Guatape: The Best Day Trip from Medellin

Guatape, Colombia is a small town outside of Medellin that cannot be missed. Filled with colorful buildings, history and some of the best landscapes Colombia has to offer – you won’t be disappointed! Furthermore, traveling from Medellin to Guatape takes about 2 hours, making it the perfect day trip destination. For everything you need to know about getting to Guatape and exploring the town, keep reading for a one day itinerary.

About Guatape

Guatape is 2 hours outside of Medellin, in the Antioquia department in the northwest of Colombia. The town is one of the most colorful and beautiful towns in Colombia. Additionally, the famous landmark La Piedra Del Penol is found just outside of Guatape town. When the town of Guatape was founded in 1811, it was a farming community and over the years it has become a popular resort town. Frequently visited by both locals and tourists, this bustling town is a must visit in Colombia.

A view of Tuk Tuks along the streets of GuatapeA view of the buildings along a Guatape street

How to Get to Guatape

The three ways to make the 2 hour journey into Guatape are via bus, taxi or tour bus (guided day trip).

Via Bus

Traveling from Medellin to Guatape can be easily accomplished by using the Colombian bus system. The bus is comfy, air conditioned and about $4 USD each way. From Medellin, head to Terminal del Norte – the bus station is called ‘Caribe’ and is located on Metro line A. Buses depart from Medellin to Guatape every 30 mins from 5am to 6pm. The two bus companies that complete this route are called: Sotrasanvicente and Sotrapeñol. Both of these buses have similar quality levels. You can buy the bus tickets directly at the bus station counter, counter #9 or #14.

The bus will drop you off in front of the Guatape bus station, or in front of the La Piedra Del Penol. La Piedra Del Penol is about a 10 minute drive outside of Guatape, you can get in between the two via taxi or tuk tuk’s.

To get home, the bus will stop in front of La Piedra Del Penol however this is less reliable as you have to flag the bus down and there’s not always a seat. It’s recommended to catch the bus home at the Guatape bus station. For more details on the schedule, check out this transit website.

Via Taxi

If opting for the local bus system seems too daunting for you, you can opt to take a taxi from Medellin to Guatape. The taxi ride will take 2 hours and should cost around $35 USD. A lot of taxis will barter for the price, so be prepared for some negotiating!

Via Tour Bus

Lastly, another popular way to visit Guatape and La Piedra Del Penol is via a day trip tour. The day trip tours will always include the tour bus out and back. These tours will guarantee you see all the recommend sites as well as provide some history about the area. The tours range in price, but on average the price will be about $30/ person. For some they feel more comfortable with this option, especially for those who don’t speak Spanish. If taking a day tour bus is going to lessen your stress for the day – go for it! There are several tour companies who do these day trips, so check reviews and book the one you feel is best.

A church in GuatapeA view of streetscape in Guatape with a Tuk Tuk

What to do in Guatape

Climb La Piedra Del Penol

La Piedra Del Penol is a granite rock that sits 675m above ground – it’s hard to miss as it looms over the towns Guatape and El Penol. The climb up the 649 steps will take about 15-30 minutes, when walking at a steady pace you can expect to summit in 10 minutes.  There is a designated resting spot halfway up the steps which will be the best spot to take a water break. The trek up may seem daunting, but the views from the top make it well worth it.

For more information, check out the complete guide to visiting La Piedra Del Penol.

Wander the Guatape Streets

The streets of Guatape are some of the most colorful in Colombia, so take your time to explore around them.  These streets are lined with Zocalos, which are the lower parts of the buildings, that will often have shops in them.  Additionally, Calle del Recuerdo features colorful buildings and a cobblestoned street making it a great photo spot.

You can walk around the town in a couple of hours, so you won’t be rushed for time. We recommend starting in the town square, Plaza de los Zocalos, and go from there. If you need a break, this plaza is also the perfect spot to stop and enjoy a coffee.

Embrace the Street Food

There are a generous amount of restaurants, cafes and coffee shops throughout Guatape that you can enjoy. If you’re looking for a more local feel there are a lot of street food vendors as well. As the day turns into evening, you will see the streets come alive with food vendors for you try.

Get out on the Lake

Guatape is surrounded by lakes that are easy to explore. Whether you enjoy the lake via a lakeside restaurant, a kayak adventure or a boat tour – this is a great way to see Guatape from a different perspective. There are several different boat tour companies, most of them will offer a few hours on a boat along with some history, you may even see Pablo Escobar’s mansion. These tours average $30/ person and we recommend reading reviews prior to booking to ensure it’s the tour for you.

Not interested in a boat tour? Opt for a paddle board or kayak rental to get out on the water. You can rent either of these along the Malecon and this is a great option to cool off in the afternoon.

Landscape view of Guatape lakes from La Piedra Del PenolLandscape view of Guatape lakes from La Piedra Del Penol

Seek out an Adventure

If you’re looking for some adrenaline, there are also thrill-seeking activities to do in Guatape. From helicopter tours to jet ski or motorbike rentals to completing a zip line over the lakes – there are options for everyone. These are all at your own risk, but would be incredible with the surrounding landscape of Guatape.

Stroll the Malecon

The Malecon is a lakeside walking path on the edge of Guatape. This area is beautiful to walk around and take in the sights, strolling along at sunset would be stunning. This area is also a good spot to take a break from the crowds and simply enjoy the landscape.

Views of a street in Guatape

Final Tips for Visiting Guatape

  • Wear comfortable shoes. Between the 649 steps up and down La Piedra Del Penol and wandering the town, wearing comfortable shoes is your best option.
  • Bring sunscreen. There’s minimal shade around town and when you climb La Piedra Del Penol, so make sure you protect yourself. The last thing you want on your day trip is to get sunburnt in the first half!
  • Come prepared for rain. If you’re visiting during rainy season you should definitely come prepared in case of rain. Most of the activities within Guatape are outdoors and without proper rain gear you will get soaked.
  • Bring pesos. At La Piedra Del Penol and Guatape there are shops all around. These shops are filled with refreshments and souvenirs, however some only take pesos so come prepared.
  • Looking to spend the night? There are a lot of lodging options to stay in, the hotels along the lake will be pricier but the views will make it worth it!

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