Colombian Transport FAQ

We answer your questions on how to get around Colombia
Colombian Transport FAQ

Finding information about how to get from A to B isn’t always an easy task. That’s why we’ve tried to make things a little easy for you by outlining your various domestic transport options in Colombia below.

The following responses are the answers to the main transport questions we’ve received over the past months and years from our readers who were interested in traveling around Colombia.

If you’re stuck for information on this topic, or have any other question related to independent travel in Latin America, please add your question in the comments below and we’ll get one of our travel experts on the case, sharpish.

How do I get from Bogota to Cartagena?

Buses to Cartagena leave several times a day from Bogota’s main transport terminal (Terminal de Transportes). It costs in the region of 100,000 pesos but the journey is long. It takes between 18 and 23 hours depending on how many other places the bus stops at. You might be better getting a flight from the El Dorado airport to Cartagena, which only takes about an hour and a half. VivaColombia has cheap flights which aren’t always that much more expensive (sometimes as little as 200,000 pesos or so).

What are my options for traveling from Bogota to Medellin?

The trip to Medellin by bus takes about 8-10 hours and there is a regular service leaving from the main transport terminal. Flights also go from El Dorado airport to Medellin. When choosing your airline is worth bearing in mind that most flights from Bogota will take you to Medellin’s airport at Rio Negro. Though this is the main airport, it is still about a 60,000 peso taxi ride from the center of the city. The Satena airline takes you to the smaller Enrique Olaya Herrera right in central Medellin. Their flights tend to be slightly more expensive than those of VivaColombia, Avianca or the other operators.

How do I get from Bogota to Cali?

Flights to Cali leave from El Dorado airport regularly and take about 1.5 hours. If you’re not carrying much luggage the cheapest fares are generally with VivaColombia; a low cost airline which charges as little as 100,000 for the journey. There are also regular buses which leave for Cali from both the main and southern transport terminals. The journey is about 10 hours and costs around 50,000 pesos.

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How do I get to San Andres?

San Andres islands is located far off the Colombian mainland and there are no ferries which run between the two. Direct flights (run by VivaColombia, LAN and Avianca) run between the island and Bogota, Medellin and Cartagena. Copa Airlines also operate a route from Panama City.

How do I get to Guatape from Medellin?

Guatape lies about 1 and three-quarter hours’ bus ride from Medellin’s northern bus terminal (located at the Caribe stop on the city’s metro system). Shared taxis also run the route between the terminal in Medellin and central Guatape, and the journey is about 20 minutes faster. If in a group of several people, shared taxis work out to be only marginally more expensive than the bus, and are often substantially more comfortable.

How much is a taxi from the airport into Cali, Colombia?

The taxi from the airport into the center of Cali costs around 50,000 COP (approx. $25). A much cheaper option is to catch one of the buses leaving every couple of minutes from directly outside arrivals into the bus terminal in the city center. From there you can easily catch a taxi to your onward destination. The total journey will cost you only about a fifth of the taxi price.

Are there direct flights from Medellin to the Coffee Zone?

Yes. Easyfly operate flights from the Enrique Olaya Herrera airport, in Medellin’s city center, to Periera in the Coffee Zone. Several other operators also run flights between Medellin and this city or others in the region, such as Armenia. However, these often involve a stopover in Bogota.

How do I get to Providencia from San Andres?

The two ways to travel between Providencia and San Andres are by plane or in a Catamaran. The boat option is cheaper, but is not entirely pleasant as the waters are often fairly rough. The trip may also be subject to last minute cancellation if weather conditions are unfavorable. Catamarans leave for Providencia about 4 times a week and the journey takes about 3 hours.

Planes, run by state carrier Satena, leave approximately twice-a-day for the 20 minute journey to Providencia. Before booking the plane journey separately it is worth checking into offers on the website of De Cameron, a local travel company. Package deals are often available here which include return flights, accommodation and transfers, and work out significantly cheaper than paying for the various components separately.

How do I get from the airport in Bogota?

Bogota’s main airport, El Dorado, is located approximately 15km outside of the city center. The easiest way to do the transfer is via one of the yellow taxis available at the authorised stand immediately outside the terminal. All taxis are metered, but the approximate cost of the journey will be around 15,000 COP to 30,000 COP, depending on your final destination. A bus service also runs a circuit of the airport terminals and one of its stops also links into the city’s main network. However, given Bogota’s size and the difficulties associated with navigating its complex bus routes, this journey is not advised for first time arrivals.

How do I get from the airport in Medellin?

The main airport serving Medellin is the Jose Maria Cordova site, located just outside the city. Taxis from here to any destination in the city cost a flat rate of around 60,000 COP (include tolls paid on the highway into Medellin). Alternatively, buses run from Jose Maria to San Diego, in the city’s industrial center, and cost approximately 10,000 COP. These leave regularly, but are not operational either late at night or first thing in the morning.

Domestic flights to Medellin, with Satena and a couple of other operators, will arrive into the smaller Enrique Olaya Herrera airport. This is much more conveniently located in the city itself and a taxi to your final destination is likely to cost in the region of 6,000 COP.

How do I get to Nuqui, Colombia?

The only ways to reach Nuqui are by air or by sea; overland travel is not possible due to its remote location. Flights in small aircraft, operated by local airlines ADA and Satena, run between the town and Medellin several times a week. The flight takes about 50 minutes. The same airlines also run a shorter route to Quibdo, which takes about 15 minutes. To come by boat you will need to first travel to Buenaventura (near Cali), from where the journey takes 8 hours. Alternatively, you can take the two-hour trip from Bahia Solano; another Pacific destination which has no road access.

How do I get from the airport in Cali?

Throughout the day there is a very regular bus service running between Cali’s Alfonso Bonilla Aragón airport and the main bus terminals in Cali and Palmira. From there you can catch another bus into the city center. Taxis are also readily available at the airport. There is an authorised stand for yellow, metered, taxis immediately outside the terminal.

How do I get from the airport in Cartagena?

Cartagena’s airport is located in the heart of the city. Taxi (or walking) is really the only transport option available to get to your accommodation. Distances are not great so the journey won’t be that expensive (10-12,000 COP maximum). Make sure to agree a price before embarking however, as taxis in Cartagena rarely (if ever) have meters.

Do Colombian taxis use meters?

Taxi journeys in most areas are metered, with an approximate price of 1,000 COP (USD 1) per km. In Cali, Medellin and most towns and cities, the taxi meter simply displays the final journey price. The system is slightly different in Bogota. Here, fares are divided into bands; the number on the meter reflects the band your journey falls within, not the price you need to pay. To find this out, you need to consult the conversion table which is usually displayed somewhere in the vehicle.

Taxis in the tourist area of Cartagena do not use meters so you will need to agree a price with your driver before getting in. To minimize your chances of being overcharged by the driver, it is generally a good idea to ask an impartial local about the correct fare before hailing the taxi.

Taxis travelling to or from the airport in Medellin also do not use a meter. The journey is a fixed price, set by the municipal authorities (currently around 65,000 COP or USD 32).

How can I order a taxi in Colombia?

Taxis can be ordered over the phone throughout Colombia. If using a landline, you can call one of the popular automated services which will send the next available taxi to your address without having to talk to any operator. The most popular such services can be accessed in Bogota by dialing (031)211 1111 and, in Medellin, (034)444 4444. Taxi-ordering mobile applications, including Easy Taxi, Uber and Tapsi, can be used in the country’s urban centers. These have the advantage of not requiring you to call from a landline, so taxis can be ordered from anywhere within the area of coverage.

Can you get from Medellin to Capurgana by bus?

Capurgana is cut off from road access to the rest of Colombia. To reach this destination from Medellin you will need to take a bus from the city as far as Turbo on the coast. Buses leave from Medellin’s northern terminal throughout the day, and the journey takes about 10 hours. From Turbo you can catch one of the small boats leaving for Capurgana, via smaller destinations such as Trigana. The journey takes about 2 and a half hours and can be quite rough. Be aware that boats from Turbo all leave the city’s pier in the early morning. In the low season there is only one or two boats a day so it is worth making reservations in advance.

Which is the best Colombian bus company?

Most of Colombia’s major bus companies offer a safe and reliable service. Some of the smaller companies tend to offer a stopping service however, which can add a significant amount to your journey. The routes operated by larger companies, such as Bolivariano, Flota La Magdalena and Expreso Brasilia, are generally a bit more comfortable and direct.

There are few Colombian bus companies which offer the level of comfort evident on some of the major journeys in countries such as Peru, Argentina and Brazil. The exception to this is Bolivariano’s DuoBus, which mainly runs along the Bogota – Medellin route. On the upper deck of these buses are situated a limited number of first class seats, which are near fully reclining. Passengers also have their own personal entertainment system and Wi-Fi access on board.

How do you get to Playa Blanca from Cartagena?

Playa Blanca is located on the peninsula of Baru, just outside Cartagena. Trips to Baru leave from a small harbour a few minutes’ walk down the round from the clock tower entrance to the walled city. Most visitors arrive on a day-trip, which costs around 50,000 COP and sometimes includes lunch. This does not include the 12,000 COP entrance fee to the park you will have to pay separately. A large number of such tours leave every day, meaning the beach is easy to access, but these trips make it difficult to experience the beach at its best due to the crowds which will arrive with you.

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