22 Things to do in Guatapé, Colombia
Many people think the only things to do in Guatapé are climbing the rock and exploring the colorful town – this is not true! In fact, we’ve spent several days in Guatapé on two different occasions and have found there are actually a ton of fun things to do and see.
Here are 22 fun things to do in Guatapé, Colombia!
1. Climb the rock (La Piedra del Penol)
First on our list of things to do in Guatapé has to be climbing the famous rock! This is the most popular activity in Guatapé and something that every visitor needs to do!
The Rock of Gutape, or El Peñol, is the second-largest monolithic rock in South America next to only Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio, Brazil. It is just massive and stands over 650 feet (200 meters) high offering incredible views of the area from the top. But if you want this amazing view for yourself you’ll need to climb 740 steps – but trust me, it is so worth it.
Climbing the rock costs 18,000 COP and it is located a short 5-minute drive from the town center of Guatapé. You can take a taxi, tuk-tuk, or the bus to get there.
2. Pablo Escobar Boat Tour
Pablo Escobar once lived in a mansion right on the lake’s edge very close to Guatapé. While all “Pablo Escobar tours” no longer officially exist and you cannot actually go inside the house, you can still go on a boat tour from Gutape that drives past the house.
The boat tour we did was with a company called Getaway Colombia and it was themed around Pablo Escobar to an extent, but it was also just a fun boat cruise where we also learned a ton about Guatapé and its history. We saw some really beautiful views and even visited a museum that is inside a 241-year-old house (that’s rumored to be haunted!)
We paid 50,000 COP each for the boat tour and it lasted about 2.5 hours. For me, it was a really fun tour and definitely one of the best things to do in Guatapé, Colombia.
*Note: You may have heard about going paintballing in Pablo Escobar’s mansion. This tour does NOT exist anymore as the Colombian government has restricted access to Pablo Escobar’s properties.
3. Walk Calle del Recuerdo
Calle del Recuerdo is known as the most beautiful street in Guatapé and also a replica of one of the streets of the old town before the area was flooded to create hydroelectric dams.
The street here is so beautiful and the cobblestones against the zócalos are the perfect combination. This is a short stop that I recommend visiting in the morning without the crowds.
4. ATV Tour
If you’re looking for a little excitement, ATVing through the lush jungle that surrounds Guatapé is probably the activity for you! It will be exciting and fun while also offering beautiful scenic views.
Most tours go for around 1.5 hours. You can either book the tour right in Guatapé, or join an ATV experience with a full day trip to Guatapé from Medellin.
5. Visit San Rafael
San Rafael is a small town located 27 kilometers (16.8 miles) from Guatapé. While the town itself isn’t too interesting or beautiful, the drive from Guatapé to San Rafael is breathtaking in itself!
We rented a scooter in Guatapé for only 10,000 COP per hour and drove out to San Rafael. Along the way you drive through the mountains and get panoramic views almost the entire way! This road is also not very busy at all and makes for a relaxing drive that takes about 40 minutes each way.
You can also rent a bicycle and ride to San Rafael as it is almost completely all downhill. Just catch the bus on the way back as the huge mountain climb back to Guatapé would be less than enjoyable on a bicycle.
Once in San Rafael you can check out the plaza or go for lunch. Around San Rafael, there are also lots of swimming spots along the river such as Estadero Rio Bizcocho and Las Tangas (get a map to these places from your motorbike rental shop.) Or if you’re really up for a bit of adventure head to La Casuela (which is actually next on this list of things to do in Guatapé…)
To me, this scenic drive and day trip is definitely one of the best things to do in Guatapé despite not many tourists knowing about it!
*Tip: We rented our scooter from a little shop called Guatapé Motos. They were super professional, the scooter worked perfectly, and we were supplied with big helmets as well as a phone to use in case of an emergency. The staff also spent a good 10 minutes helping us plan our route and they even gave us a map to take with us!
6. Swim at La Casuela Waterfall
Anybody who knows Dan and I will know that we love freshwater swimming holes and waterfalls! There is nothing better than hiking to discover a little piece of paradise where you can cool down with a swim.
Well, we found exactly this with La Casuela Waterfall. Although only a small waterfall, the surroundings are lush jungle and the water is literally crystal clear. Not to mention, it is quite off the beaten path and when we were there only two other people (locals) were there.
La Casuela is located only 5 kilometers (3.2 miles) from the town of San Rafael on the side closest to Guatapé. This makes a stop here perfect on your day trip from Guatapé to San Rafael. However, if renting a scooter/motorbike doesn’t sound like fun you can also book a guided day trip from Guatapé.
*Note: You cannot drive the entire road to the waterfall on a scooter as it is a rough gravel road. So, either rent a motorbike or hike the last couple of kilometers. We hiked and it took about 30 minutes each way. Hiking took a lot more effort but we did see monkeys in the trees along the way!
7. Listen to live music in the Plaza del Zocalo
This is probably the most obvious activity in Guatapé mentioned in this blog and chances are you’ll stumble across it on your own anyway, but I’ll give you a couple of details just in case!
The Plaza del Zocalo is the most colorful square in Guatpe that you simply have to see to believe. There is also an outdoor “Amphitheater-style” sitting area where you can often find someone preforming live music during the afternoons.
It’s a beautiful place to just relax and enjoy the music and colorful scenery in Guatapé’s vibrant little square!
8. Dinner Cruise on the Lake
Are you feeling like a bit of luxury? Well in Guatapé you can jump on a luxurious dinner cruise called the Yate Majestic and enjoy food, cocktails, and even an onboard jacuzzi!
Now, I’m not going to lie, Dan and I didn’t do this cruise for ourselves as it was a bit out of our budget (starting from about 190,000 COP per person) but we spoke to a tour guide about it and he recommended it. He said that many Colombians come to Guatapé on holidays and they love this cruise and post photos all over Instagram of them hanging out in the jacuzzi.
While it is pricey, if money isn’t a concern then it would definitely be a fun experience in Guatapé!
9. Drink Colombian Coffee
Did you know that some of the highest-quality coffee beans in the entire world are grown on the outskirts of Guatapé?! So, it only makes sense to drink lots of amazing local coffee while exploring Guatapé, Colombia.
Wander the streets of Guatapé and you will have a huge range of cafes to choose from. We had an incredible “Italian-style” coffee at a place called La vina Coffee Bar. It was delicious!
10. Jet Skiing
Jet Skiing is one of the most popular adventure activities offered in Guatapé. All you need to do in head to the lake’s edge and you will find someone offering jet skis for rent.
For about 90,000 COP you can rent a jet ski for half an hour. This way, you can explore the lake all on your own and have a bit of fun speeding around!
11. Scenic Helicopter Flight
The lake and hundreds of tiny islands in it makes for a pretty spectacular sight! Although we didn’t do the helicopter ride in Guatapé, we have gone on one before in New Zealand and truly believe that it is a bucket-list experience everybody needs to have at least once in their lifetime.
Expect to pay about $90 USD for a 10-minute ride. Although short, this is a really reasonable price for a helicopter flight and well worth every penny. You do need to book online in advance to secure your spot (especially if you’re visiting Guatapé on the weekend when the town is very busy!)
12. Eat Trucha
“Trucha” is trout and a fish found in the lake surrounding Guatapé. Therefore, Trucha is one of the most popular things to eat in Guatapé as the fish is fresh and really cheap! In fact, you can get an entire fried trout served with rice, salad, fries, and fried plantain for as little as 16,000 COP.
I love fish and probably ate 3 different trucha meals in Guatapé over the course of only three days – it was really that good!
13. Stay at a Hotel with a Lake View
One of the best things to do in Guatapé, Colombia is just relaxing on the water’s edge enjoying the peaceful lake. And the best place to do this is from the comfort of your hotel room balcony!
While there are tons of options for hotels and hostels in the town center, it can be very noisy if you stay here. We recommend staying on the outskirts of Guatapé to really enjoy the peace and quiet of nature.
Lake View Hostel is a beautiful budget option within walking distance to the town center. Although it isn’t the best view of the lake, it does have mountain views and is a well-kept hostel.
For something more upscale, consider Los Recuerdos which is ranked by most as the best hotel in all of Guatapé!
14. Paddleboarding or Kayaking
Right in town you can rent paddleboards and kayaks. You can choose between short-term rentals that are priced hourly or a full-day rental for a flat rate.
We recommend renting a kayak for a whole day (about 100,000 COP for a double kayak) and packing a lunch and go exploring! Find islands, go for walks, enjoy the peace and quiet and even go for a dip! Spending a day out on the water just exploring is easily one of the top things to do in Guatapé!
15. Sip fresh juice at Namaste Vegan
Guatapé, Colombia is quite a trendy town with cafes on every corner and tons of options for places for vegetarians and vegans to eat. We went to a place called Namaste Vegan one morning and had the best fresh juices ever!
But not only are their juices to die for, but the place is also super cute with a rooftop seating area as well as seats out on the colorful street – highly recommend!
16. Shop Artisanal Boutique Stores
If you wander the streets of Guatpae you’ll notice tons of cute little shops or stalls set up selling handicrafts and souvenirs. If you want to find something unique to buy as a souvenir you’ll have no trouble finding it inGuatapé!
17. Rock Climbing
If you like rock climbing then the ultimate experience is climbing the Rock of Guatapé (La Piedra del PEnol!) Now, this isn’t an easy activity and often takes a few hours. It is a great challenge especially for those that have rock climbing experience.
The rock does get quite hot in the afternoons though so it is best to tackle it first thing in the morning.
You can also book a day trip from Medellin including rock climbing online!
18. Walk the Malecon
In 2019 Guatapé opened its very own Malecon (waterfront boardwalk.) Here, you can stroll along the lake and enjoy the views. There are also small stands selling juices and food you can snack on along the way.
If you walk the entire Malecon to the far side of town (near the bridge) you’ll come across the Guatapé sign. Taking the classic tourist photo here is a must-do while in Guatapé, Colombia!
19. Drink Cocktails at the Floating Bar
For a little change of setting, head to the floating bar in Guatapé and have a cocktail right on the edge of the lake! Adc Shots Guatapé is the name of the place and while it is small, it is very cute and definitely worth a stop for a cocktail at sunset.
20. Eat the best Thai food in ALL of Colombia
This might sound strange because one thing Colombia is definitely not known for is Asian cuisine. But I just have to say, the restaurant called Thai Terrace is absolutely incredible and the chef really knows what she’s doing when it comes to Thai food.
I honestly had the best Pad Thai in my entire life (and I’ve spent several weeks in Thailand) here! It was only 25,000 COP and was a large portion too, but I managed to eat the entire thing because I was not going to waste a single bite.
Thai Terrace is a small restaurant and as such, it is often very busy. I recommend coming before 7 pm in order to secure a table. Plus, everyday between5:30-7:30 it is happy hour and you can get a class of Chilean wine for only 5,000 COP – winning!
21. Try Strawberries, Meringue, and Cream!
After dinner, it’s time for dessert and I honestly think the best dessert in Guatapé is a small “hole in the wall” place that serves strawberries topped with meringue and whipping cream.
I can’t remember the name (I don’t think it had one) but it’s located near the main square on Calle 31. This dessert is really tasty and only costs 8,000 COP.
For Colombians, Guatapé is the place to come to party! People from Medellin come for the weekend and literally party the entire time. For this reason, the nightlife in this tiny town is awesome.
You can go to a busy discotheque such as Luxury, or if you want something a little bit more chill head to the local pool bar or a pub such as the new Getaway Pub.