Guatape is a destination not too far from Medellin and is a popular place to go, for visitors of all types! Not only is Guatape a town, but it has a giant monolith rock called El Penol that you can walk up for awesome views.

Each time we’ve gone to Guatape, we see something new and appreciate more about this colorful little town that invites travelers from all over the world! You can use this guide to see all the things to do in Guatape.

How to get to Guatape

As Guatape is one of the best day trips from Medellin, we wrote an entire guide about how to get to Guatape from Medellin like a local.

If you prefer to go with a tour that includes transport, activities and a Spanish-speaking local guide, check out all the options at Tripadvisor.

Best things to do in Guatape

Guatape is an excellent day trip from Medellin because it’s accessible, scenic and rather interesting. We really enjoyed the colors, the green scenery and the adorable decor on mostly every building. We’ve actually been to Guatape twice! Our first trip was a day trip. We saw the Piedra del Peñol (the huge rock), walked around some of the downtown, ate lunch and then headed back into Medellin.

Keep reading to learn more about the Piedra del Peñol. Our second trip was an overnight trip. We were able to take our time, relax and enjoy a slightly slower pace.

Piedra del Peñol view from the distance in Guatape Colombia Yellow wooden door in Guatape Colombia Colorful streets in Guatape Colombia

First, decide if you’ll be going for one day or for more. Then, check out how to get to Guatape from Medellin. We stayed for one night at Estaciones Hostal, which is a 30-minute walk from the town, up some rural scenic roads.

Walk around Plazoleta de Los Zócalos

Could this be the best photo spot in Guatape? Probably! This little plaza is surrounded by some of Guatape’s tallest buildings (they’re only five stories) and every one of them is painted with lots of bright colors. There’s also colorfully-painted steps that lead up to the top of the plaza.

Colorful buildings and blue sky around around Plazoleta de Los Zócalos in Guatape Colombia Close up of a green plant in Guatape Colombia

On both the bottom and top of the plazoleta you’ll find little cafes that sells sweets and coffee, and some gift shops. We had coffee at Martine, toward the steps back up to the main square.

If you take the ramp up the left side of the Plazoleta, don’t miss the little window where a man sells empanadas starting at 500 COP ($0.12 USD)! We basically lived off of those empanadas!

Walk around the main town square and its church

Parroquia Nuestra Señora Del Carmen is the town’s ‘iglesia’ (church) and it’s set right on the main square.

The church is white and red, and you can walk inside to see the interior. Next to it is a small garden that you can visit as well.

Parroquia Nuestra Señora Del Carmen in Guatape Colombia Yellow leaves on a green bush in Guatape Colombia

Pick a restaurant and watch people go by

Guatape’s restaurants are all located near the bus station and along the water at the Malecon, or surrounding the main square. We found that they all serve mostly the same food!

You can order bandeja paisa, breakfast foods like eggs and meat or try baked goods and dessert at the bakeries. You can also sit outside at the tables with a beer and watch people go by. We ate at Restaurante Bar Kennedy for breakfast and it was delicious!

Keep in mind that a bandeja paisa is huge. We recommend ordering 1 and sharing it.

Fried potatoes street food vendor in Guatape Colombia The old streets of Guatape Colombia

Walk in the colorful streets of Guatape

As you walk away from the main square, the streets get quieter and you can see into Guatape local life. The entire town is safe and the locals are quite accustomed to the daily stream of tourists. If you are ever concerned about basic safety in Colombia, read up on our tips in our Medellin safety guide.

While you’re walking in the colorful streets, try to see how many different types of painted decor you see on the homes!

This can also be your opportunity to take a tuk-tuk. You can find some really colorful tuk-tuks around the street.

The colorful streets and street life of Guatape Colombia The colorful streets and painted walls of homes in Guatape Colombia Taking photos of colorful streets and painted houses in Guatape Colombia

Hike from town to la Piedra

If you take a tuk-tuk from the town to the Piedra, it will cost you 10,000 COP ($2.49 USD). The ride takes about 10 minutes at most.

If you’d like to see some views and warm up your legs before climbing the rock, you can walk there, like we did on our day trip! The walk is rather straightforward and you’ll follow the main road that directs all cars out of the town center.

Tuk-tuks driving on the road in Guatape Colombia Piedra del Peñol from a distance as seen from a farm in Guatape Colombia

There are not sidewalks during the entire length of the walk (43 minutes and 2.0 miles), but we were surprised to find that some of the sidewalks were stone steps built into the hills. There was even a wooden suspension bridge that takes pedestrians from one side to the other.

Wooden walking bridge going over the road in Guatape Colombia Woman posing for photo with famous Piedra del Peñol in Guatape Colombia Boat in the water of the lake near the big rock in Guatape Colombia

Along the walk are some unique views of the rock that you cannot find elsewhere. This is why we recommend taking this route to get from the Guatape town to the Piedra.

Most of the photos that you see are of the rock up close. We like being able to see it in scale of the landscape to really appreciate how unique it is.

Cows in a field on a farm outside Guatape Colombia The Piedra del Peñol famous spot in Guatape Colombia Cow in a field on a farm outside the town of Guatape Colombia

Hike the Piedra del Peñol

The Piedra is a mammoth 220-meter (721-foot) rock that you can climb if you pay for an entrance ticket. There are 740 steps! The views from the top are lovely, and you can see a lot of the surrounding lake region on a clear day. There are vendors who sell snacks and drinks at the top (they’re a little more expensive than anything you’d find in town).

When you get off the bus, you’ll see the first hill, which has a restaurant and a small shop. You can walk up steps or walk around the side ramp to the parking lot to the Piedra del Peñol. It’s in the parking lot area where most of the markets, shops for souvenirs and food are.

Piedra del Peñol famous big rock in Guatape Colombia CLimb the Piedra del Peñol many steps in Guatape Colombia Lots of steps at Piedra del Peñol big rock of Guatape Colombia

The rock closes daily at 6:00 pm each day and tourists are told to start heading down the steps at 5:30 pm. If you would like to stay for sunset, don’t worry! There are viewpoints that you can access near the parking lot, before the ticket booth.

Guatape Colombia view from top of the big rock View of Piedra del Peñol rock in Guatape Colombia View of the lakes in Guatape Colombia from on top of the big rock
Helpful Tip

Bring enough cash for buying entry tickets (18,000 COP per person), a bus back to Medellin or a tuk-tuk back to Guatape and food or drink at the top of the Piedra. We couldn’t find any ATMs at the rock, as they are all located in the town of Guatape itself.

We hope you enjoy your trip to Guatape! For more inspiration, check out our Guatape gallery.

Where to stay in Guatape overnight

Guatape has a wide variety of different places to stay. Check out some of our top picks for where to stay in Guatape!