Filandia is a picturesque town in the Quindío department of the coffee growing region of Colombia. It has many refurbished and colorful homes, especially around it’s main plaza. It boldly refers to itself as “the most beautiful town in Quindío”, much to the chagrin of its rival town, nearby Salento. Filandia is part of the UNESCO World Heritage listed Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia.
The main plaza is full of different types of trees. There are benches to sit and people watch.
Around the plaza you will find several different restaurants, bars, cafés, and shops. Many of them are located in colonial style buildings.
I’ve always traveled to Filandia on Saturday afternoons and found a few tents set up outside the church selling handmade crafts, plantains, and sweets. Booths selling ice cream and snacks are also present. On the most recent Saturday (August 2017), the plaza was closed to traffic and a traditional dance show was given.
The church sits at one end of the plaza. It looks simple from the outside but has an interesting color scheme on the inside.
Wandering around the rest of the town doesn’t take very long because it’s very small. There are some very nice colorful buildings on most of the streets. You can also find several souvenir shops selling the town’s specialty, handmade baskets.
The best and most scenic street to wander down is to the left of the church from the plaza. It’s lined with countless souvenir and artisan shops along with a few restaurants. The street is called “La Calle del Tiempo Detenido”. At the very end of the street is a mirador (viewpoint) with spectacular views of the countryside.
Museo Casa de los Abuelos (Grandparent’s House Museum) is a place where you can see antiques used by locals. There are phonographs, cameras, traditional bedrooms, cutlery, and more. They also have temporary art exhibits. Admission is free but voluntary donations are accepted. The museum is located a block from Calle del Tiempo Detenido in a former schoolhouse.
As I mentioned, Filandia is famous for its handmade baskets. There’s a museum, Centro de Interpretación del Bejuco al Canasto, where you can learn about the basket weaving process and the traditional basket weavers. It’s located just off the plaza, but all information is in Spanish.
If you would like to purchase baskets, there are several places on the road to the mirador (see below).
Mirador Colina Iluminada
Not too far outside of Filandia is the Mirador Colina Iluminada. It is a tall structure you can climb to get views of several nearby cities and towns, including Pereira and Armenia. The cost of admission is COP$8,000 (as of July 2017).
You can also get amazing views of the rolling green hills and Filandia.
You can’t visit Filandia without eating at Helena Adentro. This excellent restaurant is run by a local Colombian chef and a Kiwi partner, with a huge support staff running the kitchen, bar, and dining room.
Dishes are like tapas and meant to share, with three or four portions per plate. We tried a few different options and were impressed by the flavor of each one as well as the presentation.
For drinks, try the fresh juices. Each juice combination has another fruit that can be added in or you can get the juice as a soda if you desire.
Make sure you save room for dessert. We had the flourless chocolate cake (very rich) and the bread pudding (the fruity bits are the best, otherwise it’s bland). There’s also a cheesecake on the menu.
For three people, our bill came out to a very reasonable COP$85,000.
Filandia is easily reached with direct buses from Pereira and Armenia. From Pereira’s bus terminal, Expreso Alcalá has direct service.