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When planning a trip to Colombia, one of the first places I wanted to visit was Guatapé in Antioquia. This colorful pueblo outside of Medellín is famous for the surrounding turquoise lake and beautiful scenery.

Since it is such an easy day trip from Medellín, I had the chance to spend a full day exploring.

A Guide to Visiting Guatapé, Colombia

After spending a day taking in the beautiful views, I only wished I had another day to soak it all in.

It’s very peaceful in the small towns in the countryside (especially after the city chaos). I will share about the day tour we took as well as other options for being able to go on your own.

Visiting South America, I learned there is such a diversity of experiences available. Guatapé is one of those postcard-perfect places you can’t miss when visiting Colombia.

A Guide to Visiting Guatapé, Colombia

Taking a Guatapé Tour

If you’re short on time and would love a guided trip, a day tour is the best way to see Guatapé.

I opted to book this tour on Viator for $30 USD a person and it came with both breakfast and lunch (both amazing!), a stop in a small town before Guatapé, time to climb El Peñol, and free time in the town of Guatapé. The transportation was on a bus with air conditioning and we had a driver who took us everywhere. Along the way, our guide shared insight into the area and history. I’m not a huge fan of guided group tour however this was a good option for what we could do. Check tour rates and availability here.

If I had more time, I would have opted to go on my own but I really needed a night or so to do it all properly.

A Guide to Visiting Guatapé, Colombia

Getting to Guatapé from Medellín

Getting to Guatape from Medellín is quite easy. If you plan to spend the night and not do a tour, you can easily hop on public transportation. It is highly recommended to travel only during light hours (not at night).

Simply head to Terminal del Norte which connects to the Caribe Metro Station, line blue A. You can take a bus from Medellín to Guatapé, which averages from 1.5 to 2 hours pending traffic.

When purchasing your ticket be sure to clarify your stop as there are two, one in the town of Guatapé or at El Peñol (for visiting the rock).

If you’re staying overnight, you’ll want to drop your bags off first at your accommodations.

Transportation within Guatapé without a car is easy as there are local tuk-tuks who can take you around as well as taxis to the sights. Within the small town of Guatapé, everything is available within walking distance.

Guatapé Weather

The weather in Guatapé can change quickly, similar to Medellín, Colombia.

Even in the beginning months of the year, the afternoon was rather hot but it cools down quickly at night.

When visiting, I highly recommend a strong sunscreen and hat — it may not feel like the sun is on you when it’s cloudy out, but it finds a way! I definitely had a good sunburn afterward even though I “never burn.”

Guatapé Hotels

Based on research and recommendations from other trusted travelers, here are a few of the local hotels and hostels to consider (Note: I did not stay overnight due to timing):

A Guide to Visiting Guatapé, Colombia
Image via
A Guide to Visiting Guatapé, Colombia
Image via

What To Do in Guatapé

If you’re taking a guided day tour, then you will have the chance to do most of these things. The amount of time will be limited so if you enjoy a bit more flexibility, then going on your own is best.

Explore the Colorful Zocalos in Guatapé

The small town is famous for the zocalos or the painted panels on the houses that portray their trade or history. I spent a couple of hours just walking around, snapping away photos, and soaking in the cheer of the town.

Head Out on Laguna Guatapé

If you have an afternoon to explore, heading out on the lake is an awesome opportunity to relax. You can rent kayaks locally at different vendors on the lake, go explore and soak in the views.

Climb El Peńol

The best lake view is certainly at the top of the rock and is worth the 740 steep steps. You’ll need to pay about $6 USD to enter and climb (bring cash).

At the top the views are beautiful, and there are vendors selling drinks and some small bites as well. It can feel a little touristy but the views were pretty amazing.

Try the Food in Guatapé Town

This place is packed with a ton of restaurants and street food. Arepas were my favorite bite along the way, especially with the fresh cheese.

Day Trip to San Rafael

If you’re looking for another nearby town to visit, San Rafael came as the second most recommended place to visit in the area.

About El Peñol

Meaning “the stone”, El Peńol has a bit of story behind it.

Essentially the area around it had massive flooding after the building of the hydroelectric dam in the 1970s. From it came the lake or laguna you see today, which now has become a tourist destination.

The rock of Guatapé has become an iconic landmark for the area, however, the nearby townships of Guatapé and El Peñol have both claimed ownership of the rock.

There is a “G” and a partly written “U” on the rock that was attempted to spell out the town of Guatapé to take ownership. They did not get far after a local mob saw the attempt and put an end to it.

Since that day, no one has tried to finish the word.

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PS — Are You Booking a Trip Soon? Use My Booking Checklist!

These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you. If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here.

1. Book Your Flights

Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.

2. Book Your Accommodations

Use for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.

3. Book Your Tours & Experiences

Use Viator or Get Your Guide to find the best tours and experiences. They are my favorite tour search engines. I always check both as their inventory varies depending on the destination.

4. Book Your Car

Use Discover Cars or to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.

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Get a Priority Pass membership to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.

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I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.

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