Jardin: The Perfect Andean Town
Jardin is an authentic Andean town in Colombia, located south of Medellin. We had heard about Jardin from friends who told us that it was pretty ‘untouched’ by tourism.
It’s actually true.
We heard that 1-2 days was plenty, as the list of ‘things to do’ in Jardin doesn’t run too long. The main idea is to relax and enjoy the ambiance of small town life.
Here’s a bit about how we got to Jardin and what you can do there:
There are buses from Medellin - check online as to which terminal of the two, and buy same-day tickets (go early to the terminal, around 8am). The journey takes around four hours.
Where to spend the night
We really liked this small hotel, Kantarrana Hotel. Our favorite part was climbing up the steps to a part of the hotel that has a covered deck, where you can get a nice view of the mountains and the town’s tallest church.
Where to find ‘comida’
In the streets that surround the public square, you’ll find family-owned establishments that offer typical Andean fare like the famous ‘bandeja.’ Bandejas consist of a spread of all the parts of a Colombian main course - meat, eggs, rice, plantains, salad, beans and usually an arepa.
For drinking, there are local bars surrounding the public square. We opted for coffee at the of the cafes facing the plaza. Note that while in Colombia, and doing what locals do, you’ll wind up drinking instant coffee; we learned that the ‘good stuff’ is prioritized for export, and Colombians rarely drink the coffee their country produces in its pure high-quality form.
What to do and see
Basilica Menor Jardin
Jardin’s main cathedral looks rather out of place in a town that’s otherwise painted in bright colors and looks like it’s from a postcard. The cathedral is stone and dark on the outside, but go inside! It’s bright, with tints of blue. Overall, this is a unique building.
It’s kind of quiet here, but the cafes and restaurants surrounding the square set up tables and chairs everywhere, so people mill about and sit out for coffees and beers.
Teleferico de Jardin
This is a small cable car with nice views that leads to the mountainside from where you can catch a sunset. We were directed vaguely by locals in a direction (there are two - an old and a new, but it seems no one is directing anyone to the old one anymore). It costs about US$1-2 per person and the ride is about 5 minutes up to the top of a hill. From the top, there is a cafe and some wooden benches with a fantastic and unobstructed view of the small valley, some farms, and an expanse of the town.
Jardin is the ‘end of the road,’ so to speak, and it pays to look at the most up-to-date information you can find when choosing where you should head next. It nearly made sense to go 4 hours back to Medellin on a faster bus than heading northward to an interchange where we could head south to Salento. Getting to Salento took 10-12 hours due to bus transfers, so we recommend allowing time for bus timetables and changes to your itinerary. Note that if you choose to rent a car and drive in this region, you’ll have greater flexibility and can avoid the transfer time.
Jardin is a charming place, and we recommend visiting to enjoy small-town Colombian life and a sunset from the top of the valley.