Known as “the Gothic city” of Colombia or “the city of the open doors”, Manizales is truly a charming town and part of the Colombian Coffee Triangle (Eje Cafetero). It is, of course, filled with coffee culture, inhabited by 434.403 delightful people, presenting multiple interesting and appetizing food options, and surrounded by nature all around. It is located only one hour away from Pereira and five hours away from Medellín by car.
The department of Caldas, where Manizales is located, traditionally stands out as one of the largest coffee producers in Colombia. It has approximately 36,000 coffee growers, 42,112 coffee farms and 78,537 hectares planted with coffee.
Whether you are staying a day or more in Manizales, there are a few spots and activities that you can enjoy while here. If architecture interests you, definitely take some time to visit and admire the Gothic architecture of one of the tallest cathedrals (113 meters) - the Catedral Basilica de Manizales. It has become famous for withstanding three high-intensity earthquakes on different dates and for its architectural art. In addition to its aesthetic peculiarities, it has the Polish Corridor and a cozy cafe, two spaces where you can see Manizales from above. And if you are like me, a nature lover, there are some amazing options as well.
The Yarumos Ecopark is a fragment of a humid tropical forest with a temperature of 16 degrees, a natural reserve of 53 hectares. Other than enjoying the gorgeous landscapes, there are a few activities such as wall climbing on a 50-foot wall and crossing a 120-meter long Tibetan bridge located 70 meters up from the ground, almost reaching the treetops. You can also descend through two of "Seven Colors Waterfalls" and take a hike through the mountains.
This place also has a high ropes circuit, aerial platforms, hanging bridges, cross logs and a 15-meter high canopy. Los Yarumos Ecopark is open from Tuesday to Sunday (and if it is a holiday Monday, from Wednesday), from 9 am to 5:30 pm. And although it does not open on Mondays, it is possible to book a group private tour.
Somewhat a place out of a fairytale, the Recinto del Pensamiento is a magical spot located about 11 kilometers from Manizales. One of the beautiful things you can find here is an aromatic orchard with 80 species of medicinal plants, condiments and aromatic herbs. There is also a system of chairlifts, an aerial tour in a cable system of 860 meters in which you can enjoy the song of birds, the colors of the butterflies, and the landscape over the forest. There is also an Ecological trail, a bird's viewpoint from where you can observe more than 150 species of resident and migratory birds. Plus, the butterflies observatory harbours around 33 species of diurnal butterflies typical of the coffee region and cloud forest. Orchid is Colombia's national flower, and here you can visit an orchid forest, marveling yourself with more than 250 species of the Orchidaceae family. A coffee ritual is also something to experience on your visit.
This 53 hectares tropical rainforest is located only twenty minutes away from the city center and five minutes away from Manizales' airport La Nubia. Visitors and locals come here to practise some sports and enjoy multiple activities. Some of these are water sports, tennis, soccer, sand volleyball, basketball and golf. There are also facilities to practice motocross, downhill and BMX. There is also a skate park, callisthenics area, skating rink, aerobics area and speed bike trace.
Children can enjoy a miniature transit park where bicycles are loaned and thus learn about basic transit rules and laws through a full-scale guided tour. There are also ecological trails, children's games, and a BBQ area: The Bosque Popular El Prado also has areas to host business meetings and a restaurant to enjoy some typical food.
Manizales is known as the city of open doors and some of the best coffee. It is also loved for its spectacular natural resources, landscape, colors, cultural events, people, and climate. The festivities in Manizales are very longed for by Colombians and also international visitors. Every year in January, the city fills itself with amazing energy to enjoy its local festival.
The Manizales Fair is considered one of the main events of this type in the country regarding culture, music, and festivities. The so-called "largest fair in America" has been celebrated for 64 years. Some of its events are the parades, the International Coffee Pageant, the Bullfighting Season, and concerts.
If you are looking for a solo rural getaway or a nice trip with friends or family, the city of open doors should undoubtedly be your destination when in Colombia. In Manizales, you can enjoy every second of your stay immersed in the environment of nature and affectionate people.
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