Manizales, Colombia – City Guide for Nomads and Expats

Updated in 2022.

Manizales, Colombia.

A medium-sized college town located in the coffee region of Colombia. The coffee here is some of the best in the world. Aside from Pereira, Manizales may be one of Colombia’s most overlooked and underrated cities. It is affordable, friendly and very conveniently located in the middle of Bogota, Medellin and Cali (by bus: 6 hrs to Bogota, 5 hrs to Cali and 4 hrs to Medellin). It’s a great choice for digital nomads to base up for a month. Manizales is considered the cheapest city in the Coffee Triangle (aka lowest cost of living). There are many students, so expect to meet people from all over Colombia. You will be wired on coffee the whole time and super productive at work. It’s also a viable option for expats looking to live in the mountains, drink local coffee, and live a nice life.

POPULATION: 500,000


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RENT AN APARTMENT IN MANIZALES

$400.00 should do it. You pay even less for an apartment or house in Manizales if you split with students. Manizales is a big strudent city so there are always people renting out a room or looking for roommates

 

THINGS TO DO IN MANIZALES

Visit the Mirador de Chipre for spectacular views of the city.

Try and go to an event at the Plaza de Toros de Manizales. Look up an event schedule online.

Go hiking in the Ecoparque the Arenillo Alcázares.

Check out Bosque Popular El Prado, a very popular park with many activities.

 

BEST BARS & NIGHTLIFE IN MANIZALES

7.25/10 

The nightlife in Manizales is good, but only from Thursday-Sunday. Like many cities in Colombia, bars are dead during the week. The main bar area is El Cable. Don’t bother with anything that’s outside the El Cable district if you are staying only for a short while. In El Cable there are a variety of bars and discos to choose from that are within walking distance. Meeting people in bars and clubs in Manizales is easier than in other Colombian cities if you are college-age, just don’t act like a twat and have a little bit of Spanish language skills. The latter is important because seriously few people here speak English. I’d suggest going to Juan Sebastien Bar to try and connect with a few people before heading to a disco.

Bars that My Latin Life recommends:

Simon Dice: A big-enough disco to mingle in. Located in El Cable. A good spot to get a taste of nightlife in Manizales.

Cable Bar: Cocktail bar in the center of El Cable.

Juan Sebastian Bar (JSB): Right across the street from Cable Bar.

El Cable, Manizales
El Cable, Manizales

 

BEST CAFES IN MANIZALES FOR DIGITAL NOMADS

Manizales is part of the efe cafetero, the coffee growing region of Colombia. People here are experts in the production and preparation of coffee. Manizales is also a decent sized city with universities and government offices. The wifi is pretty good here and the overall infrastructure of the city is held to a high standard. There’s also a public park in Manizales with free wifi in the El Cable neighborhood – just search for Zona WIFI Gratis Cable, Parque Antonio Nariño. There are many coffee shops in Manizales for digital nomads to bring there laptop and get some work done. 

Cafes that My Latin Life recommends:

Juan Valdez Café El Cable: The cafe right across the street from the free wifi park.

 

IS MANIZALES SAFE?

Reasonably safe. Muggings are not entirely uncommon though. If you’re white-skinned, you won’t stand out too much because a lot of the people here are too (they don’t get much sun), but if you look rich you might be made a target. Overall, Manizales is a pretty safe city. You can feel comfortable bringing your laptop to a coffee shop here. 

 

DOWNSIDES OF MANIZALES

The city is very hilly and hard to get around. The weather is just as bad as Bogota. In many ways Manizales is just like smaller Bogota. 500,000 people vs 15 million people. Manizales is certainly better in the sense that more relaxed, less noisy, less polluted. But it kinda feels the same. You might as well just go to Bogota for big city amentities, nightlife, and flight connections.

 

 COST OF LIVING IN MANIZALES

Manizales is considered to be the city with the lowest cost of living in the Coffee Triangle of Colombia. There are many students in town which makes it easy to live like a student. There are also many restaurants and shops with student-level pricing, so quite economical. 

The following data is from Expatistan, a crowdsourced database of prices and cost of living around the world. In our experience, the data tends to underestimate cost of living, so take the following as the minimum you might need to live here.

*Figures are listed in USD

You’ll need a minimum of $681 USD/month to live in Manizales, Colombia

cost-of-living-manizales-colombia

JOB OPPORTUNITIES

You could probably teach some English here. I’d focus on “business English” since many students will probably want to move to Bogota or Medellin to work after graduation.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Like Pereira, another “hidden gem” of Colombia. The nightlife is respectable, the city is clean, safe and a good size and you will be treated like a rockstar. This is a great city to work remote or build an online business. It’s affordable and reasonably diverse with people from all over Colombia. There are fun things to do, but also a slow enough pace to get some good work done. If you work from a computer or want to learn Spanish in Colombia and prefer a small-town vibe, Manizales is an ideal city.

Be sure to read the My Latin Life city guides to every city in Colombia’s coffee triangle – Armenia, Ibagué, Manizales, and Pereira!


OVERALL RATING: 7.75/10


Skip the guesswork and develop your optimal Latin Life with our consultation services:

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