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Manizales is a city in Colombia, in the Department of Caldas. It's a city and municipality in central Colombia, near the Nevado del Ruiz volcano. Presently, the city is the main center for the production of Colombian coffee and an important hub for higher educational institutions.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

The city is served by La Nubia Airport (ICAO: SKMZ, IATA: MZL) (~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[edit]

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 1600 pesos at Jan 2015(great views). Shared taxis to Chinchina cost 3000 pesos per person and take about 40 mins. Buses to Pereira take about 1h15m and cost 10,000 pesos. Buses to Medellin take about 4h30m with a short stop and cost 30,000 pesos.

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.

Currently buses run in and out of Manizales's main station, Terminal de Transporte de Manizales. The station is clean and has standard amenities. Multiple bus companies have regular routes to destinations around the country. To get there from the airport you can take a taxi ride.

Some common bus companies in Colombia that are found in this Terminal are:

  • Expreso Bolivariano Expreso Bolivariano- This company has one of the most extensive networks. Some international destinations as well.
  • Coomotor [14] Mostly destinations in Southern Colombia

You will find many others there.

You can also search for many other bus schedules and get tickets online to and from Manizales at AndesTransit or redBus, including to and from other countries in South America.

Get around[edit]

Sculpture at a scenic walk Chipre, at Manizales, Colombia

There is an extensive network of busses running around Manizales connecting most parts of the city. Minimum fare is $1,400 pesos (approx. $1.00 USD for one way trips). 3 miles main Avenida Santander, including the numerous neighborhoods (barrios) and surrounding barrios, use caution when visiting lower-income barrios (as you should have in any other city). Types of buses (to travel in the city ranges about .900 pesos to 1,300 pesos , less than .40 cents USD) 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, but make sure the taximeter 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 $2,200 pesos, and higher after 8 pm and weekends, holidays, when it's $2,500 pesos. As of December 2006, you could hire a taxi by the hour; the fare is $15,000, the equivalent of USD $6.50...!

See[edit][add listing]

Summer dusk in Manizales

(Keep in mind that the description below is a word-for-word copy of the description for Pereira! Only a few key street & neighborhood names have been changed.)

There are many things to see. This is a beautiful university city, famous throughout Colombia for the numerous private and public universities. It's reported that 1/4 of city (pop. 400,000) residents here are students, females seem to outnumber males by margin of 3 to 1. 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 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 summer season. The air is always fresh, temperature a little cool, and can be balmy depending on which part of city you're visiting.

The city is also famous for being one of only with 8 separate micro-climates in world, 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 barrio that is higher up and overlooking the valley floor below) to one that is warm and balmy (like La Linda barrio).

Cathedral at Manizales, Colombia

In this city it's easy to see why the Spanish would choose locations high up for planting cities, and why the later Colonialists from Medellin and State of Antioquia who founded this city choose this relatively high location to mount a new city 150 years ago. The climate is moderate and very healthy, and nothing like the humidity and heat you'll find in valleys down below!

The city has a beautiful park called 'Los Colonializadores' on a mount overlooking 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).

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 city has two main plazas, Plaza Bolivar and Parque Caldas, where people can go to sit and to chat with friends, or to shop and to watch others in afternoon and evening. 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.

View from Avenida Santander

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.

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

Do[edit][add listing]

The city has a municipal auditorium and theatres where you can attend concerts, operas, and listen to symphonic music. There are lots of night clubs, discos, and bars that serve up lively house, trance, rock, salsa, and tango music.

El Ruiz Volcano in 2006

The Rose Zona is where most of night clubs, discos, restaurants and coffee bars are located, and 'Luker Plaza' is city's newest, ultra modern commercial development. It is also the safest and most exclusive area of town. Next to it is 'Cable Plaza', the city's hottest new entertainment destination. It houses a 5 floor state of the art shopping and entertainment center, housing an upscale luxury supermarket, expensive fast food restaurants, and the latest Hollywood movies.

The city offers an exciting nightlife along the main avenue Santander, where you will find many of best discos and restaurants, but there is another smaller in upscale residential neighborhood located in south part of city, called Batallon and Milan. On weekends, starting on Thursday night, this is where many of younger crowd and students like to gather. There are many fast food restaurants in this area also.

The city is also home to famous football (soccer) club, 'Once Caldas', who won the South American Championship 'Copa Libertadores'. Viewing football is a very important activity here and Once fans pack the 40,000 seat stadium to cheer for their team.

If you are a football fan you will appreciate the dedication of fans and large, beautiful stadium that sits in center of Palogrande, one of best neighborhoods in Manizales, and close to many universities.

Then there is the famous mountains surrounding the city called El Nevado Ruiz, with it's three volcanic formations. Early in morning is best time to view it as clouds then move in a make viewing difficult, but if you get up early you won't be disappointed. The mountains contain glaciers and it snows a lot up on mountain, where the temperature can be chilly and cold, but the solitude and peace you'll experience up on mountain make all the inconvenience and difficulty in reaching it, worth it.

Another nice place, but very different one is Santagueda which its about 40 minutes from Manizales. There you will find estates of warm land, the temperature is from 23 to 28 centigrade degrees for which they are many places to enjoy the sun and swimming pool. The most popular part is "la fonda" where people of all the ages enjoy the weather while drinking a beer or any type of liquor, especially the unmatured brandy Crystal (aguardiente Cristal) or the old Rum of Caldas (Ron viejo de Caldas). To come to Santagueda you can take a jeep from terminal, this alone trip costs 7.000 pesos (3.0 dollars).

Also, the region is famous in Colombia for its hot springs and resorts such as 'Termales del Otoño' and 'Termales del Santa Rosa' and 'Termales del Nevado'. Each contains not only hot pool where the public gather to soak and relax, but many levels of hotel accommodation. Prices are approx. $16,000-$20,000 per day, and all stay open till midnight. The 'Termales del Santa Rosa' lower and upper locations, as does the hot springs at 'Termales del Nevado.' At both locales, the upper pools are closer to water source and so have hotter water, but water temperature also fluctuates depending on which season it is, winter or summer. Worth seeing is the 'Termales del Santa Rosa' Hotel, it is a four star hotel and very nice if you can afford the $150,000 peso price (per person), USD$75.00, however, included is all meals and entry fees to pools, as well as use of private, exclusive wading pools. Also, both sites at Santa Rosa have incredible, breathtaking waterfalls that are lit with multi-colored lights, visiting at night is best, or if you have time, stay all day as price of entry is for all day!

Eat[edit][add listing]

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, 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, but don't recommend it, as the taste is very sweet, actually coffee served here is exceptionally sweet and 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 also it is possible to drink straight from the tap here (but not in all parts of Colombia is this true), so no need to purchase bottled water and taste is great!

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.

La Suiza is a fantastic bakery in El Cable with another (original) location in El Centro. It has fantastic baked goods, great breakfast, and even some very tasty lunch/dinner options. One of the best European-style bakeries you'll find in Colombia, and with a great view to boot.

El D.F. is in the Milan neighborhood, probably the best area of town to find a concentration of nice restaraunts. It's currently one of the more popular spots in town, serving up tasty Mexican food. Decent, but not spectacular by the standards of a Mexican food snob, but much better than most Mexican food in Colombia.

Del Mercado is located high up in the Palermo neighboorhood, only a block or two off of Avenida Santander. It has a fantastic Salad bar, wonderful Ceviche, some nice baked goods and friendly service.

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • 2150 (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 am. Beautiful people.
  • Simon Dice Club on Santander, in the Zona Rosa. Very nice interior, generally 8,000 peso cover. Music is crossover with a bit more pop/dance than most places in town but still very heavy on the reggaeton. Free bus to Milagros later in the night, and free entry with your wrist band from Simon Dice. Great spot for dancing, probably the best in El Cable or within the city in general.
  • Milagros After-hours club open till 5 or later. Crossover, very similar to Bar C, seems to not be quite as popular. Located at the bottom of a hill South of El Cable on Via La Enea/Avenida Alberto Mendoza.
  • BarCelona Bar in Milan. Little more tranquil area than El Cable but a very popular spot especially from Thursday-Saturday Night. Lots of American music, great place to have drinks and meet locals.
  • 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 (, Carrera 23 # 60-05 Avenida Santander ([email protected]), +57 3127754617, [1]. noon - 2 am. 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.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Cheap budget hotels can be found from COP 10,000 (single, Jan 2015) across the bridge from the Terminal.

  • Hostal Mirardor Andino, Carrera 23 #32-20. (see in OpenStreetMap) 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. Double room 60,000COP. Breakfast 5,000COP. Free coffee all day.  edit
  • Eco Hotel la Juanita, vereda Cuhilla de los Santa (Via a La Linda), 8730409 (), [2]. offer rural accommodation, quiet close to town, easy access, city bus, taxi, particularly, ecological trails, room for events.  edit
  • El carretero, Calle 36 #22-22. Three stars hotel, near downtown. Foreign Exchange service, car rental, tourist travel service.  edit
  • Hostel Manizales, Calle 67# 23a33 (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, [3]. checkin: 24hrs; checkout: 11AM. Friendly clean hostel with good kitchen and sitting area with hammocks. Great relaxing experience. Good turist information with tour booking. WiFi, landury service, cabel Tv, bike rental, breakfast included. Dorm, single and double rooms available. 20,000 col/dorm.  edit
  • Hotel el Caney (Hotel el Caney), Km 23 via la cabaña, (Tel: (57-6) 8703335 Cel: 310-423-62-06 (), [4]. English spoken, country side hotel  edit
  • Hotel California, Calle 19 #16-39, (576) 897 3487 (). 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.  edit
  • Hotel Varuna, Calle 62 No. 23C-18, (57) (6) 8811122 (), [5]. Located close to the best shopping malls, banks, coffees, and clubs of the city. Suites with the latest technology, event rooms, food and cocktails in the bar-restaurant.  edit
  • Kumanday Hostel (Kumanday Hostal), Calle 66 # 23b - 40, sector El Cable, (57) 6- 8872682 / (57)315-4797070 / (57)315-5141873 (), [6]. 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  edit
  • Las Colinas, Carrera 22 # 20-20. Four stars hotel, located in the Downtown. Foreign exchange service, car rental, tourist travel service.  edit
  • Minga House, Calle 26 # 12-14, Barrio El Bosque,, (Cel: +57 (312) 581-3689 (), [7]. Highly Recommend! Quiet, clean, spacious, & safe residential area one block from the Plaza de Toros; Queen size beds, large windows with views, wooden floors, built-in closets, big common area with WiFi & cable on big flat screen TV, roof-top terrace with hammocks and views, full kitchen access, and rented mostly to Expats for short- and long-term stays. The Innkeeper, Angela, is a sweetheart and super attentive and hardworking. She can prepare you meals and provide laundry service. You'll be very pleased. 35.000 for a private room.  edit
  • Mountain House Manizales, Calle 66 # 23 B 137, calle larga de Palermo o calle de los Faroles Barrio Guayacanes,, (Cel: 300-439-7387 (), [8]. Mountain house is the first hostel that opened in Manizales. It is located in the best area of the city with good restaurants, bars, and cafes. 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.  edit
  • Base Camp Hostel, Carrera 24 #31-08 centro, Downtown, (Cel: 301-278-20-70 or 300-818-56-52 (), [9]. This fun-funky-old house called Base Camp Hostel Manizales offers many amenities such as dorm rooms, private rooms with double beds, shared kitchen, security lockers, helpful staff, huge living room, wireless internet, lounge, smoking area. The hostel is located in the center of Manizales on the busiest pedestrian street in the entire city, Santander ”centro”,under the cable car station of Manizales.  edit
  • Hacienda Venecia (Hacienda Venecia), [10]. Hacienda Venecia is over 100 years old & still produces Premium coffee today. Enjoy the ambiance of the Hacienda or Guest House along with great coffee.  edit
  • Hotel Termales el Otoño, Km 5 via ancient to Nevado, +573136441232, [11]. All rooms have safe, mini-bar, color TV, telephone, whirlpool spa, lounge, hair dryer and private bathroom. Some of its facilities and services are massage room, steam room, jacuzzi, three pools with thermal waters, auditorium, conference room, fax/photocopy service, wireless and broadband internet. Rates start at COP 324000.00.  edit
  • The Secret Garden Manizales - Hostel & Bistro, Vereda la Floresta, Villamaria (KM 3 via a Llanitos), +57 (321) 770 -3020, [12]. checkin: 13:00; checkout: 12:00. Hostel & Bistro in the Colombian Coffee Region, outside of Manizales. Enjoy backpacker premium class service and a gluten-free menu - while making new friends.  edit
  • El Patio bed and Breakfast, Calle 48 # 24-16, 3105019026 - 3122482983, [13]. checkin: 12:00 m; checkout: 11:00 am. Nice, clean and calm hostel, with a friendly and helpful staff that have a useful tourist information. Located in the middle of the city between of the main Avenues (Av. Santander or Carrera 23 and The Paralela or Carrera 25). The price including a delicious continental breakfast (eggs, toast, cheese and chocolate). 25.000 COP FOR A DORM. Pet friendly.  edit

Get out[edit]

Nevado del Ruiz with perennial snow
  • Nevado del Ruiz -- It's currently not possible to hike to the snowline at 5200m, because of volcanic activity. But there are also organized tours which take you to 4800m (Las Brisas, $37,000 for non-Colombians) which is still close enough to see the smoke plume, and some amazing martian type landscapes. Do not forget to bring sunscreen and warm clothes. The Mauro Hilton Hostel, runs 4x4 trips to the volcanos in comfortable modern Landcruizers for a full off-road experinece.
  • Nevado Santa Isabel -- park
  • Reserva Ecológica Río Blanco -- Permission is required to visit this cloudforest park. From the park entrance it is a 4 kilometer walk through the park to Fundación Ecológico Gabriel Arango Restrepo. It is possible to see 'Anteojos' bears there and hundreds of hummingbirds sipping sugarwater at the 'finca'. A few hundred meters further is a mirador with views over Manizales.
  • Ecoparque los Yarumos -- This is a rain forest. Los Yarumos offers several things such as, a walk along an ecological footpath and spectacular views of a forest reserve inside Manizales City. It is possible to see 26 species of birds and different types of flowers and trees. It is also possible to undertake extreme sports; rock scaling with a cave, canopy, aerial cable, rappel. As well, every day they have concerts outdoors, cinema functions, nice viewpoints of the city ,lecture rooms, environment library and natural history museum.
  • Ecoparque los Alcázares
  • Chinchina -- This city is called the "Colombian coffee heart". It's possible to visit or stay at a coffee 'finca'. It's only 30 minutes by bus from Manizales
  • Villa Maria -- Known as the Colombian Garden due to the variety of its flowers and the fertility of its soil. The Roble Hill; this is a natural observatory, covered with pine trees and with nearby waterfalls that can be visited. It´s more or less 2 ½ hour walk through the forest until you reach the waterfalls.

Stay Safe[edit]

The city center and areas around the new bus terminal are relatively safe at night. Visitors should be careful during the day as in any city center; it is relatively safe then with many good sites, but avoid the area after sunset.

Also, as a general comment for those traveling by bus: The safety of bus travel in Colombia has greatly improved in recent years. However, foreigners should take precaution of not traveling to areas of unrest and travel only during the day. Do not carry large amounts of cash with you as robberies are known to occur along some routes.

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