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.

  • Eco Language

    Hostel - $

    Eco Language

    Spanish School with basic rooms. Quiet place and lovely atmosphere. The staff is super friendly.
    Get the best price
  • C. de Morgan

    hotel - $$$

    C. de Morgan

    15-20 min walk. Lovely guesthouse surrounded by natural pools. Delicious food. Staff.
    Get the best price
  • Ritmo del Rio

    EcoLodge - $$

    Ritmo del Rio

    25 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!

  • Natural pools

    4 - 6 hours | Free

    Natural pools

    Las Tangas and Trocadero are two natural pools near San Rafael. Crowded during the weekend.
    Learn more
  • Canyoning

    4 - 6 hours | $$


    Eco Guias offers 2 different routes according to your level. High and beautiful waterfalls. Adrenaline.
    Learn more
  • Tubing

    4 - 6 hours | $


    Go down the river on an inner tube. Depending on the route you pick, it can be raucous. Loads of fun.
    Learn more
  • Eco Language

    1 week +

    Eco Language

    Eco language offers activities, accommodation, and Spanish lessons. It's a 100% immersion experience.
    Learn more
  • San Carlos

    2 - 3 days

    San Carlos

    San 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 eat & drink?

For us, good restaurants and exciting nightlife are important when traveling. We gathered our favorite picks on an interactive Map. Download the APP "Mapstr" and look for "Colombia Insider"!

More places in Antioquia

More Travel Guides

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