50 Unique and Fun Things to Do in Guatapé, Colombia

Located only a few hours from Medellin in the Colombian Andes, Guatapé is a picturesque town known for its vibrant architecture, stunning natural beauty, rock formations, and rich cultural heritage.

With its charming colonial architecture, pristine lakes, and breathtaking views from the top of Piedra del Peñol, there’s no shortage of things to do in Guatapé. Whether you’re interested in outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, exploring the local cuisine, or simply relaxing and taking in the beauty of the area, Guatapé has something to offer everyone.

In this article, we’ll take a look at our favourite things to do in Guatapé, from hiking and boating to exploring the town’s unique history and culture.

Hike to the top of Piedra del Peñol

Guatapé, from Piedra del Peñol

Piedra del Peñol, a massive granite rock formation located near the town of Guatapé, is an iconic landmark drawing visitors from all over the world.

To reach the top of the giant monolith, you will need to hike up the 220 meter high rock by hiking the 740 steps.

Piedra del Peñol

Once at the top, you will have a spectacular 360 view of the flooded dam and vibrant greenery. Visit the local shop at the top and enjoy a well earned cold beverage or ice cream.

At the base of the rock there are many restaurants selling local Colombian food and stores selling handicrafts and clothes, with balconies overlooking the lake. The cost to climb to the summit is 20,000 COP.

Hike to Cristalina Waterfall from Guatapé

best hike in Guatape

With the cool, temperate climate and lush green landscapes, it is no wonder why hiking in Guatapé is one of our favourite things to do in Guatapé.

To the east of town there are an abundance of roads and trails great for hiking, taking you into the mountains and through forests and villages. You will see some of the best viewpoints of the lake and rock, passing by some of the many waterfalls in the area. The hikes can easily be done on your own, but also can be booked with a guide from town if you so wish.

50 Unique and Fun Things to Do in Guatapé, Colombia -
Photo by Daber Julian Osorio

In our opinion, the best hike in Guatape is the 11 kilometre trail to Cristalina Waterfall, which is a real jungle adventure. As you pass through the jungle you will encounter many steep sections of trail and be required to climb over rocks/fallen trees as well as climb ropes up smaller waterfalls.

Due to landslides in the area, some minor detouring may be required, and given it is not a super popular hike, it can be difficult to stay on track at times so care is needed. Overall, the hike will likely take 2.5 to 4 hours to complete depending on your level of experience.

Swim, Kayak, or SUP on Guatapé-Peñol Lake

Perdido

Often overlooked by travellers more focused on climbing the nearby Piedra del Peñol, the tranquil waters of the lake are perfect for swimming, kayaking, or stand-up paddle boarding. With the multitude of islands on the lake, you can spend a full day getting lost exploring.

For rentals or tours, head down to the waterfront where you’ll find Colombia Getaway, a tour company offering kayaks and SUP’s for rent.

Jet Ski on Guatapé-Peñol Lake

jet ski Guatape lake

For those not a fan of physical exercise, but still want something with a bit more thrill and adrenaline, head to the waterfront and rent a jet ski for a couple hours from one of the local vendors. With a jet ski you will be able to explore the islands and inlets on the crystal clear lake at a much faster pace, taking in the scenic views of nature along the way.

Rock Climbing on Piedra del Peñol

Erock climbing Guatape

An alternate method to reach the summit of the rock and to follow in Villegas’ footsteps is to rock climb. Although it is illegal to climb in most areas of the rock, there are certain routes of the rock formation where it is now possible with permission from local authorities and under the supervision of certified local climbing guides.

The rock is now packed with over 100 classic sport climbing routes ranging from a few meters to a maximum of 200 meters. With the large number of routes available, there is something for all levels of ability.

It is important to note that climbing on the rock formation can be dangerous, and climbers should have the proper equipment, experience, and training before attempting any climbs. It is also important to respect local regulations and the natural environment, ensuring that climbing activities do not cause any damage or disruption to the area.

The best travel agency to book your rock climbing Guatapé adventure with is Outdoors Guatapé.

Hike the Back Roads to Piedra del Peñol along the Rural Guatapé Trail

Guatape loop hiking

If you haven’t caught on yet, Guatapé is a hikers paradise. This 20 kilometre trail will take you pass many viewpoints, a monastery, and Piedra del Peñol. As you walk, you will pass through local farmland and have the opportunity to take in high views of the lake below. The hike is very solitary with limited traffic. Overall the hike will likely take 3 to 4 hours to complete.

Explore the Antioquia Countryside by Motorbike

50 Unique and Fun Things to Do in Guatapé, Colombia -
Photo by Guatape Motos

One of our favourite things to do in Guatapé is to explore the beautiful rural area and nearby towns. Although not as cheap as in other places, the easiest and most convenient way to do this is by motorbike. Head to Guatapé Motos where bikes will cost 140,000 COP per day to rent, or less if you only want for a few hours.

Guatapé Motos also offers numerous organized one day and multi-day bike tours exploring the Antioquia countryside and other nearby towns. On these tours you will cruise through beautiful back roads, visiting waterfalls and jungle in the area. Their tours are reasonably valued and worth the price.

Tour Finca la Rivera Coffee Farm

guatape_0782

There are several coffee farms or “fincas” near Guatapé where you can take a tour and learn about the coffee-making process. One of the best and most convenient is Finca la Rivera, located between Guatapé and El Peñol.

They offers guided tours of the plantation, where you can see the coffee plants and learn about the coffee-making process. The tour also includes a tasting of their freshly roasted coffee, and the opportunity to buy coffee to take with you.

Mountain Bike the Camino de Oropendolas from Guatapé

Mountain biking is one of the best ways to explore the area around Guatapé, and the Camino de Oropendolas is a must-try trail for outdoor enthusiasts. Spanning 9 kilometers, this trail takes you through some of the region’s most biodiverse areas, where you can spot large populations of monkeys and birds, including two types of Oropendolas.

Along the way, you’ll discover hidden waterfalls and lush jungle backdrops, adding to the adventure and excitement of the ride. Don’t miss the chance to experience the beauty and diversity of Guatapé on this unforgettable mountain biking trail.

Try Paragliding over Guatapé

50 Unique and Fun Things to Do in Guatapé, Colombia -
Photo by Paragliding Guatape

Paragliding in Guatapé is a popular activity, and for good reason. The stunning landscape of the surrounding lakes and Piedra del Penol make for a breathtaking view in the air.

The best option for paragliding in Guatapé is to go with Paragliding Guatapé. They offer tandem flights and solo flights for experienced pilots, with flights lasting up to 40 minutes. Paragliding Guatapé is located in the town of Guatapé itself, making it a convenient option for visitors staying in the town.

Overall, paragliding in Guatapé is a thrilling and unforgettable experience. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paraglider, the stunning views and exhilarating flight will be a highlight of your trip to Guatapé.

Explore the Nearby El Peñol Town

El Peñol

El Peñol is a charming town with lots of natural beauty, friendly locals, good restaurants, and outdoor adventure activities to offer. Whether you’re interested in hiking, exploring the lake, visiting local markets and restaurants, or simply relaxing in the town’s central plaza, there’s something for everyone to do in El Peñol town.

You can eat many traditional dishes while here like bandeja paisa and sancocho. Also a must to check out while here is the cool old church, Muestra Senora del Rosario de Chiquinquira. We are not big fans of visiting churches while traveling, but this may be one of our favourites in Colombia with a design that simulates a large rock.

Hike, Mountain Bike, or Take a Horse Ride on the Alto del Morro Trail and Dirt Roads Surrounding El Peñol

50 Unique and Fun Things to Do in Guatapé, Colombia -
Photo by baggel3

If staying in the town of El Peñol, the surrounding roads and trails are great for exploring on foot, bike, or horse. Alto del Morro is one awesome trail, which is a 3 kilometre out and back trail, taking you through rolling hills overlooking the lake. There are many trails in the area near El Peñol, however most are not well marked making it best to just go out and explore at your own leisure.

Hike the Ruta Caminera El Marial from El Peñol Town Passing by Piedra Del Marial

Starting in the town of El Peñol, this 24 km hike is a fun adventure through the Antioquian countryside, passing many villages along the way. The main highlight of this trail is when you arrive to Piedra Del Marial, a smaller version of the famous Piedra de El Peñol.

This rock includes a chapel at the base, with a rich history of religious and miraculous significance. Follow the colourful fence along the steps leading to the top, where you will be delighted by the beauty of the reservoir and countryside below.

Explore San Rafael Town

SAN RAFAEL - ANTIOQUIA

Located 15 kilometers from Guatapé, San Rafael is a charming town that is relatively untouched by tourism. You can get here by a quick 45 minute motorbike ride or by taking the local bus. Once here, you can explore the town’s colorful streets and colonial architecture including their picturesque white church, visit local markets and shops, and relax at one of the towns cafes.

Hike to La Casuela Waterfall near San Rafael

While in San Rafael, completing the short hike to the nearby La Casuela waterfall is a must for all outdoorsy travellers. Here you can take a quick dip in the fresh water and relax with a picnic lunch. Another nearby waterfall worth checking out as well is Cascada de los Patios waterfall.

Swim at Rio Bizcocho

Rio Bizcocho

Rio Bizcocho is a small river near the town of San Rafael, ideal for swimming, especially during the warmer months. Swimming in the clean waters of Rio Bizcocho is a fun and refreshing way to cool off on a hot day, with plenty of shallow areas for wading or swimming. There are also deeper pools that are perfect for jumping or diving.

One of the most popular spots for swimming in Rio Bizcocho is the La Playita de Bizcocho, a small beach area with picnic tables and changing rooms. This area is well-maintained, but often crowded during weekends and holidays.

Go Canyoning along the Guatapé River

San Rafael Antioquia

Another fun and adventurous activity to try while in San Rafael is canyoning. Starting from the Village of Samaria, you will hike until you reach the starting point along the Guatapé River. From here you will jump into natural pools, slide down natural rock slides, and rappel down waterfalls.

Another favourite canyoning spot of ours in Colombia is near June Curi Waterfall in San Gil, which you can read more about here in our best things to do in San Gil article!

Wander Down Calle Del Recuerdo, Colombia’s Most Colourful Street

Calle del Recuerdo ("The Remembrance Street")

One of the best things to do during your stay in Guatapé is to just stroll the cobblestone streets at your own pace, taking in the unique and colourful zocalos. These painted ceramic panels are a hallmark of the towns heritage, with each telling a different story, and some depicting scenes from daily life, nature, or family values.

One of the most picturesque streets to visit is Calle del Recuerdo, with the zocalos on this street being the most famous.

Relax with a Coffee Along Plazoleta de los Zocalos

El Saxofonista

After you’ve had enough exploring and have seen every nook and cranny of town, unwind and relax at one of the quaint coffee shops located in the Plazoleta de los Zocalos, such as Cafe La Vina or Kaffa Cafe Bar.

Learn the History of the Zocalos on a Free Walking Tour

Zócalos de Guatapé

Starting from the main plaza, take part in a free walking tour on offer from Monday to Saturday, where you can learn more about the history and significance of the zocalos, and daily stories of the town of Guatapé.

Hike the Camino del Sinsonte Route from Guatapé

hiking in Guatape & El Peñol

As you may have caught on, the hikes in Guatapé are endless. Starting from town, another popular hiking route in the area is the Camino del Sinsonte, spanning 13 kilometres. This trail traverses the Alto de Care Perro mountain range and leads hikers through lush jungle landscapes and past cascading waterfalls.

The total hiking time for this route is around 3 hours, although this may vary depending on one’s fitness level. The Camino del Sinsonte is a scenic and challenging trek that offers a rewarding experience for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.

Take a Boat Cruise Past Pablo Escobar’s Mansion

Ruin of Pablo Escobar

With the many islands scattered throughout the man-made reservoir, taking a boat cruise is one of the best ways to explore the lake. Head to the waterfront, and you will find several boats offering 1 hour tours around the lake.

On the tour you will pass the abandoned Hacienda Napoles: one of infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar’s sprawling estates, which was bombed in 1993 and still lies in decay. The cost of the tour is 25,000 COP, and think this is a must-do activity for anyone visiting.

Practice Yoga & Meditation Along the Shores of Guatapé-Peñol Lake

Guatape, Colombia

Guatapé-Peñol Lake is an ideal location for practicing yoga and meditation due to its tranquil and serene atmosphere. The stillness of the water, surrounded by mountains and forests, creates a peaceful environment that promotes relaxation and introspection.

Additionally, the natural beauty of the area offers a stunning backdrop for yoga and meditation sessions, with retreat centers in the area like La Casa de Loto providing classes and workshops for spiritual and personal development. Whether a beginner or experienced practitioner, Guatapé Lake offers the perfect environment for inner peace and rejuvenation.

Try the Freshwater Guatapé-Peñol Lake Trout

Lake trout lunch, Guatape

Guatapé is renowned for its fresh trout caught right out of the surrounding lake. While there are many restaurants in town that offer this delicious fish, La Fogata stands out as the premier destination for those seeking an authentic and memorable culinary experience.

As specialists in local trout, the restaurant boasts a diverse menu featuring various preparations such as marinera, al ajillo, al carbon, frita, and even as part of a bandeja. Each dish is carefully crafted with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and cooked to perfection, ensuring that every bite is bursting with flavor. Whether it’s a leisurely lunch or a romantic dinner, a visit to La Fogata is a must for any food enthusiast looking to sample the best of Guatapé’s cuisine.

Visit the Sunday Market

Guatape Market

While Guatapé has markets open daily, the Sunday market in Guatapé is a bustling event that draws visitors from all over the region. Located in the town’s main square, the market features a diverse range of goods and foods, from artisan crafts to fresh produce. One of our favourite and unique foods on offer is the “arepa de choclo,” a traditional Colombian corn cake that is grilled and filled with cheese or meat.

In addition to the food, the market is also a great place to find handcrafted souvenirs, such as pottery, textiles, and jewelry. Visitors can also browse through a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, including local fruits like guanabana and lulo. The Sunday market in Guatapé is a vibrant and colourful event that showcases the best of the region’s culture and cuisine.

Camp Overnight along the Lake

Peñón de Guatapé

There are several free campsites along the shores of Guatapé-Peñol Lake, making it a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts. These campsites offer a unique way to experience the natural beauty of the area, with many providing access to activities such as swimming, fishing, and kayaking. Visitors can pitch their tents and spend the night under the stars, surrounded by breathtaking scenery. While the campsites are free, visitors are encouraged to leave the sites clean and to follow responsible camping practices.

Take a Helicopter Flight over Guatapé and Piedra del Peñol

Taking a helicopter flight over Guatapé is an exhilarating experience that provides breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Booking a helicopter tour is easy and can be done through several reputable companies such as HeliGuatapé or Helitours Colombia. These companies offer a range of flight options, from short 15-minute tours to longer 1-hour tours that explore the region’s highlights.

During the flight, passengers can expect to see stunning views of the colorful houses and buildings that line the town’s streets, the impressive El Peñol rock formation, and the vast Guatapé reservoir. The tour is an unforgettable experience that provides a unique perspective of the region’s natural beauty.

Join an ATV Tour

ATV tours in Guatapé are a thrilling way to explore the scenic countryside and mountainous terrain. Visitors will be taken through winding dirt roads and rugged trails, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscapes. These tours usually last around 2 hours, depending on the route, and provide a fun and exciting experience for adventure seekers. Tours can be booked once you’re in Guatapé town.

Eat Traditional Antioquia Cuisine

Bandeja Paisa

For the best traditional Antioquia cuisine, head to Martine Restaurante-Bar located along the Plazoleta de los Zocalos in the centre of town. Here you can order the meal of the day special, or favourites such as bandeja paisa or casuela.

Learn how to Sail at Escuela de Vela de Antioquia

Antioquia Peñon de Guatapé

The Escuela de Vela de Antioquia in Guatapé offers sailing courses for all levels of experience. Located on the picturesque Guatapé-Peñol Lake, the school provides a stunning backdrop to learn the basics of sailing, including handling the sails and steering the boat. Friendly and experienced instructors make the learning process enjoyable and stress-free.

Spend the Afternoon at Comfama Park

comfama park Guatape

Comfama Park is a fun-filled recreational park that offers a variety of outdoor activities for visitors. The park boasts an inflatable water park playground, resembling an aquatic jungle gym, which is sure to be a hit with kids and adults alike. In addition to the water park, visitors can enjoy zip-lining, kayak rentals, and water tricycle and pedal boat rentals.

Visit El Cristalino Waterfalls near Cocorna

Cocorná

El Cristalino waterfalls are located approximately 45 kilometres southeast of Guatapé near Cocorna. To reach El Cristalino waterfalls from Guatapé, you will need to take a bus to the town of Cocorna, which takes around 2 hours depending on traffic conditions. Once in Cocorna, take another taxi or bus to the entrance of the waterfall, about 5 kilometres from the town centre.

The waterfall is located in a nature reserve and is a 30 minute hike to reach, which is relatively easy, with some rocky and steep sections. You’ll pass through lush jungle and cross a small stream before reaching the waterfall.

The waterfall is approximately 50 meters high and flows into a large pool that is ideal for swimming on a warm day. It’s a popular destination for both locals and nomads looking to escape the city and immerse themselves in nature.

For more hiking and waterfall adventures, be sure to check out our post on the top adventure activities do in Minca, Colombia!

Visit Guatapé’s Community Historical Museum

Located on Calle del Recuerdo, the small Community Historical Museum shows a sample of the daily life in Guatapé and how the modern town came to be. With objects from the past and stories to be told, this free museum is a perfect place for a short visit to learn more about the history of the town.

Take a Dinner Boat Cruise on Guatapé-Peñol Lake

A dinner boat cruise on Guatapé-Peñol Lake offers a unique and romantic way to enjoy the area’s scenic beauty. Guests can enjoy a three-course meal while taking in the stunning views and watching the sunset. It’s the perfect setting for a special occasion or a romantic evening with your significant other.

Grab a Drink at One of the Floating Bars Along the Lake

Guatapé lake

The floating bars at Guatapé-Peñol Lake is a fun and unique place to visit. Situated on a floating platform, guests can enjoy drinks, snacks, and water activities while taking in the stunning views. It’s a perfect spot to unwind after a day of exploring the area, or to spend a relaxing afternoon.

Go for a Nature Walk at Piedra Montada Nature Reserve

Nestled halfway between Guatapé and San Rafael, a 30-minute ecological walk leads you to a beautiful nature reserve. As you arrive, the fresh mountain air welcomes you, and crystal-clear streams beckon for a refreshing dip. Spend a peaceful night surrounded by nature in one of the rustic cabins, where you can cook supper over firewood using organic food products grown right on the farm.

Don’t forget to visit the Canon del Wacaica viewpoint, where you can soak up the stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. It’s a perfect escape for nature lovers and those seeking a peaceful retreat in the heart of Colombia’s beautiful countryside.

Go Tubing in Alejandria

Rio Nare, Alejandría Antioquia. Colombia

Alejandria, located about an hour away from Guatapé, offers a relaxing tubing experience on the Nare River. Tour operators in town provide tubes, and visitors can enjoy a few hours of fun-filled tubing down the 4 kilometre section of river. It’s an excellent way to spend a warm afternoon.

Relax in Alejandria’s Nearby Hot Springs

While in Alejandria, the Termales Alejandria are another relaxing way to spend an a morning or afternoon. Located outside the town, the hot springs offer a relaxing and rejuvenating experience, with natural pools of warm water surrounded by lush greenery.

Try the Local Street Foods

buñuelos

Guatapé is home to some of the best street food in the region, offering a wide variety of traditional Colombian cuisine. Some popular dishes include arepas (corn cakes filled with cheese or meat) and empanadas (stuffed fried pastries) cooked over an open flame. Visitors can also try local fruits and juices, or indulge in sweet treats like buñuelos (fried dough balls with cheese), which are perfect paired with freshly brewed coffee.

Hike to Cascada la Sonadora

The hike to Cascada la Sonadora near the town of El Peñol takes you through lush forest and leads to a stunning waterfall, making it a must-do activity for nature enthusiasts.

Rent a Finca or Go Glamping on the Lake

Finca El Encuentro - Guatapé

Renting a finca or going glamping is a great way to experience the beautiful Guatapé-Peñol Lake. Several local agencies offer options for rental cabins or tents set in the midst of lush greenery and stunning lake views. Visitors can enjoy a unique outdoor experience with various activities such as kayaking, fishing, and swimming in the clear waters of the lake. These rentals provide the perfect opportunity to unplug from the hustle and bustle of daily life and connect with nature.

Go for a walk or run along the Malecon

The Guatapé malecon is a scenic walkway along the shore of the Guatapé Lake, offering beautiful views and access to various water activities.

Visit Church of Our Lady of Carmen

Guatapé

For those with an eye for architecture, the Church of Our Lady of Carmen, located in the town square of Guatapé, is a must-see. The church has a striking facade of red stripes on white paint, fitting perfectly with the vibrant colours of the town. The interior is predominantly wood, with religious figures in bright colours to stay with the towns theme.

Take a Snapshot at the Guatapé sign

Located near the central plaza, the Guatapé sign stands tall with colourful letters that represent the town’s vibrant culture and history. It’s a must-visit attraction for anyone looking to capture memorable photos and experience the local charm of Guatapé.

Eat Lunch at Namaste Vegan Restaurant

Namaste in Guatapé

Namaste Vegan Restaurant in Guatape is a popular dining spot for visitors seeking delicious and healthy vegan cuisine. The restaurant serves a variety of plant-based dishes, including vegan burgers, wraps, and salads, as well as fresh juices and smoothies. Namaste uses fresh, organic, and locally sourced ingredients to create flavorful and nutritious meals. The restaurant’s cozy and welcoming atmosphere makes it a great spot to relax and enjoy a wholesome meal while taking in the beautiful views of the surrounding mountains.

Listen to Live Music along Plazoleta de los Zocalos

Guatape

In the late afternoon and evening, Plazoleta de los Zocalos is a vibrant and lively square with live music performances in this charming plaza. Local musicians perform a variety of genres, from traditional Colombian music to contemporary hits, providing a lively soundtrack for visitors as they enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

Shop for Souvenirs in the Artisanal Shops

Guatapé

Guatapé is known for its vibrant artisanal scene, with several shops and markets selling locally made handicrafts and souvenirs. These artisanal shops offer a range of handmade products, including colorful textiles, pottery, jewelry, and hand-carved wooden sculptures. Visitors can browse the shops and support local artisans while taking in the colorful sights and sounds of the town.

Go Salsa Dancing at Casa Cuba

For anyone looking for a night of music, dance, and fun, Casa Cuba in Guatape is the perfect destination. This vibrant restaurant turned salsa club features live music and dancing every weekend, with a mix of local and international performers taking the stage. The club’s energetic atmosphere and spacious dance floor make it the perfect spot to learn some new moves or show off your salsa skills.

Take a Photo in the Picturesque Umbrella Street

Guatape Zocalo

Just next to Plazoleta de los Zocalos, you will find this picturesque street perfect for photos, covered in a ceiling of different coloured umbrellas

Finish Supper off with a Delicious Merengon for Dessert

Merengon y Mas is a well-known bakery in Guatapé that is famous for its mouth-watering merengon desserts. The bakery has gained a reputation for creating some of the best merengon in the area, with its customers coming from far and wide to indulge in the sweet treat. The merengon at Merengon y Mas is made with a crispy meringue shell and a rich filling of whipped cream and fresh fruits. It is not to miss during your stay in Guatape!

Conclusion

Guatapé is a must-visit destination in Colombia with a range of activities for all interests. From hiking to swimming, exploring zocalos, and taking in the views from Piedra del Peñol, there’s no shortage of things to do. Visitors can also enjoy the town’s vibrant cultural scene, including festivals, live music, and local cuisine. Whether seeking adventure, relaxation, or a glimpse into Colombia’s rich history, Guatapé is a destination that will leave unforgettable memories.

Let us know in the comments below if you found our suggestions helpful! If you like this post, be sure to check out our post on why you should visit La Guajira, Colombia’s rugged northern Caribbean desert, one of our favourite destinations in Colombia!


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