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

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Last updated on November 15th, 2023 at 11:22 am

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   Ibagué San 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
Arauca La Dorada Sahagún
Aguachica La Jagua de Ibirico San Gil
Barbosa La Loma San Martín
Barrancabermeja Maicao Santa Marta
Barranquilla Manizales Saravena
Bogotá Medellín Sincelejo
Bucaramanga Montería Sogamoso
Cartagena Mompox Socorro
Ciénaga Ocaña Tame
Cúcuta Oiba Tunja
Duitama Pamplona Vado Real
El Banco Pailitas Valledupar
Facatativá Piedecuesta Villavicencio
Girón Puerto Berrio Yopal
Honda Puerto Wilches Zapatoca
Ibagué Riohacha
  • 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
Algeciras Gigante Pereira
Alpujarra Guadalupe Pitalito
Altamira Honda Popayán
Armenia Ibagué Puerto Asís
Bogotá La Argentina San Agustín
Buga La Plata San Vicente del Caguán
Cali La Dorada Soacha
Campoalegre La Hormiga Timaná
Dolores Medellín Tuluá
Espinal Melgar Villa Garzón
Florencia Mocoa
Garzón Neiva
  • Rápido Ochoa
Aguachica Coveñas Puerto Berrío
Apartadó Doradal Quibdó
Arboletes El Siete del Carmen San Antonio
Barrancabermeja El Viajano Riohacha
Barranquilla Facatativá Rionegro
Betulia Giraldo Sahagún
Bogotá Honda San Antero
Bolombolo Istmina San Marcos
Caicedo Jardín Santa Marta
Medellín La Apartada Sincelejo
Carmen de Bolívar La Dorada Tarazá
Cartagena Lorica Tolú
Caucasia Magangué Urrao
Cereté Maicao Valledupar
Chinú Mompox Villeta
Ciudad Bolívar Montería Yarumal
Concordia Planeta 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
Aguadas Honda Palmira
Ánimas Istmina Pensilvania
Anserma La Dorada Pereira
Aránzazu La Estrella Pueblo Rico
Armenia La Felisa Riosucio
Bogotá La Melisa Salamina
Buenaventura La Pintada Santa Rosa de Cabal
Buga La Virginia Santuario
Cali Manizales Supia
Cartago Manzanares Tadó
Cerritos Marinilla Tuluá
Chinchiná Mariquita Tuluá
Condoto Marquetalia Victoria
Dosquebradas Medellín
Facatativá Norcasia
Fresno Pácora
  • Omega
Aguachica Gambita Piedecuesta
Barbosa Guadalupe Puerto Araujo
Barrancabermeja Guamal Puerto Berrio
Bogotá Landázuri Puerto Boyacá
Bucaramanga La Dorada Santuario
Charalá La Paz San Gil
Chitaraque Los Patios Socorro
Cimitarra Marinilla Suaita
Contratación Medellín Togui
Cúcuta Mompox Tunja
Doradal Moniquira Vado Real
El Banco Ocaña Vélez
Facatativá Oiba Villa de Leyva
Honda Pamplona
  •  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.

Related Posts

On our Blog you will find information about our past experiences as well as useful tips for planning your trip to Colombia.