Transportation in Colombia

Discovering the country of coffee, tropical music, and colorful culture


on: December 13, 2021

by: Alice Silva, Staff

Travel by Bus in Colombia

Colombia Transportation

How does public transportation work in Colombia?

Colombia is the wealthiest Andean nation in South America, so Colombia's public transportation system has a well-maintained and interconnected infrastructure. Every region of the country is accessible to the other, from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea or from the spine of the mountainous Andes range to the Amazon region (although not all the way to Leticia).

Transportation in Colombia includes public buses that can be taken from stations (terminales) in each city, privately rented minibusses, and both regular and low-cost airlines. The system also has river transportation, which takes advantage of navigable rivers, such as the Magdalena, Orinoco, Amazon rivers, and passenger yachts that go to Panamá.

Airlines in Colombia cover some national routes, although their prices are higher than those of bus tickets, so most tourists and citizens choose to travel by land. One of the few exceptions is the destination of Leticia in the Colombian Amazon. The rugged terrain and the great distance that separates it from the country's major cities make it necessary to get in and out of Leticia by plane. Leticia also shares a border with two other countries, so if you want to go to Brazil from Leticia, you can take a public transit boat that takes you all the way to Manaus, navigating down the Amazon River for four days. Similarly, you can cross from Leticia to Peru by land but only to the smallest nearby towns. If you want to go from Leticia to Iquitos in the Amazon region of Peru, there is also a riverboat trip there that takes about twelve hours to three days, depending on whether you take the fast ferry or the slow one. Technically, both of these options fall under our Peruvian Transportation services because the departure/arrival point is Santa Rosa (Port Enapu), which is just over the border from Leticia, Colombia.

Land transportation in Colombia

Colombia is a country renowned for its variety of landscapes and blissful scenery, so undoubtedly, the best way to appreciate the country is by traveling by land.

The highway network in Colombia includes highways and secondary routes. Colombian buses can connect the whole country lengthwise, from Ipiales on the border with Ecuador to Maicao on the border with Venezuela in the Caribbean Guajira region.

The urban centers that are the largest transportation hubs in Colombia are Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, Cartagena, Bucaramanga, Neiva, and Pereira. From these points, it is possible to travel anywhere in the rest of the country by bus. You can use the search control below to locate a bus (or even some private options) route by just entering your trip's origin and destination. The AndesTransit search engine will figure out the necessary connections and prices and allow you to book your tickets online. In addition, you can also become a member of BusClub to get up-to-date tips and assistance to plan your trip.

Thanks to land transportation in Colombia, you can travel all over the country but with some exceptions. For example, although it is possible to get by bus to Riohacha (in Guajira), it will be much more difficult to get transportation to some tourist places like Cabo de la Vela or Punta Gallinas. So it is recommended to get to these places through private transportation that you can also arrange through AndesTransit by using the same search engine (it will tell you which part of the route is a bus and which part is a private or tour ticket). You can book both at the same time.

Naturally, some people prefer to save time to cover longer distances by plane, a service we offer no differently than searching for and booking a bus ticket. However, there are also many night buses in Colombia, which allow you to travel economically without wasting daylight time, saving you on lodging and waking up in the morning in the different parts of the country you were headed. Also, keep in mind that night bus seats are much more comfortable than those of an airplane because carriers understand you'll need something more akin to a bed than a seat to sleep well through the night. Ground transportation companies in Colombia, unlike low-cost airlines, are friendlier to backpackers who appreciate that they don't have to pay extra fees for their luggage.

Yes, and everyone wants to know about wi-fi! The transportation system in Colombia has been modernized in recent years, and many of the companies you can find on AndesTransit offer wi-fi service on board. The only limitation is in more rural regions of the country. The internet connection there might be spotty, so plan on some degree of interruptions until you get closer to an urban center.

What are the most popular tourist destinations in Colombia?

Suppose you are traveling in South America and entering Colombia from the south. In that case, a must-stop is Ipiales, where you can visit the impressive sanctuary of Las Lajas that stretches over a breathtakingly deep canyon.

Traveling north, you can visit the Eje Cafetero, where towns like Filandia and Salento are popular places to capture the region's charm.

In the center of the country (and near the highest altitude points), you have Bogotá and Medellin, rival cultural and political powerhouses of the country.

And almost no one leaves Colombia without visiting the Caribbean. Here the most popular places are Cartagena, Santa Marta, Tayrona National Park, and Tolú.

All these places can be reached by bus, taking advantage of all the transportation benefits in Colombia that you can get through AndesTransit.

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Colombia Transportation Orientation Map

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