Medellín is a great base for organizing a few day trips. One of the best day trips you can take is Guatapé, an extremely beautiful town only two hours away from Medellín. In this blog post, I will show you what a day trip to Guatapé looks like and tell you about the best things to do. Moreover, I will give you practical tips on how to get to Guatapé by public transport.
Interested in more colorful Colombian pueblos? Visit Salento or Filandia.
Start your day trip at the central square
Halfway the morning we arrived in Guatapé and this was actually perfect timing on our part. The city was just waking up and the large tour groups had not arrived yet. Guatapé is a wonderful town for wandering around. It is small and compact. Use the central square with the Iglesia del Nuestra Senora del Carmen as your focus point and explore the side streets. Houses are painted in almost every color of the rainbow and no color combination is considered too crazy.
Spot the most beautiful zócalos
The lower part of the houses is covered in zócalos, a unique part of the architecture of Guatapé. According to the local tradition, the zócalos tell you more about the background of the family that lives in that house. Some show simple shapes, others show local life, animals, or musical instruments. I spotted white lamas, a Mona Lisa painting in Botero style, and even the Dutch translation for ‘I love you’.
Visit Plazoleta de los Zocalos
The most colorful square of the city is the Plazoleta de los Zocalos. The tri-colore steps are a bright collection of zocalos. And also the houses surrounding the square have the same look and are painted in bright colors.
Are you getting hungry and are you looking for a good place for lunch in Guatapé? A tip for the vegetarians and vegans amongst us: go to Namaste Cafe on the river side. The wraps were delicious!
Climb to the top of La Piedra del Peñol
Asia meets Guatapé: this Colombian town has tuk-tuks. The drivers offer tourists rides to La Piedra del Peñol, a gigantic rock just outside the city. It is also possible to walk, but it will take you around 45 minutes or more. The reason why everyone wants to visit La Piedra del Peñol is to see the amazing view from the top. The rock is the result of a governmental project in the 70s. More than 6.000 hectares of land around El Peñol have been put underwater to make the opening for a new hydroelectric dam possible. The result: a beautiful lagoon and a big rock. The 649 steps up are exhausting, but at the top of the rock you will be rewarded with an amazing view over the islands of El Peñol.
Entrance to the El Penol is 18.000 COP. A tuktuk ride from the center is around 8.000 – 10.000 COP.
How to get TO GUATAPÉ from Medellin by public transport
- Use metro line A and get off at Caribe. Metro ticket is 2.000 COP. Station Caribe is connected with a pedestrian bridge with Terminal del Norte (bus station North).
- Warning: Terminal del Norte is huge with more than 50 ticket sales windows. You really have to know which window you need. Tickets for the bus to Guatapé are sold at window 9 or 14. The price is 13.500 COP for a ticket. Buses leave every 15 minutes.
- After arriving in Guatapé, I recommend buying a return ticket right away. Guatapé is a popular day trip destination, so it can get very busy and buses fill up fast. The last bus back to Medellín leaves around 18.30.
Do you want to visit Guatapé on a day trip from Medellín?