How to Get to Guatape From Medellin
Going to Guatape, Colombia from Medellin is one of the easiest day trips from Medellin, and the most fun! Also, if you’re looking for how to get to Medellin from Guatape, use this guide in reverse!
Guatape is a popular side trip because there is nature and small-town Colombian culture to see. While backpacking in Colombia, you’ll want to see big cities, and small towns as well, so Guatape is a great choice.
We’ve gone to Guatape after exploring Medellin both for the day, and as a weekend getaway trip. To reach Guatape, you’ll have to take a public bus. Here’s how to get from Medellin to Guatape with our guide.
Staying overnight in Guatape? See the best hostels in Guatape.
Go to Medellin’s Terminal Norte.
Terminal Norte is the bus station for all routes north and east in Colombia, from Medellin. Guatape is a bit to the east, so any bus for Guatape leaves from this terminal.
To get to Medellin Terminal Norte, you can take a taxi or Uber. You can also reach Terminal Norte by the Medellin metro system Line A (blue) to the Caribe station.
Head down to the ground floor of Terminal Norte.
You will likely arrive at the terminal on the top floor, where the metro bridge connects and where incoming taxis can drop off. The top floor has mostly retail shops and a few cafes, like Dunkin Donuts.
When you get to the bottom floor, you’ll know it is correct because you will see all the ticket booths and bus company signs.
You can take the escalator or elevator to get to the ground floor. Notice that each window is for a bus or transport company that works with a certain route of destinations.
Find ticket booth #14 for buses to Guatape from Medellin.
The bus company is called “Sotrasanvicente & Guatape La Piedra,” which is a long name. If you get lost, you can ask anyone for Guatape, and they’ll point you toward ticket booth 14.
Tickets to Guatape or to La Piedra (the rock, known as El Peñól de Guatapé) will cost 14,000 COP one way. It’s equal to US$4.53 per person (at the time of writing).
Now, grab coffee and snack for your Colombian bus trip.
We found some nice coffee from a place called Deli on the top floor.
There are also snacks everywhere, from empanadas to fresh juices. If you have time, you can explore all the options. We also found a fresh juice stand on the ground floor near the bus ticket booths.
How do you read a Colombian bus ticket?
The ticket will be all in Spanish. Make sure you differentiate between “puesto,” which means seat, and “rampa,” which means gate.
It is unfortunately pretty easy to confuse these words and their meanings. While in the station, we ran into someone we knew. He had confused “puesto” with “rampa,” meaning he went to the gate number of his seat assignment. In a big hurry, he had to then run across the terminal with minutes to spare before he found the correct bus gate.
Our tip: In Colombia, bus seats are assigned when you buy a ticket. This is a good thing, because you can sit next to your friend, and you don’t have to scramble to arrive first to get a good seat.
While on the bus to Guatape from Medellin…
If you want to get off at the Peñól de Guatapé before you go into the town of Guatape, you can tell the driver. The driver will let you off at the entrance to the Piedra, which will be ten minutes before the arrival in the Guatape bus station.
While on the bus, you will see a few types of people board the bus: people begging for money, people selling small snacks and people playing music and then asking for money.
You don’t have to feel obligated to give anyone money, nor to buy anything. Most of these types of vendors will stay on the bus for a few minutes and then leave.
When you reach Guatape, congratulations - you did it! Now you can enjoy a bandeja paisa and a the sights to see in Guatape.
Where to stay in Guatape, Colombia, as a backpacker
Guatape has an array of different places to stay, especially among the hostel offerings.
There are several hostels located in the heart of the town, some hostels near the Piedra (it’s a 40-minute walk from the town) and some hostels up near the farms to the other side of town.
Having once already gone for a day trip to Guatape, during our second trip we decided to go for a more rural experience and stayed at Estaciones Hostal. We walked for about a half hour from the bus station in Guatape’s town to Estaciones Hostal and got to appreciate the rural and small town scenery.