No trip to Medellín would be complete without spending some time in Guatapé, Colombia’s most colourful town. Guatapé is only a two-hour ride from Medellín and it’s the perfect getaway from that big city. You can go there for the day or spend a night or two there as we did. Whatever you do, you are going to love Guatapé, it’s impossible not to!
What to do in Guatapé?
Hike the El Peñon rock
Located about two kilometres outside of Guatapé, El Peñón is Guatapé’s star attraction. This huge rock peaks at over 2000 meters above sea level. To get to the top you must climb 740 steps which are a bit of an effort, especially on a hot day. But take your time and stop to take a few pictures along the way. Once you reach the top, the 360-degree views will make the climb worth it. As you can see, it’s breathtaking!
After taking a few photos and selfies on the summit, check out the small shops up there and get yourself a well-deserved drink. I had my first Coco Limonada up there and was automatically addicted! They’re so good!
El Peñon is easily accessible from Guatapé by tuk-tuk. It takes about 10 minutes and it’s a set fee of 10,000 COP one way. There are plenty of tuk-tuks driving around the town centre, or you can ask your hotel to call one for you. The entry fee for El Peñón is 18,000 COP per person.
Tip: Do the climb first thing in the morning, especially if visiting on a weekend or public holiday. This way you will avoid both the crowds and the heat.
Explore the colourful town centre
Not only is Guatapé the most colourful town in Colombia but it is one of the most colourful towns in the world. Its town centre isn’t huge but it’s so beautiful and photogenic that you might end up spending hours getting lost in its streets! Every street and every house is beautifully painted and decorated. It’s incredible.
The town is also full of shops selling souvenirs and restaurants serving traditional meals.
Check out the plazas
There are two main squares (plazas) in Guatapé’s town centre. The main one is Parque Guatapé, with its imposing white church and a fountain in the centre. The other plaza is La Plazoleta De Los Zocalos. This last one is in the most colourful part of town! Every inch of the square is beautifully painted, the walls, the steps, the doors. Even the umbrellas are colourful! This square is a great place to sit and relax with a coffee, while you do some people watching.
Take a boat trip on the Laguna de Guatapé
After exploring the town, spend some time on the lake. Boat tours leave frequently, lasting around an hour and fifteen minutes. They cost around 15,000 COP per person. Most boats have a bar on board where you can buy a cerveza (beer) to sip while you enjoy the views of the lake.
If you prefer, there are many other activities you can do on the lake, such as jet skis, kayaking, pedal boats and paddleboarding.
Do you have more than a day in Guatapé? Head to San Rafael!
From Guatapé, you can catch a local bus to the small town of San Rafael (8,000 COP one way). It’s less than an hour away by bus and a great place to spend some time in the great outdoors.
San Rafael’s main sights are El Trocadero and La Tanga. Both are just a short walk or tuk-tuk ride outside of town. There you can swim in the crystal clear rivers.
On your way to San Rafael, ask the driver to stop in Biscocho. In Biscocho, you can walk about forty-five minutes to La Cazuela waterfall. It’s a hot and sticky walk but once you get there, you can enjoy a rewarding swim in the beautiful cascadas. They are nice and cool and very refreshing after the walk.
How to get to Guatapé from Medellín?
There are two ways to reach Guatapé from Medellín. You can catch a bus or you can sign up for an organised tour.
The bus to Guatapé departs from Medellín’s northern bus terminal. You can buy your ticket on the day, they cost 14, 000 COP one way. The bus can take you directly to Guatapé or you can decide to stop at the rock on the way. We recommend this if you are visiting just for the day but make sure you catch an early bus from Medellín (the first bus departs at 6 am). The bus will stop at the petrol station near the rock and you can then follow the path that leads to the rock. If you don’t fancy a 20-minute walk up the hill, you can take a tuk-tuk from there to the ticket office.
To get to Guatapé from the rock, you can take a short tuk-tuk ride, as mentioned above. Alternatively, if you have some time, walk back to town along the main road. You get some lovely views back towards the rock along the way.
If you are visiting by bus for the day, make sure you buy your return ticket early to avoid the queues at the end of the day. The last bus back to Medellín leaves at around 6.30 pm during the week or 7.45 pm on weekends.
With a tour
There are many organised tours from Medellín to Guatapé. You can find some option below.
When is the best time to visit?
Guatapé is a very popular weekend destination for the people of Medellín, so avoid visiting it on weekends; it gets very busy. The same goes for public holidays. But during the week, it’s a little heaven and much quieter.
Where to eat in Guatapé?
If you are sick of Colombian food, head to Thai Terrace. They have the best Thai food we ate in South America. Their Pad Thai was fantastic! Go there early to watch the sunset on the balcony with a glass of wine.
While wandering the streets of Guatapé, you will quickly come across the beautiful aroma of Cinnamon rolls. They really make you hungry! Don’t get them on La Plazoleta De Los Zocalos though, Zocarolls has the best ones in town! They are delicious!
Pizzeria De Luigi
They have the best pizzas in town.
This is the best place in town for BBQ meats and traditional Colombian dishes.
El Patito Modosito
Just off the main square, this small restaurant serves delicious pasta, salads and comfort food.
Where to stay in Guatapé?
We stayed just outside of town at Oak Tree House and it was a great place to go back to in the evening. It was quiet at night and the owners are so friendly and helpful. The breakfast they serve on the terrace was a great way to start the day.
Best on booking.com
Top reviewed: Serendipity Hospedaje Boutique or Guatape lake view
Best value: La Madriguera or Hotel Lagos de Guatape
Good location: Hostal Villa Tere or Galeria Guatape Hostel
If none of those take your fancy, try using HotelsCombined to search across all major accommodation websites. We use it all the time.
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