On my first three trips to Guatape, I never went to San Rafael. What a mistake!
Apart from its main square, I must admit that the village is not very beautiful. However, the atmosphere is 100% authentic. There are people in the streets, noise, music, cheap restaurants, and drunk “cowboys” on Sundays. The Antioqueño hinterland in its purest form. There is a Spanish school there. It is the perfect place to learn a new language. 😉
The rivers are splendid and represent one of the major assets of San Rafael. The water is crystal clear, and some natural pools like Las Tangas or Trocadero are easily accessible!
If you want to add some adrenaline to your Colombian itinerary, Eco Guias organizes tubing and canyoning excursions. We loved it!
San Rafael is 45 minutes by bus from Guatape.
Getting to San Rafael?
From San Carlos to San Rafael
- Bus company Transoriente from the terminal | 1h30 pm | 1 h
- Bus Company Sotra San Vincente from the terminal |2h30 pm | 1h
Schedules may vary. Double-check with your hotel.
From Medellin to San Rafael
- Buses leaving frequently from the North Terminal. Last bus leaves around 5 pm. | Sotra San Vicente & Guatape del Penol | 3 hours
Where's the terminal?
There’s no actual terminal in San Rafael. Buses arrive and depart from the main square of the village.
Table of Contents
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Where to stay in San Rafael
There are only a few accommodation options in San Rafael. You can pick a basic hotel near the main square, but it will be a bit loud at night. We recommend staying in the Spanish School instead. The streets are up and down, but you can ask for a tuk-tuk. There is also a peaceful and beautiful ecolodge outside of San Rafael.
Hostel - $
Eco LanguageSpanish School with basic rooms. Quiet place and lovely atmosphere. The staff is super friendly.Get the best price
hotel - $$$
C. de Morgan15-20 min walk. Lovely guesthouse surrounded by natural pools. Delicious food. Staff.Get the best price
EcoLodge - $$
Ritmo del Rio25 min Tuktuk drive. There is all you need on the spot. Lovely cabins. Rivers & birds. Great staff.Get the best price
Things to do in San Rafael
San Rafael is surrounded by beautiful crystal-clear rivers accessible by foot or tuk-tuk. It's also an excellent spot for canyoning and tubing!
4 - 6 hours | Free
Natural poolsLas Tangas and Trocadero are two natural pools near San Rafael. Crowded during the weekend.Learn more
4 - 6 hours | $$
CanyoningEco Guias offers 2 different routes according to your level. High and beautiful waterfalls. Adrenaline.Learn more
4 - 6 hours | $
TubingGo down the river on an inner tube. Depending on the route you pick, it can be raucous. Loads of fun.Learn more
1 week +
Eco LanguageEco language offers activities, accommodation, and Spanish lessons. It's a 100% immersion experience.Learn more
2 - 3 days
San CarlosSan Carlos is another town surrounded by beautiful rivers and waterfalls. 1h bus ride from San Rafael. Read our travel guide!
Our articles about San Rafael
We spent 4 days in San Rafael, and we wrote about our travel experiences.
Where to sleep? What to do? Where to eat? How do you get from one place to another?
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