Guatapé has been widely discovered in recent years by tourists and you can unfortunately already see that in the touristic center. Nevertheless, we thought it was definitely worth going. It is possible to visit Guatapé as a day trip from Medellín, but if you have enough time, we recommend sleeping at least one night here. This allows you to experience the village even if the buses with tourists have not yet arrived or have just left. You can also climb El Peñón early in the morning so that you don’t have to wait in line.
Just outside the village of Guatapé you will find the big rock El Peñón. This is a huge rock of more than 2100 meters high and you can climb it through more than 700 steps. A nice effort of about 15 minutes but on the way up you can regularly stop to take a picture of the beautiful view (read: take a breath). Once at the top, the 360-degree view of the surroundings is breathtaking! If you are lucky the weather is clear and the view is even more pretty. Unfortunately this was not the case with us, but we still thought it was definitely worth it. On top of the rock you can also find some small shops where you can get a cup of coffee and some fruit. The letters GU on the rock are the beginning of the name Guatapé. Residents of Guatapé wanted to claim the rock by writing their name on it. They had just chalked the G and U on the rock, when the inhabitants of the rival town of El Peñol could stop the work.
This giant rock from the center of Guatapé is easily accessible with a tuk-tuk (about 10 minutes for 10,000 COP). There is plenty driving around in the center so you can just keep it on the street. Once you have arrived at El Peñón you have to pay 18000 COP per person.
Tip: do you sleep in Guatape? Then go to El Peñón the second morning so you can get there early. We were there at 9:00 am and then only a handful of people were walking. The moment we went down again it was a lot busier. If you go later in the day, take into account more crowds on the stairs and the upper deck.
There are plenty of hotels and hostels in Guatapé. We have chosen Hotel Paisaje. This simple hotel is located right in the center and is therefore a good base if you only stay one night in Guatapé. With a longer stay and the fantastic family feeling it might be more interesting to stay outside the tourist center for example at the Country house hostel.
Eating and drinking in Guatapé
Do you like a tasty Thai curry? Then go for dinner at Kushbu by Sam. For a delicious fruit smoothie you have to go to the cool vegan bar Namaste Vegan Express. And are you looking for a delicious cappuccino? Then walk in at the hidden cafe ‘Pasaje Colonial’.
Transportation to Guatapé
The bus runs from Medellin to Guatapé in around two hours. This leaves in Medellín at Terminal del Norte and you can buy bus tickets at ticket counter 9 or 14. The bus ride costs 15,000 COP per person per journey and leaves every half hour. For the way back you can simply buy a bus ticket on the spot at the counter. The buses run every half hour or every hour during the day. It can be busy so it is handy to buy fixed bus tickets in the morning for the desired time.