Visiting Guatape, Colombia
Guatape is a little town about 1.5 hours outside of Medellin that’s become Insta-famous for its rainbow coloured streets and unique buildings. In fact, it claims to be the most colourful town in the world. Lots of tourists and backpackers flock here from Medellin on an extremely overpriced day trip tour, which is nowhere near enough time to appreciate this quirky little place. I’m here to make the case as to why Guatape is worth way more than a few hours out of your travelling schedule!
Things to do in Guatape
The town centre itself is Guatape’s main attraction. As soon as I saw photos of it online I knew I’d love it, I’m a sucker for anything colourful and this is honestly the cutest little place in the world. The centre is small but we spent ages just strolling around, taking photos and playing with the dozens of street dogs. There’s a small plaza in the middle of town which is really beautiful to sit outside and have a coffee in – this is Colombia after all!
How could you not wanna cuddle?
Just outside Guatape is the famous landmark El Peñol, meaning The Rock, which is quite literally what it is. A giant one! If you’re feeling fit you can climb up it’s 700ish very steep steps for amazing views over Guatape and its surrounding lakes. We got to enjoy these views for about a minute before a huge mass of clouds passed over us and we could barely see a metre in front of us. A very strange but cool experience!
675th step – almost there…
Now you see it…
Now you don’t!
This is pretty much where the day trips end, but there’s so much to Guatape that these don’t show. The many huge lakes around the town are a hub of activity for various water sports and outdoor activities. We rented a double kayak one day and took it out on the lake, which actually ended up being some of the worst hours of my life but Jordan absolutely loved it. *Adds open water to list of things I’m terrified of*.
You can also fish in the lake, or swim in the shallow areas when it’s warm enough. Horses graze all around the lakes too, and there are plenty of companies in the town that offer horse riding experiences. Wildlife lovers will also appreciate the chance to get up close and personal with the impressive Colombian black vultures which inhabit the lakes, and definitely don’t shy away from a photo!
Hostels in Guatape
We stayed at Lake View Hostel, but treated ourselves to a private room for the first time in ages which was more like a boutique hotel. It was absolutely beautiful! For about £25 a night we got a big, airy double room with our own full bathroom and a balcony overlooking the lake. By far the nicest room we had in South America and well worth the extra money as a treat. Guatape isn’t the sort of place you’ll be having late nights out partying, so a nice room to relax in is definitely appreciated!
Where to eat in Guatape
As if Lake View couldn’t get any better, it has an amazing Thai restaurant on the top floor which opens in the evenings. It’s so authentic and was hands down one of the best meals I’ve had in South America (Asian food over everything)! We went all out as it was Valentines Day and got veggie spring rolls, satay beef and Thai red curry with sea bass. All was so fresh and absolutely delicious, and I definitely didn’t expect to find good Thai food here!
We also ate in a little vegetarian cafe called Namaste on the main waterfront strip a couple of times, which was also good. Mainly sells veggie pizzas, pastas and breakfasts and is open all day.
How to get to Guatape
To get to Guatape without a tour guide, just go to Medellin North bus terminal and find any counter that says Guatape. Tickets cost 12-13,000 pesos (around £3) which is a tiny fraction of what you pay for a group tour there.