The small coffee producing towns of La Celia and Balboa are located just a half hour apart up in the mountains of Colombia’s department of Risaralda. I visited both with Marisol one morning and had a quick look around. Neither are of any interest to tourists, but both had their own unique qualities and atmosphere. The towns are part of the UNESCO World Heritage listed Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia.
First, we visited La Celia. It is nestled perfectly between two mountains. The approach to the town has spectacular views, so try to make a quick stop on your way in or out.
The town plaza is pretty much all there is to see. It’s a large and beautiful plaza with many different types of trees and flowers and a fountain in the middle. Of all the plazas I’ve seen in the department of Risaralda, it’s definitely one of the most beautiful.
On one end of the plaza is the church. It’s kind of ugly from the outside and has a loud interior with the columns painted bright red.
The jeeps and buses line the other end of the plaza. The buildings surrounding the plaza aren’t that impressive. That’s La Celia – nothing less, nothing more.
Balboa is located just a half hour from La Celia. It’s a tiny town up in the mountains with one main road and an incredible vista.
The small blue and white church dominates the town “skyline”. It’s pretty plain on the inside.
For the views, climb the stairs near the church to the next road. It’s a residential street that has a couple small spots with benches. It’s incredibly peaceful and beautiful from up there.
To get to La Celia and Balboa, which are located on the same road, the bus terminal in Pereira has a couple services. Flota Occidental has a few departures throughout the day, but Transportadores de la Virginia has buses every hour on the hour from 8am to 7pm. The trip to La Celia takes about two hours and ends at the plaza. To Balboa it’s about 90 minutes. On the way to Balboa, sometimes the bus passes just outside the main road into town. Make sure you tell the driver to let you off at the roundabout at that road if he isn’t entering town.