What are the best things to do in Guatapé Colombia? We read a lot about Guatapé and the mysterious rock El Penol that stretches up from a beautiful reservoir before our Colombia round trip. It just looked too fantastic to not go there. But how do you get from Medellin to Guatapé? Should you stay overnight or just do a day trip? And what are the best things to do in Guatapé in Colombia?
Guatapé offers you three highlights: First, the village itself, which is quite touristy and therefore wasn’t that great in our opinion. Then, of course, there is the famous rock El Peñol in the immediate vicinity of the village. And last but not least, the incredibly beautiful lake landscape that connects both places. This reservoir looks especially impressive from the rock El Peñol and would have been for us also the reason why we would have liked to hang in the area an overnight stay. But let’s start from the beginning.
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
How to get from Medellin to Guatapé?
The easiest way to visit Guatape is to book a day trip*. In this case you don’t have to worry about the bus schedule and everything is well organized. If you want to visit Guatape on your own we explain to you the steps to get from Medellin to Guatape.
To get from Medellin to Guatapé you have to go to the bus terminal (Terminal del Norte) of Medellin. You can get there by metro if you go to the Caribe station and then walk over the overpass to the bus terminal on the other side of the street.
There you go down to the lower level and then to counter 9, which is already marked with Guatapé. For 15000 COP you buy a ticket for the bus that leaves every 30 minutes (between 05:30 and 18:30). You then go through the security gate to Gate 9 and wait for your bus.
You drive towards Guatapé and get off the bus at El Peñol (before Guatapé) after about 2 hours. The bus stops automatically at a gas station and all tourists get off. There you can get some food and go to the toilet. You can walk up the stairs to the rock or take a tuk-tuk for 8000 COP.
Then you climb the rock after paying the 18,000 COP entrance fee. After that, you can take a TukTuk to Guatapé for 8-10,000 COP or wait for a small bus that will take you for only 2000 COP. It is much less a bus than a big old jeep. It is fun to drive and you will be in Guatapé in no time.
The first thing you should do is buy a ticket for the return trip, because especially in the afternoon the buses are booked up early and it can happen that you have to leave later than you wanted to. The ticket office is on the main street at the level of the main square. Then you can go and see the city at your leisure.
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Hotel Recommendation in Guatapé Colombia
We were really sad that we had only planned a day trip to Guatapé. Next time we would spend 2-3 days in this beautiful area. As a hotel for your stay we can recommend the Hotel La Magdalena*.
Since the hotel is located a bit outside, you can explore the beautiful surroundings with the free boats and kayaks away from the hustle and bustle. In addition, the hotel offers great pools, whirlpools and a fantastic breakfast. You should not miss this.Hotel Magdalena at Booking*
Things to do in Guatape: El Peñol
The meteoric hill sits atop a small knoll with panoramic views of the beautiful area and reservoir. I had imagined the climb harder than it was in the end. After barely 10 minutes I was on top. But to be honest, I also hurried, because Sabrina did not come up because of her cold and I did not want to make her wait unnecessarily. Normally you will need 15-20 minutes if you are physically reasonably fit. Arrived at the top revealed to me the whole panorama on the surroundings. It is really the madness!
By the way, at the summit there is also a restaurant, drink sales and even some souvenirs. After about 20 minutes, however, I had enough and started my descent. By the way, there is a different (steeper and narrower) staircase for the way down than for the way up. So you don’t get in the way with the people who want to go up.
At the bottom there are a lot of restaurants and souvenir stores and all kinds of people who want to take you to Guatape. But you can also admire the beautiful area from one of the restaurants or from the parking lot further back. Because the reservoir with its many small islands we felt as the real highlight.
There are also small and large hotels on many islands. If you want to spend a night in Guatapé, then we advise you not to look for accommodation in the village itself, but on one of the islands in the reservoir. There you have the possibility to make boat trips or just to swim. A dreamlike balance to the lively Medellin.
Things to Know about Guatapé Colombia
We found Guatapé very nice to look at with its colorful facades and picturesque houses. But it was also a bit too touristy for us. Actually every store was either a restaurant or a souvenir store. Unfortunately, a really authentic atmosphere did not arise.
But it’s definitely enough to spend a few relaxing hours, take beautiful photos and go out for a delicious meal before the long drive back. If you want to stay overnight in Guatapé, we advise you not to stay in a hotel directly in the village, but outside at the reservoir. You will have more peace and quiet there and can enjoy the unique panorama more.
Guatapé Colombia: Conclusion and Tips
If you are in Medellin, you should not miss this highlight. You can also do an overnight stay instead of just a day trip, because the drive from Medellin to Guatapé with just under 2 hours each way is just about worth it for a day trip.
When we saw the fantastic panorama of El Peñol, we were very sad that we had to drive back to Medellin on the same day. Otherwise, you should go there as early as possible in the morning and buy your ticket for the return trip directly upon arrival in Guatapé.