Medellin, Colombia Side Trip – Guatapé

(Last Updated On: February 10, 2016)

Guatapé is a not-to-be-missed day trip from Medellin. The quaint town is a cheerfully colored sleepy destination that is popular with Colombians looking for a break for the crowded city.

guatape Colombia
Guatapé’s colorful streets

Your first encounter when nearing Guatapé is the star attraction to the area: La Piedra Del Peñol (the rock of Guatapé) .  An enormous rock that entices you to the summit with a 659 stair climb.  Quite a sight.  There is a parking lot at the base of the rock, but, if like us you were let off by the bus at the street below you have several options.  There are brightly painted pica picas (think tuk-tuk), private taxi cabs or vendors with horses all offering their services.  We opted to walk.

Guatape Colombiatuk-tuk
Guatape Colombiatuk-tuk

There are 2 sets of stairs, one for climbing up and the other for making the descent.  Not being a fan of heights I was pleased that the former wooden stairs have now been replaced by sturdy cement version with high sides.  Views of the dizzying heights are possible but not necessary.

La Piedra Del Peñol
La Piedra Del Peñol
Still a little way to go…

At the top of the rock you are rewarded with a panoramic view of the lakes below.  The lakes were formed in the 1970’s when the land was flooded as part of the development of a hydroelectric dam  that now supplies over a third of electric power to the Colombia.  The system of lakes also provide recreation and a host of business opportunities for the area. There are lots of companies offering cruises and fishing trips along the shore.

View from Rock of Guatapé
View from Rock of Guatapé


Also lining the shore are several restaurants, mostly Parillas with outdoor grills offering up steak, chicken and locally caught fish.

Grill Master at Work

You can wander along the streets taking in the smells and the sights while enjoying a beer or a Michelada (beer mixed fresh lime juice with a salt rim) sold by several vendors along the way.2014-05-01 13.16.17


You can get to Guatapé by taking a bus from Medellin at the North Station at the Caribe Metro Stop.  The companies offering trips to Guatapé are toward the back of the Station on the first floor.  The trip takes about 1.5 hours and costs $6 US.  If you forgot to pack a snack for the trip, no worries.  Several vendors hop on and off the bus along the way offering a variety of sweets and homemade potato chips.

Mucho Gusto!

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19 thoughts on “Medellin, Colombia Side Trip – Guatapé”

  1. The view of steps from the base of the rock is simply vertigo-inducing! The view of the lakes from the top makes the climb so worthwhile though, I am sure 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  2. I was just there this past week for semena santa! I climbed up those stairs and I’m seriously afraid of heights but I did it anyway. I had no idea the steps used to be wood… so glad they are concrete now. The climb was intense but so worth it. Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂

    • I’m afraid heights too but it wasn’t too bad – it’s always rewarding to push past that fear. Makes getting to the top and having a lovely view feel all the more rewarding. Happy Travels!

  3. I actually skipped Medellin altogether when I travelled to Colombia. I was really tired of big cities and for some reason I did not feel attracted to it. By the look of it, I missed out. Guatapé looks like an interesting place to visit from Medellin!

  4. I haven’t been to Colombia and South America altogether nut reading this post made me want to visit. The rock is very impressive and the view from it even better.Why is the best view so hard to get? The colorful houses of the town looks so cute too. Thanks for sharing it does look a very interesting place to go!

  5. Colombia is one of our favourite countries in South America, but on our last trip we didn’t get to Medellin. It will certainly be a part of this trip and we’ll make a point of taking ourselves to Guatape. I’m not so sure about all those stairs to the top of the rock though…

  6. That looks like a great day trip! Sad to say I didn’t take it when I cycled through a few years back. The colours of the town look amazing, but the weirdness of that staircase is the thing that attracts me the most!

  7. 695 steps! Wow I gave up on 359 in Mazatlan Mexico to see the highest lighthouse in the world. The close-up photo of the stairs are as great as the photo from a distance! But I am afraid I will never be able to make it, now that I am 67. But the view of the lakes is awesome from the top. Thanks for letting me vicariously experience it.

  8. I did a similar climbing stairs in Kangaroo Island and gave up on the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona due to vertigo. This staircase de La Piedra del Penol looks amazing and since the steps are concrete I think I would dare do this. The view from the top is really worthwhile!

  9. I love places like this so thank you for the recommendation. I need to get back to South America, its been too long. What a great culture and so much to do. I’m glad you explained what the stairs up the giant rock are like because I’m scared of heights. Its always something people don’t comment on and I get there and freak out hahaha. It looks like a great colourful place. Thanks for sharing.

  10. An amazing place in your photos!
    I wish I had known about it when I was in Medellin – but then I had so little time that I hardly managed to see something in the surrounding areas.
    Stairs in la Piedra de Penol are absolutely great! But it seems light a tough walk up!

  11. Great post, absolutely captures the best of Guatapé. We loved the time we spent there, even in a rainy period, it was still beautiful.

    Unfortunately we didn’t made the trek to the top of the rock, but definitely meaning to next time we go!

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