Pereira

Pereira is the capital of the department of Risaralda. It’s located in Colombia‘s famed Coffee Zone (typically called the Zona Cafetera or Eje Cafetero in Spanish). It’s a city of about 600,000 and is very close to Manizales, to the north, and Armenia, Cartago, and Salento to the south. It’s not known as a tourism hotspot, but it is the center of the coffee business in Colombia. Pereira is in a good spot because it’s right in the middle of Colombia‘s major cities. It’s just 5 hours to Medellin, 4 to Cali, and 7 to Bogota.

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It might be fair to compare it somewhat to Medellin. It shares a similar temperate climate, and is also known for having its share of beautiful women. The city is sandwiched in between an offshoot of the Western Cordillera of the Andes mountains, and boasts the impressive Cesar Gaviria bridge (or viaducto in Spanish), which facilitates transportation and commerce in between Pereira and Manizales.

The main attractions of the city are found in the center: the Plaza Bolivar, Plaza de Lago, and Plaza de Victoria. In the Plaza de Bolivar you’ll find perhaps the most famed attraction in Pereira, a sculpture of a naked Simon Bolivar riding his horse Nevado. The Plaza de Lago is famed for the “chorros”, colored shoots of water that burst forth from a fountain, lighting up the sky every day at seven.

Yet, the majority of tourist activities take place outside of the city limits. The Termales de Santa Rosa are some of the best hot springs around, while the National Park of the Nevado de Ruiz and nearby Lake Otun will delight hiking enthusiasts. Marsella is a town about 30km outside of Pereira where you can get a real authentic coffee town feel.

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There are two zona rosas (or entertainment zones) in Pereira. One is located on the eastern side of the city, and is called La Circunvular. The other is located along the river, near the border with Dosquebradas, and is called Guayaval. Pereira, like its neighbors Medellin and Manizales, is know for its nightlife and entertainment.

Pereira’s bus terminal is located in the southeastern corner of the city. Compared to other cities in Colombia, Pereira looks and feels quite small. Transportation is a breeze with its rapid and efficient Megabus system, which reaches almost any spot in the city. Or, hop in a taxi and get anywhere for just $6.000 or $8.000.

Pereira is a great spot to stop on any route between the “big three”: Bogota, Medellin, and Cali. 

Where to Stay:

Sweet Home Hostel

Kolibri Hostel

Juan is extremely knowledgeable about the area, and will take good care of you. 

Where to Eat:

La Grand Place

Below, are the skyscraper El Diario, the tallest building in Pereira, and an interesting sculpture found in front of it. The second photo is La Catedral de Pereira, with its wooden ceiling frame.

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