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How to Travel by Bus in Colombia Hassle-Free – 5 Insider Tips!

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Updated on 01/25/2024

Dear Reader,
My name is Frank and I run a travel agency in Bogota, Colombia. Have fun while reading!

Traveling by bus in Colombia is an adventure that lets you explore the entire country, but it requires planning. In this blog, I’ll provide information and tips for a smooth bus journey.

Why Choose Buses in Colombia?

One of the key advantages of bus travel in Colombia is the access it provides to places that are otherwise inaccessible by other means of transport, such as remote or rural areas of the country.

This allows you to enjoy a unique adventure, discovering the diverse landscapes and cultural richness of Colombia at each stop. However, to do so, you must stay vigilant and pay close attention to your surroundings.

Another benefit of bus travel is its cost-effectiveness compared to air travel. It also offers more flexibility in terms of luggage, and you can even negotiate with the bus driver if you need to transport more items than the standard allowance, something not possible on a plane.

Considerations for bus travel in Colombia

On the flip side, bus travel in Colombia does come with some disadvantages to take into account. One of them is the limited availability of restroom facilities on some buses and the scarcity of restroom stops.

Another downside is the extended travel times, often substantially longer than other forms of transportation due to the country’s geographical layout, road conditions, and the potential for incidents such as accidents or landslides.

Here are some of the lengthiest bus routes in Colombia:

  • Cali to Maicao Route: Covering a distance of 1,291 kilometers (802 miles) and taking around 25.5 hours to complete.
  • Cali to Cartagena Route: Spanning 1,371 kilometers (851 miles) and taking between 25 and 26 hours, depending on the chosen route.
  • Cúcuta to Ipiales Route: The longest route in Colombia, with a total length of 1,440 kilometers (895 miles) and a travel time of 34 hours.

Additionally, during peak seasons or holidays, ticket prices can significantly increase. Therefore, it is advisable to make reservations well in advance to secure availability.

Colombian geography and bus travel

Colombia’s geography affects bus travel significantly. Three mountain ranges running from south to north result in winding, narrow, and steep roads, making bus journeys slower and less comfortable. For example, the Bogotá to Medellín route covers only 412 km (256 mi) but can take up to 10 hours due to the mountainous terrain.

Flat regions like the Caribbean coast have straighter and wider roads, but they can present challenges such as road deterioration and toll booths that increase fares.

Colombia’s diverse climate means different weather at varying altitudes, so pack accordingly.

How to Purchase Bus Tickets to Travel across Colombia

In Colombia, you have several options for buying bus tickets.

One option is to visit the bus terminal in the city where you are located. All major and intermediate cities have their own terminals where you can find different transportation companies. There are also some small towns with offices or branches of these companies, allowing you to board or disembark without going through a terminal. For example, if you’re traveling from Bogotá to Medellín, you can make a stop in La Dorada.

Another option is to purchase your tickets online using digital platforms like Pinbus or Redbus. These websites enable you to compare prices, schedules, and services from various bus companies and make your reservation and payment online. This way, you can save time and secure your spot on your preferred bus.

Prices for bus travel across Colombia

The prices for intercity bus travel in Colombia depend on the season (high or low), the transportation company, and the route. Here are some price examples:

  • Bogotá to Medellín: between $60,000 and $120,000 (15 USD – 30 USD).
  • Medellín to Cali: between $50,000 and $90,000 (12 USD – 22 USD).
  • Cali to Barranquilla: between $100,000 and $150,000 (25 USD – 36 USD).

Remember: Prices can vary, and these are just reference figures. Whenever possible, negotiate, as it’s often possible to get better prices in Colombia.

High and low seasons for bus travel across Colombia

The low season in Colombia aligns with the school periods, excluding certain holidays. These periods are from mid-January to mid-June and from mid-August to mid-November.

Easter Week, the October holiday break, and holiday weekends are considered high season.

Bus Companies in Colombia

Colombia is home to numerous bus companies, and here are some of the most prominent ones and the regions where they operate:

  • Expreso Bolivariano
Acacias Fusagasugá Mocoa   
Armenia  Garzón Neiva 
Bogotá  Granada Palmira 
Bucaramanga Girardot Pamplona 
Buga Honda Pasto    
Cali  Ibagué Pereira 
Calarcá  Ipiales Pitalito 
Cúcuta  La Dorada Popayán 
Espinal  Manizales Soacha 
Facatativá Mariquita   Tuluá 
Florencia Medellín Villavicencio 
Fresno Melgar  
  • Expreso Brasilia
Armenia  El Banco  Riohacha  
Aguachica  Honda Sahagún  
Barrancabermeja  IbaguéSan Gil
Barranquilla  Maicao  Santa Marta 
Bogotá  Manizales  Sincelejo  
Bucaramanga  Medellín  Socorro  
Buga  Montería  Tolú  
Cartagena  Magangué  Tunja  
Cali  Pereira  Tuluá  
Cúcuta Pamplona Valledupar 
  • Velotax
Alpujarra Girardot  Popayán 
Armenia Honda  Purificación  
Bogotá  Ibagué  Roncesvalles  
Buenaventura  La Dorada  Rovira  
Buga  Líbano  Rovira Vans  
Cajamarca  Mariquita  Saldaña  
Calarcá  Melgar  San Luis  
Cali  Pereira  Tuluá  
Espinal Playa Rica Villavicencio 
  • Copetran
AraucaLa DoradaSahagún
AguachicaLa Jagua de IbiricoSan Gil
BarbosaLa LomaSan Martín
BarrancabermejaMaicaoSanta Marta
DuitamaPamplonaVado Real
El BancoPailitasValledupar
GirónPuerto BerrioYopal
HondaPuerto WilchesZapatoca
  • Expreso Palmira 
Armenia   Cali   Palmira   
Bogotá   Cartago   Pereira   
Buenaventura   Ibagué   Popayán   
Buga   Manizales   Sevilla   
Caicedonia   Medellín   Tuluá   
  • Libertadores 
Aguazul   Paipa   
Bogotá   Sogamoso   
Briceño   Tunja   
Chiquinquirá   Villa de Leyva   
Duitama   Yopal   
  • Coomotor
ArmeniaIbaguéPuerto Asís
BogotáLa ArgentinaSan Agustín
BugaLa PlataSan Vicente del Caguán
CaliLa DoradaSoacha
CampoalegreLa HormigaTimaná
EspinalMelgarVilla Garzón
  • Rápido Ochoa
AguachicaCoveñasPuerto Berrío
ArboletesEl Siete del CarmenSan Antonio
BarrancabermejaEl ViajanoRiohacha
BogotáHondaSan Antero
BolomboloIstminaSan Marcos
CaicedoJardínSanta Marta
MedellínLa ApartadaSincelejo
Carmen de BolívarLa DoradaTarazá
Ciudad BolívarMonteríaYarumal
ConcordiaPlaneta Rica
  • Flota Magdalena
Anserma   Gualanday   Pereira   
Armenia   Honda   Popayán   
Bogotá   Ibagué   Remolino   
Buenaventura   La Dorada   Rionegro   
Buga   La Pintada   Riosucio   
Calarcá   La Virginia   Santander de Quilichao   
Cali   Medellín   Sevilla   
Cartago   Melgar   Supía   
Espinal   Neiva   Tuluá   
Facatativa   Palmira Villeta   
Girardot   Pasto  


  • Flota Occidental
Anserma   Istmina   Quinchía   
Apia   La Celia   Riosucio   
Armenia   La Pintada   Salento   
Balboa   La Virginia   San Antonio del Chamí   
Belalcázar   Manizales   Santa Cecilia   
Belén de Umbría   Marmato   Santa Rosa   
Bolombolo   Medellín   Santuario   
Circasia   Mistrató   Supia   
Condoto   Pereira   Tadó   
Chinchiná   Pueblo Rico   Villanueva (Valle)   
Guática   Quibdó   Viterbo 
  • Berlinas del Fonce
Barranquilla   Honda   
Bogotá   Pailitas   
Bosconia   Pamplona   
Bucaramanga   San Gil   
Cartagena   Santa Marta   
Cúcuta   Socorro   
Facatativá   Tunja  
  • Empresa Arauca
AnsermaLa DoradaPereira
AránzazuLa EstrellaPueblo Rico
ArmeniaLa FelisaRiosucio
BogotáLa MelisaSalamina
BuenaventuraLa PintadaSanta Rosa de Cabal
BugaLa VirginiaSantuario
  • Omega
BarbosaGuadalupePuerto Araujo
BarrancabermejaGuamalPuerto Berrio
BogotáLandázuriPuerto Boyacá
BucaramangaLa DoradaSantuario
CharaláLa PazSan Gil
ChitaraqueLos PatiosSocorro
DoradalMoniquiraVado Real
El BancoOcañaVélez
FacatativáOibaVilla de Leyva
  •  Fronteras 
El Bordo

Expreso Bolivariano and Expreso Brasilia also have operations in Lima, Peru.

What Are Buses Like in Colombia

Intercity buses in Colombia often use Brazilian-made Marcopolo Paradiso buses, which offer comfort, safety, and connectivity features such as reclining seats, air conditioning, restrooms, Wi-Fi, power outlets, and individual screens.

However, not all buses have these amenities; companies usually reserve them for longer journeys, so shorter trips may have simpler buses with fewer comforts.

First Class Bus Service in Colombia

Certain transportation companies in Colombia provide a first-class service that sets itself apart from the standard service. This premium option offers larger, more comfortable seats with ample legroom and enhanced audiovisual experiences.

Notable companies known for offering this first-class service include Bolivariano and Copetran.

Door-to-Door Travel in Colombia

Door-to-door travel in Colombia means passengers are picked up and dropped off at their chosen locations, saving time and money.

This service typically uses vans or minivans. Notable companies providing this service include:

Tips for Bus Travel in Colombia

Here are some tips and tricks to make the most of your bus journey in Colombia:

  • Carry light hand luggage. For a comfortable and safe bus journey in Colombia, pack light with essential items. Use a backpack or small suitcase, keep valuables with you, and consider using a lock for added security.
  • Dress comfortably and appropriately. Dress in layers to adapt to changing temperatures and cold air conditioning during Colombian bus journeys.
  • Prevent motion sickness and altitude sickness. Prevent motion sickness by taking medication, avoiding heavy foods, and staying hydrated. Chewing gum or candies can help alleviate symptoms. Mareol is a common brand of pills for motion sickness.
  • Interact with locals and other travelers. Enjoy the opportunity to meet new people and learn about their culture. Be respectful and cautious, avoiding revealing personal information or accepting suspicious offers. 
  • Choose overnight travel to make the most of your time, or opt for daytime travel to enjoy the scenery along the way.

About Author



Hello! I'm Frank Spitzer, the founder and the heart behind Pelecanus, a specialized tour operator for Colombia travel. My journey in travel is vast and rich – I've explored over 60 countries, absorbing cultures, experiences, and stories along the way. Since 2017, I've been channeling this wealth of global experience into creating unforgettable travel experiences in Colombia. I'm recognized as a leading authority in Colombian tourism, with a deep-seated passion for sharing this beautiful country with the world. You can catch glimpses of my travel adventures and insights around Colombia on my YouTube channel. I'm also active on social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, where I share the vibrant culture and stunning landscapes of Colombia. For professional networking, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Join me on this incredible journey, and let's explore the wonders of Colombia together!

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