For day trips, the beautiful village of Guatape is the most popular destination for tourists (locals or foreigners) departing from Medellín. However, plan this outing wisely as part of your Colombian itinerary if you don’t want to find yourself in a crowded place.
Avoid Colombian holidays, Holy Week, school holidays, and weekends!
The Guatape place is known for two reasons:
The charming colonial village, although it’s not very big.
El Peñol, this massive rocky monolith at the top of which the view is splendid. You will have to climb 750 steps to reach its summit.
If you don’t have too much time, it might be a good option to take just one day to do it all, since Guatape is a 2-hourdrive from Medellín. However, count about 3 hours for the return trip because you will arrive at the end of the day at rush hour.
My advice to visit Guatape:
Leave Medellín in the morning with a small bag and spend the night in Guatape. Visit the town and book an aquatic activity on the lake for your first day.
Wake up early the next morning and climb to the top of the Peñol, you’ll be alone! They open at 8 am.
Take the bus around 2 pm to get back to Medellín. You can buy your return ticket in advance directly at the bus station.
Another option would be to include in your tour Guatape with San Rafael and San Carlos, two small authentic and off-the-beaten-track villages. Ideal for discovering the Antioqueño hinterland, its crystal clear rivers, water activities (tubing and canyoning), or short hikes.
El Peñol and Guatape are 2km away from each other, and there are excellent hotels in between. To move from one to another, you can take buses or tuk-tuks for 5 - 10 000 COP. It's easy. Moreover, your hotel can call you one if needed. Landscapes are so lovely that I don't recommend staying in town (too much noise).
Except for going to the top of El Peñol, there is not much to do in Guatape. This is why I recommend picking a lovely hotel near the lake where you can relax and do some kayak. In town, local travel agencies offer different tours to waterfalls (hard to find otherwise) and water activities on the lake.
Where to sleep? What to do? Where to eat? How do you get from one place to another?
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