Are you looking for the coolest excursions from Medellin? Guatape is one of the most scenic trips from Medellin.
The town of Guatape is located a little less than 90 kilometers from the city. But the Medellin to Guatape bus takes a few hours to get there.
Guatape Colombia is famous for its Piedra del Peñol and the flooded area gives you some fabulous views from the top of the Guatape Rock.
The rock aka Peñol de Guatape is basically a huge 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. The rock actually counts more than 700 steps.
After the build of a hydroelectric dam nearby, the area has been partially drowned. That’s why the views from the top are so amazing!
You could easily visit Guatape in a day trip, but we recommend staying a little longer so you can engage in some fun things to do in Guatape, rather than being rushed to climb the rock and make your way out.
6 fun things to do in Guatape
1. Climb the 740 steps of Piedra de Guatape
The Piedra del Peñol is a strangely formed rock near Guatape town. Into the side of the rock, stairs have been built. With these stairs, visitors can climb to the top. From up there, they can admire a magnificent view of the surrounding Laguna de Guatape and the hills that surround the lake.
Climbing the rock is a bit tricky when the weather is hot. There are 740 steps and at most places, there’s no escaping the sun. We climbed it 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 see on the map we embedded in this post that the shoreline of the Laguna is irregular and curvy. You can also see that scenery from the top of the rock.
Entrance fee: 18000 COP – 5€
Opening hours: 8 – 18h
The time needed: Loads! Count at least 3 hours for this activity, maybe more
Check it out!
2. Explore the Zocalo of Guatape
The Zocalo is the main town square and it is a great and relaxing activity to just find a good seat with a refreshing drink and watch life unfold.
We did this after climbing the Guatape rock when we could use an hour of relaxation.
The zocalo is beautiful and it gives you a nice idea of rural villages that have gone touristy over the years. You’ll see many locals and children, but also loads of people, armed with cameras, who are here on a day trip and are obviously in a rush to get the best shots as quickly as possible.
3. Explore Guatape Lake
Guatape Lake has grown larger since the area has been flooded in the sixties when building the dam. Therefore, 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. He was taking one boy and some camping gear each time.
There’s also the option of ziplining over the Laguna which we didn’t try our self. And of course, you could always go for a swim in the Lake.
4. Wander through the colorful streets
Houses in Guatape town have these beautiful painting on the facade. The paintings show which house it is or what activity is done inside.
Wandering around town feels like you have been dropped in the setting of a movie.
5. Taste the local food or different food!
In Guatape, you can find a large variety of restaurants from all cultures.
You don’t even have to leave the Zocalo to find Thai food or Italian restaurants. But there are also many local restaurants and street food vendors.
Go for it!
6. Explore the surrounding area
The Guatape area is super scenic and you can explore it in different ways.
Go hiking, rent a bicycle or even a scooter. Guatape is quite touristy and loads of businesses have jumped onto the opportunity to offer service to tourists.
You won’t have any trouble finding scooters, motorcycles or bicycles in town.
Getting from Medellin to Guatape
You can easily reach Guatape by taking the Medellin to Guatape bus. These buses serve travelers every day on different schedules.
The bus ride can be bumpy at times. 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.
First buses leave Medellin at 5h30 in the morning and the last bus leaves at 18h30.
In the other direction, from Guatape to Medellin, the last bus leaves at 18h30.
If you want to take the last bus, make sure to get your ticket in advance. Otherwise, you might be stranded in Guatape when tickets sell out.
Good to know
Price: 15.000 COP – 4€ (more or less)
Duration: 2 hours
Frequency: every 30 minutes
Where: Terminal del Norte
Find accommodation with lake views
Guatape offers quite a few accommodation options in the town center. This can be a very good choice as you get to spend the evening in the town square and wander the town in the evening hours.
We chose to stay in a hostel with lake views and we liked it a lot. This is where we stayed:
Things to do in Guatape: Conclusion
The town of Guatape is a colorful village located on the banks of the Laguna. From this town, you can easily get to the Penol. That’s why it’s a perfect place to spend a few nights in order to complete your visit to this beautiful area in Colombia.
The town is a peaceful and quiet where life moves on at a slow pace. Therefore, it’s awesome to relax, just sitting in the town square, watching the Colombian daily life unfold before your eyes. Watch locals meet up and children play while sipping from your drink at one of the local eateries or bars.
On weekends, many visitors travel from Medellin to Guatape to get away from busy city life and relax at this lakeside village.