Updated January 17th, 2019.
Just an easy 2.5-hour bus ride away from the city of Medellín, the beautiful town of Guatapé, Colombia awaits those in need of some fresh air and nature! Due to its accessibility, the town has become a popular day trip for backpackers and vacationing Paisas (people from Medellín).
Lots of travellers choose to cram this destination into a day trip from Medellín. However, if time allows, we would recommend that you stay for at least a night or two at one of the many awesome backpacker hostels in Guatapé. In our humble opinion, there is a lot more to this tiny town than can be gathered from a quick stop through!
A quaint town with incredibly cheap and delicious eateries, lakeside entertainment, and relaxation at it’s best. The colourful streets and unusual architecture will delight photographers and the surrounding countryside is a nature lover’s heaven with hikes, rock climbing, boating adventures and more.
On the weekends, the small town can get quite busy, but during the week, however, it remains a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Made famous for its impressive monolith, El Peñol, climbing to the top and taking in the views is an absolute must (see view above!), but the town offers much more than this one attraction…
Read our Colombia Backpacking Guide here.
Where to Stay in Guatapé – Top 5 Hostels
Recently more and more luxury accommodation options are popping up in town but for those on a budget, there are still some excellent budget hostels in Guatapé (from as low as $6 US per night). The town is small and from any one of these great hostels, it’s easy to explore on foot (or by boat!)…
1. Lake View Hostel – One of the cheapest options that Guatapé has to offer with dorm beds from $8 US per night, you can’t go wrong with this cheap and cheerful hostel. Right next to the lake (as the name suggests) with a rooftop bar (with a happy hour) where you can meet fellow travellers, rooms are basic but budget travellers have everything they need here!
2. Galería Guatape Hostel – Located on a terrace literally on the iconic El Peñol rock, this hostel gets top marks for location and views. There’s a small dock where you can access the lake for swimming and the friendly staff will help you with anything you need during your time in Guatapé. With beds from $13 US per night.
3. Casa Encuentro by Haus – A ten-minute stroll from the centre of town will get you to one of our favourite spots in Guatape. Located high up on a hill is El Encuentro, a hostel offering dorms, privates, free coffee all day, and some of the best views of Guatape’s reservoir and famous rock. With private swimming and boating access, kayaks and bikes to rent, and hammocks to relax in, staying here is an enchanting experience. Beds from $18 US per night, breakfast included.
4. Mi Casa Guatape – Located right at the base of El Peñol lies this family-friendly hostel. Dorms and privates, a sunny patio overlooking the reservoir, and a social common space. Appropriately named mi casa this place truly does feel like home, with family-style dinners served some nights and inviting common spaces, perfect for curling up with a good book. You can even go crazy in the kitchen with their collection of spices!
5. Adriana’s Bambu Lodge – If you’re looking for something more upmarket in Guatapé then look no further than this exceptional (so the reviews say!) property set in the heart of nature. Cute and stylish bamboo huts will compliment your Guatapé experience and the views from the deck of surrounding nature are breathtaking. Owners Jairo and Adriana will do everything they can to make your stay pleasant and breakfast is a delicious treat! A bungalow costs $58 US per night and sleeps two.
Things to do in Guatapé
Climb El Peñol
No trip to Guatapé would be complete without climbing up the 675 steps of the huge rock, El Peñol, and taking in the 365 views of the reservoir that awaits. The walk only takes 30 minutes and is completely worth the potential sore muscles that you may have afterwards.
Rock Climbing in Guatapé
If you’re looking for something more adventurous than stairs you can also choose to rock climb up the side of El Peñol. Stunning views plus routes for all experience levels and abilities. One climb even includes a stop at a hanging hammock that has been drilled into an overhang on the rock!
There are plenty of wonderful hiking opportunities all around the area of Guatapé. You can head off on your own or organise a tour through any of the town’s popular hostels. One popular hike takes you to a waterfall with a perfect swimming hole to cool off in!
Rent a boat on Guatapé Reservoir
Boating out on Guatapé’s spectacular reservoir is a wonderful way to spend the day. Emerald green waters snake through red clay lands creating complete serenity. Boat away from the malecon (pier) and you are sure to spot an array of wildlife.
How to get to Guatapé
Unless you have your own transportation, the way to Guatapé from Medellín is by local bus. To get to the bus station take the metro to the Caribe stop, from here you can easily buy a bus ticket to Guatapé. The trip takes about 2 ½ hours and your bus will arrive right in the town.
- Medellin: A short bus ride away, if you want to turn the volume up a couple notches head back into Colombia’s dynamic city.
- Santa Fe de Antioquia: This charming town is a great example of countryside Paisa life, only three hours from Guatapé.