Jericó in Southern Antioquia is known as the Athens of the Southwest and proudly displays all the necessary ingredients for the perfect touristic destination. It has religious attractions, a well-preserved colonial architecture and heritage, generous nature all around, hiking and paragliding. And it’s one of the best coffee towns in Colombia, which is culturally rich.
Any nature lovers, walkers, hikers, paragliders, will be content with what the landscape of Jericó has in store. This little pueblo is located in the foothills of the Western Mountain Range at a height of 6,400 feet (1,950 meters) above sea level. Also, it overlooks the canyon of the Rio Cauca, the second longest river in Colombia. At such height, Jericó offers incredible viewpoints.
These are many of the reasons why Jericó should be on your bucket-list while you are in Antioquia or even in Colombia. Located only about three hours from Medellín, discover what is considered one of the best pueblos in Colombia.
In addition, Jericó is one of the 17 Pueblos Patrimonio (Heritage Villages) of Colombia, and one of the few classified on a national level. So, Jericó can proudly brag about its well-preserved past and heritage which makes it a unique and must visit place in Colombia.
However, the Lonely Planet Colombia guidebook doesn’t even include Jericó. So, it’s not on the radar of many foreigner tourists. This is an example of how poor this travel guidebook really is.
Note the above photo is a view of Jericó during sunset.
History of Jericó
Jericó was founded by Don Santiago Santamaría and Bermúdez de Castro.
The small municipality was born on September 28, 1850, with the name of Aldea de Piedras, through ordinance No. 15 of the Providential Chamber of Antioquia. Later it would be called Felicina, and finally the the name it bears today, Jericó.
When you visit the main square today, you will see some of the same buildings that were present in the 1850s.
16 Top Things to See and Do in Jericó
Based on my recent trip to Jericó, I recommend the following list of 16 top things to see and do in Jericó.
1. See the Colorful Colonial Architecture in Jericó
The architecture in Jericó is remarkable and colorful. The main plaza of the pueblo especially showcases perfectly the architecture, dating back from colonial times.
The Colombian Ministry of Tourism has awarded the center of Jericó with the title “Centro Historico”. Only seven municipalities in Antioquia have this title, and 45 in all of Colombia.
The pueblo is full of colorful houses and habitants diligently maintain their homes.
2. Visit Morro El Solador
It is said that no one has visited Jericó if they haven’t been to Morro El Salvador.
Easily accessible, this viewpoint is popular for tourists and locals alike. And people of all generations come here to hang out with friends, or alone to contemplate the magnificent view.
At the top, a statue of Cristo Redentor with open arms looks over the pueblo. This is a great place to enjoy the sunset.
3. Visit Casa Natal de Santa Laura Montoya Upegui
María Laura de Jesús Montoya Upegui was born in this pueblo, in 1874. She is known for working closely with indigenous people and also for acting as a role model for South American girls.
Also, she was the founder of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Virgin Mary and Saint Catherine of Siena.
Pope Francis canonized Montoya as a Saint in 2013. Montoya is the first Colombian to be made a Saint.
Today, you can visit the 144-year-old house where she was born, which is also a small chapel. You will see the preserved relics and personal belongings of the Saint and the basin where she was baptized.
4. Visit Catedral Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes
Jericó is known for being a religious pueblo and it’s a common destination for pilgrimage journeys. Also, it’s a pueblo where there are 19 churches for just under 12,000 inhabitants.
Catedral Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes is located at the main square in Jericó. It’s a beautiful church that was built in the same place as an old cathedral that was demolished in the year 1946. The architecture of this church is considered to be modern Romanesque style.
Since this church is classified as a Cathedral, it’s considered the most important church in Jericó.
5. Visit Santuario de Santa Laura
This gothic-style church was founded by the religious community of Claretian missionaries who came to the municipality in 1913 and built the church that was named Inmaculado Corazón de María in 1943.
Following the canonization of Santa Laura Montoya, this increased the number of visitors and pilgrims to Jericó, which turned the pueblo into a true religious destination. So, it was decided that this church be renamed as Santuario de Santa Laura (Sanctuary of Saint Laura).
6. See and Buy the Carrial Bag
The carriel bag is a symbol of Antioquia. It’s made of leather and is characterized by many pockets and most of them are hidden.
This bag was once used by muleteers when traveling through the mountains of Antioquia. And it is only crafted in Jericó.
Today, many Colombians wear use this as their everyday bag. I have never seen men so proudly showcasing their purse than in Jericó!
There are many shops in Jericó which sell this bag as well as ponchos, sombreros and more. So, you won’t be short of options.
7. Go Paragliding
If you are a fan of more extreme sports, Jericó has you covered. It’s known as one of the best places to go paragliding in Colombia, due to the altitude and the beautiful landscape all around.
Nothing stops you now to catch your breath and jump into an amazing experience. It’s an amazing option to see the wonderful nature surrounding Jericó
With a starting price of 115,000 pesos ($40 USD), I couldn’t resist. The team of Ecoland came to pick me up at my hostel and drove me to their site. And it’s a beautiful area with a restaurant and a hotel opening soon, and a long “runway”!
They opened only four months ago, but they showed me complete professionalism. I couldn’t have hoped for a better partner to help me through my first paragliding experience.
The flight was amazing. It was my first paragliding experience or any sorts of extreme sports for that matter.
It went really smoothly. My pilot made me feel very comfortable and our landing was as controlled as our take off. In between, you will see something like the following…
8. Hike to Cerro Las Nubes
Cerro Las Nubes has the most impressive viewpoint in the region. The hike is a 3.4 mile (5.5 km) circuit of medium difficulty due to the inclination of the terrain. There used to be a cable car reaching the top of Las Nubes (The Clouds). But the cable car is now out of service due to the high cost of maintenance.
Hiking is now the only option to reach the peak at the height of 7,736 feet (2,358 meters). But the hike is totally worth it. The site is considered an environmental protected area where animals like golden eagles, toucans, deer or even snakes live here.
There are different miradors (viewpoints) overlooking the mountains, the surrounding towns and the Cauca river canyon below.
On the way back, you will encounter “La Gruta La Virgen de la Peña”, a place of pilgrimage where locals and visitors come to pray.
9. Hike to Rivers and Waterfalls
There are several different options if you would like to wander around in nature in search of swimming spots near the pueblo. I have done and I would recommend going to Rio Pierdras (Rocks River).
This gentle walk, about one hour and 45 minutes from the pueblo, will take you to different spots along the river allowing you to swim, jump off from rocks or just sunbath.
There are three swimming spots: Las Brujas, El Cielito Lindo and Las Canos. Where I stayed, in the Las Cometas Hostel, they had all the information about this walk and all activities in town.
10. Visit the Calle de las Cien Escalas
The name says it all. The street of the 100 stairs is a picturesque and iconic street in Jericó.
A few blocks towards the town, its little sister, la calle de las ochentas escalas, which to me appeared even more photogenic.
11. Try El Postre Jericoano at La Pizzeria de José
A unique dessert from Jericó with 130 years of tradition and is 100 percent natural is El Postre Jericoano at La Pizzeria de José. It’s surely something you want to try during your visit.
The owner, José Vernardo, passionately explained to me the tradition behind the dessert, his family and what it’s made of.
El Postre Jericoana apparently has seven layers, including arequipe, biscuit, coconut, figs, green papaya, grapefruit peel and pineapple.
12. Enjoy a Coffee at El Saturia
For beverages, coffee is definitely the speciality of the town for many years. My favorite café in all of Jericó is situated along “La calle de Las Poetas” (the street of the Poets). This café is named El Saturia and it’s reportedly the most famous café in Jericó.
The seating area is spacious and very welcoming. And there is even a patio outside. The owner was really nice. He let me make my first coffee Chemex, while explaining to me the differences of savors and processes of the coffee in Colombia.
They also run a coffee tour, if this is what you are looking for.
13. Meet the Colorful People of Jericó
Many of the families in Jericó are farmers. They either cultivate coffee, one of the most appreciated coffees in Colombia, fruits or vegetables.
It is not unusual to see on the streets of the town a farmer riding a horse to his favorite café. Especially on the weekend, the sombreros invade the main park, Parque Reyes. The locals here like to meet near the market and converse over a cup of coffee or a glass of aguardiente.
The best place to meet the colorful locals in Jericó is in the main square. And many are happy to talk (in Spanish) with tourists visiting Jericó in my experience, as they are very proud of their colorful pueblo.
14. Visit the Los Balsos Botanical Garden
Los Balso Botanical Garden is a small but very pleasing botanical garden. Entrance is free of charge and it’s located at the foot of the Morro El Salvador.
In addition, it’s nice walk in the morning to enjoy nature and a moment of calm.
15. Visit the Market on the Weekend
If you are staying in Jericó over the weekend, don’t miss the activity and life there is in the Parque Reyes, the main square in Jericó.
Try local’s fruits, put on a poncho or a sombrero, converse with the locals, or sit down in one of the cafes adjacent to the plaza sipping your Colombian coffee like a local.
16. Visit Museo Maya
Museo Maya is the recommended museum to visit in Jericó. Even though I didn’t have time to go, it was highly recommended by locals and the staff in the hostel I stayed in.
Museo Maya is an anthropology and arts museum. It has exhibits of arts and photography; architecture, design and urbanism; cinema, video and music; literature; politics and civics; theater and dance; gastronomy, the environment and new technologies.
See the Museo Maya website for more information.
Location of Jericó, Antioquia
How to Get to Jericó
From Medellín, buses run nearly every hour from the South Bus Terminal near El Poblado. We previously provided a guide to the Medellín Bus terminals.
The only company currently doing the journey, is Transportes Jericó. The earliest bus leaves at 5 am and the prices start from 25,000 pesos ($8.74 USD).
You should request seats on the left side of the bus going to Jericó and on the right side on the way back. This is so you will have the best views of unbelievably-shaped Cerro Tusa – reportedly the tallest natural pyramid in the world.
It takes about three hours to reach Jericó from Medellín. And you arrive at the steps of the Catedral Nuestra Señora de Las Mercedes, at the center of the pueblo.
Buses returning to Medellín leave from the same place you were dropped off. Also, there is an office there where you can buy bus tickets to Medellín or to other pueblos like Jardín or the coffee region.
Where to Stay in Jericó
I stayed in the only hostel in the city, Las Cometas Hostel. It is well located, near the main plaza. It’s quiet and clean and it’s a really a relaxing place.
The rooms are spacious and the beds comfortable but the rooms are no-frills. They also have a kitchen. The atmosphere is great and the staff will help you feel comfortable here. The owner, Jorge, is from Medellín and speaks fluent English. The hostel can guide you on everything you can/should do in Jericó, and work closely with tours. I booked my paragliding experience through them. In addition, you can book a coffee tour.
Another recommended place is Cabañas El Rincon PAISA. This small hotel has 12 cabins and a delightful courtyard full of decorations, small gardens and an open-air kitchen.
Another hotel is Hotel Portón Plaza, which is located half a block from the main plaza. It has hot water, LDC TVs, and Internet.
The Pueblos Near Medellín
We have been looking at the pueblos worth visiting near Medellín in a series on this website. So far, we have looked at eight pueblos near Medellín:
- Guatapé – a very popular pueblo near Medellín known for its huge rock and lake.
- Jardín – a tranquil get-away from Medellin that boosts breathtaking mountain views and less tourists than Guatapé.
- Jericó – a picturesque pueblo known for its religious attractions, well-preserved colonial architecture and heritage, generous nature all around, hiking, paragliding, amazing landscapes and much more.
- Santa Fe de Antioquia – known for its well-preserved colonial architecture and cobbled streets.
- El Carmen de Viboral – the heart of Colombia’s ceramics industry.
- San Carlos – a hidden gem surrounded by rivers, waterfalls and nature.
- Abejorral – another hidden gem surrounded by waterfalls and dazzling landscapes with many opportunities for hikers and rock climbers.
- Barbosa – an overlooked pueblo very near Medellín with streams, waterfalls, natural swimming pools, hiking, horseback riding and many other things to do.
We plan to look at several more pueblos near Medellín.
We also looked at Salento, which is a popular pueblo in Colombia’s coffee region that is definitely worth visiting.
The Bottom Line: Jericó: A Picturesque Pueblo Near Medellín Worth Visiting
If you have heard good things about Jericó before heading there, let me tell you the hype is justified. And if you have never heard of this pueblo before, book your bus ticket and head there before leaving Colombia.
This pueblo will proudly open its past and heritage to you. It will show you what Colombian’s identity and history is all about. Also, it will lead you to fantastic landscapes and some of the best activities found in Antioquia.
If you want to discover an authentic side of Colombia, a blend of nature, sports activities, a religious destination, well-preserved architectures and identity, visit Jericó.
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