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Our Guide To Guatapé: The Most Colourful Town In Colombia


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Rosa Wardell



Welcome to Guatapé, the most colorful town in Colombia. Nestled in the heart of Antioquia, this charming and vibrant destination is a true feast for the senses. With its picturesque streets adorned with vibrant and intricately designed zócalos, Guatapé offers visitors a unique and enchanting experience.


Located just a two-hour drive from Medellín, Guatapé is easily accessible, making it the perfect destination for a day trip or a longer stay. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or simply someone seeking a lively and colorful atmosphere, Guatapé has something for everyone.


One of the highlights of Guatapé is the iconic El Peñol rock, a massive granite monolith that offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding area. Climbing the 740 steps to the top of the rock is a must-do activity for those seeking a bit of adventure and a stunning view as a reward.


But it’s not just the rock that makes Guatapé special. The town itself is a mosaic of brightly colored buildings, adorned with intricate patterns and designs. Each zócalo tells a story, representing the daily lives, traditions, and dreams of the locals. Walking through the streets of Guatapé feels like stepping into a living work of art.


Guatapé is also known for its stunning Lake Guatapé, a man-made reservoir that offers a variety of water activities. Whether you prefer kayaking, paddleboarding, or simply taking a leisurely boat ride, the lake provides a refreshing escape from the heat and an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful surroundings.


When it comes to food, Guatapé does not disappoint. From delicious traditional Colombian dishes to international cuisine, there is a wide range of options to satisfy every palate. Be sure to try the local specialty, bandeja paisa, a hearty and flavorful dish that is sure to leave you feeling satisfied and ready for your next adventure.


In addition to its natural and architectural beauty, Guatapé is also a place to immerse yourself in Colombian culture and craftsmanship. The town is rich in handicrafts, and you’ll find numerous shops selling beautifully crafted souvenirs and unique pieces of art.


Surrounded by lush countryside and breathtaking natural landscapes, Guatapé also offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. From hiking to horseback riding, there are countless ways to explore the beauty of the region and get a taste of the Colombian countryside.


Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple, or a family, Guatapé is a destination that will captivate your heart and leave you with unforgettable memories. So pack your bags, get ready to immerse yourself in the colors and culture of Guatapé, and prepare for a truly magical experience.


Getting to Guatapé

Getting to Guatapé is relatively easy and convenient, especially if you are coming from Medellín, the nearest major city. Here are a few options for reaching this colorful town:

  1. Bus: Buses are the most common and affordable mode of transportation to Guatapé. From Medellín’s North Bus Terminal, you can catch a direct bus to Guatapé. The journey takes around two hours, and the buses are comfortable and equipped with air conditioning. The frequency of the buses is quite high, so you won’t have to wait long for a ride.
  2. Private Car: If you prefer more flexibility and convenience, renting a car or hiring a private driver is a great option. The drive from Medellín to Guatapé takes approximately two hours, and you’ll have the freedom to stop and explore the scenic countryside along the way. Keep in mind that parking in Guatapé might be limited, especially during peak tourist seasons, so plan accordingly.
  3. Taxi or Uber: Another option is to take a taxi or book an Uber for your journey to Guatapé. This is a more expensive option compared to taking a bus, but it offers the convenience of door-to-door service. It’s advisable to negotiate the fare with the taxi driver beforehand or opt for using a reliable ride-hailing app.

Once you arrive in Guatapé, the town is relatively small and easy to navigate on foot. The central area with the zócalos, restaurants, and shops is walkable, allowing you to explore the vibrant streets and soak in the colorful atmosphere at your own pace.


Overall, the journey to Guatapé is as beautiful as the destination itself. The road winds through lush green hills, offering picturesque views that will leave you in awe. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenic ride as you make your way to one of Colombia’s most enchanting towns.


Exploring the Colorful Streets

One of the most delightful experiences in Guatapé is exploring its vibrant and colorful streets. Every corner is adorned with beautifully painted buildings, each showcasing a unique design and story.


As you stroll through the town, you’ll notice the zócalos, which are brightly colored bas-relief depictions on the lower portion of the buildings. These intricate and detailed artworks depict scenes from everyday life, cultural traditions, local legends, and historical events. The zócalos are a true reflection of the community’s pride and passion for their town.


Take your time to admire the artwork, as each zócalo tells its own story and provides a window into the history and culture of Guatapé. From colorful flowers and nature motifs to depictions of traditional Colombian dance and folklore, the zócalos create an enchanting atmosphere that truly sets Guatapé apart.


Guatapé is also home to a variety of shops and boutiques selling unique handicrafts, artisanal goods, and locally made products. From vibrant textiles and pottery to handmade jewelry and souvenirs, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to support the local artisans and bring back a piece of Guatapé’s charm with you.


When you need a break from walking, the town offers several cozy cafés and restaurants where you can sit back and enjoy a cup of freshly brewed Colombian coffee. Indulge in a sweet treat or try some traditional Colombian snacks while taking in the lively atmosphere around you.


Don’t forget to explore the side streets as well, as they often hold hidden gems waiting to be discovered. As you wander through the colorful alleyways, you’ll find charming colonial-style architecture, small plazas, and quiet spots where you can soak in the tranquility and the beauty of Guatapé.


Exploring the colorful streets of Guatapé is truly a feast for the eyes. Whether you’re an art enthusiast, a photography lover, or simply someone who appreciates vibrant surroundings, this town is sure to leave a lasting impression. So take your time, immerse yourself in the kaleidoscope of colors, and uncover the hidden stories that each zócalo holds.


Climbing the Guatapé Rock

No trip to Guatapé is complete without conquering the iconic Guatapé Rock, locally known as “La Piedra del Peñol.” This massive granite monolith, standing at an impressive height of 220 meters (720 feet), offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the surrounding landscape.


To reach the top of the rock, you’ll need to climb a staircase that consists of 740 steps. Although it may sound daunting, the effort is well worth it once you reach the summit. As you ascend, each step showcases a different perspective of the lush green hills, sparkling lakes, and charming countryside.


Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with a 360-degree view that stretches as far as the eye can see. The view encompasses the sprawling Lake Guatapé, the picturesque town of Guatapé, and the stunning landscape dotted with islands and peninsulas.


The Guatapé Rock has a rich history and holds a special place in the hearts of the locals. In the 1950s, a group of daring climbers scaled the rock using a makeshift ladder. Inspired by their courage, the government decided to build a permanent staircase, making it accessible to visitors from around the world.


At the summit, you’ll find a small café where you can reward yourself with a refreshing drink or a snack while taking in the magnificent views. There are also binoculars available for rent, allowing you to get a closer look at the intricate details of the landscape.


Keep in mind that climbing the Guatapé Rock is a popular activity, so it can get crowded, especially during weekends and holidays. To avoid the crowds and enjoy a more peaceful experience, try visiting early in the morning or later in the afternoon. The climb can be physically demanding, so wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water.


Scaling the Guatapé Rock is not only a physical adventure but also a journey of personal achievement. It offers a unique perspective of the beauty and natural wonders that surround Guatapé. So challenge yourself, embrace the thrill, and experience the awe-inspiring view that awaits at the top of the Guatapé Rock.


Enjoying Water Activities on the Lake

Located near the town of Guatapé, Lake Guatapé is a picturesque man-made reservoir that offers a wide range of exciting water activities for visitors to enjoy.


One of the best ways to experience the beauty of the lake is by renting a kayak or paddleboard. Glide across the crystal-clear waters, surrounded by lush green mountains and the colorful houses of Guatapé. Explore the tranquil coves, discover hidden beaches, and take in the serenity of the natural surroundings. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced water adventurer, kayaking or paddleboarding on Lake Guatapé is an unforgettable experience.


If you’re looking for a more relaxing option, consider taking a boat tour around the lake. Hop aboard a traditional Colombian chiva boat or a modern catamaran and sail across the calm waters. Learn about the history of the area, listen to local music, and soak up the sun as you embrace the tranquility of the surrounding landscape. Some boat tours even provide the opportunity to stop at nearby islands, where you can swim, snorkel, or simply relax on the sandy shores.


For the thrill-seekers, Lake Guatapé also offers water sports such as jet skiing, wakeboarding, and water skiing. Feel the wind in your hair as you speed across the lake, surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rider, there are rental options and instructors available to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.


After a day of water activities, unwind and indulge in some lakeside dining. Many restaurants and cafes in Guatapé offer stunning views of the lake, allowing you to enjoy a delicious meal while watching the sunset over the water. Try some fresh local seafood or savor traditional Colombian dishes as you bask in the beauty of Lake Guatapé.


Keep in mind that safety should always be a priority when engaging in water activities. It’s essential to wear a life jacket, follow the instructions of rental operators and instructors, and be aware of any potential hazards in the water.


Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or simply a chance to immerse yourself in nature, the water activities on Lake Guatapé are sure to provide a memorable experience. So grab your swimsuit, put on some sunscreen, and get ready to make a splash in the stunning and serene waters of Lake Guatapé.


Trying Local Cuisine

When you visit Guatapé, be sure to indulge in the delectable flavors of the local cuisine. The region of Antioquia, where Guatapé is located, is known for its delicious and hearty dishes showcasing the rich culinary traditions of Colombia.


One must-try dish in Guatapé is the famous bandeja paisa. This hearty platter is a feast for the senses, consisting of a variety of delicious components. It typically includes grilled meat (such as beef, pork, or chorizo), beans, rice, avocado, fried plantains, arepa (a traditional cornbread), and a fried egg on top. The bandeja paisa is a filling and satisfying meal that will give you a true taste of the region’s flavors.


For seafood lovers, Guatapé’s lakeside location offers a plethora of fresh and flavorful options. From fried fish to ceviche, you’ll find a range of delicious seafood dishes on the menus of local restaurants. Try the mojarra frita, a popular local fish, which is typically deep-fried and served with traditional sides like patacones (fried plantains) and coconut rice.


Another must-try dish in Guatapé is the mondongo, a traditional Colombian soup made from tripe, vegetables, and spices. This hearty and comforting soup is often served with rice, avocado, and arepas on the side. It may not be for everyone, but if you’re feeling adventurous and want to explore the local flavors, it’s definitely worth a try.


In addition to these traditional dishes, Guatapé also offers a variety of international cuisines to cater to different tastes. You’ll find Italian trattorias, Mexican taquerias, and even vegetarian and vegan-friendly options. No matter what your dietary preferences are, you’re sure to find something delicious to satisfy your cravings in Guatapé.


Don’t forget to wash down your meal with a refreshing local beverage. In Colombia, try a classic refajo, a combination of beer and Colombiana soda, or delve into the world of exotic fruit juices like lulo or maracuya.


As you explore the colorful streets of Guatapé, you’ll find cozy cafés, street food vendors, and charming restaurants serving up these tempting dishes. Embrace the flavors of the region, savor the diverse culinary offerings, and experience the sheer joy of dining in Guatapé.


Visiting La Piedra del Peñol

One of the most iconic landmarks in Guatapé is La Piedra del Peñol, a massive rock formation that towers over the surrounding landscape. This natural wonder attracts visitors from all over the world and offers a unique opportunity to witness breathtaking panoramic views.


Rising 220 meters (720 feet) into the sky, La Piedra del Peñol stands tall and proud, beckoning adventurers to climb its 740 steps to the summit. The climb may seem daunting, but the effort is well worth it once you reach the top.


As you ascend the stairway, each step offers a different perspective of the lush green hills, sparkling lakes, and charming countryside. Take your time to catch your breath and admire the incredible views that unfold at every turn. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and awe as you witness the beauty of the Colombian countryside from this incredible vantage point.


Once you reach the summit of La Piedra del Peñol, you’ll be rewarded with a 360-degree view that is simply breathtaking. The panoramic vista encompasses the sprawling expanse of Lake Guatapé, adorned with scattered islands and surrounded by verdant mountains. The sight is truly a feast for the eyes and a photographer’s dream.


At the top of La Piedra del Peñol, you’ll find a small café where you can relax, soak in the view, and indulge in some refreshments. This is the perfect spot to catch your breath, celebrate your achievement, and capture memorable photos of the stunning landscape.


Keep in mind that La Piedra del Peñol can get crowded, especially during peak tourist seasons. To avoid long queues and ensure a more peaceful experience, try visiting early in the morning or on weekdays. Additionally, wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water to stay hydrated during the climb.


Visiting La Piedra del Peñol is a truly unforgettable experience. The awe-inspiring views, the sense of accomplishment, and the connection to nature make it a must-visit attraction in Guatapé. So embrace the adventure, conquer the steps, and marvel at the unparalleled beauty of the Colombian landscape from the summit of La Piedra del Peñol.


Discovering the Zócalos in Guatapé

One of the most captivating aspects of Guatapé is its vibrant and intricately designed zócalos, which adorn the facades of buildings throughout the town. These colorful bas-relief artworks are a unique form of expression and storytelling, providing a glimpse into the history, culture, and traditions of Guatapé.


Dotted along the streets of Guatapé, the zócalos depict a wide range of scenes, ranging from everyday life to important historical events. Each zócalo tells its own story, making it a delightful treasure hunt to explore the streets and discover the hidden narratives represented on the walls.


As you stroll through the town, you’ll encounter zócalos showcasing local traditions and folklore, such as traditional Colombian dances and music. Some zócalos feature scenes depicting Colombia’s rich natural landscapes, full of vibrant flowers, exotic birds, and lush greenery. Others portray historical events and figures that have played a significant role in shaping the identity of Guatapé.


The zócalos are not only a source of visual delight but also a reflection of the pride and creativity of the local community. They represent the strong sense of community and cultural heritage that the people of Guatapé hold dear. The attention to detail and the passion that goes into creating these artworks is evident, and it adds a unique charm to the town’s streetscape.


Take the time to wander through the colorful streets of Guatapé, keeping an eye out for the zócalos. Allow yourself to be drawn into the stories and emotions captured within each artwork. Snap photos, appreciate the intricacy of the designs, and immerse yourself in the living gallery that Guatapé’s zócalos create.


Additionally, you can visit the Zócalo House museum in Guatapé, where you can learn more about the history and significance of these unique art forms. The museum showcases a collection of zócalos and provides insights into their cultural and artistic significance, further enriching your understanding and appreciation of this remarkable artistic tradition.


The zócalos of Guatapé are more than just decorative elements; they are a form of artistic expression that breathes life into the town’s streets. These vibrant and imaginative works of art tell stories, preserve traditions, and invite visitors to engage with the rich cultural heritage of Guatapé. So take your time, explore the colorful streets, and let the zócalos of Guatapé captivate your imagination.


Shopping for Handicrafts

When visiting Guatapé, be sure to set aside some time for shopping and explore the town’s vibrant handicraft scene. Guatapé is known for its rich artistic traditions, and you’ll find a plethora of locally-made handicrafts that reflect the culture, creativity, and craftsmanship of the region.


One of the best places to discover unique handicrafts is the local market located in the main square of Guatapé. Here, artisans from the region gather to showcase their talents and offer a wide array of handmade products. From colorful textiles and intricate hand-woven baskets to handmade jewelry and carved wooden figurines, you’ll find a variety of unique souvenirs and gifts.


If you’re looking for pottery, Guatapé is famous for its ceramics. Potteries in the area produce beautiful pieces, including vases, bowls, plates, and decorative figurines. These handcrafted works of art are not only visually stunning but also a reflection of the region’s rich artistic heritage.


In addition to the local market, Guatapé is home to numerous boutiques and shops that specialize in handmade products. The streets are lined with storefronts offering everything from traditional Colombian clothing and accessories to intricately carved wooden furniture.


As you browse through the shops, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with the artisans themselves, learn about their techniques, and gain insight into the stories behind their creations. This personal connection adds a special touch to your shopping experience and allows you to fully appreciate the artistry and dedication that goes into each piece.


When shopping for handicrafts in Guatapé, it’s important to support local artisans and purchase authentic, locally-made items. By doing so, you directly contribute to the preservation of traditional craftsmanship and the sustainability of the local economy.


Whether you’re looking for a unique piece of art to adorn your home, a fashion accessory to add flair to your outfit, or a thoughtful gift for a loved one, the handicrafts of Guatapé provide endless options. Take your time, explore the shops, and find that special memento that will forever remind you of the colorful beauty and artistic spirit of Guatapé.


Exploring the Surrounding Nature

While Guatapé’s colorful streets and vibrant zócalos are enchanting, the natural beauty that surrounds the town is equally mesmerizing. Guatapé is nestled in the heart of lush countryside, making it a perfect base for exploring the abundant nature in the area.


One of the top natural attractions near Guatapé is El Peñol Reservoir. This vast body of water, created by the construction of a hydroelectric dam, is an idyllic spot for outdoor enthusiasts. Rent a kayak, paddleboard, or hop on a boat tour to discover the hidden coves, small islands, and secluded beaches that dot the reservoir’s shoreline. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of the clear waters and take in the picturesque views of the surrounding green mountains.


For those seeking more adventurous activities, there are ample opportunities for hiking and exploring the nearby trails and landscapes. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on a journey to discover hidden waterfalls, dramatic cliffs, and breathtaking viewpoints. The region is home to numerous hiking trails, varying in difficulty and length, ensuring there’s an option suitable for every fitness level.


Another natural wonder near Guatapé is La Piedra del Peñol, the iconic rock formation that offers stunning panoramic views of the countryside. By climbing the 740 steps to the top, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking vista of Lake Guatapé, the rolling hills, and the picturesque town below. The challenging ascent is well worth it when you reach the summit and are greeted by the awe-inspiring beauty of the Colombian landscape.


For bird enthusiasts, the region surrounding Guatapé is a haven. Offering abundant natural habitats, it provides a home to a diverse range of bird species. Grab your binoculars, embark on a bird-watching excursion, and marvel at the colorful plumage and melodic songs of the resident and migratory birds that call this area home.


If you’re looking for a more leisurely experience, take a leisurely stroll along the countryside roads and immerse yourself in the picturesque scenery. Admire the rolling hills, expansive farmlands, and charming traditional villages that dot the landscape. Breathe in the fresh air, listen to the sounds of nature, and let the tranquility of the countryside envelop you.


Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a chance to connect with nature, the surrounding area of Guatapé offers abundant opportunities. It’s a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers, and those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. So, step away from the colorful streets and embrace the natural wonders that await you in the countryside around Guatapé.



Guatapé, with its vibrant streets, awe-inspiring natural beauty, and rich cultural heritage, is truly a gem in Colombia’s crown. This enchanting town offers a unique experience that combines art, adventure, and the warm hospitality of its locals.


From the moment you arrive in Guatapé, you’ll be captivated by its colorful streets adorned with zócalos, showcasing the town’s history, traditions, and artistic expressions. Every step reveals a new story, inviting you to immerse yourself in the rich cultural tapestry that Guatapé has to offer.


Climbing the Guatapé Rock, with its panoramic views of the sprawling Lake Guatapé and the surrounding countryside, is a thrilling adventure that will leave you in awe. The sense of achievement and the beauty of the landscape will forever be etched in your memory.


The experience of exploring the water activities on Lake Guatapé, from kayaking to boat tours, offers a refreshing escape and a chance to immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature.


Guatapé also delights the taste buds with its traditional cuisine. Trying local dishes like bandeja paisa and fresh seafood is a culinary journey that will give you a true taste of the region’s flavors and leave you wanting more.


Shopping for handicrafts allows you to support local artisans and take home a piece of the town’s artistic heritage. The intricately designed textiles, ceramics, and wooden handicrafts are a testament to the skill and creativity of the local craftsmen.


When you’ve explored the town, don’t forget to venture into the surrounding nature. Hiking the countryside trails, discovering hidden waterfalls, and experiencing the picturesque landscapes will rejuvenate your soul and leave you with a deep appreciation for the natural wonders of Guatapé.


In conclusion, Guatapé is a destination that will capture your heart and ignite your senses. It offers a perfect blend of art, adventure, culture, and nature, ensuring a memorable experience for every visitor. So pack your bags, embrace the colors, immerse yourself in the culture, and let Guatapé weave its magic on you.