Risaralda and San José

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, Caldas, Colombia

View of Risaralda

 

Risaralda

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.

A street in Risaralda, Caldas, Colombia

A street in Risaralda

The town has a small main plaza. There’s not much to the plaza other than the church and some colorful buildings.

Plaza in Risaralda, Caldas, Colombia

Plaza in Risaralda

Church in Risaralda, Caldas, Colombia

Church in Risaralda

Plaza in Risaralda, Caldas, Colombia

Plaza in Risaralda

Across the street from the plaza is a small alley, which at the end has a balcony with a spectacular view.

View from Risaralda, Caldas, Colombia

View from Risaralda

Not too far away is a mirador (lookout) with more amazing views of the valley and town.

Mirador in Risaralda, Caldas, Colombia

Mirador

View of Risaralda, Caldas, Colombia, from the Mirador

View of Risaralda from the Mirador

View from the Mirador in Risaralda, Caldas, Colombia

View from the Mirador

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?”

Cemetery in Risaralda, Caldas, Colombia

Cemetery

View of Risaralda, Caldas, Colombia, from the cemetery

View of Risaralda from the cemetery

 

San José

San José is a much smaller and more peaceful town than Risaralda. It also has one main road running through town and a church.

Plaza in San José, Caldas, Colombia

Plaza

The church may look ugly on the outside but the interior woodwork is impressive.

Church in San José, Caldas, Colombia

Church

Church in San José, Caldas, Colombia

Church

The church sits on a small plaza that has a few bars and restaurants around it.

Plaza in San José, Caldas, Colombia

Plaza

Plaza in San José, Caldas, Colombia

Plaza

 

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.

Plantains and coffee outside of San José, Caldas, Colombia

Plantains and coffee outside of San José

 

Getting There

If traveling by bus, there are frequent buses passing through both towns from Manizales, about two hours away. There is less frequent service from the bus terminal in Pereira.

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