The cheap must do day trip from Medellín without a tour company

If you are a backpacker and have only allotted yourself one day for Guatape, just remember what the legend Bob Marley told us, “don’t worry about a thing because every little thing, is guna be alright” In this post I’ll outline an ideal day in the city of a million colors. (Not actually called this but you’ll understand why when you arrive)

Although much more worthy than just a day trip, Guatape is the winner for best day trip from Medellín. With more activities than a Will Ferrell’s Step Brothers room, Guatape is calling your name. Follow this guide for a cheap, thrilling & memorable day in one of my favorite Colombian cities.

Getting there. Guatape is extremely, extremely simple to get to but the booking agencies/ Tour operators don’t want you to know that. Just simply take the metro, bus, taxi, Uber, walk, heelys, razor, motorbike, rollerblades, skateboard or any other form of transit to the Caribe (North Station) & buy your ticket from window 9 or 14. The ticket should be about 12 million Colombian pesos. Next find your bus & enjoy the 2 hour scenic ride.

As far as timing goes for your trip I’d recommend getting an early start, giving yourself as much time possible in Guatape. It’s also an advantage getting to Guatape before the hoards of other folks who are going for the main tourist draw, La Piedra.

La Piedra. Aka the giant rock aka self best mirador (view) in the world, is well worth the 700 stair ascent to the top. Yes, 700 stairs, it’s way up there. Hopefully you got there a bit early, before 11 because the crowds will be dizzying.

Once you have enjoyed your safe ascent & descent, make your way into town for 5-10,000 colombian Pesos & feast your eyes upon the colors before you. Speaking of feast, you’ve definitely worked up your appetite from that trip to the moon so find yourself a place to recharge the batteries before exploring the rest of the city. My recommendation: Kushbu Indian Cuisine. Sam the chef, who has lived worldwide, is generous, gregarious, open & charming. Enjoy lunch here & ask about his travels.

Guatape is compact, & simple to navigate. Make your way to the center & marvel at the fountain & church which will become your landmark to work around. Walk the streets & admire the vuelos that line each door front, business and bar. What is a vuelo? Look at these pictures below:

Need a pick me up or just a second to relax those dogs after the overwhelming amount of colors you will be seeing? Grab a cup of colombian coffee from artisanal roaster, Black Hole Coffee, at their storefront or mobile bicycle stand. Excellent quality & also a provider of delicious ice creams.

So what’s next? Luckily you’ve got options. Popular activities include bike tours around the exterior of the city to hidden lagoons and waterfalls of San Rafael or spending the day on the water doing whatever floats your boat. (Pun intended). Jet skis, Kayaks , Stand up paddle boards, Wakeboarding or a casual boat peruse, are all daily doses of life here.

If you’ve decided to take your talents to these you’re going to need some more fuel before heading back to Medellín. Head over to Thai Terrace for their happy hour from 5:30-7:30 & be appalled about how lucky you are to be eating some incredible Thai food tucked away in the Colombian hillsides.

Say your goodbyes to Guatape & get back to the bus terminal for your ride home. Located a block away from the city center you’ll be sad you couldn’t stay longer. But if you are staying longer check out my post about what else can fill your days here:

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