Bus from Cartagena to Barranquilla and Bus from Barranquilla to Cartagena
The playful Caribbean coast of Colombia is always throbbing with exciting things to do, which is why at AndesTransit we help so many travelers experience it by taking the bus from Cartagena to Barranquilla (and the opposite direction too).
People of this area, known as the Caribe, live to dance, even if it’s on the bus, and they invite you to loosen up and dance with them. They are also known for parades, fishing, mud baths, pirates and revolutions, and of course, the second biggest Carnaval celebration in the world after Rio de Janeiro.
So kick up your heels, open up the bus window to let the Caribbean breeze race through your hair, and let the electric joy of this fantastic region infect you with its love for celebration of the good life.
https://andestransit.com/Search?q=CAPC2Weq2d7n4OReNkxtPg%3d%3d https://andestransit.com/portal/en/bus-from-santa-marta-to-cartagena-and-bus-from-cartagena-to-santa-marta https://andestransit.com/portal/en/bus-from-quito-to-cuenca-and-bus-from-cuenca-to-quito https://andestransit.com/portal/en/bus-from-lima-to-trujillo-and-bus-from-trujillo-to-lima 2 hours 30 mins. Multiple departures daily USD $10
What are the buses in Colombia like?
Isn’t it true that nothing in life is consistent? That’s also the case when it comes to buses in Colombia.
Depending on several factors, you may or may not get a range of options. For example, if you’re traveling in the Colombian prairie lands (the llanos), you may only be served by buses that are kept operational with 40-year-old spare parts and rubber bands. These hobble down the roads with open windows and home-made drapes, with rickety seats that don’t leave much room for your knees. But at least you will be paying next to nothing for the ride, and you will get to see the same buses operating that in other places would be put in a museum.
In other parts of Colombia, like between Cartagena and Barranquilla, you will have a lot more choices. Choices, in fact, that go beyond buses to include private shuttles and minivans.
The more popular the route, the more pimped out of a bus you are likely to get the privilege of riding on. In between Barranquilla and Cartagena, ride on two-deck cruiser style buses with luxurious cloth seats, meticulously cleaned floors, skylights, and of course air-conditioning. Yes, you may also encounter the endemic Jean Claude Van Damme reruns that Colombia has made famous as its onboard entertainment of choice!
If you're interested in more tips for traveling safely on the bus in Latin America, check out our article here Tips for Safe and Comfortable Bus Journeys.
How long is the bus ride from Cartagena to Barranquilla?
There are two routes you can take, but the coastal bus route between Cartagena and Barranquilla is both more developed and faster, even though it is slightly longer in length. The coastal route is 129 km (80 miles) and averages about 2 hours. The smaller the transport, the fewer delays you will have, but the buses won’t be far behind.
The other route is more inland and takes about 3 hours, even though the number of kilometers is fewer at 123 (or 76 miles). This route is preferred by more locals who call the area home and goes through Luruaco lake region. There are fewer tourist activities this way, but you will see more of the real local culture and how people live in the Caribe region. You also will be restricted to just the local buses on the inland route, as the luxury buses and shuttles only make the trip via the coast.
What is the cost of traveling by bus from Barranquilla to Cartagena? (and vice versa)
Your budget for traveling one-way and one person between Barranquilla and Cartagena should allow for a minimum of USD $5 to a maximum of $26. Which end of the range you go for depends on a few things:
When you go
Let’s face it, everyone wants to be in Cartagena, and Barranquilla is a super hot spot especially during Carnaval. So when the competition gets burning for limited seats, the price will go up. Expect to pay more during Carnaval season, or even on weekends and other holidays when more locals will be vying for seats.
When you book
While AndesTransit does try to keep prices regulated at a constant rate no matter when you book, we also react to price spikes in the market that apply to trips in the near future.
What that means is you should book farther in advance to lock in your rate, because we don’t know what price spikes will happen farther out into the future, six weeks or several months away.
Which Bus Carrier you Choose
The most influential factor to price point is really what level of style and class you demand. Local buses that make several stops and go less direct routes will be those you can expect to get at the $5 range, and most will require you to wait to buy your ticket until you’re competing in line at the station with other ticket buyers.
But if you want something direct, comfortable seating, air conditioning, and the ability to get handed your ticket attached to an email well in advance of your trip, then you should look at the higher side of the price range, namely the luxury buses or shuttles that take the coastal route.
What are the bus schedules from Cartagena to Barranquilla?
Colombia is somewhat more predictably consistent when it comes to bus schedules, with less variance than in neighboring Ecuador or Peru. Still, changes can and will happen especially in the party land of the Caribe. So it’s best to stay flexible and check AndesTransit often to see what’s changing.
You may even try to check a bus company’s website, but that’s hit and miss. Why? If you were running a bus company, would you choose to tinker with your website or would you run your buses? Obviously, the latter. A website presence for bus company is a necessary evil in their eyes, and don’t really have the time to make it a core part of their business.
But at AndesTransit, we DO make it a core part of our business. We check with our bus operators frequently to talk about changes going on in their company, when they are updating their fleets, routes they are getting less or more interested in, and how their schedules will be impacted. We know this stuff often before the company announces it.
So to get the right schedules, get on the right side with AndesTransit by just clicking the Reserve Now button at the top of the page here to reveal all the latest schedules for various companies at once.
The best part of it is we take every customer order personally, and we check and double-check the schedules before we send you an irreversible ticket. That way, if something is changing at the moment, we’ll reach out to you personally and give you options to adjust or totally back out, no charge.
Where can I book bus tickets from Cartagena to Barranquilla?
Really, there are two ways you can go about booking bus tickets, but one is clearly better than the other:
It’s possible to buy your tickets directly at the bus station in either Cartagena or Barranquilla, but it’s a bit risky and bigger waste of your time that we’re sure you’d prefer to use seeing sights or playing in the surf. First of all, keep in mind that Cartagena’s bus terminal is far, far, far away on the eastern outskirts of the city, whereas where you and all the other travelers are staying and sightseeing is on the opposite side (the west). While you can save a few bucks on tickets going to the bus terminal, you will spend money on a taxi getting there. Once you get there, it’s somewhat like an auction. You will have to stand in one or more lines only to find out when you get to the head of the line that the route you want is sold out or has really bad seats left.
Online purchasing has rapidly taken over as the optimal way to book bus tickets. One, you can purchase farther in advance than you can in-person. Two, you can do it all from the comfort of your home or hostel or sitting at the airport, just clicking through a few steps and then getting back to enjoying your trip. Three, you get better seats because online buyers almost always are the early birds and you get those better seats at the locked-in rate before the supply goes down and the price goes up. Save yourself all the time and trouble by just clicking the Reserve Now button above and be done in a few minutes booking your bus tickets from Cartagena to Barranquilla or the reverse.
What is the best bus from Cartagena to Barranquilla?
As you can see when the results load after clicking the Reserve Now button above, there are lots of bus companies to choose from, so how do you know which one is best? We try to make it easier for you by separating our Best Bets list from the rest of the pack in two separate tabs, but we’ll boil it down even further by telling you our two top picks:
Atlantic Shared Shuttle is the most expensive but not by that much, and is so worth it! You get a more direct beeline to your destination, with fewer fellow passengers for the driver to deal with, meaning overall all much better time savings for you. The coaches are modern and air-conditioned, and here’s the best part: they pick you up directly from your hotel as long as you’re staying in the most common areas where travelers are (likely you will be). No traveling to the bus station to get the bus!
Copetran has been making a comeback lately as they have updated their fleet with nicer coaches and two decks, the lower deck being for VIP seats which are still a good bargain. The buses do require you to go to the bus station, and do take a little longer, but Copetran makes up for it with good customer service and safe drivers
You can reserve a seat on either of these carriers, plus review additional carriers, by just clicking the Reserve Now button above.
What to see in Cartagena
Cartagena is like New Orleans on steroids. Its colorful history is still so alive you can smell it walking the streets. Pirates lusted after it. Conquistadors broke through it. Barons strutted in it. Inquisitors tortured in it. And for all the drama of history, it is still so very much a place of the here and now, which great international classical and jazz festivals, outdoor dining, great beaches, and boat trips to nearby islands and offshore aquariums. So much to see, but we’ll list a few of the spots you should definitely have on your list.
#1 - El Castillo de San Felipe
This is the iconic face not only of the city of Cartagena but of an entire era that was marked by constantly defending the city and access to the interior from sieges made by pirates. The construction of El Castillo de San Felipe dates back to 1536 by Spanish conquistadors, but at one point was conquered by the French. It worked as a defense system for so long due to its multiple layers of protective falls and an amazing network of tunnels with which to move forces and armaments underground from one side of the fortress to the other. It is now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
#2 - The Inquisition Museum
When the awful Inquisition trials were fading out in Spain, they were only beginning in Latin America, and specifically in Cartagena. The Museo de Inquisicion is part of the grounds of the seat of the Catholic Church’s Inquisition Office that pre-dates the building and was established to put on trial Jews and non-Catholics. On display are the actual gruesome tools of torture used to extract confessions, along with other artifacts that give a fascinating, although saddening, insight into the brutality of the era.
#3 - Rosario Islands
One of the big draws to Cartagena is not actually in the city, but hopping in a boat to get out of it to the nearby archipelago know as the Rosarios. Enjoy the white sands of the offshore beach of Playa Blanca and feel what it’s like to swim in the middle of the ocean. Tours also make a stop at an aquarium that takes up most of the space on a tiny outcropping of rocks and palm trees, allowing you to visit an aquarium not surrounded by concrete, but the sea itself! Plus, get the added benefit of seeing spectacular views of the whole city of Cartagena from your speedboat.
What to see in Barranquilla
The fourth-largest city of Colombia and the largest city of the Caribe region is Barranquilla, the country’s major seaport and home to the second-largest celebration of Carnaval in the world. It is wrongly passed over by people on their way to or from Santa Marta, and that is to their loss, as Barranquilla has massive wealth and glamor in its own right that it loves to share with visitors. Take these top three reasons to visit the city nicknamed “Colombia’s Golden Gate”!
#1 - Eat in Las Flores
The hip neighborhood lies at an intersection of saltwater and freshwater bodies (the Gulf of Mexico and the Magdalena River), and restaurants are packed in every street and alley to offer fresh fish from both river and sea. If you want to be in one place and get a sampling of all the varieties of Caribbean seafood recipes, this is the place to be!
#2 - Museo del Caribe
The modern and top-heavy Museo del Caribe may look like a battleship from Star Wars, but it is in truth a much-celebrated museum where in one place you can get an accurate and generous insight into the vibrancy of the Caribe culture. A visit not only unpacks the folklore traditions that serve as the basis for so many local festivals but also how the people of the region have played a part for and against national identity. There are permanent exhibits and new temporary exhibits at any given time.
#3 - La Casa de Carnaval
For those that can’t be in Barranquilla for Carnaval, there is good news for you. In the spirit of wanting to celebrate Carnaval year-round, you can visit this institution dedicated to classes, performances, and exhibits that delve you into small slices of the major feast. You can learn to dance, share in the painting of a float, enjoy the performance of a vallenato group of musicians, and sample foods that are cooked only to celebrate the festival.
There’s plenty to see in these two great cities of the Caribe, and by bus or shuttle only a couple of hours apart. Click the Reserve Now button at the top of the page to book your seats in advance and enjoy the ride under the Caribbean sun!