Pereira is the largest city in the Coffee Region with over 600,000 inhabitants. It is situated at a lower altitude than its neighbours Armenia and Manizales and so enjoys a warmer climate. The city also has a more modern feel than either Armenia or Manizales and is clean and well organised.
Here you will find a culture very similar to that of the other departments of the region and will detect the same Paisa dialect as exists in Medellin for example. Some Colombians from the region will claim the accents aren't identical, but most Colombians would struggle to tell them apart.
The capital of Risaralda isn't exactly bursting at the seams with tourist attractions, but there are enough places of interest in and around the city to keep you busy for a day or two.
The city is centred around Plaza Bolivar, a large square featuring a statue of a near-naked Simon Bolivar riding a horse (see photo, right).
Around the plaza are the usual amenities including banks, shops and restaurants. A few blocks south-east is Victoria Plaza, a large open square bordered by the Victoria Plaza shopping mall and a large Exito supermarket.
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Sweet Home Hostel is a pretty, colonial house with comfortable dorm rooms and communal spaces. The hostel includes a kitchen, free breakfast, cable TV, laundry service and wi-fi.
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Another good option.
Deportivo Pereira currently play in Colombia's division B. Having narrowly avoided the drop in 2009 they finally succumbed to relegation in 2011.
The club play their home matches in the 32,000 capacity Hernan Ramirez Villegas stadium on the outskirts of the city which was renovated for the 2011 Colombia Under 20 World Cup.
Although the team known as the 'Matecañas' have never won a championship they have produced some quality players, most recently Carlos Darwin Quintero, currently playing his football in Mexico.
Pereira, like various other Colombia cities, has followed in the footsteps of Bogota and installed a Transmilenio-style bus system called Megabus.
The lines run from the airport in the west, passing through the city centre and then north-east over the viaduct finishing in Dosquedradas. Reports suggest that the system has gone a long way to alleviating congestion in the city.
It's worth taking a ride in the Megabus to get an idea of the size of the city and passing over the viaduct allows for some decent views.
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