Jardín is well worth visiting. If you have time to visit only one town in the Antioquia department, it should be Jardín. However, with the travel time it’s not worth doing on a day trip. Take the time to spend a night or two and enjoy this hidden gem that won’t be hidden for much longer.
Transportation to Jardín is easy to find from Medellín. It’s about 3 ½ hours from Medellín by bus. Companies like Rápido Ochoa and Transportes Suroeste serve travelers to Jardín. It costs COP$18,000 one way. Shared taxis with four people are also common from Medellín and rates are usually reasonable.
If coming from the south, there are two daily buses from Riosucio, usually on a traditional chiva. They cost COP$19,000 one way and take roughly three hours down a gravel road that’s very dusty and dangerous at a few points. Those buses are run by Cootransrio and leave Riosucio at 8am and 3pm daily, but on Saturdays only at 12pm. From Jardín to Riosucio, they run on the same schedule except at 2pm in the afternoon. You can also go from the south via La Pintada on any bus bound for Bolombolo. Get off at the crossroads at Peñalisa and grab one of the buses bound for Jardín. That route is much smoother.
Eating in Jardín
For restaurants, I can recommend Las Margaritas. It’s located on the plaza and serves traditional Colombian food with set menus. I had the Pollo Margarita, which was chicken breast baked in parmesan cheese. Marisol had a Bandeja Paisa which wasn’t very traditional and was lacking a few essential items. Our meals together cost COP$34,000.
Another good little place is Café Europa, just a short walk from the plaza. They have a small menu with delicious pasta and pizza dishes at excellent prices.
If Café Europa is packed and you’re craving pizza, head a block up the road to Giardino. I had a good pizza for only COP$12,000.
Finally, there’s Pastellate. They serve a nice selection of international dishes. They might not be perfect or exactly how you’d expect them to be, but they taste good. I had fajitas and enjoyed them.
Hotels in Town
On our first trip, we stayed at a small hotel run out of a house. Hostal Famihotel Fundadores was located just a few blocks from the plaza. The owner was the sweetest lady you can imagine but we weren’t too happy with the room. It was much tinier than advertised and we couldn’t fit in the bathroom. The pictures on Booking.com were much different, bigger, and more traditional rooms. For COP$80,000 (as of July 2015) with breakfast included, we felt it was way overpriced. It’s better to search around.
On our second trip with friends, they stayed at Hotel Casa Grande. It offered simple yet comfortable rooms with wifi for just COP$50,000 (as of December 2015). It’s located just a half block from the bus companies and a block from the plaza.
Across the street there’s a small butcher shop and the owner rents out apartments above the shop. They have a full kitchen and private bathroom. You can probably bargain him down to COP$50,000 a night like we did (as of December 2015). Otherwise, the hotel across the street is a great option.
Kantarrana Casa de Campo
If you prefer to stay outside of town on a finca, Kantarrana Casa de Campo is a great option. It’s about a 10 minute drive from Jardín.
The rooms are cozy with comfortable beds and large balconies complete with hammocks. There are mosquitoes and bugs that will occasionally get into the rooms, but they don’t take away from the quality of sleep that you’ll get. The sound of the river will help put you to sleep and you’ll wake up to the birds singing in the morning.
On top of that, the staff is friendly and helpful and the breakfast is nice. If there’s a negative, there are electric showers but no hot water. We paid about COP$228,000 for two single room (as of July 2017).