Guatape Reservoir

How To Visit Guatape From Medellin [3 Options]

Guatape is a charming town known for its vibrant colours, picturesque reservoir, and the iconic El Penol rock formation. Situated just a few hours away from Medellin, it's a popular destination for travellers seeking a break from the bustling city life. But what's the best way to visit Guatape? Here are three options tailored to different preferences, budgets, and time constraints.

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What’s the Best Way to Visit Guatape From Medellin?

There are three options for how to visit Guatape from Medellin:

 

  • Guided Day Tour – visiting Guatape on a guided tour is ideal for budget backpackers looking to make the most of limited funds and time. It should cost between $20-40 and includes transport and food.

 

  • Self-Guided/Overnight Stay – this option is perfect for travellers seeking independence and flexibility. This option allows you to explore at your own pace, tailoring your itinerary to your interests and schedule. However, it will cost around $50-100 due to the overnight stay. 

 

  • 2 Day / 2 Night Stay – I recommend this option for couples or flashpackers seeking an escape from Medellin. A weekend stay via an Airbnb or hotel offers the perfect blend of comfort and convenience. However, this will be the most expensive option and will cost around $150-200.
Guatape Reservoir

#Option 1: Guided Tour To Guatape

Total Cost: $37-57

 

  • Tours range between $30-50
  • El Penol entrance fee $25,000COP (around $7)

Pros

  • Cheapest Option
  • Hassle-free experience with transportation, lunch and itinerary taken care of
  • Opportunity to meet other travellers and make new friends
  • Insightful knowledge from tour guides

 

Cons:

  • Less flexibility with fixed schedule
  • Might feel rushed with a packed itinerary
  • Less personalised experience compared to self-guided options
  • El Penol gets busy as most tours arrive at the same time

A guided day tour is the best option for budget backpackers who only have a day to spare and don’t want to spend too much money.

 

Tours leave early from Medellin (7-8AM) and return in the evening. 

 

A tour will take you to climb El Penol, explore the colourful streets of Guatape town, and enjoy a boat tour on the picturesque lake.

TOP TIP: I recommend finding a tour that leaves as early as possible in the morning. One of the biggest downsides of visiting Guatape is that it’s a touristy destination and if you're visiting in high season it will be packed.

Tours that leave at 8-9 AM reach Guatape around midday and you'll end up climbing the stairs of El Penol stuck behind hundreds of tourists.

This highly rated tour is the cheapest and includes breakfast and lunch which is a great deal! However booking through your hostel is also a good option.

El Penol, Guatape, Colombia

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#Option 2: Self-Guided Tour To Guatape

Total Cost: $60+

 

  • Public bus –  $15,000 COP (around $3.50)
  • Hostel – starting from $5 a night for a dorm
  • Entrance to El Penol – $25,000 COP (around $7)
  • Taxis to and from El Penol – $40,000 ($10)
  • Boat tour – $100,00 COP ($25)
  • Lunch and dinner – $40,000 COP ($10)

Pros:

    • Flexibility to explore at your own pace
    • Opportunity for a more authentic and immersive experience
    • Chance to avoid crowds and discover hidden gems
    • Public bus is cheap

Cons:

    • Requires arranging accommodation and boat tour in Guatape
    • Higher overall cost due to overnight stay, food and cost for transport
    • Responsibility for organising transportation between attractions in Guatape
  •  

By staying overnight in Guatape, you can enjoy Guatape’s charm without feeling rushed.

 

If you pick a hostel in Guatape town, you can explore the town on the day you arrive. I’d then recommend getting up early the next day and aiming to climb El Penol at around 8:00 AM.

 

You’ll miss most of tour buses that arrive at 10AM and you can climb in peace.

The downside of this option is cost.

 

By skipping a guided tour, you’ll have to pay for your own transport from Guatape town to El Penol and back which is 20,000COP a ride. You’ll also have to pay for your food and boat tour.

Views of El Penol (Guatape)

How To Get To Guatape From Medellin By Public Bus

Follow these steps to visit Guatape on your own via public bus:

 

  • Go to Terminal del Norte: Start by heading to Terminal del Norte in Medellin, which is the main bus terminal for regional routes. Take an uber as it’s a 20-30 minute journey from El Poblado depending on traffic.
  • Find a Bus to Guatape: Look for buses departing to Guatape. Usually from ticket booth #14. There are frequent departures throughout the day. If you are struggling to find the correct ticket booth, ask a security guard and they will guide you.
  • Enjoy the Ride: Sit back and enjoy the scenic journey to Guatape. The trip takes around 2 hours depending on traffic.
  • Arrive at Guatape: The bus will drop you off at the terminal in Guatape, which is located near the town centre.

If you prefer to book your buses in advance, check Busbud. 

Can You Get An Uber To Guatape?

Yes you can easily book an Uber to Guatape from Medellin.

 

It should cost between $150,000-200,000 COP. 

 

The benefit of taking an uber is that it will be quicker than the public bus as it doesn’t need to stop, it’s a door to door service and it’s more comfortable. 

Private Transfer From medellin To Gautape

If you want a private transfer from Medellin to Guatape, check out this company:

 

Or you can book with them through GYG which looks cheaper!

Best Hostels In Guatape

Lake View Hostel is in the centre of town and has great views of the reservoir.

 

  • Dorms – start from $5
  • Privates – start from $15
Guatape Town
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#Option 3: Weekend Stay In Guatape

Total Cost: $200+

Pros:

 

  • More time to explore and unwind
  • Potential for a more intimate and personalized experience
  • Great views from lakeside property
  • Convenient transportation options offered by Airbnb hosts/hotels

Cons:

 

  • Higher accommodation cost compared to other options
  • Extra costs of transport, food etc.
  • Requires advance booking and planning
  • Limited availability in peak seasons
  •  

With two days and two nights, you can explore Guatape at your own pace and try more activities on the lake like jet skiing.

 

I’d recommend booking a hotel or Airbnb if you decide to go with this option.

 

Most hotels and airbnbs are built overlooking the lake. Staying at one of these options gives you your own private lake front property with the best views.

 

Most of hosts in the area provide also transportation to and from the town and El Penol, 

 

As you have more time, you can also book extra activities such as jet skiing.

 

This option will cost more so I only recommend it for couples or flashpackers travelling in a group who don’t mind spending more. It’s definitely worth it though!

The Stairs of El Penol, Guatape

Best Guatape Hotels

You have lots of options for hotels with great lakeside views. Here are my two favourites:

 

  • Bosko – this hotel offers individual camping tents with the option of a private swimming pool/jacuzzi 
  • Ibuku – another great choice if you want privacy. Each cabana comes with its own private balcony and jacuzzi.

Best Guatape Airbnbs

There are many Airbnb’s that can be found with great lakeside views but at Milagros Home you’ll get the full experience.

 

Tatiana is a fantastic host and provides so much.

 

We were picked up from the town in their 4×4 and taken to the Airbnb. They organised a boat tour and jet skis for us, ordered take out for us and picked us up little bits like groceries when they went into the town.

 

The Airbnb is out of the way but that’s the whole point. You can spend mornings cooking breakfast (provided for free) in the open kitchen and then swinging lazily in the hammock.

 

I recommend you book a jetski or boat tour for around 5PM to enjoy the lake as the sun goes down.

 

  • Jetski – 300,000 for an hour
  • Boat tour – 300,000 for an hour (includes wakeboard or donut)

The best part about going through Tatiana is that she has lived in Guatape for a long time and takes you to the best place for renting jetskis or boats.

 

This mean you won’t feel like a tourist getting overcharged if renting from the town.

 

In the evenings, they will light the fire pit for you and provide marshmallows and chocolate to make smores. They also have a projector if you want a personal movie night.

Best Guatape Experiences

If you’re spending a couple of days in Guatape then check out these tours which are a bit different from the standard tourist ones:

 

 

Helicopter Flying Past El Penol (Guatape)

Is Guatape Worth Visiting?

Absolutely, Guatape is well worth visiting, especially for travelers seeking an escape from the urban hustle and bustle of Medellin.

 

One of the main reasons to visit is to see the awe-inspiring El Penol rock formation, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside from its summit. Climbing the 740 steps to the top rewards adventurers with incredible views of the picturesque Guatape Lake.

 

Taking a boat tour or riding jetskis on the reservoir is another great activity worth making the trip for.

 

Beyond its natural wonders, Guatape’ colourful streets are a great place to wander to take pictures and to enjoy the cafes and artisan shops.

How Many Days Do You Need In Guatape?

You need one full day in Guatape to see the town, climb El Penol and take a boat tour on the reservoir.

 

This can be done on a day tour from Medellin.

 

However, if you want to stay longer and have more flexibility, I recommend staying for 2 nights in Guatape.

 

You can explore the town on your first day after arriving, and then use the second full day to climb El Penol and then enjoy activities on the lake such as wakeboarding and jetskiing.

Plazoleta de Los Zócalos, Guatape

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When Is The Best Time To Visit Guatape?

January and February are two of the best months to visit Guatape.

 

With sunny days and comfortable temperatures, these months offer the best conditions for climbing El Penol and enjoying a boat tour on the reservoir.

 

Additionally, the shoulder seasons of March and September can also be a great time to visit Guatape. 

 

You’ll still get warm weather with fewer crowds, ideal for backpackers looking for the best deals on tours and accommodation.

Downloadable PDF timetable demonstrating the best time to visit south America

To download this chart in a handy infographic, head to the link below:

 

 

Jet Skis On Guatape Reservoir

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