Things to do in Guatape, Colombia
Guatape is a resort town located in the Department of Antioquia in central Colombia, about 80 kilometers from Medellin. It’s famous for its colorful village, a man-made reservoir, and giant granite rock southwest of town. As such, both foreign tourists and locals love to come and visit!
One of the best things to do in Guatape is to roam the little streets and plazas between the rainbow-colored zocalos (panels). Make your way through the small town, taking in the calm ambiance of the locals enjoying their coffees on the main square.
Unlike Salento, there’s no real explanation as to why the buildings have gotten their colors. However, each building’s creations often tell a unique story of the family or business that owns it. With all the picturesque streets and stunning details of the buildings, you’ll want to keep your camera ready!
Walk over the cobble-stoned Calle del Recuerdo, known as the most beautiful street in Guatape. This area is a shortstop and is best to visit in the morning before the crowds arrive.
After, head on over to the Plaza del Zocalo, the most colorful square in the village. Here you can order some coffee from the friendliest locals or pick up a souvenir. In the afternoon, you can listen to live music from the amphitheater area.
The Famous Rock (La Piedra del Peñol)
Besides the town, an absolute must-see on your trip to Guatape is the 65 million-year-old Piedra del Peñol. This massive granite rock, bordered by water, looms over the lush surrounding area. At the top, you’ll also find some of the most stunning views.
Discovered by a group of friends back in the 1950s, this highlight of Guatape is one of the most popular things to do in the area. After climbing 675 steps, you’ll reach the top of the rock. Here, you’re rewarded with fantastic vistas over the valley and lake of Guatape. This activity reminded us of another memorable rock climb: Sigiriya Rock in Sri Lanka!
At the top of the rock, you’ll find lots of little shops. Here you can buy some delicious mango micheladas to enjoy at the end of your climb.
Entrance Fee and Opening Times
Piedra del Peñol is open every day of the year from 8 AM – 6 PM and costs 20,000 COP (5,50 USD) per person to climb. If you’re visiting the town of Guatape first, you can walk, taxi, or drive to reach the rock. Walking takes about 45 minutes and is straight down the road out of town that leads back towards Medellin.
You can also hop on a Colombian tuk-tuk (Motachiva) for 8000 COP to take you there. If you’re driving a car, you can park below the rock for a small fee. Driving to Piedra del Peñol from Guatape village takes about 10 minutes.
Tip: The rock is incredibly popular, so we recommend visiting outside the busy hours, such as in the early morning, and avoiding weekends.
Another highlight of the Guatape region is the Guatape-Peñol lake, surrounded by lush green hills. What makes it so unique is that this interestingly-shaped body of water is actually a man-made reservoir. It was created by the construction of a hydroelectric dam in the Guatape River in the 70s.
Now, this dam is responsible for providing about 30% of the electricity supply of Colombia. However, the lake is also a great place for many different water activities, from boat tours and dinner cruises to paddleboarding or kayaking.
Spend an afternoon on the water, slowly moving through the quiet nature of the area. Book your Guatape tour (with a boat ride) below.
Did you know: Pablo Escobar once lived in a mansion on the lake’s edge, close to Guatape? While tours to the villa no longer exist, you can still see it from the water on a boat tour.
You can also see Guatape and the lake from above by going paragliding or on a helicopter ride. Flying over the water with hundreds of small islands offers a fantastic sight and is one of the more unique things to do in Guatape. These activities do cost a bit more than being out on the water. However, if you want to do something a bit more exhilarating, then the price is well worth it!
Best Cafes and Restaurants in Guatape
Colombia has an incredibly diverse kitchen scene ranging from famous international cuisines to their local specialties. Smaller towns and villages such as Guatape serve some of the best dishes, often for a very good price. Sit at one of the local roadside restaurants, relaxing in the atmosphere of the village while trying the country’s various dishes.
Fishermen in Guatape often bring in trucha (trout) from the lake. This, together with some rice, salad, fries, and plantain, is the most popular dish in Guatape. Some of our favorite cafes and restaurants were:
- Namasté Vegan Food
- El Bretón (french)
- Martiné Restaurante-Bar
- Antonia (Italian)
Where to Stay
Although Guatape can be visited on a day trip, it’s also a great place to stay a night or two. This way, you can explore the region at a calmer pace. Experience the quiet streets once the crowds have left, offering a completely different view of the colorful pueblo. From affordable budget hotels downtown to stunning rooms with lake views, there are plenty of accommodation options for you to choose from. Here are all your hotel options in Guatape.
How to Visit Guatape, Colombia
Guatape is about a 2-hour drive from Medellin and can be reached in several different ways. The most popular option is to visit Guatape on an organized day trip. The tour picks you up in the morning from your hotel in Medellin and takes you to Guatape for the day.
You can also opt to take the public bus, which takes about the same time and costs 15,000 COP (3,35 USD). The bus leaves from Terminal del Norte, which you can get to from the Caribe Metro Station, line blue A. When you purchase your ticket, make sure to specify your stop as there are officially two, one in Guatape town and one at El Peñol (the rock). Buses from Medellin to Guatape leave about every 30 minutes.
Lastly, you can organize a taxi to take you from Medellin to Guatape. These taxi drivers have a fixed rate of about 270,000 COP (60 USD) for this journey. While this is a bit pricey, it can be worth the convenience, especially if you can split the costs with others.
The town of Guatape is relatively small, making it easy to explore the center and Malecon on foot. If you’re planning on seeing the sights outside of town, you can hop on a local tuk-tuk or taxi to get you there.
How Much Does Guatape Cost?
Like many other places in Colombia, Guatape can be pretty affordable, depending on where you stay and eat. For example, if you decide to only eat at waterfront restaurants and stay by the lake, costs will be higher. However, if you decide to eat at a local place near the plaza and stay in cheaper accommodation in town, your time in Guatape becomes much more budget-friendly.
Best Time to Visit Guatape
Being closely situated to the beautiful Andes mountains makes Guatape’s climate very similar to neighboring Medellin, the city known as ‘La Primavera Eterna’ (the eternal spring). The town has warm, tropical weather throughout the year with cooler nights.
You can expect frequent rainfall, although this is often during the night. The best time to visit Guatape is between December and March, which are the driest months in the region.