Guatape, Colombia is a brightly colored village that makes a great day trip or overnight trip from Medellín. There are lots of family-friendly and budget-friendly things to do that make visiting Guatape with kids an easy and fun destination. We’ve covered how to get there, what to do and where to eat during your family trip to Guatape.
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Where is Guatape?
Guatape, Colombia is located in the eastern part of the Antioquia Department. It is about a two-hour drive from Medellín. The town is nestled on the edge of a large man-made lake built for hydroelectric power generation. Guatape is a popular day trip for people looking to relax on the water or just escape the hustle and bustle of Medellín.
What is Guatape Known For?
Guatape is most well-known for its La Piedra, a massive rock formation that towers over the town and can be seen from miles away. The views from the top of La Piedra are stunning, and it is a popular spot for hikers and climbers. The reservoir has miles of shore and waterways, which provide plenty of opportunities for swimming, fishing, and boating.
Guatape is very colorful- all the buildings in the center of town are painted many colors, with bas-reliefs on the lower portions of the buildings showing everything from animals to music notes to geometric designs.
What to Do in Guatape with Kids
Guatape is a beautiful town that is perfect for a few days with kids. There are plenty of things to do in Guatape with children, including hiking, biking, and birdwatching. After visiting El Peñol Rock, you can also take a boat ride on the lake. Kids will love exploring the colorful streets of Guatape and enjoy the amazing views of the countryside.
Climb La Piedra
La Piedra, or El Peñol, is the main tourst draw in Guatape. A massive granite rock that towers over the town, it attracts climbers and tourists from all over the world.
The rock is 740 feet high with more than 600 steps. It’s a strenuous climb, but the views of the lake stretching below you from the top are worth it. At the base of El Peñol, you’ll find a series of restaurants and souvenir shops.
To climb the rocks costs 20K pesos per person. Kids under 100 cm climb free. The climb is mostly shaded, and sometimes wet so it can be slippery. The stairs are narrow at times, but there are places to step aside and take a break as needed. There are high barriers and railings along the whole climb, so it is never scary.
At the top, there are a few places to get an ice cream or a cold drink, and a few extra stairs to get to the highest lookout point.
Starting with El Peñol
El Peñol is a five-minute drive from the center of Guatape. If you are taking the bus from Medellín, the bus will stop first near the rock (the driver will call “La Pieda”) then proceed into town. We advise getting off here and climbing the rock first, then heading into town.
When the bus stops, you will likely see a lot of other tourists getting off the bus. You’ll be at a gas station with a small store and a bathroom (1K peso charge to use it). From here, head up the stairs, you’ll need to climb to get to the base of the rock. It’s a steep climb up through a park, across and gravel road, and into the parking lot next to the rock.
After you climb, you’ll descend back to where you started. Here you can get a tuk-tuk into town. We paid 12K pesos for the ride.
Walk Around Town
The town of Guatape is a charming and colorful place to wander around. There are many small shops and restaurants to explore, selling everything from t-shirts to hand-woven bags and local chocolate.
Be sure to visit the main square, which is the center of town and home to a beautiful church. You can also walk along the lakefront, where you can take boat rides or just relax and enjoy the view.
On Calle 32 which runs along the water, you’ll find a small playground across from the main bus station. You’ll have to peak over the Malecon wall to see it and take a few stairs down to it.
The main shopping street is Calle 29, which is lined with shops and restaurants. Don’t miss Calle del Recuerdo between Carrera 30 and 29- you’ll find a set of stairs leading down to a beautiful umbrella-lined street across from the Plazoleta de Los Zocalos. This colorful plaza is often a great place to find dancers, musicians, and other performers.
Take a Boat Ride
Consider taking a boat ride on Lake Guatape while visiting the town. The colorful homes and hills that surround the lake make for a beautiful backdrop, and there’s plenty of opportunity for wildlife spotting, too. Most importantly, though, kids will love being out on the water.
There are plenty of boat rental companies in Guatape, head down to the water and you’ll find lots of options. Make sure to check the weather forecast before booking- on a rainy day the lake can be grey.
You can also rent a kayak or a paddleboard to quietly enjoy the water as a family. We find that two-person kayaks are a great way to enjoy the lake with our kids. You can check out prices and reserve here.
Where to Eat in Guatape with Kids
There are a ton of restaurants on the main tourist strips in Guatape. Here are the restaurants we recommend for families with kids.
Namaste Vegan Express
This vegan cafe has a lovely upstairs loft area. We ordered a lot of food here, and it was all delicious. Smoothies, smoothie bowls, and zucchini fritters were all tasty. The empanada is as big as a plate and stuffed with e vegetables. It has to be eaten with a knife and fork. It was delicious but difficult to share.
Reviews say this Thai food is amazing. They are only open for dinner, and it was raining too hard for us to walk there the night we spent in Guatape, so we missed it. Make sure to give it a try and let us know what we missed!
We got cozy here after being damp from the rain and enjoyed espressos, hot chocolates, and pastries. A nice place to sit with a beverage and pass the time.
Cafe La Vina
This cafe has some outdoor seating that overlooks the Plazoleta de Los Zocalos (the plaza with colorful umbrellas). The coffee here is delicious and comes with fun coffee foam art. We also shared a smoothie bowl and avocado toast. A solid breakfast choice. We also love the world map on the wall.
Located off the very busy Calle 29, this area has a lot of covered outdoor seating, and you can order from several different menus, including the full menu for Namaste. Most places seem to open for lunch around noon, any earlier and you’ll have a limited menu.
Panaderia y Cafeteria La Florida
This simple cafeteria is on the corner of the main plaza. You can load up on empanadas, pan queso, almohabanas, buñuelos, and sweets, all for a very low price.
Don’t Miss Treat: Fresas con Crema
This tiny stand isn’t on google maps, but you don’t want to miss it! They have fabulous meringues layered with fresh strawberries, peaches, and whipped cream. Located on Calle 31 right after El Patito Modosito.
Is It Safe to Visit Guatape with Kids?
Yes, Guatape is safe to visit with kids. The town is very touristy and small, so you’ll always feel surrounded by locals and other tourists. Just be sure to take the same precautions you would in any other foreign country and keep an eye on your belongings.
Where to Stay in Guatape with Kids
We recommend staying at La Casona Hostel. This hostel has family rooms that are perfect for a quick one-night stay. You’ll have lots of common space to hang out in if it rains (which seems to happen a lot). It is located one block from the main square, you’re close to all the shops and restaurants.
How Long Should I Stay in Guatape with Kids?
You can easily visit on a day trip from Medellin, as the bus ride is only two hours. Many people stay overnight in Guatape so they can enjoy the town’s restaurants but it’s definitely doable as a day trip if you’re short on time. However, with kids, we prefer to not move that fast!
We found that one night was plenty of time to climb the rock, shop a bit around town, and enjoy some great restaurants. We choose to take an afternoon bus the next day so we had the morning to explore and possibly go out on the lake.
Bring Cash to Guatape
Our hotel in Guatape asked to be paid in cash, and most restaurants in Guatape only take cash. While google maps showed several banks and ATMS in Guatape, in reality, we only found two, and one was not working.
The last ATM thankfully was in functioning order, with a line, but several people reported that it had recently been out of money. It’s best to bring cash with your to Guatape rather than depend on using the local ATMs.
How to Get to Guatape with Kids
SotraSanVincente runs buses to Guatape from Terminal del Sur, Medellín. Check in or buy tickets at window 14 on the lower level. Buses leave every 30 minutes, the trip takes around two hours, depending on traffic.
The bus will stop at La Piedra first if you want to get off and see the rock before going into town. Keep in mind this will add a lot of stairs and climbing just to get to the base of the rock.
Return buses leave from the bus terminal at the corner of Carrera 30 and Calle 32, just one block from the main plaza of Guatape.
Is There Uber in Guatape?
No, there is no Uber in Guatape. There are many colorful tuk-tuks (three-wheeled motorized vehicles) that will be happy to help you move around town if needed. Mostly, the town is small enough you can walk anywhere you need to go.
When’s the Best Time to Visit Guatape?
Guatape is busiest during the Christmas and Easter holidays, so if you’re looking for a more relaxing vacation, it’s best to avoid those times. The rainy season runs from May to November, so we’d advise visiting in January-April.
We visited in March and had a lovely sunny day to climb La Piedra, but then downpours the rest of the time we were there.
What’s the Weather Like in Guatape?
The weather in Guatape is temperate, with average temperatures ranging from 64-77 degrees Fahrenheit. It can get cool when it rains, so bring a light sweater, a rain jacket, and an extra pair of socks.
There You Have It
Visiting Guatape, Colombia with kids is a fun, low-key, break from the energy of Medellín. Kids will love climbing the famous El Peñol Rock, which is the most popular tourist attraction. There are plenty of other things to do, from exploring the colorful town to taking boat rides on the lake.
While Guatape makes a great day trip from Medellín, if you’re looking to stay overnight, there are many great options in Guatape close to the main square.
Looking for another quick trip from Medellín? Don’t miss What to Do in Jardín, Colombia with Kids.