Is a day trip to Guatape, Colombia one of the easiest and safest things to do if you’re in Medellin? Yes!

Guatape is a popular side trip for travelers experiencing the Medellin region. It’s a small town with a few super colorful traditional streets, a town square and of course, El Peñón de Guatapé (Piedra del Peñol), the huge monolith situated outside the town that bedazzles visitors.

We’ve gone to Guatape after exploring Medellin both for the day, and as a weekend getaway trip. Traveling in this region is incredibly safe, making both Guatape and Medellin great and safe destinations for first-time travelers or experienced globetrotters.

Helpful Tip

Staying overnight in Guatape? See the best hostels in Guatape. Want a travel guide to help you find the best things to do in Guatape? Get a Lonely Planet guide book on Amazon or Bookshop.org

How to get to Guatape by bus

The following directions are for taking a bus to Guatape from Medellin, and back!

Know how long it takes to get to Guatape from Medellin by bus

The bus will take roughly two hours to get to Guatape from Medellin, making the journey to Guatape one of the best day trips from Medellin. The bus route is a fairly routine one, and you’ll find a mix of locals and tourists joining you for the trip.

Go to Medellin’s Terminal Norte.

The first step in getting to Guatape is to go to the correct bus terminal! 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. Remember to use our Medellin safety guide to learn more about the safest ways to get around Medellin and what to know.

It’s true that Colombian bus stations can be confusing, so it pays to arrive early, or as early as possible. There is not much English in Medellin’s Terminal Norte, so feel free to use a travel app like Google Translate! For more on Medellin’s bus terminals, visit this guide from Medellin Guru.

Consider booking a bus ticket from Medellin online

We took the adventurous route by figuring this out by ourselves, several years back. We asked around with multiple expats and locals in order to get the most up-to-date details on how to get to Guatape.

These days, we’d rather book online from a reputable source, with the peace of mind of knowing that a ticket is reserved for us.

We recommend checking out gottoGO! You can book a bus directly to Peñól de Guatapé, which also has a bus stop of its own.

Remember to book MORE than 24 hours in advance in order for the vendor to secure your ticket effectively! Last-minute bookings cannot be honored and may lead to complications, so do this early on.

This is a sure way to travel conveniently and to your destination and avoiding confusion.

Head down to the ground floor of Terminal Norte.

You will likely arrive at the terminal on the top floor, where a bridge connects from Medellin’s metro, and where incoming taxis can drop off travelers. 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. There are quite a few, and they transport people all over Colombia, which is amazing (because Colombia is gigantic!).

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 $3.67 USD per person.

Now, grab coffee and a snack for your bus trip.

We found some nice coffee from a place called Deli on the top floor. As you may notice from our other travel guides, we’re happy to try coffee anywhere!

There are also snacks all around, 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.

Read your bus ticket correctly

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.

Helpful 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.

Use the restroom before the bus leaves!

Try to use the restroom right before you depart, and leave time for this in case there is a wait. The bus may or may not stop because the trip from Medellin to Guatape is considered a shorter route. You can expect stops for longer routes, like from Medellin to Bogota or from Medellin to Jardin.

Board the bus!

Use your ticket to find your bus gate, and be a little early. Buses tend to run on time in Colombia. Remember to use your ticket to sit in the correct assigned seat.

Enjoy the ride!

Now is the time to sit back and relax … you’re on a bus to Guatape!

When to get off the bus to Guatape

If you want to get off at the Peñól de Guatapé (the monolith) 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 (“the Stone”), which will be ten minutes before the arrival in the Guatape bus station. Keep an eye on your Google Maps, or just look out the window!

Helpful Tip

Keep in mind that the Piedra would be an hour by walking distance from the town center of Guatape. We actually gave this a shot during our second trip to Guatape, and it’s not the most exciting walk, but it can be done if you really have the time.

While on the bus to Guatape from Medellin

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. It’s possible that a local vendor might get on to sell small snacks in between stops throughout your route. This is fairly common in Colombia, and you will probably notice this both on bus trips and while walking around city or town squares.

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 (yum) and a the sights to see in Guatape.

How to get to Guatape with a private day trip tour

Above, we mentioned that we’ve gone to Guatape both as a day trip, and as an overnight trip! Most people will say that you probably don’t need two days in Guatape, unless you’re doing more things like visitng a farm, going on a boat cruise, taking a coffee tour or doing the Guatape helicopter ride.

If you are interested in going to Guatape for a day trip and you want to save time in getting there and back, opt for a group day trip with a tour operator and everything included. There are quite a few choices to choose from, and we’ll list a few here, depending on what you like to do!

Getting to Guatape with a driver and a small group in a van could spare you from bus delays, missing the bus or other complications.

How to get to Guatape by car

The drive to Guatape from Medellin is a twisty-turny route because of all the mountains and hills. Without traffic, the drive could take only 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Where to stay in Guatape, Colombia (backpacker hostels)

Guatape has an array of different places to stay, from hotels, to hostels, to Airbnbs. In recent years, there have been some awesome Airbnbs that have popped up, from cabins to tiny homes to some luxe vacation homes for rent.

For the backpacking crowd, there are several hostels located in the heart of the town, some hostels near the Piedra (it’s a 45 to 60-minute walk from most parts of 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 were awoken by the sound of roosters at dawn, and had some cool views of the Piedra when we walked back to town in the morning.

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. We got to take a whole bunch of photos, too!

Looking for more Medellin side trips and day trips?

Going to Guatape from Medellin is only one excursion you can do during your vacation or travels to this region of Colombia. I suggest checking out our list of possible day trips from Medellin to get inspired.

For more ideas on places to go from Medellin, look no further than our Santa Fe de Antioquia travel guide and what to do in Jardin.

Last, make sure you’ve checked out our Medellin travel guide as well!