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There are several weekend getaway spots near Medellin that are worth visiting. Two of the most popular among digital nomads and outdoor enthusiasts are Jardin and Guatape.
But, if you’re short on time and only can choose one, which is the better option? Both Colombian towns have great things to offer, making it a tough decision to choose between them.
In this article, we’ll compare and contrast Jardin and Guatape so that you can make a more informed decision on which destination is right for your next weekend getaway.
It’s no secret that Medellin has become a top destination for digital nomads and remote workers. The city offers a great quality of life, with its year-round spring-like weather, friendly locals, and affordable cost of living.
But after a while, even the most diehard city-lover needs to get out of the concrete jungle and into nature. That’s where Jardin and Guatape come in. Both towns are popular for scenic views, small-town charm, and outdoor activities.
While it would be amazing to be able to go to both places, most people only have the time (and budget) for a one-weekend getaway. So, which is the better option?
You need to ask yourself what you’re looking for when choosing between Jardin and Guatape. For example, some tourists like places that offer Instagram-worthy photos.
On the other hand, other tourists want to go to a place where they can disconnect from technology and enjoy peace and quiet.
If you’re short on time, the distance may also play a factor in your decision. For example, you may want to spend as much time as possible exploring and not waste time traveling to and from your destination.
Lastly, are you looking for lots of activities, or do you want to relax and take it easy? Consider all of these factors as we compare and contrast Jardin and Guatape.
Keep reading as we answer all of your questions about these two Colombian towns.
If you’re short on time, then the distance from Medellin may be a deciding factor for you. After all, you want to spend as much time exploring your destination and not waste time traveling.
Guatape is only about two hours away from Medellin, while Jardin is a bit further at four hours. The drive is scenic and relatively easy if you have your own car.
You can also take a bus from Medellin to either town. The buses are comfortable, and they run multiple times a day.
The downside of taking the bus is that it takes longer than driving, and you’ll have to make a few stops along the way.
So, if time is of the essence, then Guatape is the better option as it is closer to Medellin.
The weather is one of the reasons why Medellin is such a popular destination. The city enjoys year-round spring-like weather, with temperatures averaging around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Jardin and Guatape are located in the same general area, so you can expect similar weather patterns. Both towns have a tropical climate, with warm weather and plenty of sunshine.
Like Medellin, you’ll experience, well, rain during the rainy season. But, the showers are typically short-lived, and the sun comes out again soon after.
The best time to visit Jardin and Guatape is during the dry season, which runs from December to March. Unfortunately, this is also the busiest time of year, so expect higher prices and larger crowds.
Due to Guatape being on a lake and having the iconic El Penon de Guatape, this town gets more tourists than Jardin.
Jardin is a bit off the beaten path, and many people don’t know about it. The number of tourists is growing each year, but it’s still a relatively unknown destination.
If you’re looking for a less crowded and more authentic place, then Jardin is the better option. But, if you don’t mind crowds and want to go to a more prominent place, then Guatape is a better choice.
Both places offer optimal Instagramming opportunities, so you really can’t go wrong with either destination. However, in Jardin, you’ll see fewer tourists, so your opportunity to get creative with photos is greater.
In Guatape, you have to beat the crowds in order to get a good picture in front of El Penon or in town.
If you want to escape the business of city life and relax in a small town, then Jardin is the place for you. This little town has a slow pace, and the people are friendly and welcoming.
There aren’t a lot of tourists here, so you will get a more authentic experience. You can stroll through the streets, stop for a coffee or lunch, and people watch.
You can go to the main plaza Parque Principal de Jardin, to read a book, listen to music, or watch the locals.
You’ll find the locals are very carefree and enjoy just hanging out and chatting. If you want to experience small-town Colombian life, Jardin is the perfect place.
The vibe in Guatape is very different from that of Jardin. This town is much more touristy, and there are plenty of people around.
El Penon de Guatape is the main attraction here, and you’ll find that most people are just visiting for the day.
The streets are full of shops and restaurants catering to tourists. So, you can still find some charm in Guatape, but it’s not as prevalent as in Jardin.
Since there’s high tourist traffic, you’ll see more marketing towards visitors and find that prices are a bit higher.
There are plenty of things to keep you busy in Jardin. This town is known for its flowers, so you can stroll through the streets and admire the colorful houses.
You can also go on hikes or horseback riding through the nearby countryside. Of course, there are plenty of waterfalls, caves, and rivers to explore as well.
If you want to stay in town, you can go to the main plaza Parque Principal de Jardin, where you’ll find a bandstand and plenty of benches to relax on.
Plus, Parque Principal has several fruit stands, food vendors, and bars surrounding it, so you can find something to eat or drink.
The park is also a great place to people-watch and see locals going about their day-to-day lives.
Lastly, you can take the cable car to the mountainside and have lunch. The cable car ride is short, but it gives you a great view of Jardin.
One of the main reasons tourists go to Guatape is to hike the 740 steps to the top of El Penon de Guatape.
El Penon is a large rock that towers over Lake Guatape. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view.
If you’re not up for the hike, you can take a boat tour around Lake Guatape. On the tour, you’ll see El Penon and some of the surrounding villages.
There are other lake activities you can indulge in as well, such as swimming, jet-skiing, and paddle-boarding.
Both Guatape and Jardin have great restaurants. Each restaurant has typical Colombian dishes, as well as a few international options.
In Guatape, you’ll find more restaurants catering to tourists. However, this means that prices are a bit higher.
The key to eating in Guatape is to get away from the main square. You’ll find better food and lower prices if you venture into the side streets.
In Jardin, most of the restaurants are locally owned and operated. This means that the prices are more reasonable.
Each town is known for its trout, so you should definitely order that when you are in either Jardin or Guatape.
If you can, we recommend going to both Jardin and Guatape. They’re both great towns with plenty to see and do.
If you can only choose one, it depends on what you are looking for. If you want a more authentic experience, go to Jardin. However, you need more time because the distance from Jardin is easily double that of Guatape.
Ideally, three days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Jardin. This gives you enough time to see everything without feeling rushed.
In Guatape, one day is really all you need. Since it’s a two-hour bus ride from Medellin, we recommend going on a day trip.
You can leave early in the morning and be back in Medellin by dinner time.
Overall, both Jardin and Guatape make for great weekend getaways from Medellin. You just need to factor in how much time you have and what you want to do.
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