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A Complete Guide to Guatapé, Colombia

architecture antioquia
Streets of Guatapé

Guatapé: The Most Colorful Town in Colombia

Guatapé, Colombia is a very colorful and lively town located just 2 hours from Medellín. The resort town boasts one of the best attractions in Colombia, El Peñón. Colombians are fun people and if you come here on the weekend, the beers will be flowing by 10 AM. For a small town, there are lots of bars and even a discoteca near the town square.

Many people come to Guatapé as a day trip from Medellín, but I highly recommend spending the night. This will not only give you more time to enjoy the town but also allow you to beat the crowds to El Peñón.

Guatapé features on the best small towns in South America. Check out the rest of the list!

What to Do

El Peñón – Climb 694 steps to the top of the 65 million year old rock for incredible views of the lake. This was easily one of the highlights of the 6 weeks I spent in Colombia. The entrance is 20,000 Colombian pesos (COP), and make sure to bring bug spray because they are swarming at the top. You can walk an hour from town or take a moto-taxi to the entrance. It’s a very popular attraction, so it’s best to go first thing in the morning to arrive before those making the day trip from Medellín.  

Guatapé, Colombia
View from El Peñón

Related: A Complete Travel Guide to Salento, Colombia

Plazoleta de los Zócalos – Cafes line the most colorful street in Guatapé and you can often find a musician performing here. 

Boat tour – You can go on a 90-minute boat tour full of reggaeton, Guatapé history (mostly about Pablo Escobar), and have a few beers for only 20,000 COP. 

Rent a jet ski – A thrilling 30-minute ride across the lake costs about 100,000 COP. There are many places to rent along the waterfront. 

Rent a moto – A popular route is to head towards the town of San Rafael and stop off in Bizcocho for a swim. If you don’t have much experience, it’s a great place to practice driving because the road isn’t very crowded. There are shops along the waterfront where you can rent a moto for cheap.

Related: 15 Things to Know Before Visiting Colombia

Where to Eat

El Castillo – Typical Antioquian cuisine with a nice view of the town square. Definitely the best meal I had in Guatapé. 

Casa Cuba – Come here for delicious Cuban food and drinks, and to meet the very charismatic owner.

Where to Stay

Casa Rosa – A small hostel in a historic house just a block from the town square with very cheap dorms. It was very clean, had comfortable beds, and friendly staff. 

Lake View Hostel – A budget option with wonderful views and a staff that is happy to help you book tours.

How Long to Stay

2 days is the perfect amount of time in Guatapé before heading elsewhere in Colombia.

Where to Next After Guatapé, Colombia

Medellín (2 hours by bus) –  Renowned for its nightlife, the city of eternal spring is famed for its history surrounding Colombia’s drug cartels.

Jardín (7 hours via Medellín) – A laidback, authentic town with great coffee and short hikes.

Salento (9 hours via Medellín) – A charming town in the coffee axis with the best day hike in the country and a tejo bar.

Bogotá (12 hours via Medellín) – Capital city with great museums, the country’s tallest waterfall, and one of the most iconic nightclubs in the Americas.

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