Top 10 things to do in Manizales - Colombia
I loved Manizales, it's not huge and therefore it's easy to walk pretty much everywhere. It's a busy little city with lots of things to do, surrounded by beautiful green countryside and mountains! Whilst in Manizales don't miss out these ten things that I loved:
1. The Polish Corridor in The Cathedral
If you walk into the cathedral and look up you can see the bright orange staircase spiralling into the spire. It costs 10,000 pesos per person for the tour. 1hr15 minutes and it's in Spanish but you can get the gist of it and also there's an introductory video with English subtitles. If you're afraid of heights this one isn't for you but it's absolutely incredible and the views are amazing. To find the ticket office (we struggled) - if you're looking at the cathedrals main doors from Bolivar Plaza then go to the left hand doors and before entering on your left there's a lift and on your right there's a small office built into the cathedral walls.
2. The Cafe in The Cathedral
Whilst on the topic of this impressive cathedral, located only one floor up but high enough is a little cafe selling cake, crisps and drinks. It's quaint, beautiful and with glass panels you can see over the city - after all it's not every day that you get to sip a drink in a cathedral!
3. The Hot Springs - Tierra Viva
Now I know they're all over the world and they can become repetitive, these ones are really really rustic and nice. They're not the most aesthetically pleasing but they're hot and relaxing. You arrive, pay around 18,000 pesos to get in, you're given a key for a locker in a waterproof tube which you can wear around your neck. Get changed and then slip into the very warm water, I recommend going in the evening. As I said it's not the most beautiful looking place but in the dark with the lights on it looks nice!
4. La Suiz Bakery
Okay this might not technically be a thing to do, but it's certainly a place to go! It's incredible - the cakes taste as good as they look and the choice is overwhelming (in a good way!) Hot chocolate served with cookies, a perfect light genoise sponge, a melting chocolate Volcano cake or the rich chocolate orange torte - I tried them all. And there were many more I would have liked to...
5. Torre Del Cable
Combine a trip here with a trip to the above as they're right next to each other. To get to the "Cable Tower" the easiest way is to hop in a taxi as it's down the hill and a little out of town. It's a famous tower which is impressive to look at structurally from the front but the more popular view of the tower is from underneath looking up. Around this area there are lots of trendy shops, restaurants and bars so it's a great place to head for the evening. The tower also lights up at night which is beautiful. Whilst in this area keep an eye out for the sculptures and art pieces! The most well known and iconic one being a couple on an old fashioned cable car suspended over the main road. It's said to be a tribute to a couple that genuinely once got stuck on the old service cable car that ran nearby.
6. Hacienda Venecia
This Hacienda is located around 10km away from the main city centre and it's a coffee plantation. It's worth the trip whether you go for the quick 3 hour tour, a whole day or stay overnight in either the hostel, guesthouse or hotel located on the farm. It's a great way to see and taste the Colombian coffee whilst gaining knowledge about how it's made along with how the coffee industry works in Colombia. You can add lunch on to the end of your tour for 15,000 pesos which is delicious. If you can, stay the night as it's peaceful and you're surrounded by hectares and hectares of coffee trees and other crops. The hostel is lovely, quiet with hammocks and humming birds flying around.
7. Chipre Point
Chipre is located uphill, just a 20 minute walk from the centre of Manizales. There's a tower where you can see the extensive views - we chose not to do this as we had been up the spire and also the views are just as good from the hill. Wander around this area to find famous statues and arty bits and bobs from painted steps to sculptures along the way. This is another area full of restaurants, bars and hotels.
8. The Cable Car
An unusual but very clever concept, this cable car takes you to/from the bus station. It's great to use on arrival if you know where you're headed once you get off or simply take a ride one day. It gives you great views over the hilly, green countryside that surrounded Manizales or good views back up to the city. It's less than 2,000 pesos and you can use two lines for this price as long as you don't physically leave the stations once you get off.
9. The Manizales Sign
This doesn't sound, and probably isn't, the most interesting thing but it's certainly different. There's a "Manizales" sign located in the hills in the distance not too dissimilar to the Hollywood sign. I'm not too sure where exactly it is if you wanted to get up close to it or why it's there but if you walk along the Main Street towards the large shopping centre and past the cable car on your left hand side you'll see it in the distance on your right. We happened to stumble across it and we haven't seen anything similar elsewhere on this trip so it's a good photo opportunity.
10. Get lost and wander in the city
This isn't anything specific or physical for you to visit but it's a nice, safe-feeling, walkable city. From large shopping centres with cinemas, restaurants and supermarkets to old buildings with incredible decor - it's simply worth exploring. There's an abundance of churches but some of the nicest I've seen yet, inside and out. Manizales is located on a hill so wherever you look there are incredible views into valleys or up higher into the hills. There are fountains and art spread throughout the city, local handicraft markets and cute souvenir shops and of course - plenty of places to buy and enjoy the local Colombian coffee!