Guatape is one of the best day trips from Medellin, the city of eternal spring. The town of Guatape is located a little less than 90 kilometers from Medellin, but it will take you a few hours to get there. Guatape Colombia is famous for its Piedra del Peñol, which is basically a rock that you can climb in order to watch the magnificent scenery surrounding the Laguna de Guatape. Climbing the Piedra del Peñol might not be as easy as it sounds and the rock counts more than 700 steps. After the build of a hydroelectric dam nearby, the area has been partially drowned and that’s why the views from the top are so amazing! Even though you can visit Guatape in a day trip, we do recommend staying a little longer in order to discover the town of Guatape Colombia as well.
Guatape Colombia on the map
Getting from Medellin to Guatape Colombia
You can easily reach Guatape by taking the Medellin to Guatape bus, which serves travelers every day on different schedules.
Buses from Medellin to Guatape leave every half hour from the Terminal Del Norte and the first bus leaves around 6 in the morning. The bus ride takes around 2 hours and will set you back about 15 thousand COP or a little over 4€. The bus ride can be bumpy at times and when we traveled this route, the driver was handing out plastic bags to children. Yes! Bring earplugs or listen to music!
Before driving into the town of Guatape, buses pass by the Piedra del Peñol and most travelers get out of the bus at this landmark.
The last bus back to Medellin leaves at 18h30, but if you want to take the last bus, make sure to get your ticket in advance or you might be stranded in Guatape when tickets sell out. Getting stranded isn’t really a problem because Guatape is a beautiful town where we didn’t mind spending a few nights. Even though Guatape is advertised as one of the best day trips from Medellin, we recommend staying a few days.
Piedra del Peñol de Guatape
The Piedra del Peñol is a strangely formed rock near Guatape town. Into the side of the rock, stairs have been built so visitors can climb to the top of the Piedra del Peñol, where they can admire a magnificent view of the surrounding Laguna de Guatape and the hills that surface the lake. Climbing the rock is a tricky thing when the weather is hot. There are 740 steps and at most places, there’s no escaping the sun. We climbed the Peñol de Guatape at midday and we almost melted. I’m not sure if it was the heat, the number of stairs or the hangover from the previous day, but we suffered just a little. For the trained hiker, this climb is a piece of cake and well worth the effort, because the view from the top is to die for.
We already explained that the area that surrounds the Peñol has been flooded after the build of a hydroelectric dam nearby. Dozens of people had to abandon their homes and start over on higher ground. Currently, only the tops of the hills around Guatape show above the water line and that’s where all life has continued. You can already see on the map we embedded in this post that the shoreline of Laguna de Guatape is irregular and curvy. You can also see that from the top of the rock. You have to go and check it out for yourself!
Laguna de Guatape – Guatape Lake
Guatape Lake has grown a lot larger since the area has been flooded in the sixties when building the dam, so a lot of water activities can be done at the Laguna de Guatape.
The lake is popular for doing boat trips or kayaking. We actually saw a group of boys making a crossing to a secluded island with camping gear. They had a small kayak which could only carry two boys and a little bit of gear. So the same boy kept peddling up and down the crossing, taking one boy and some camping gear each time. There’s also the option of ziplining over the Laguna de Guatape which we didn’t try our self. And of course, you could always go for a swim in Guatape Lake.
The town of Guatape is a colorful village located on the banks of the Laguna de Guatape. From this town, you can easily get to the Penol de Guatape, so it’s a perfect place to spend a few nights in order to complete your visit to this beautiful area in Colombia.
Houses in Guatape town have these beautiful paintings on the facade, showing which house it is or what activity is done inside. This peaceful and quiet town where life moves on at a slow pace is awesome to find rest, just sitting in the Guatape town square, watching the Colombian daily life unfold before your eyes. Watch locals meet up and children play while sipping your drink at one of the local eateries or bars. On weekends, many visitors travel from Medellin to Guatape to get away from the busy city life and relax at this lakeside village. Guatape Colombia is the perfect addition to your Colombia itinerary of when you’re backpacking Colombia without an itinerary.