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If you are traveling to Medellín, let me recommend a day trip to Guatapé that can’t be missed. Colombia is a captivating country that never ceases to amaze. From bustling cities to serene landscapes, there’s something extraordinary waiting at every turn.
Now, typically, I’m the type of traveler who goes with the flow and lets my travel buddies handle the day trip planning. But, my recent stay in Medellín was different. I couldn’t pass up the chance to explore Guatapé, and oh boy, am I glad I did.
Embarking on a day trip to Guatapé is like entering a traveler’s paradise, promising an immersive experience in natural wonders and cultural treasures. The journey kicks off with La Piedra, a colossal monolith that demands your attention. Scaling those 735 steps might sound like a workout, but let me assure you – the panoramic views from the top redefine breathtaking. Guatapé Lake sprawls beneath you, and the landscapes are straight out of a postcard.
How to Get There
Navigating the tour options for Guatapé on Trip Advisor can be overwhelming, and the idea of a 10-hour tour didn’t quite align with our vision of a perfect day. So, we decided to go off the beaten path and opt for a private experience instead.
On Trip Advisor, you’ll find tours priced at around $45 per person, but the catch is they’re often shared with large groups, stretching the day longer than necessary. For roughly the same cost, about COP$500,000, we secured a private driver for the three of us with a hotel pick-up.
Tour vs. Private Driver
Our adventure kicked off at 8:30 in the morning, following the same route as the tours. However, we arrived 20 minutes ahead of the tour buses, giving us the luxury of savoring every aspect without the hustle and bustle of crowds.
We chose the comfort of an Uber, complete with a nice car and an English-speaking driver. We simply asked him if he’d be interested in driving us, and it turned out to be a perfect match (drop a comment if you want his contact details). This option is a gem, especially for a group of two or three, allowing us to tailor the day to our schedule. We were back at the hotel around 4:30, a good three hours earlier than the tours would have wrapped up.
As you arrive in Guatapé, one cannot miss the towering presence of La Piedra. This iconic monolith is a must-visit attraction, offering more than just breathtaking views.
- Climb to the Top: Challenge yourself to climb the 740 steps leading to the summit of La Piedra. The panoramic views from the top are nothing short of spectacular, providing a 360-degree glimpse of the surrounding landscapes, including the stunning Guatapé Lake. Once you reach the top, you can relax, have a cold refreshing beer or ice cream, take a load off and relax, or pick up some souvenirs.
- Explore the Base: For those seeking a less strenuous experience, explore the base of La Piedra. Admire the intricate carvings and vibrant colors that tell the story of the region. Capture the essence of this natural wonder from different angles and appreciate the geological marvel beneath your feet. There are also restaurants all around and you can grab a bite, but I recommend waiting until you get to town.
Explore the Town
Guatapé’s Vibrant Heart: After immersing yourself in the wonders of La Piedra, venture into town to discover its unique charm.
- Zócalo – Main Square: Start your exploration at the Zócalo, the main square of Guatapé. Admire the colorful facades of the buildings, each adorned with intricately crafted bas-reliefs depicting the town’s history and culture.
- Street Art and Murals: Wander through the streets adorned with vibrant street art and murals. Guatapé is known for its creative expressions on every corner, making every alley a canvas that tells a story.
- Restaurants and Shops: We had a lovely lunch in town but be warned, if you are walking along the main road, every restaurant owner will try, and get you to come in and dine with them. It can be a little overwhelming because they will literally yell into your car. 😳 There are quite a few nice shops to pick up souvenirs, even something special like handcrafted goods from local artists. Note: A lot of the restaurants and some of the shops only take cash, so be sure to have pesos with you.
A day trip to Guatapé is a journey through Colombia’s natural beauty and cultural heritage. Whether you’re captivated by the allure of La Piedra or enchanted by the vibrant streets of The Town, this adventure promises a memorable escape into the heart of Colombian charm. Embrace the colors, climb the heights, and savor the unique experiences that Guatapé has to offer.
Turn Guatapé into your Destination
It turns out, Guatapé is more than just a day trip – it’s a haven waiting to be explored at a leisurely pace. Delving into a bit of research, I discovered that those charming little islands dotting the landscape offer more than just picturesque views; they’re home to accommodations that invite you to extend your stay.
From modest properties to luxury glamping retreats, Guatapé caters to a range of preferences. Imagine waking up to the tranquility of the lake, surrounded by nature’s beauty. These accommodations, though not massive hotels, offer a unique and intimate experience, allowing you to soak in the essence of Guatapé at your own pace.
For those seeking a touch of luxury, some retreats even come complete with spa services, adding an extra layer of relaxation to your getaway. It’s not just a trip; it’s a chance to immerse yourself in the magic of Guatapé, taking your time to explore every nook and cranny of this enchanting destination.