Guatapé: a Colombian Color Explosión

Picturesque? Colorful? Enchanting? Guatapé is all of those, and so much more. It’s an Andean escape not too far from Medellín’s concrete playground. It’s a mesmerizing paradise on the man-made Peñol-Guatapé reservoir. It’s Colombia’s most colorful city, painted in a plethora of colors that captivate the eye.

What started as a small idea amongst a couple of families—painting houses in vibrant shades of pastel colors and decorating their exteriors with bas-reliefs (called zócalos) depicting everyday life—turned into a citywide tradition that transformed Guatapé into the mind-bogglingly beautiful town it is today. The city’s cobbled streets explode with color as the zócalos tell the story of the city and its people. It’s a truly dazzling display of color that charms all travelers lucky enough to see it themselves.

While the town of Guatapé certainly had its charms, nearby is El Peñól, South America’s second largest natural rock, towering over 650 feet into the sky. From the top lookout—740 steps up—is arguably the best view to be seen in all of Colombia. While the Rock of Guatapé is interesting, the real draw came after the 1970s when the land around Guatapé was flooded to make way for a dam. Thanks to the intentional flood, one of the country’s most magical viewpoints (self-proclaimed the “best view in the world”) was created. It’s a certifiably scintillating and satisfying view: rolling green hills stretching off into the horizon and the water of the reservoir dancing and weaving around the still unsubmerged land adorned with richly green trees. The commingling colors—the soft azure sky, white clouds, sapphire-green waters, and richly green foliage—provide a picturesque scene more suited for a fantasy novel than reality.

Most colorful town in the world? Perhaps. Best view in the world? Perhaps. Both are certainly unforgettable.