A pleasant break from the hustle and bustle of larger cities like Medellin, Bogota and Cali, Manizales is located in the heart of Zona Cafeteria. Whereas many other cities are situated in valleys surrounded by mountains, Manizales is actually in the mountains. This gives it a pleasant and diverse climate, and a respite from the smog that tends to plague valley cities. Of the population of about 400,000, about 1/4 are students at one of the many universities located in Manizales. This gives it a youthful, progressive feel.
Of course, many Colombians and travellers alike come to Manizales for attractions located outside of the city: coffee farms, Parque de Los Nevados and the hot springs. Most hostels and hotels connect travellers with day trips to these attractions.
Overall, Manizales is one of the cleanest and safest destinations in Colombia, and offers a wonderful base from which to see the incredible biodiversity and geography of the mid-western interior and Zona Cafeteria.