Two Sites For the Price of One
It is the perfect day trip from Medellín, you get outstanding views of Colombia’s lush countryside from La Piedra and a step back in time with the colorful colonial town of Guatape.
Tour guide or DIY?
Several tour guides offer day trips to Guatape from Medellín. I often find guided tours such as these overly touristy with a touristy price to match. If you book online before your trip you are looking at spending around $120. If you book with an operator from your hotel/hostel you are looking at around $75. Yes, yes, yes these trips often include a private or semi-private car transfer and lunch. Dumb. Take the bus, grab lunch in Guatape, and spend less than $40.
Taking the Bus
Buses leave from the north terminal which is next to the Caribe metro station. Look for counter 14 and ask for a ticket to Guatape or La Piedra. Tickets run $4 (12000 COP) each way. Then walk to the assigned gate and hop on your bus, they depart around once an hour. On your ticket you will also be assigned a seat, our driver was very serious about the seats so make sure you sit where you are assigned. The ride takes around two hours and the views of the city and surround countryside are unbeatable.
La Piedra will be the first stop after picking up all the passengers in Medellín, the next stop will take you into the city of Guatape. I’d recommend going to La Piedra first and then taking a taxi or tuk tuk into town (less than ten-minute ride for $3 or 10000 COP).
La Piedra. El Penol. The Rock.
What a gem of a find! Colombia is becoming ever popular and it is easy to see why, just look at this view. Towering over 700 feet La Piedra (the rock) is mostly smooth except for a large crack which now houses a zigzagging staircase that allows visitors to climb to the top and take in the stunning views of the small lakes and islands that dot the landscape. Admission is $3 (10000 COP) and this allows you to climb 740 steps to the top for that ever so wonderful view.
Don’t you worry, every 20 or so steps are numbered so you know how close you are getting to the top. It is also a great reminder of how much climbing steps suck, “you mean to tell me I am only at 40 steps and I already need a breather?” Once at the summit you will be out of breath, notice how your ass is now perfectly toned, and you will be covered in sweat. You will look ever so fabulous in your photos.
At the Summit
The top of the rock has a few of gift shops as well as food stalls. I think it is also import to note you can get the ever so delicious (and my main drink in Colombia) Michelada. Micheladas are beer with a shot of lime juice and a salted rim. YUM! You can get fancy on The Rock and get cut pineapple or mango added to your tasty drink. Very refreshing after that heart pumping climb in the Colombian heat. Grab a seat, and take in the 360 degree views.
The Colorful Guatape
After hiking to the top of La Piedra make your way to the colorful colonial town of Guatape. It is a short tuk tuk ride away. Grab lunch at any of the outdoor eateries in the town square and people watch your heart out. I’d recommend trying Guatape’s signature fried trout dish. It pairs well with a beer. Ok, let’s be real I think everything pairs well with beer. Following lunch explore the surrounding cobblestone streets. The buildings are brightly painted each with embellishments of local flowers, animals, and symbols of the past.
Getting Back to Medellín
If you are in Guatape go to the street that runs along the lake, there is a ticket office to buy your return ticket (I don’t think you can buy round trip in Medellín). Buses come every hour with the last bus leaving around 6PM. If you are wanting to leave from La Piedra, go to the bottom of the hill where the bus drops people off and wait for the next bus to stop (I didn’t try this method so good luck). There is a small tienda at the base of the hill as well to stock up on water and snacks.
Guatape was the perfect day trip from Medellín, you get a mix of everything; nature, exercise, architecture, and traditional Colombian food. If you have an extra day in the city make sure you don’t miss this unique spot!