If you’re looking for a peaceful, idyllic place while in Colombia, be sure to make a stop in the vibrant town of Guatapé, Colombia, which is surrounded by a lake and the monolith rock, Piedra del Peñol. The rock is a highly sought after attraction of Guatapé, where visitors can climb nearly 700 steps to the top, giving a view of the beautiful countryside and lake below. Getting there is inexpensive from Medellín, and it’s a nice escape from the busy city.
I took a bus from Terminal Norte in Medellín to Guatape for 18000 Colombian pesos (COP) which is less than $6 U.S. dollars. Crazy cheap so don’t rule out Guatapé for being pricy! There are several bus companies in the terminal, so ask for the bus to Guatapé and you’ll be directed to a ticket booth. Booking days in advance isn’t really necessary as there are several buses that run throughout the day to Guatapé. The bus ride takes about two hours and the views on the drive alone are well worth the trip. You’ll ride along the mountains, taking in the scenes of Medellín below as you leave the city then drive throughout the countryside. Colombia is absolutely stunning. I unfortunately was still sick on the drive to Guatapé (I got bad food poisoning on my first day in Colombia – talk about great timing!), but I knew I couldn’t bring myself to cancel going to Guatapé. And I’m so glad I didn’t.
The town is quaint with beautiful homes bursting with bright colors and murals. Every home is unique and walking around the streets is an attraction of itself.
Where to Stay:
There are several hostels in Guatapé. I always search through Hostelworld when traveling to find and compare hostels, and to read reviews from other travelers. You can stay right inside the main town, or head outside to be around nature. We stayed at Casa Encuentro Alojamiento Rural for about $25/night. You can find cheaper options, but this place was on a hillside with a view of Piedra del Peñol, hammocks (which I love), and a balcony/lobby which served tea/coffee and free breakfast. I loved being in a quiet area while also being a short walk to the lake and main square.
What to Do:
To me, Guatapé was the perfect place to take it easy and relax while getting over food poisoning. Lounging in hammocks, drinking tea, and resting was just what I needed! My original intention was to climb the stairs to the top of the nearby rock, but I was too weak to do that. However, I highly recommend doing that at some point during your stay for the panoramic views. Have lunch by the river and wander around the shops and stalls that line the center of the town. The food and snacks are great here. If you’re looking to get out on the water, there are several boat tours and rides offered.
Whatever you decide to do, Guatapé is a great day trip from Medellín or a place to relax and spend several days. I spent one night there, but didn’t want to leave!
Getting Back to Medellín
Depending on how many people are in your party, a taxi ride can be cheaper (or only slightly more per person) and quicker than taking the bus. Because I was still sick, I splurged a few more dollars and took a taxi back, which saved about 30 mins from the ride.
Planning a trip to Medellín? Read my budget guide to Medellín here.
Have you been to Guatapé or Colombia before? Let me know about your experience in the comments below!