Pereira is the capital city of the department of Risaralda in Colombia. It is in the center of the western region of the country, located in a small valley that descends from a part of the western Andes mountain chain. It is an urban center in the coffee producing region. Located in the middle of the triangle formed by the 3 main cities in the country : Bogotá, Medellín and Cali and about 3-5 hour drive from these cities.
Motto : "Pereira con Vida"
City Population in the metropolitan area, including Dosquebradas: (2005 est.) 576,329
Districts of Pereira
Matecana International Airport, the largest and busiest airport in the region. Receives domestic flights of Avianca , ADA airlines , LATAM , Easyfly  and the low-cost airline VivaAir  (former VivaColombia). Also charter flights from Aexpa . Domestic non-stop flights go to Bogotá, Medellín (Both airports: during daytime the flights are to Olaya Herrera, at night the flight goes to Rionegro), Cartagena, Bucaramanga, Santa Marta, San Andrés and Quibdó (ADA only).
There are only 3 international destinations: up to 2 daily direct flights to Panama City operated by Copa Airlines , Avianca has service to New York City' JFK 3 times a week, with a short stop of 40 minutes in Cartagena (you do not leave the plane). American Airlines started in December 2018 a route to Miami, 4 times a week.
Matecaña International Airport features Wi-Fi access to the Internet from almost every location. Taxis are regulated, reasonably priced and safe from the airport. Taxis are metered with a 2,200 COP surcharge from and to the airport. A taxi ride from the airport to downtown takes approximately 10 minutes, and can cost COP 9,000. The airport is undergoing major construction: the runway is now longer, a new terminal building is under construction.
There are 2 additional airports within the range of one hour drive to Pereira, they are located in Manizales and Armenia. There are non-stop flights to Madrid (Spain), Miami, New York, Guayaquil and Lima from the airport in Cali (2.5 hour-drive from Pereira).
Pereira is about 7 hours from Bogota by car, in the Bogota-Ibague-Armenia road. This road is undergoing major construction in some areas including a long tunnel. The travel time is somewhat predictable except the entrance to Bogota which can have delays up to 2 hours.
The trip is about 4 hours from Medellín (also undergoing major construction) and 3 hours from Cali (Pereira-Cartago-Buga-Cali).
Currently buses run in and out of Pereira's main station, Terminal de Transporte de Pereira. 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:
Municipal Transport - to small towns nearby : Lineas Pereiranas, Transportes Giraldo.
There is an extensive network of buses running around Pereira connecting most parts of the city. Costs are around 2,000 COP. It runs along the main avenues, including numerous nearby neighborhoods (barrios) and surrounding barrios. Use caution when visiting lower-income barrios (as you should in any other city). Types of buses range from large buses to smaller vans, and vintage Willy Jeeps are also available for side trips to outlying areas including local mountains and valley floors (prices vary depending on destination but generally are very cheap).
Inaugurated in 2006, this is Pereira's version of bus systems developed in Curitiba - Brazil and Ottawa - Canada, later adopted in Bogotá's Transmilenio: a mass transport system with exclusive lanes for large buses and enclosed stations. Buses are painted green, very comfortable, inexpensive, clean and fast. Buses run from 4:30AM to 11:35PM. You need to get a Megatarjeta to access, available at the stations at a cost of COP 4,400 which are your credit good for 3 trips. Fare COP 2,000 .
Taxis are relatively cheap but make sure the meter is on. Some taxi drivers are dishonest and try to take advantage of foreigners. For example, if you stop along your route they will charge you an additional fare. Most cabs have meters but some don't, so ask for cost in advance. It's possible to negotiate as well.
Standard minumun daytime fare (For the year 2015) is 4,200 COP and rises to 5,000 COP after 7PM and on Sundays and holidays. There is a surcharge of 2,200 COP to/from the airport. When you board the cab the meter will start at 1.050 COP and then adds 94 COP for every 80 meters driven (or 70 seconds while idle). One can also hire a taxi by the hour; the fare is $17,000 COP.
There are 3 companies with offices at the airport: Sixt, Localiza and Avis. There is also a city office for Localiza at Avenida 30 de Agosto.
(Keep in mind that the description below is a word-for-word copy of the description for Manizales! 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. 300,000) 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 Las Americas, 30 de Agosto, Circunvalar, 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 what Colombians call 'winter' season it rains a lot (almost every day, but not for too long), the temperature rarely drops below 10 °C. You can find dry and hot days on 'summer' season, but overall comfortable (Max 32°C). The air is always fresh, good temperature, and can be balmy depending on which part of city you're visiting.
Pereira is also famous for being one of only a few cities with 8 separate micro-climates in world, depending on which elevation, side of the hill and barrio you're in. For example, it's possible in just 10 minutes to go from a spot that's cool and foggy to one that is warm and balmy (like La Olympic Villa).
Cathedral "La Pobreza", 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 later populated this city choose this relatively high location to mount a new city 130 years ago. The climate is moderate and very healthy, and nothing like the humidity and heat you'll find in valleys down below!
There is a beautiful park close to downtown called 'Olaya Herrera' 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 cities of Santa Rosa de Cabal and La Virginia.
The city has a important eco-park called El Cedral. It contains beautiful views overlooking the city and affords views of mountains. 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.
There are two main plazas : Plaza Bolivar and Ciudad Victoria, 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 Municipal Palace administration buildings, as Pereira city is also the seat of Risaralda state.
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.
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 ice cream, chorizos from Santa Rosa and obleas.
Paradise Calle 12
Be careful in some parts of Cuba and Villa Santana. They are colorful and lively but somewhat risky.
The water quality here is excellent (Pereira water is on the top 20 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!