TLDR? El Peñón de Guatapé is a towering monolith located just outside Medellin.
El Peñón de Guatapé, or El Peñol, is a highlight for tourists coming to Medellin. This incredible rock offers tons of photo opportunities, and the views from the top of the hill are breathtaking.
But, there’s a lot more to visiting El Peñol than just pretty pictures.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at how to get to El Peñol from Medellin, how long it takes, and what to expect when you arrive.
The Rock of Guatapé
The Rock of Guatapé, El Peñol, or El Peñón de Guatapé, is a monolithic granite outcrop located in the town and municipality of Guatapé, Antioquia Department. It’s surrounded by Lake Peñol-Guatapé.
With an elevation of 2,135 meters (7,005 ft) above mean sea level, the Rock of Guatapé is one of the tallest monoliths in the world. The stone has a length of 285 meters (935 ft), a height of 200 meters (656 feet), and 110 meters (360 ft) wide.
The rock itself is composed of quartz, feldspar, and mica. In addition, it’s estimated to weigh 65 million tons (that’s heavy).
Both Guatapé and El Peñol have claimed ownership of the rock. So, who actually owns it?
That’s still an ongoing debate, but the fact of the matter is it’s a hot tourist spot for both towns. If you are visiting Medellin, it is definitely worth a day trip to see this natural wonder.
Getting to El Peñón from Medellín
The trip to El Peñón from Medellín is quite easy and takes around two hours depending on traffic.
You can get to El Peñón from Medellin in a few different ways, but let’s focus on the three most popular methods.
The first and most popular way to get to El Peñón is by bus. This is also the cheapest option, as buses in Colombia are very affordable.
Once you arrive at the Terminal del Norte, you will need to purchase a ticket to Guatapé.
The bus ride from Medellin to Guatapé takes approximately 2 hours and costs around 17,000 COP (subject to change).
Keep in mind that even during the rainy season, El Peñon is a busy place. So, we recommend getting to Guatapé early to avoid the crowds.
We personally took the 7:30 am bus but wish we would have taken an earlier one.
The second way to get to El Peñón is by private transportation. This is the most expensive option, but it is also the most convenient.
If you are traveling with a group of people, we recommend renting a car or hiring a private driver.
Renting a car in Colombia is very affordable, and we found that it was the best way to travel around the country.
The drive from Medellin to Guatapé takes approximately 1.5 hours and is a very scenic route.
If you decide to go this route, we recommend using Waze or Google Maps for navigation.
It is also important to note that you will need a toll when leaving Medellin and returning.
The price for the toll is 8,000 COP (subject to change).
The third and final way to get to El Peñón is by taking a tour. This is the most expensive option, but it’s also the most hassle-free.
In addition, if you’re learning Spanish, then this could be a great option for you.
There are many different tour companies in Medellin that offer day trips to El Peñón. The tours vary depending on the company, but they usually include transportation, a tour guide, and lunch.
In addition, you can book some that offer a visit Guatapé as well as a boat ride on the lake.
Arriving at El Peñón
Once you can see the massive rock from your bus or car window, you know you’ve arrived in El Peñol.
If arriving by bus, it will drop you at the second gas station across the bridge from the lake.
From there, it is a 10-minute walk to the entrance of El Peñol. It’s a steep walk, so you can also get a cheap ride from a motorbike taxi.
We personally walked to the entrance, and it was a good warmup before the real hike began.
Tickets to El Peñon
The cost of the ticket to El Peñón is 20,000 COP (subject to change). This price includes the entrance fee and the return trip on the gondola.
We arrived at the ticket booth around 9:30, and there were few tourists. There are several gift stores and restaurants at the base of El Peñón. However, we recommend going to those after the hike.
You can also find bathrooms here before beginning the hike to the top. Keep in mind the rules when going to El Peñón, including:
No food or drinks.
No pets (sorry, dogs can’t come on this hike).
Hiking to the Top of El Peñón
The hike to the top of El Peñol is a steep hike that totals 740 steps. The stairs are nicely done with a handrail the whole way. The stairs are also numbered so you can keep track of your progress.
The views from the top of El Peñol are incredible and definitely worth the hike. You can see for miles in every direction, and on a clear day, you can even see Medellin in the distance.
While the hike is steep, it will only take 15-30 minutes, depending on your fitness level.
If you get tired, there are several stopping points along the way. Plus, it is a great time to take some pictures or enjoy the views.
Once you reach the top, there are several places to sit and relax. You can also buy drinks and snacks from the vendors.
We recommend taking some time to enjoy the views and take plenty of pictures.
The View from the Top
The views from the top of El Peñol are incredible. You can see for miles in every direction, including the town of Guatapé and the reservoir.
There is food and drink vendors at the top, but we recommend going down to Guatapé for lunch.
Take your time and enjoy the views from the top before heading back down.
Hiking Back Down
After enjoying the views, it is time to hike back down. The steps are the same as on the way up, but they are much easier going down.
However, they are steep, and falling would not be fun, so take your time.
There are also many people coming up as you are going down, so be aware of oncoming traffic.
The hike back down will only take 10-15 minutes, and before you know it, you will be at the bottom.
What To Do After Hiking El Peñón
Once you have completed the hike, you have several options for what to do next. We personally celebrated by going to one of the lookout restaurants at El Peñon and enjoying some drinks.
Since it was the beginning of June when we arrived, the thunderstorms rolled in, and we had an incredible view of the storm over Guatapé.
However, if you come during this time, this is where hiking early in the day comes in handy. It wouldn’t be fun doing the hike with so many tourists and in a thunderstorm.
You can also spend this souvenir shopping or eating lunch, but since it’s a touristy place, the souvenirs, food, and drinks are more expensive than in Guatapé.
Go into Guatape
Go into Guatape for lunch and explore the town. It’s a short walk from El Peñon, and you can grab a moto-taxi if you don’t want to walk.
We recommend getting a ride if you don’t have your own transportation because it is a busy highway.
When you get to Guatape, you can rent jet skis, take a boat ride, or eat at a local restaurant.
There are plenty of things to do, and it is a great place to spend the day.
What To Bring to El Peñon
El Peñol is a hike, so you need to be prepared. We recommend bringing the following items:
Hat or sunglasses
Raincoat (during the rainy season)
Bug spray (during the rainy season)
No matter what you bring, go early, and enjoy the hike. It is a great experience, and the views from the top are incredible.
The Weather at Guatape
Like Medellin, you can guarantee the weather in Guatape to change quickly. It gets the hottest in the afternoon and slowly cools down as the night approaches.
Because the weather at Guatape is more commonly warm than cold, we suggest always bringing an umbrella, a hat, and sunscreen when traveling. You can experience too much sun when touring, which isn’t good for the skin.
The best months to travel in Guatape are January and June until September. It isn’t too hot or too cold during these months. We suggest avoiding the months of March until May and October to November. These months are the rainiest, so traveling and visiting tourist attractions can be difficult.
El Penon de Guatape Opening Hours
If you have plans to visit El Penon de Guatape soon, take note of its opening hours. This majestic tourist attraction is open daily, from 8 am to 6 pm. And if you want to take beautiful photos with fewer crowds, we recommend visiting at the earliest time possible.
Even though hiking is a must to reach the top, El Penon de Guatape is popular among locals and domestic and international tourists. This means it gets pretty busy and crowded easily.
During our recent experience, we got to El Penon an hour after opening. We only encountered a handful of people and enjoyed taking several photos. As we made our way down, that’s when the crowd started to grow bigger.
Being one of the top tourist attractions in Medellin, expect large tour groups when you arrive in the afternoon.
How Long It Takes to Reach the Top
The entire duration to reach the top of El Penon de Guatape is subjective. It depends on your physical condition. However, on average, climbing to the top should take 30 minutes.
One thing you must know about El Penon is that it’s not as frightening as you thought it would be. And going down should be faster. What could possibly prolong the time it takes to reach the top are rocky elevations that could be daunting for your legs.
Moreover, you cannot forget your water tumbler. You need vast amounts of fluid if you wish to survive climbing El Penon and going down.
What You Should Expect When Visiting El Penon de Guatape
El Penon de Guatape can roughly be divided into three main parts: at the base, along the slopes, and on the top. Each part gives you a different experience, so here’s what you must expect.
At The Base
Like the usual mountains and hiking trails, expect vendors selling drinks, souvenirs, and snacks at the base of El Penon de Guatape. You’ll also find ample parking space if you’re bringing a car. But there’s also a drop-off point when riding public transportation or renting a car with a driver.
Additionally, there’s also a food court that opens during mealtimes. And after reaching the top of El Penon, grab some paletas as you come down. Paletas are popular popsicles in Latin America with two main variants: frozen fruit and yogurt.
The Climbing Experience
As we said, climbing El Penon to reach the top is not as challenging. There’s a paved staircase and several platforms where you want to rest. Plus, painted markers are periodically placed as you reach the top, so you don’t need to count the steps.
You’ll also see a viewing platform with a Virgin Mary shrine halfway up the hike. First aid stations are available throughout the climb to ensure everyone’s safety.
The climb is definitely worth it when you reach the top. Everything is just breathtaking – giving you picturesque views everywhere! You’ll find a large viewing deck at the top, together with a few vendors selling snacks, souvenirs, and cafes.
Reaching the top is the best time to use your drone to get amazing shots and videos of El Penon.
Where To Eat Near El Penon de Guatape
After visiting El Penon, it’s normal to feel hungry and thirsty. If you’re looking for nearby restaurants, we also got you covered! Let’s take a look at our top recommendations.
Restaurante Stone is famous for dining with a view. It features affordable dishes from South America and Colombia. Plus, it promotes unique coffee drinks for a good amount of energy to kick in.
Restaurante Stone also offers vegetarian dishes for health-conscious visitors. We recommend booking online by messaging them on Instagram because this restaurant often gets packed.
Aside from Colombian cuisine, Guatape also has several restaurants serving international dishes, like Casa Cuba. It’s Cuban and Caribbean fused together to create unique dishes with interesting flavors.
Casa Cuba is a little more on the pricier side, but the food is worth it. This family-owned restaurant certainly deserves more recognition online.
Where You Can Stay Near El Penon de Guatape
If you want to arrive at El Penon de Guatape at the best time when tourists are scarce, we suggest booking a hotel near the tourist attraction.
Bubblesky Guatape is a luxury resort with glamping accommodations using bubble-shaped and clear domed tents. Booking a stay here is expensive, but it’s worth it.
The domed tents include a kitchenette, heated mattresses, and a shared outdoor bathroom. Guests also loved beautiful overhang nets, an outdoor jacuzzi, and full lighting.
Another accommodation featuring dome-shaped tents or “MushRooms” is Bosko. It’s one of the best luxury glamping resorts near El Penon de Guatape, beside Bubblesky Guatape. Bosko is known for its water sports activities, infinity sky pools, and other onsite amenities.
If we’re talking about the location, Bosko is way better than Bubblesky Guatape. It’s only a kilometer away from the famous El Penon Rock. Plus, Bosko also offers a free shuttle service from the hotel to the tourist attraction.
What makes Bosko even more unique is its onsite restaurant, which features breathtaking views of Piedra del Peñol. Guests also get complimentary breakfast which the hotel can serve on their private terraces.
Why You Should Go to El Peñon
There are many reasons to go to El Peñol, but the main reason is the views. For the short amount of time it takes to hike, the views are incredible.
You can see for miles in every direction, and on a clear day, you can even see Medellin. It is an experience that you won’t want to miss.
If you like this blog, you might like the Casacol Instagram page to keep up with all the new articles. Anything we need to update or correct? Care to contribute? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.