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Sometimes, you need a break from urban life and take a vacation in a town away from the noise of the city. If your perfect vacation includes playing some extreme sports, then you should check out San Rafael!
Home to over 90 natural pools and eight waterfalls, San Rafael is the perfect place to take a dip or organize a traditional paseo de olla, a “pot trip” cookout by the river.
If you’re wondering how to get to San Rafael, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Read on to learn the best ways to get to San Rafael while enjoying Colombia’s beautiful landscapes.
Located just 62 miles or two and half hours from Medellin, San Rafael is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway.
I recommend that San Rafael be your next stop after spending a few days in Guatape. Only 45 minutes away from Guatape, San Rafael isn’t too crowded with tourists, providing a reprieve from long waiting lines and crowded restaurants.
The town is colorful place full of friendly locals who welcome guests with open arms. I recommend staying two or three nights to get to know all the charms of the village.
Now that you’ve learned a bit about San Rafael, let’s talk about the best ways to get there!
There are several ways to get to San Rafael, depending on your budget and desired comfort level. The three possible transport options to choose from are bus, car, or personal taxi.
Taking the bus is the cheapest way to get to San Rafael, but its also the longest. The ride will take you about three hours due to the bus stops and traffic.
If you’re coming from Medellin, take a taxi or the metro to the North Terminal. Once you’re there, look for booth #9 and choose one of the two bus companies that’ll take you into town:
Make sure to do a bit of research online before your trip to find out the cost of tickets, departure times, or how to travel with your pets.
You’ll be very comfortable on an air conditioned bus, so recline your chair and take a nap, or grab a window seat to see some villages like Guatape, Peñol, and Marinilla!
Driving to the village will give you the opportunity to make some stops, eat a meal, or take some pictures. All you need to do is take the El Peñol-Guatape road.
While the landscapes are beautiful and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the scenic trip, keep in mind that gas and toll booths will add some additional costs to the journey.
I recommend wearing sunscreen and a long-sleeved t-shirt, as the hot sun can burn you even through the car windows. Colombian highways can require a little experience, so if you’re a first-time driver in Colombia, this may not be the option for you.
Driving to San Rafael will probably take you less time than the bus, but there are some factors that may lead to delays like:
If you don’t have a car, you can always rent one in Medellin, but this will be much more expensive than other means of transport.
Hiring a personal driver or taxi to take you directly to the village or place of lodging is a great low-stress option, but can cost up to $50, so make sure to check your pockets beforehand.
You’ll also be able to stop wherever you want to enjoy the views without the added anxiety of driving yourself!
Expect to see a very picturesque village with amazing views and natural places that will leave you speechless, like most places around Medellin, you can practice extreme sports in its waterfalls, where rappelling and canoeing stand out.
You’ll find many viewpoints and nature reserves where you can hike, bird watch, and do ecotours by bike.
You can find boutique hotels that’ll make you feel right at home at any time of the year in San Rafael. The staff are usually very friendly, and always willing to contact ecotourism companies in your behalf or give you tips on places to visit.
For travelers looking to improve their Spanish skills or want to make Spanish-speaking friends, you can attend Spanish workshops all over the town. It’s an unforgettable experience, and a great way to meet new people.
San Rafael is famous for its variety of restaurants spread throughout town. You can find everything from typical Colombian foods to international haute cuisine to vegan and vegetarian options.
And don’t forget to try San Rafael’s artisan coffee!
I recommend my favorite restaurant in town:
The Rustico Lounge is very pleasant place to have a coffee or try a dessert from its big menu.
The restaurant only opens in the evening, but I promise you their pizzas are out of this world!
Whether it’s a day trip or a weekend excursion, San Rafael is a tourist destination you won’t want to mis. The town’s beautiful landscapes, coffee, and friendly people make it the perfect place to rest and relax. We’re sure you’ll love it!
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