Hotel 3ra Avenida
For accommodation in Ibagué, we stayed at Hotel 3ra Avenida. This budget hotel with spartan rooms was located a short walk from the pedestrian part of Carrera 3 in the city center. Some of the rooms have hot water, some don’t. We paid COP$50,000 per night. Wifi is fair and the beds are ok. It can be a little loud when people are in the hallway or reception area.
La Gran Esquina
A good 24 hour option for food is a bakery called La Gran Esquina. They serve great chicken, several baked goods, and many other dishes.
You’ll also want to try the local specialty, tamal tolimense.
For coffee and drinks, Sonata, next to Plazoleta de los Artesanos, has a great selection of creative coffee and cocktails. I had the iced coffee which was a typical iced coffee with a salt and citrus twist. It wasn’t a combination I’d ever think of but it was excellent. The only drawback is that the drinks are a bit overpriced.
For entertainment, we were a little disappointed at the choices for the “Musical Capital of Colombia”, but we really enjoyed La Nota. This karaoke café-bar located on Carrera 3 was recommended by an acquaintance who is a singer. He often sings at La Nota in between regular karaoke sets. Drinks are reasonably priced and the place has an overall cheery vibe. We went for a coffee during off-peak hours and back for drinks and entertainment at 11pm.
To get to Ibagué, we went from the bus terminal in Pereira. It’s not a fun ride. The vomit-inducing highway goes high up into the mountains on a series of never-ending switchback roads. The ride is supposed to take three and a half hours but it took us five because of heavy truck traffic. Coomotor had excellent service in a big comortable air conditioned bus with wifi. We were given blankets and a snack and didn’t mind that the ride took 90 minutes longer than expected. It was by far the best bus experience I had in Colombia and cost just COP$20,000 per person. On the way back, we took Velotax. It wasn’t nearly as comfortable but was much faster. The cost was COP$24,000 each.