Manizales City Guide
OVERVIEW: A medium-sized college town located in the coffee region of Colombia. 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).
WEATHER: Subtropical highland. Average temperature is about 16 °C. Wettest month is October.
SAFETY: Reasonably safe. Muggings are not entirely uncommon though. If you're white-skinned, you won't stand out too much because many of the people here are too (they don't get much sun), but if you look rich you might be made a target.
MUST DO: See the universities, there are many here. If you are here in January go to the Feria de Manizales.
RENT AN APARTMENT IN MANIZALES: $375.00 will do it. You pay even less for an apartment or house in Manizales if you split with students.
HOSTEL DORM BED/NIGHT $11.00
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. 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, 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.
I recommend: Simon Dice. A big-enough disco to mingle in. Located in El Cable. A good area to get a taste of nightlife in Manizales.
BOTTLE OF BEER: $1.75
CHANCE OF HOOKING-UP IN MANIZALES: 7.75/10
You'll get checked out just as much as you would in Pereira, but the girls in Manizales seem to be a bit more conservative in comparison. Hooking up in Manizales is certainly doable because many students don't live with their parents, but If you want to make the most of this place, you have to stay for awhile and be seen out and about by the locals. This will raise your social cred immensely. Remember, it's a small city so people get bored easily. If you're the new kid in town, you can hook up with girls in Manizales.
***If you want to meet girls in Colombia the easy way and set up dates before you arrive in the country, I highly recommend checking out Colombian Cupid.
ARE GIRLS HOT IN MANIZALES?: 7.5/10.
Manizales is unique in the sense that it is probably the whitest city in Colombia (at least, in my experience). I found women here to look more Spanish than Colombian. Overall, girls in Manizales are hot - there are a lot of pretty faces. However, not a lot of curves going on. If you like the coke-bottle look, go to just about any other major city in Colombia (except Bogota). I don't mind the girls of Manizales, but I imagine most readers will have come to Colombia the bodacious bodies of Cali, or the flawless faces of Medellin.
If you want to meet women in Colombia, you will need to speak some Spanish. The Pickup Spanish Program is the only course of its kind, designed specifically to teach you Spanish for meeting Latinas in Latin America.
GROCERIES: Milk (1L)= $1.20 Loaf of Bread= $1.50 Eggs= $2.00 Water (1.5L)= $1.20 Cigarettes= $2.00
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.
TAXI: Pay $2.00-$4.00 to get anywhere.
NOTES: Like Pereira, another "hidden gem" of Colombia. The nightlife is respectable, the city is clean, safe and a good size and your exotic value will be high. Also, the girls in Manizales are hot enough to keep you pleased. Unfortunately, unless you are going to school or building an online business, you will get bored here pretty quick. On the other hand, if you work from a computer or want to learn Spanish in Colombia and prefer a small-town vibe, Manizales is an ideal city.
OVERALL RATING: 7.75/10
*More city guides from Colombia here!