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TLDR? Guatape is a gorgeous lake a few hours away from the city and is the most popular day trip you can take from Medellin.
Guatapé is a colorful town in the Antioquia Department of Colombia. It is located about 84 km east of Medellín, in the Aburrá Valley.
If you’re visiting Medellin, we highly recommend that you add Guatape to your itinerary.
In this article, we will share with you all the information that you need to know in order to plan your trip to Guatape, Colombia.
Medellin is a beautiful city with a lot to do. From museums and parks to nightlife and shopping, there is something for everyone in Medellin. However, if you are looking for a day trip or an overnight excursion, we recommend that you visit Guatape.
Guatapé is a colorful town located in the Antioquia Department of Colombia. It is about 84 km east of Medellin, in the Aburrá Valley. The town is best known for its large rock formations and brightly colored houses.
A lot of visitors check out El Peñon de Guatapé, which is a monolithic rock that stands 200 meters tall. You can hike to the top of the rock for an amazing view of the surrounding area.
In addition to its natural beauty, Guatape is also known for its vibrant culture and friendly locals. The town has a number of restaurants, bars, and cafes, as well as a lively nightlife scene.
The best time to visit Guatapé is during the dry season, which runs from December to March. During this time, the weather is warm and sunny, with little rainfall.
If you visit during the wet season (April to November), bring rain gear. The rains can be heavy at times, and the roads can be slippery.
While it does rain almost every afternoon during the wet season, the rains usually don’t last long. Plus, there is a lower amount of tourists during this time, so you’ll be able to enjoy the town without the crowds.
Since there are several Instagram-worthy spots in Guatape, we recommend that you visit on a weekday if possible.
In addition, go early in the day to avoid the heat and the crowds. Many of the best photo spots are located in the center of town, so you can easily walk from one spot to another.
You have a few options for getting to Guatapé from Medellin.
The easiest way is to take a bus from the Terminal del Norte, which is located in the north of the city. The journey takes about 2 hours and costs around COP$ 18,000 COP (subject to change).
Usually, there is a bus every 30 minutes, and the first bus leaves at 6:00 am.
You can also take a private shuttle or rent a car, but this is more expensive. The benefit is that it is faster than a bus, and you can make stops along the way.
Lastly, you can do a day tour from Medellin. This is a good option if you want someone else to take care of the logistics.
When you’re visiting a new town or city, one of the best things to do is eat local food. Guatape is no exception. The town has a number of traditional restaurants that serve delicious Colombian cuisine.
Like other popular tourist towns, there are higher price tags for food and drinks in Guatape if you follow the crowd. However, the key is to get off the beaten path and eat where the locals eat.
You can get a beer for as little as $1 USD at some of the local bars, and a meal will cost you around $5 USD.
We highly recommend going to a local place and getting arepas. The ones in Guatape are some of the best that we’ve ever had.
They are topped with so many delicious toppings, including cheese, avocado, and chorizo. Plus, they are cheap and filling.
Also, you have to grab a palitos de queso (cheese sticks) from one of the street vendors. The cheese is fried and served with a spicy dipping sauce. You can also opt for a sweet version, which is served with chocolate or fruit salsas.
Lastly, grab a cocktail or two at one of the local bars. If you like the taste of black licorice, try a shot of aguardiente. It’s the national drink of Colombia, and it definitely packs a punch.
In addition to eating delicious food, there are plenty of other things to do in Guatapé. Here are some of our favorite activities:
As we mentioned before, El Peñol is a 200-meter tall monolithic rock that is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Guatape.
The hike to the top is relatively easy and takes about 15-30 minutes. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding area.
If you’re visiting on a clear day, you’ll be able to see all the way to Medellin.
Insider tip: Go to Guatapé first, stay the night, and then hike El Peñon early in the morning before all the tour groups arrive. This way, you can avoid the crowds and enjoy the views in peace.
Part of the color and charm of Guatape comes from the pueblo de zócalos. These are beautifully made moldings that line the bottom of the buildings in the town center.
Each zócalo is unique and tells a different story. You can learn about the history and meaning of each one by taking a walking tour with a local guide.
Or, you can simply admire them as you wander around town. Either way, they are definitely worth checking out.
You can take a boat tour of Guatapé Lake, which is absolutely beautiful. The tour will take you around the lake and to some of the small islands in the middle.
The boat tours typically last about 1-2 hours, and you’ll get to see some amazing scenery. You can either do a solo trip or include one with a tour of El Peñon.
Guatapé is known for its handicrafts, so be sure to browse the shops and pick up a souvenir or two. You’ll find a variety of items, including paintings, sculptures, and jewelry.
Barter with the shopkeepers to get the best price, and don’t be afraid to walk away if you don’t like their offer.
This might be better to do during the dry season when rainstorms are less likely.
You can rent jet skis at a few different places in town, and it’s a great way to enjoy the lake. Just be sure to follow all the safety rules and regulations.
For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, take a scenic helicopter flight over Guatape and the surrounding area.
You’ll get stunning views of El Peñon, Guatapé Lake, and the town. It’s an incredible experience that you won’t soon forget.
If you want to get out on the water but don’t want to do a boat tour, you can always rent a paddleboard or kayak.
It’s a great way to explore Guatapé Lake at your own pace, and you can even bring food and drinks with you to enjoy while you paddle around.
There is a floating bar on the edge of the lake, and it’s a great place to relax with a drink in hand.
You can hang there for a few hours, listen to music, and take in the stunning views.
There are also hikes to waterfalls and other natural attractions near Guatapé.
So, if you’re looking for something a little different to do, head out on one of the trails and explore the Colombian countryside. You might also get to see some wildlife along the way.
You can’t visit Colombia without learning about its coffee.
Guatapé is located in the Zona Cafetera, which is one of the most important coffee-growing regions in the country. So, it’s the perfect place to learn about the coffee-making process and taste some of the best coffee in Colombia.
There are a few different plantations that offer tours, and you’ll get to see how the coffee is grown, harvested, and roasted.
You can even buy some to take home with you.
Guatapé is the perfect place for a picnic. There are plenty of spots around the lake where you can set up your blanket and enjoy a meal with a view.
Insider tip: Stop by one of the bakeries in town and get a few freshly-baked empanadas to enjoy. They’re delicious!
There are a few different places to stay in Guatape, and you’ll find something to suit all budgets. You can either stay in a lake view hotel, a cozy bed, and breakfast, or a budget hotel.
You can also find Airbnbs in town, which is a great option if you’re traveling with a group.
If you have the budget, then check out a lake view hotel. These are for people looking to relax and enjoy the views.
However, if you want to indulge in the local culture and save some money, then getting a room in town is the way to go.
Overall, you won’t be disappointed with a getaway visit to Guatapé. It’s one of the most beautiful and unique places in Colombia, and there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
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