Going to Guatapé from Medellín (or Medellín to Guatapé) is one of the simplest day trips or short overnight trips! We’ve gone to Guatapé from Medellín for a day trip and also for a weekend trip. Follow our step-by-step outline of how to reach Guatapé from Medellín, by bus.
Going to Guatapé, Colombia from Medellín is one of the easiest day trips from Medellín and the most fun. Also, if you’re looking for how to get to Medellín from Guatapé, use this guide in reverse.
Guatapé is a popular side trip because there is nature and small-town Colombian culture to see. While backpacking in Colombia, you’ll want to see big cities, and small towns as well, so Guatapé is a great choice.
We’ve gone to Guatapé after exploring Medellín both for the day, and as a weekend getaway trip. Traveling in this region is incredibly safe, making both Guatapé and Medellín great and safe destinations for first-time travelers or experienced globetrotters.
To reach Guatapé, you’ll have to take a public bus. Here’s how to get from Medellín to Guatapé with our guide.
Go to Medellín’s Terminal Norte.
Terminal Norte is the bus station for all routes north and east in Colombia, from Medellín. Guatapé is a bit to the east, so any bus for Guatapé leaves from this terminal.
To get to Medellín Terminal Norte, you can take a taxi or Uber. You can also reach Terminal Norte by the Medellín metro system Line A (blue) to the Caribe station.
Head down to the ground floor of Terminal Norte.
You will likely arrive at the terminal on the top floor, where the metro bridge connects and where incoming taxis can drop off. The top floor has mostly retail shops and a few cafes, like Dunkin Donuts.
When you get to the bottom floor, you’ll know it is correct because you will see all the ticket booths and bus company signs.
You can take the escalator or elevator to get to the ground floor. Notice that each window is for a bus or transport company that works with a certain route of destinations.
Find ticket booth #14 for buses to Guatapé from Medellín.
The bus company is called “Sotrasanvicente & Guatapé La Piedra,” which is a long name. If you get lost, you can ask anyone for Guatapé, and they’ll point you toward ticket booth 14.
Tickets to Guatapé or to La Piedra (the rock, known as El Peñól de Guatapé) will cost 14,000 COP one way. It’s equal to $3.77 USD (as of May 2021) per person (at the time of writing).
Now, grab coffee and snack for your Colombian bus trip.
We found some nice coffee from a place called Deli on the top floor.
There are also snacks everywhere, from empanadas to fresh juices. If you have time, you can explore all the options. We also found a fresh juice stand on the ground floor near the bus ticket booths.
How do you read a Colombian bus ticket?
The ticket will be all in Spanish. Make sure you differentiate between “puesto,” which means seat, and “rampa,” which means gate.
It is unfortunately pretty easy to confuse these words and their meanings. While in the station, we ran into someone we knew. He had confused “puesto” with “rampa,” meaning he went to the gate number of his seat assignment. In a big hurry, he had to then run across the terminal with minutes to spare before he found the correct bus gate.
While on the bus to Guatapé from Medellín…
If you want to get off at the Peñól de Guatapé before you go into the town of Guatapé, you can tell the driver. The driver will let you off at the entrance to the Piedra, which will be ten minutes before the arrival at the Guatapé bus station.
While on the bus, you will see a few types of people board the bus: people begging for money, people selling small snacks, and people playing music and then asking for money.
You don’t have to feel obligated to give anyone money, nor to buy anything. Most of these types of vendors will stay on the bus for a few minutes and then leave.
When you reach Guatapé, congratulations – you did it! Now you can enjoy a bandeja paisa and the sights to see in Guatapé.
Where to stay in Guatapé, Colombia, as a backpacker
Guatapé has an array of different places to stay, especially among the hostel offerings.
There are several hostels located in the heart of the town, some hostels near the Piedra (it’s a 40-minute walk from the town), and some hostels up near the farms to the other side of town.
Having once already gone for a day trip to Guatapé, during our second trip we decided to go for a more rural experience and stayed at Estaciones Hostal. We walked for about a half hour from the bus station in Guatapé’s town to Estaciones Hostal and got to appreciate the rural and small town scenery.