Two small towns, Risaralda and San José, sit at the top of a mountain ridge on the southwestern edge of the Caldas department of Colombia. Neither are interesting or worth a detour, but both provide some incredible views. Both towns are also part of the UNESCO World Heritage listed Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia.
Risaralda has one main street running through the town. It’s lined with restaurants and shops and has been lively and full of people every time I’ve passed through.
The town has a small main plaza. There’s not much to the plaza other than the church and some colorful buildings.
Across the street from the plaza is a small alley, which at the end has a balcony with a spectacular view.
Not too far away is a mirador (lookout) with more amazing views of the valley and town.
If you have the energy, it’s worth a hike up to the cemetery, which is nice and also has a unique view of the town. I love the sign at the entrance, which translates to “All the world’s vanities end here, and then what?”
San José is a much smaller and more peaceful town than Risaralda. It also has one main road running through town and a church.
The church may look ugly on the outside but the interior woodwork is impressive.
The church sits on a small plaza that has a few bars and restaurants around it.
Between the Towns
San José and Risaralda are connected by a gravel road and are about 30 minutes apart. We took a motorcycle and were in awe of the views we saw along the road. It was possible to see plantain and coffee plantations, oddly placed farm houses, and the entire valley on either side.