and tranquility.

Prices range from US$16.50 per night for a shared dorm to US$45 for a private with shared bathroom.


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