The Town With the Best View in Colombia | Exploring Buenavista, Quindio

Coffee, culture, colors and absolutely stunning views. You can find all of that and more in the cute, somewhat off the beaten path town of Buenavista, Colombia — located about an hour south of the capital of the Quindio department, Armenia.

Buenavista — which actually translates to “good view” — is a great place to enjoy the full coffee experience, including making a stop at one of the most awarded coffee estates in the country — while also taking in one of the nicest views of the central Colombian region.

Below is everything a traveler needs to know about visiting Buenavista, including the top 6 things to do, how to get there and where to stay.

\\ A Quick History of Buenavista

José Jesús Jiménez Yépez was one of the first people in the Buenavista area. He arrived in 1928 and soon opened up a store to buy coffee from the surrounding fincas and to sell simple, basic supplies. Eventually, the farmers who lived close to the area bought lots of land in the region around the store and soon constructed their homes. This would form the small settlement that would eventually become Buenavista.

The official foundation date of Buenavista is considered to be in 1933 (in that year a police inspector was assigned to the settlement). Jiménez Yépez donated land for further development of the town, including the site on which the church presently sits.

Three years late (1936) the settlement was elevated to the level of town in the municipality of Pijao (as part of Pijao). But in 1966 — shortly after the formation of the department of Quindío — Buenavista was separated from Pijao and has since been its own town.

NICKNAME: the town is named for the spectacular view over the Quindio department (buena = good and vista = view)

\\ Where is Buenavista, Colombia

Buenavista sits on the western slope of the central Cordillera mountain range — one of the three ranges that cross Colombia. Buenavista is characterized by its very steep terrain — something that is quite obvious just by driving up to it. The town is closely surrounded by other popular Quindio towns (pueblos); including, Calarcá to the north and west, Córdoba to the east and Pijao to the south.

FROM ARMENIA: 45 minutes, 30 kilometers / 18.6 miles

FROM MEDELLIN: 6.5 hours, 309 kilometers / 192 miles

FROM BOGOTA: 7 hours, 305 kilometers / 190 miles

GOOD TO KNOW: the town has an area of 41 square kilometers — which actually makes it the smallest municipality/town in the whole Quindio department.

ELEVATION: 1,483 meters

POPULATION: 5,800, of which 2,100 live in the urban center

Weather in Buenavista, Colombia

Like many other places in Colombia’s Coffee Region the weather does not fluctuate very much during the year. Besides the few seasonal changes that come with the rainy and dry seasons, the weather in Buenavista is almost always sunny and warm. If thunderstorms do appear it will likely be later in the day (around 2 PM).

When visiting Buenavista, we suggest bringing ample sun protection (a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen), bug spray — especially if visiting coffee fincas where bugs (like no-see-ums) are more prevalent, light clothing and a rain jacket.

The Best Time to Visit Buenavista, Colombia

Like most places in Colombia, there really is not a “bad” time to visit a place. That being said, if you want the best chance for nice weather consider visiting during the dry season: December — February, and then June — August. If you do happen to visit during the rainy season (March — May and September — November) you can still expect an ample amount of sunshine. It is simply just more likely to rain in the mid-morning and afternoons during the rainy season.

INSIDER TIP: we visited during the dry season but still had to work around a late-afternoon thunderstorm. If you really don’t want to get caught in the rain, consider visiting during the early morning.

THE TOP 6 THINGS TO DO IN BUENAVISTA, COLOMBIA

1. Visit the San Alberto Estate

Likely one of the biggest draws for people to visit Buenavista is the opportunity to check out the famous San Alberto Estate — home to Colombia’s Most Award-Winning Coffee.

Funny enough, we first stumbled upon the San Alberto coffee way back when we spent a month in Cartagena. After wandering around the Old City for an afternoon, we ended up taking refuge in a nice, quaint air-conditioned café. Soon we found ourselves spending a couple of afternoons working in the coffee shop, both for their delicious coffee and their strong Wi-Fi — plus we just loved looking at all of the old photos on the wall as well as photos of the actual coffee finca. In fact, we both agreed that if we ever got the chance to check out the finca in person we would 100% make a point to do it.

Fast forward a couple of months and we once again found ourselves sitting in a San Alberto café — but this time it was not in hot Cartagena, but on the finca’s shaded wooden terrace overlooking its sprawling coffee estate. And don’t worry the coffee tasted just as good as it did in Cartagena (if not better).

The estate is located on the edge of Buenavista and is about a 10-minute walk from the main plaza. While we ended up just spending a couple of hours in their plant-surrounded café — sipping iced coffee and chowing down on arequipe cake — you do also have the option to take an actual tour of the finca. In fact, the estate actually offers two different tours: one that is just a basic tour of the finca and the second that is a bit more immersive (it includes more coffee tasting). See below for the tour prices.

Learn more about the San Alberto Estate history — including how it came to be in Buenavista and where the name came from — at the estate’s website.

DETAILS

| COST: you can expect to pay around 3000 COP ($0.76 USD // €0.68 Euros) for a basic Americano and a bit more if you want it made with a Chemex (it is more of an “experience”). They also offer lattes, cappuccinos and cold brew.

There is also the option to pick up a 340-gram bag of coffee (0.80 pounds) costs 40000 COP ($10 USD // €9 Euros) online and in the estate’s café.

INSIDER TIP: the café has coconut milk available as well; we recommend ordering an iced coffee with coconut milk on a warm sunny day.

| WHERE: the estate is located right outside of Buenavista (it is easily visible from the main plaza). To reach it head out of town on Carrera 2 (Via a Buenavista on Google Maps). Walk for about 10 minutes until you see signs along the hillside. The café is on the left side of the road.

| HOURS: the café on the estate is open from 11 AM — 6 PM Tuesday — Thursday and 10 AM — 6:30 PM Friday — Sunday (closed on Mondays).

📣 TOUR

There are two different tours available on the San Alberto estate. The first tour is a bit less immersive (only 2.5 hours long) and costs 121000 COP ($30.71 USD // €21.40 Euros) per person. The second option is a bit more immersive and lasts around 3.5 hours. The second tour costs 148500 COP ($37.70 USD // €33.60 Euros).

You also have the option to book a private guide + tour of the San Alberto Estate on the travel app Get Your Guide.

>>> Book more guided trips in Colombia here.

2. Walk up to the Mirador

If you want to get a great view of Buenavista and stretch your legs a bit — and also get another view of the San Alberto Estate — then consider walking up the road to the mirador, which sits above town and affords you some of the best views of Buenavista and the whole Quindio valley.

DETAILS

| ROUTE: the mirador is a relatively easy — though quite uphill — walk from downtown Buenavista. To reach it, head out of town on Calle 3 as if you are heading to the San Alberto Estate. But instead of turning left on Carrera 2, keep heading straight up the road (it seems to be unnamed on Google Maps). Soon you will see a road on the left with signs for El Gran Mirador (a hotel), turn left here and keep walking up the narrow paved road. Stay on this road for another 1 kilometer until you see a paved road coming in from the right side (it is very steep). Turn right on this road and walk up until you get to an obvious flat area with an old abandoned building.

INSIDER TIP: you will know you are on the right road when you pass Villa Jimenez on the left. After the hotel, just keep walking up the road until you see the road coming in on the right.

| LOCATION: the exact location of the mirador is here.

3. Hike up to Los Tres Cruces

If you are looking to hike even further up the mountain than the mirador, you also have the ability to check out another viewpoint known as Los Tres Cruces (The Three Crosses) — which are easily visible from the road up from town. While the lower mirador gives you great views of the town and the Quindio valley, the Los Tres Cruces viewpoint gives you an even wider view of the surrounding valley, as well as the nearby mountains — and on a clear day, even the Valle de Cauca, the next department over.

GOOD TO KNOW: up at the top of Los Tres Cruces there is an abandoned cable car station (teleferico). While you can no longer ride the cable car (a shame) you can still hang out under the old building and its somewhat unique roof.

DETAILS

| ROUTE: follow the same exact route as above (towards the mirador) but when you come to the road on the right (the steep one) just keep walking up the paved road you have been on. From the intersection of the mirador road, it is another ¾ of a kilometer up to Los Tres Cruces.

| LOCATION: the exact location of Los Tres Cruces and the teleferico is here.

4. Go Paragliding

We unfortunately have not had the chance to do this ourselves, but we know people who have and they have all said it was absolutely amazing.

If you want to get a serious birds-eye view of the Quindio department, including the central Cordillera mountain range, then a paragliding trip might be the perfect option.

The primary company that does the paragliding tours from Buenavista is Gran Colombia Tours, which also runs free city tours of Bogota, paragliding trips over Medellin and 4-day tours out to La Guajira desert (up in the far north of Colombia).

The paragliding trip lasts between 4–6 hours, of which about 15 minutes of it is actually up in the air. The tour also includes transportation to and from Buenavista and pictures and videos of the experience.

DETAILS

| COST: 116000 COP ($29.50 USD // €26.30 Euros) per person for one paragliding trip

| TOUR: the main office for Gran Colombia Tours is in the main square of Buenavista. You can find more information on their website.

| EXTRA: make sure to bring proper footwear, sunscreen and comfortable clothing for the flight.

5. Take a Willy to the Nearby Coffee Towns

One of the best things about Buenavistas location is its close proximity to other cute, coffee region towns (pueblos). This includes the town of Pijao, which is located 12 kilometers to the east, Cordoba, located 19 kilometers to the northeast, and Barcelona, located 14 kilometers almost straight north (the town sits on the main road into Buenavista).

If you are looking to explore even more Colombian coffee region towns, then we highly suggest getting a ride from a Willy to the nearby town Pijao — one of our favorite little pueblos in the area.

GOOD TO KNOW: while Pijao is only 12 kilometers away by road — and much less as the bird flies — expect the trip to take around 30–40 minutes due to the twisty, mountain roads.

6. Drink the Coffee

While San Alberto gets most of the coffee love in Buenavista, it is definitely not the only game in town. Due to the town’s location in the heart of the Quindio Coffee Region (the eje cafetero), you can find delicious — and local — coffee at almost every café.

Some great coffee shops to check out in Buenavista include:

COFFEE HOUSE TERRAZA: this small, mostly outdoor café is located in the main plaza of Buenavista. Exact location here.

CAFE LAS MARGARITAS: another locally-owned coffee shop that is located in the heart of Buenavista, Café Las Margaritas offers fresh coffee drinks, ice cream (helado) and even beer. Find the exact location here.

BUENAVISTA, COLOMBIA — TRAVEL ESSENTIALS

\\ How to Get to Buenavista, Colombia

BUS

The easiest way to get to Buenavista is to take a public bus from the main bus terminal in Armenia. It costs 7500 COP ($1.90 USD // €1.70 Euros) per person each way. The bus ride takes around one hour to go from Armenia to Buenavista — though this could be a bit longer if it is the weekend and the roads are busy.

We used the bus company Coomoquin to go from Armenia to Buenavista and then back again. In our experience, it seemed like buses left Buenavista for Armenia every hour on the hour.

INSIDER TIP: you can catch the bus to Armenia from the main square in Buenavista. The best spot is around here.

\\ How to Get Around Buenavista, Colombia

Due to the town’s small size, really the only way to get around is walking. Luckily, the town felt very safe and there were sidewalks on all of the main roads. Plus, many of the best things to do in Buenavista require walking (San Alberto, the two miradors).

If you are looking to explore other towns nearby — most notably Pijao and Cordoba — then you will need to take a Willy — the big colorful WWII-era jeeps. You can pick them up in the main square.

\\ Where to Stay

One of the best hotels in Buenavista, Colombia is Hotel y Café El Gran Mirador — a cute hotel located on the edge of town. If you want stellar views, plus easy access to delicious coffee, then this is the hotel for you.

DETAILS

| COST: a room with a private bathroom costs between 160000 and 190000 COP (~ $40.60 USD // €36.22 Euros), breakfast is included.

| WHERE: the hotel is located right on the outskirts of town along the same road you walk to get to the mirador and Los Tres Cruces. The exact location is here.

| CONTACT: reach out to them via Facebook or WhatsApp

Other hotel options in Buenavista, Colombia include:

ECOHOTEL LA CLIMA

This hip spot is located a couple of kilometers from the main town. While it is a bit pricy, it does include breakfast, stunning valley views and a hot tub. It costs around 700000 COP ($177 USD // €158.50 Euros) per night. Book it here.

ALOJAMIENTO RURAL CAFE YARUMO

Located within easy walking distance to all of the top things to see and do in Buenavista, this small family-run hotel is a great spot to relax and enjoy all sides of the town. It costs around 90000 COP ($23 USD // €20.40 Euros) per night. Book it here.

Find more hotels in Buenavista, Colombia here.

\\ Where to Eat and Drink in Buenavista

Like many other small towns in the region, most of the restaurants are located around the main plaza (Plaza Simon Bolivar). There are numerous cafes (see above) and locally-owned restaurants within a short walk of, well, anywhere. In our experience exploring the town, we found most of the restaurants were serving solely traditional Colombian food.

GOOD TO KNOW: if you are exploring Buenavista later in the evening, we recommend trying a fresh arepa (a grilled flat corn patty with cheese and usually butter) from the small food stand on the corner of the main plaza. Here is the exact location.

\\ Is Buenavista, Colombia Safe

Overall, we felt very safe exploring Buenavista. Just like other towns in the Quindio Department, we had no issues walking around the town. And even when we ventured out of town — for example up the road to the mirador — we still felt completely safe.

In truth, the only “real” danger you may have from walking around Buenavista is through some of the rare wildlife — mostly of the snake variety. But if you are wearing proper footwear and clothing (long pants mostly) you should be totally fine.

The Colombian Coffee Region (eje cafetero) is an absolutely magical place to explore. The mix of culture, coffee, colors and adventure are second to none — and Buenavista is not different. If you want to step away from the more popular coffee region experiences and instead explore some place more authentic, then Buenavista is the town for you.

Hopefully, this travel guide helps you plan the perfect adventure in Buenavista — but if you have any further questions about the town, and the region in particular — then please feel free to leave a comment below or reach out to us here.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Backroad Packers

Backroad Packers

Two adventurers creating in-depth travel guides to inspire you to slow down and get off the beaten path more.