There are several buses from the Pereira bus terminal to the center of Santa Rosa. Buses leave from the second floor. Hop on any bus marked “Santa Rosa” and pay the driver when you get off. We paid COP$2,000-2,200. When you arrive in Santa Rosa, the bus will make a right turn and go a couple blocks before stopping. Many people will get off the bus here. Follow them – this is only a few blocks from the main plaza. To catch the bus back to Pereira, walk a couple blocks down the hill from the plaza and wait for one to pass. Buses on the way to Manizales also stop here.
If you need a hotel in Santa Rosa, budget travelers will be very happy to stay at Hotel Colonial Real. This small hotel, set in a historic colonial building, is just two blocks from the main plaza. It’s COP$25,000 for a single room and COP$40,000 for two people. It had great wifi and lukewarm water. The bed was a bit stiff, but what do you expect for such a low price? The owner was a very friendly man who also gave us a 10% discount to the hot springs (which most hotels will offer). One negative – there were a couple cockroaches.
On the plaza are some great places to try the town’s famous chorizo. I ate at ChoriSant with some friends. It’s a restaurant that likes to get creative with their chorizo dishes. They create a lot of chorizo fusion dishes frequently featuring foreign cuisines, such as French, Japanese, Mexican, and more.
I tried the Chori-exótico (chorizo with a tropical fruit sauce) washed down with a drink called Mistela de Maracuyá (a passion fruit iced tea). Abe had self-explanitory Choriburrito, while Natalia tried to Choriyaki (chorizo in teriyaki sauce). All of us enjoyed our meals greatly.
There are more traditional places to try chorizo on the road leading to the hot springs.
For an amazing breakfast, just a couple blocks from the plaza is Restaurante Tipico. They have one of the most delicious calentados I’ve had in Colombia.