Known as the most colourful town in South America, Guatapé is generally done as a day or overnight trip from Medellín. The town definitely lives up to its reputation, and we recommend you spend a night here, as opposed to just taking a day tour. Seeing the town without the hustle and bustle of day tourists makes it way more enjoyable! On the way visit La Piedra, a giant rock you can hike up for an amazing view of the lakes and islands in this area. It really looks like Colombia’s cottage country! Don’t forget your camera for this small Colombian town, you’ll want to take a picture of every colourful shop and store!
How to Get There
You’ll need to get to Caribe Metro Station in Medellín by taxi or subway. Once there, cross the bridge from the subway to Station Norté. Head down to the main floor and you’ll find a long corridor of bus ticket windows promoting Guatapé (windows 1-15 when we were there). You’ll want to purchase tickets to La Piedra, which is on the way to Guatapé, about 15 minutes before it. It’s a giant rock you can climb up with amazing views of the lakes and islands in the area! Our bus ticket to La Piedra was 12,500 COP, whereas the ticket to Guatapé is 13,500 COP. The trip to La Piedra took about 1 hour and 40 minutes.
You can walk up to La Piedra in 10 minutes (although the tuk tuks will tell you it’s impossible! — don’t listen to them!) then buy your entry ticket (scroll down for more information). On the way back skip the tuk tuks offering you a ride back for 15,000 COP, and walk down to the main road to where you got off the bus. We got an awesome colourful tuk tuk for 5000 COP, however you can also catch the next bus for 2000 COP.
To get back to Medellín, you can buy bus tickets at the stop on the north side of town by the water for 13,500 COP. You can’t miss it! It leaves from 4:30am to 7pm every half hour. If it’s not too busy and you’re not worried about getting a seat you can wait on the main road just west of the bus stop, and get on for cheaper.
Where to Stay
- Hospaje Guatapé – We stayed at Hospaje Guatapé for 50,000 COP for a private double room with a ensuite bathroom. The place had good wifi, and was very colourful like most of the town! It also had a nice kitchen you could use, and a nice view over a soccer field.
What to Do
- Plazoleta de Los Zocalos – The main square of Guatapé depicted in our feature photo, it had an awesome vibe and was drenched in amazing colour! Grab a spot at an outside table near a coffee shop, and enjoy a beverage while taking in the frequent live music. We embarrassingly couldn’t find this plaza for a stupid amount of time, so for reference it’s behind the main church; just walk past the church and cut down an alley to find it.
- La Piedra – An enormous rock seemingly coming out of nowhere with an awesome view! Try to hit it on your way in to Guatapé save some time and money, directions are above. 18,000 COP will gain you entry to climb the 700+ steps to the top, where you can take in the beauty of the lakes and islands nestled among mountains with a 360 degree view. It was very reminiscent of our Canadian cottage country!
- Wander the colourful streets -Plazoleta de Los Zocalos isn’t the only colourful area of Guatapé! We had a ton of fun just wandering the streets looking at the colourful buildings and zocalos (pictures at the base of each building, often depicting what the building does). You’ll see things like sailboats and dragons, or a man in suit thinking about a sheep? Not really sure about that one! Lots of picturesque moments.
Where to Eat
- Find the Empanada Ladies – If you go one street south of the main street you would cut down to the Plazoleta de Los Zocalos (labelled as Calle 30 on google maps), you’ll hopefully find the Empanada Ladies! Freshly made right in front of you, these delicious small empanadas are amazing! Also, they cost only 500 COP each, so approximately a quarter CAD. Try to seek these ladies out, they deserve some more business!
- Mirador del Lago – One of the restaurants along the water, we tried the famous Colombian dish Bandeja Paisa here. Basically a terribly unhealthy smattering of fried foods, this huge dish consists of fried eggs, fried plantain, chicharrón (fried pork belly), ground meat, avocado, chorizo (pork sausage), arepa, rice and beans. It wasn’t half bad for what it was, and the staff were very nice.
- Wrapi – A fun touristy spot where you can make your own wrap or salad. 9000 COP for a wrap, and 12,000 COP for a salad, it’s a nice change up from normal Colombian fare.
- Vecchio Forno – A nice spot that’s open late, we had some absolutely amazing nachos here. Some of the best we’ve ever had!
- Snuggly Duckling – A hostel and restaurant, it offered a few snacks and bites. We were intrigued by the cheesecake and although the portion was small, we weren’t disappointed.