The town is one of the major tourist attractions of Colombia, thanks to its peaceful nature (although it fills up with tourists at weekends and on bank holidays), impressive scenery, easy access to the Cocora Valley, and the retention of much of its original bahareque architecture typical of the Eje Cafetero region. This style of architecture is especially notable on Carrera 6, a.k.a. Calle Real (English: Royal Road), the road that leads north-east from the town square to a Mirador (look-out point), the Alto de la Cruz. The road is the major thoroughfare of Salento and contains many shops, mainly selling locally-made handcrafts.
The Alto de la Cruz is reached from the end of Calle Real via 250 steps marked with the fourteen Stations of the Cross spaced at intervals along the way. An alternative, less direct route to the Mirador by road avoids the steps. From the Mirador there are extensive views of the Cocora Valley and many of the mountains of the Los Nevados National Natural Park.
The restaurants, particularly those in the town square, specialize in freshwater trout (farmed locally further up the Cocora valley) cooked in a variety of sauces and served on a large patacon, a fritter of green plantain.
Salento is the starting point for excursions into the Cocora Valley and hiking in the Los Nevados National Natural Park: jeep taxis leave from the town square and travel 11 km up the valley to the settlement of "Cocora", from where the valley may be explored on foot or on horseback via numerous trails.
The town's festival takes place each year in the first week of January, to coincide with the celebrations of the anniversary of the town's foundation on 5 January.