As I was doing a bit of research for my weekend adventure in Medellin, photos of the colorful town of Guatapé kept popping up, begging me to visit. After a while I couldn’t take it anymore, and found a way to shoehorn a visit into my three-day Medellin trip.
And YEAH, that was the right call…
Guatapé, like Medellin, is in the Antioquia region of Colombia. My visit to Guatapé was at the end of a full-day private tour with Carlos that included El Peñól (the replica town) and El Peñon (or La Piedra del Peñól, the famous massive rock) and time spent at Finca La Rivera, a coffee farm where I learned about coffee growing and processing. Guatapé was our final stop of the day, for a late lunch and then time to walk around the town, soaking up the colors.
What to do in Guatapé, Colombia
It’s a good question, but it’s a lot less about what to do, and more just about walking around and soaking up the ambiance. The colors are the star here, so wander around and take pics of all the colorful buildings, have a good cup of coffee, explore the street food scene, find the place with the cinnamon rolls (more on that below), do some shopping, and just chill.
It is quite crowded on weekends, particularly when the weather is good and if it’s a holiday weekend as well. Gets a lot of Colombian tourism traffic in addition to outsiders. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit, but is just good to know. And if you have the time and flexibility, try to time your visit to early morning or late afternoon, or even stay overnight to feel a little more like you have it to yourself.
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The name Guatapé is pre-European conquest, when the area was settled by pre-indigenous times. The tribal ruler at some point was named Guatapé, and the name stuck. The town was officially founded in the early 1800s by the Spaniards. It plays a big role in the country’s utilities (hydro-electric, specifically, due to the dam and reservoir nearby), and from a tourism standpoint is super popular because of its over-the-top colorful buildings.
As I mentioned above, the best thing to do in Guatapé is wander up and down all the little side streets and look at the variety of zocalos on display. Zolcalos are the colorful tiles that decorate all the buildings. They typically tell the story of the family history or what they do for a living, though some are just fun or unique. Here are a few I snapped pics of while walking around.
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It was hard to pick a favorite building (or even color) in Guatapé! Those llamas above are definitely high on the list, and that yellow and red balconied building at the top of the post. The colors and gold detail on the Palacio Municipal (town hall, I think) are up there as well. But it seemed every corner I turned, I found a new one to love.
And more colors… 🙂
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This Plaza de Zocalos seems to have been an addition to the town largely for tourism purposes, but it is a cute little stop for photos. And I just now realized that there is a hat above my head, so Carlos FTW.
Our last stop in Guatapé was one not many people know about, but Carlos insisted we grab a massive cinnamon roll at Papi & Pepin. We watched the young fella pull the rolls out of the oven, pointed to the one we wanted, and waited for him to pile thick glaze on top. Then we messily devoured, with some okay coffee.
So that’s the colorful, detailed, fun, charming Guatapé—can you see why I loved it?! If you’re planning a trip to Medellín, I strongly recommend you make time for this delightful town, whether as an entire day and overnight, or even just a couple hours.
If you’re into the color, you’ll love these posts!
- The Ultimate First-Timer’s Guide to Cinque Terre
- Falling in Love with Quirky Reykjavik, Iceland
- A Perfect Piran Afternoon
- A Day Trip to Sintra’s Fairytale Castles
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