Manizales

Travel Guide South America Colombia Manizales

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Introduction

Manizales is the capital of the Department of Caldas located in central Colombia in the Coffee Region. The city, with a population of 431,760, is at the western end of the Andes mountains and best known for being at the heart of coffee production in the region. Manizales is a beautiful university city, famous throughout Colombia for its numerous private and public universities. So students can be seen everywhere, either walking to classes along Avenidas Santander or Parallela, or sitting in the myriad cafes along Avenida Santander after class while chatting with friends and watching others strolling along the avenue. The city has a very young and vibrant atmosphere and good nightlife in the Zona Rosa.

The city has a real European, small city feel to it, like being in Switzerland or the Alps. In winter season it rains a lot (almost every day, but not for too long), but you can find very dry days in the summer. In this city it's easy to see why the Spanish would choose locations high up for establishing cities, and why the later colonists from Medellin and Antioquia who founded this city chose this relatively high location to mount a new city 150 years ago. The climate is moderate and very healthy, nothing like the humidity and heat you'll find in valleys down below!

The city is also famous for having 8 separate micro-climates, depending on which elevation and barrio you're in. For example, it's possible in just 10 minutes to go from a spot that's cool and foggy (for ex. the Chipre district that is higher up and overlooking the valley floor below) to one that is warm and balmy (like La Linda district).

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Sights and Activities

Chipre is a district in the west of Manizales with Manizales' highest altitude. On top of a hill you find a beautiful park called 'Los Colonializadores' with some human-sized sculptures from 2002, representing the colonists who set up Manizales. The same hill serves as viewpoint as well, where you can overlook the city and beautiful coffee rich valleys down below. The view is 360 degrees, and to east, north and south are views of city that's nestled up against the western side of central Cordillera (Colombia, in the western part of country, is basically divided into sections by three large, wide mountain ranges) and to west are views of the valleys, rivers and coffee plantations down below which contain the famous coffee cities of Chinchina and Palastina (where a new, modern international airport is now under construction). Just 300m away is Parque Observatorio de Chipre where you can find a watchtower to enjoy a beautiful view over the city of Manizales as well. This watchtower costs entrance fee, however.

The city has two main plazas, Plaza Bolivar and Parque Caldas. Parque Caldas is a place for the local people to sit and to chat with friends, or to shop and to watch others in afternoon and evening. During the day you always find people selling street food, sweets or balloons. On the East side of Parque Caldas you find the Basílica Menor Inmaculada Concepción, a church, constructed in 1921. Don't miss the beautiful wooden interior and the daylight shining in through the skylights. The church is very popular among the locals.

Plaza Bolivar contains the State Government of Caldas administration buildings, as Manizales city is also the seat of Caldas state. On the other side of the plaza stands the impressive, beautiful Cathedral of Manizales, built by people of the city. It's massive size is impressive and famous for it's elaborate gold canopy and beautiful, large stained-glass windows. The cathedral is also the third tallest in Latin America, at 113 meters. Many people visit this plaza during trips to city center to conduct personal or municipal business, as this area contains most of important government and banking buildings, and is oldest part of city.

Villamaria is a suburb of Manizales, located in the south. It has a nice market square, a relaxed atmosphere and is worth a visit. If you go there, make sure to take the Cable car all the way from Station Fundadores to Villamaria to get spectacular views over Manizales and Villamaria from a bird's-eye perspective.

The city has a large eco-park called Los Yarumos, named after a large tree species, Yarumo. It contains beautiful views overlooking the city and affords views of mountains and a volcano encircling the city above. There are many hiking trails and nature walks, and city just completed a new indoor ice skating rink, which has a great music system! Also, there is also a large conference center and restaurants.

The Universidad de Caldas has many museums (Natural History, Art, and Archeology) and a botanical garden.

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Weather

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max22 °C22 °C22 °C21.5 °C21.2 °C21.1 °C21.6 °C21.7 °C21.2 °C20.7 °C20.8 °C21.3 °C
Avg Min11.2 °C11.5 °C11.9 °C12.3 °C12.5 °C12.4 °C12 °C12 °C11.9 °C11.8 °C11.6 °C11.3 °C
Rainfall98 mm92 mm134 mm167 mm154 mm91 mm64 mm75 mm138 mm190 mm167 mm125 mm
Rain Days141520232420171720252016

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Getting There

By Plane

The city is served by La Nubia Airport (MZL IATA) (10 minutes from downtown in a taxi), that receives domestic flights of Avianca, Aires, ADA airlines. There are non-stop flights to Medellín and Bogotá. It features WiFi access to the Internet from almost every location. Taxis are regulated, reasonably priced and safe from the airport. A taxi ride from the airport to the center takes approximately 20 minutes, and can cost $5.00 USD.

By Bus

Manizales Bus Station (Terminal de Transportes) is a modern facility located next to the lower cable car station. The cable car can take you to the city centre for COP$1900 (great views). Shared taxis to Chinchina cost 3000 pesos per person and take about 40 minutes. Service in the 'upscale' buses is very good and they are very comfortable. Pick the most expensive service (just a couple of dollars extra) as these buses tend to be newer and better mechanical condition.

  • Cali : COP$30,000 / 5 hours.
  • Bogotá : COP$50,000 COP / 8 hours.
  • Medellín : COP$38,000 / 5 hours.
  • Pereira : COP$11,000 / 1.15 hours every 15 minutes with a minibus.
  • Armenia : COP$17,000 / 2.15 hours every 15 minutes with a minibus.

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Getting Around

There is an extensive network of busses running around Manizales connecting most parts of the city. Minimum Cost is COP$1,900 (for one way trips). Types of buses (to travel in the city ranges about COP$900 to COP$1,300) range from large buses to smaller vans, and Willys jeeps are also available for side trips to outlying areas including local mountains and valley floors, prices vary depending on destination, prices are very cheap.

Taxis are relatively cheap, make sure the meter is on. Some taxi drivers are dishonest and try to take advantage of foreigners. For example, they may use standing charges while waiting or take circuitous routes to your destination. Some don't have meters, so ask for cost in advance. If you stop along your route, the driver will reset the meter for a new fare, with you paying the sum of all the fares once you reach your final destination. It's possible to negotiate as well, but standard daytime fare is COP$2,200, and higher after 8:00pm and weekends, holidays, when it's COP$2,500.

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Eat

The traditional food comes from Antioquia, the region to northwest and famous for the city of Medellin. Lunch-time meals usually consist of a soup made from plantain (a variety of green bananas), followed by a plate of rice and selection of fried pork, beef, or chicken, with small cabbage salad in vinegar dressing. To drink there is a natural juice drink made from mango, or if you are adventurous, try one of native fruit flavors, they are delicious but hard to pronounce. This will usually be followed by a coffee. Sometimes, you might be offered a dessert called mazamorra, which is corn and milk with local sugar, called 'panela'. They also use panella and water in making coffee that can make the coffee exceptionally sweet. Unless you are a fan of sugary tasting coffee, ask for coffee made from plain water.

The water quality here is excellent (Manizales' water is on the top 10 of best quality drinking waters in the world). It is very pure and possible to drink straight from the tap (not true in all parts of Colombia).

If you're visiting the 'Los Nevados' Natural Park ask for 'aguapanela con queso' while going there. It's a hot beverage made of sugar cane served with cheese. Also look for cheese icecream, chorizos from Santa Rosa and obleas.

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Drink

  • Pit Stop Bar (same directions as the Pit Stop Hostel in the SLEEP section of this page). This bar is below the Pit Stop Hostel and is beautifully decorated with reclaimed old Spanish Colonial style windows and doors for a spectacular entrance. Bar is also equipped with a DJ booth and DJ equipment which features local DJ talent in the area. Pit Stop also has two huge flat screen TVs with show European and American sporting events. Nightly drink specials. Call ahead to find out if we can find your particular hard-to-get sporting event at 310-597-1214 or just come and mingle with other foreigners on the backpacking trail .
  • Bar C (taxidrivers should know to find it). Nice place to dance the night away on a mix of electronic and local music (CrossOver). It has a nice view over Manizales and is open until 5:00am. Beautiful people.
  • POP Bar Very good place, has mixed music as BarC but it is located in a more accessible location (in the Rose Zone), and it closes earlier (2:00am).
  • Paramo Coctales Bar - located in the "El Cable" sector. Frozen cocktails with tropical flavor. In Paramo you can see all the night life of the zone whilst drinking.
  • Cross Over Music Bar C, Vertigo, Britania, Mango Biche. Moliendo cafe, La Bombonera.
  • Salsa Music Salomon, Son Salome
  • RocKKelleR Bar (www.rockkeller.com), Carrera 23 # 60-05 Avenida Santander, ☎ +57 3127754617, e-mail: info@rockkeller.com. noon - 2:00am. RocKKelleR is an exclusive Bar-Restaurant of Manizales city. Located in a very accessible and comercial area beside the "Universidad Catolica". It offers a very wide international choices of beers and drinks, as well as live band shows and a very warm and friendly environment. A very recommended bar you have to visit while being in Manizales.
  • Plug & Play, Calle 61 # 23-03. Plug & Play is a rock and punk bar located at the northern end of the Zona Rosa. Sometimes there also live concerts

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Sleep

  • Eco Hotel la Juanita, vereda Cuhilla de los Santa (Via a La Linda), ☎ +57 8714416, e-mail: ecohotellajuanita@hotmail.com. offer rural accommodation, quiet close to town, easy access, city bus, taxi, particularly, ecological trails, room for events. COP$120.000 for a double room.
  • El carretero, Carrera 23 # 35A 31, e-mail: reservas@hotelcarretero.com. Three stars hotel, near downtown. Foreign Exchange service, car rental, tourist travel service.
  • Mountain Hostels, Calle 67# 23b (2 blocks from cable plaza, go down 2 blocks on calle 23B cross road up to the left, white house with a flag outside), ☎ +57-6-8870871. Check-in: 24hrs, check-out: 11:00am. Friendly clean hostel with good kitchen and sitting area with hammocks. Great relaxing experience. Good tourist information with tour booking. WiFi, landury service, cabel Tv, bike rental, breakfast included. Dorm, single and double rooms available. COP$22,000 / dorm.
  • Hotel el Caney (Hotel el Caney), Km 23 via la cabaña, ☎ +57-6 8703335, +57 310-423-62-06 (Cel), e-mail: hcaney@gmail.com. English spoken, country side hotel.
  • Hotel California, Calle 19 #16-39, ☎ +576 897 3487, e-mail: ltg71@hotmail.com. Inexpensive but clean and safe hotel located downtown. Located across from the Antigua (downtown) bus terminal. Friendly manager speaks English and has information about the area. An internet cafe is attached. Rooms are small but nice with modern bathrooms, full cable TV, some have views.
  • Hotel Varuna, Calle 62 No. 23C-18, ☎ +57 6 8811122, e-mail: varunahotel@une.net.co. Located close to shopping malls, banks, coffees, and clubs. Suites with the latest technology, event rooms, food and cocktails in the bar-restaurant.
  • Kumanday Hostel (Kumanday Hostal), Carrera 23 # 60 - 13 , Avenida Santander, ☎ +57-6 885-49-80, +57 315-479-70-70, +57 315-514-18-73, e-mail: kumandaycolombia@gmail.com. Nice and calm hostel within the Zona Rosa. The staff are friendly and give useful tourist information. The hostel offers a shared kitchen, laundry facilities, internet, TV/DVD-room and free coffee. 25,000 COP/DORM.
  • Las Colinas, Carrera 22 # 20-20. Located downtown. Foreign exchange service, car rental, tourist travel service.
  • Mountain House Manizales, Calle 66 # 23 B 137, calle larga de Palermo o calle de los Faroles Barrio Guayacanes,, ☎ +57 300-439-7387, e-mail: info@mountainhousemanizales.com. Mountain house is the first hostel that opened in Manizales. It is 3 blocks away from Cable Plaza mall with a movie theatre. To get there from the centre, take a blue bus that says "Cable - Batallon" and get off at Cable Plaza mall, walk 1 block east and then 2 and a half blocks south (down a very steep hill) 20.000 for a dorm.
  • Hostal Mirador Andino, Carrera 23 #32-20. Very clean hostel with great facilities, including well stocked kitchen, and helpful staff in downtown area. Nice communal area, free wi-fi. Can organise tours. Beautiful view from the terrace. Take the cable car (from the bus station)to Centro, exit, turn right and walk about 30 metres down the main street. The hostel is on the right hand side (It has a large wooden front door with the word HOSTAL in red lettering above. You will see a couple of flags above the door, very easy to find. Dorm bed 20,000COP. DoubleRoom 60,000COP. Breakfast 5,000COP. Free coffee all day.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes are easy to find in any city or town. Expect rates to run about $1,250-2,500 (around $US 0.50-1.00) per hour, depending on how much competition there is (i.e., cheap in Bogotá, expensive in the middle of nowhere). Quality of connections varies enormous and tends to better in populated places and tourist areas. Wifi is getting more and more popular in some hotels, restaurants and bars, but don't count on it and be careful regarding your privacy.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to Colombia is: 57. To make an international call from Colombia, the code is: 005.

Using your own phone and SIM card is expensive so if you are planning to do quite a few calls, buy a phone or just a SIM card. It's simple enough to get a SIM card and even an unlocked phone at the international airport in Bogotá, although there is, of course, a price hike. They're not hard to find in any city either, just ask your hotel or hostel staff where to go. Topping up is also easy, and can be done pretty much on any street corner. The carriers you'll most likely see are Claro, Tigo, and Movistar. Claro is the most expensive (by a little bit), but has the widest coverage in the country, if you expect to get off the beaten path.

Post

4-72 is the unusual name of Colombia's postal service. They have post offices throughout the country, which are open usually from 9:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday and sometimes on Saturday mornings as well. That doesn't apply to all offices though, only the larger ones in the big cities. But for example along the Caribbean coast, offices tend to close between noon and 2:00pm. But even at the ones that are officially open all day long, it might be difficult to get anything done during those hours. For domestic services, sending letters and postcards is mostly reliable but takes days, for international services don't hold your breath. Eventually, a postcard or letter might arrive in the country of destination but it's almost not worth it. For parcels, you are better off using companies like FedEx, TNT, DHL or UPS.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 5.0621529
  • Longitude: -75.4956207

Accommodation in Manizales

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This is version 19. Last edited at 8:34 on Feb 28, 18 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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