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How to get to Bogotá
If you are visiting Colombia from another country, you will most likely go by plane and land in one of the major cities (Bogotá, Medellín or Cartagena).
If you are flying from USA, it is very common to fly to Bogotá as there are direct flights, although if you have time and want to save money you can find good combinations to other cities (we fly Florida->Cartagena for less than 350 USDone way).
To find the best deals, we recommend you use flight comparators such as Skyscanner and be flexible with the dates.
It is also possible that you arrive in Bogotá by domestic flight from somewhere else in Colombia, as if you have little time and want to see many parts of the country it is the fastest way.
If you have to buy domestic flights in Colombia, we recommend you to check VivaAir and also the comparators we just mentioned (Skyscanner), in case there are offers from other companies (check VivaAir because it is very cheap but you have to check well the small print and baggage policies, so the price you will see at first is without checking in and with a small backpack as hand luggage)
How to get from the airport to downtown Bogotá
If you arrive by plane to Bogotá, you have several ways to get to the city center, more expensive or cheaper depending on the comfort and speed:
Hire a transfer in advance: from 22 ? per vehicle
By taxi: they work with a meter, it is safe, and it costs between 20,000 and 35,000 COP (between 6 and 10 euros for the taxi).
This is what we use, and we also got a very nice man (paisa) who gave us a lot of tips from Bogota.
In transmilenio: it’s an articulated network of public buses from Bogotá.
You have to buy a card (5000 COP, 1,30 ?) and the trip to the center costs about 2400 COP (0,7 ?).
The problem is that they get very crowded at rush hour and with the backpacks they still don’t let you in (or it can be an odyssey), so we don’t recommend it.
Also from the airport you have to take a free bus to the transmilenio stop first.
Other city buses: apart from the transmilenio, there are other city buses that you can also use to get to the centre at a very low price, although we haven’t used them so we don’t have any information.
If you come from somewhere else in Colombia, Bogotá is very well connected by private company buses.
We recommend that you check buses and schedules, and buy your tickets, on websites such as Redbus or Pinbus, which work very well and you can choose your seat (be careful because on those websites not all options appear, so there may be more schedules and/or companies).
You can also check information (not always updated) at https://www.horariodebuses.com.co/
How to get around Bogotá
The public transport par excellence in Bogota is the transmilenio, a network of articulated buses with their own lanes that connect the whole city at a low cost.
by public transport
Moving around Bogotá is relatively easy both on foot and by transportation when one learns how the streets are organized in the city, since like big U.S. cities the streets do not have names, but numbers.
To understand how this works it is important to know that there are Streets, which are the roads that run perpendicular to the mountain, and Races, which are the roads that run parallel to the mountain.
Therefore, when you want to go to a point, you have to move forward or backward depending on whether you are at a higher or lower number than you have to go.
It is important to keep in mind that in the southern sector of the city the enumeration of streets and races begins again, therefore if one goes to the south of Bogota on foot or by cab one will have to indicate to part of the street and race that one is going to the southern sector.
Traveling in TransMilenio (Third Millennium Mass Transit System)
They are a kind of articulated buses that have the same operation as a subway, so it is the easiest way to move around in Bogota for tourists who want to travel by public transport.
We recommend that you use it at least once, to get more involved in local life, although all the local people will tell you that you better not use it because sometimes there are thefts and during rush hours it gets very crowded and you go like a sardine.
There are different TransMilenios that cover different routes in the city and in each station the traveler can find a map with the routes and connections of the TransMilenios.
At the final stations of the TransMilenium route there are what are called “feeders” which are other non-articulated buses, which finish arriving in some areas that the TransMilenium does not reach and enter at the same price as the TransMilenium ticket.
The TransMilenio ticket is bought at the ticket office of each station.
The tickets go with an electronic card and you can buy as many tickets as you want without them expiring.
It is important to keep in mind that during rush hours (first thing in the morning and from seven in the evening until nine at night) it is almost an adventure to take this type of transport, since there are a lot of people fighting to get in.
Traveling by bus in Bogotá
In Bogotá there are different buses or adapted vans that cover the whole city.
Traveling in these types of vehicles is a little cheaper than the TransMilenio and one can get anywhere, but until one starts to get to know this capital a little better it is very easy to get lost.
It is also important to keep in mind that during rush hours there is a lot of traffic in the city and it can take more than half an hour to get around.
Private Transport in Bogota
Getting around Bogota by cab / Uber
Moving around Bogotá by cab or Uber is the easiest way when you don’t know this great city. All cabs have a meter, but sometimes the tourist has to remind the driver to turn it on so they don’t make up the price later.
Cabs, compared to Europe, are not expensive but sometimes they lengthen the runs so they can charge more to travelers. (between 5000 and 10000COP – between $ 1,30 USD and $ 2,60).
To make sure they you are not cheated by the price, all cabs have to carry a card that indicates the equivalence of the number on the meter with the real price they have to charge, the passenger is entitled to be shown the card.
For taxis, in Colombia it is always recommended not to get into street taxis, so we recommend the Easy application (now belonging to Cabify) with which you can order legal taxis through their app
Rent a car in Bogotá (car rental or other vehicles)
Of course, if the tourist only wants to be in Bogota we do not recommend renting a car to move around the city, since driving in this great capital is quite chaotic if one is not used to it.
Even so, if the traveler wants to do it there is a wide range of companies that do it and you can book it to take you to the same airport. Some of these companies are:
- ABC rent a car: Calle 936 No. 49- 26, La Castellana.
- Milano rent a car: (571) 3819588
- Hertz: Avenida Caracas No. 28ª- 17.
Flying to Colombia
International arrival: you will arrive mainly via Bogota, or even Cartagena.
Other international airports: Barranquilla, Cali and Medellin.
- Domestic flights: very convenient and highly recommended for connecting the country’s main tourist destinations.
- Main airports: Armenia, Bucaramanga, Cucuta, Leticia, Pereira, San Andrés and Santa Marta.
- Companies : AVIANCA, LAN, COPA and SATENA.
- Advice: for an international connection at Bogota airport, allow 3 hours of stopover.
Taking the bus in Colombia
The network is very developed.
Bus stations are often in the centre of cities and you will always find a bus leaving.
Ask for information on the spot.
Fares are still important for the country: count $ 5 000 to 6 000 / hour of transport per person.
For some journeys, the bus can be considered because it is cheaper:
- Medellin – Cali, via Armenia (coffee region).
- Cali – Neiva, via Popayan.
- Neiva – Bucaramanga, via Bogota
- Cartagena – Mompox – Santa Marta
Apart from these axes, the aircraft is the only solution.
- Advice: prefer ‘comfort’ buses (Pullman type) to small, less reliable local buses.
- Attention: the distances are long and the roads are not all asphalt.
The relief of the Cordillera often makes travel uncomfortable.
Getting around by taxi in Colombia
Ideal in the city, you will find them everywhere.
The best thing to do is to ask your hotel to order it for you (it is not recommended to take the taxi at random).
At the airport and the bus station, there is an office that calculates the fare to be paid to the driver according to your destination.
In Bogota, a trip from the airport to the Candelaria district costs about $20,000/taxi or approx.
8€ (a little more at night).
In Bogota taxis there is a conversion table in front of the passenger: just read the number on the meter and see on the table which fare it corresponds to.
A trip in other cities of the country, costs about $ 4,000 / taxi ($ 5,000 in Cartagena) or between 1.5€-2€.
Car rental in Colombia:
with or without driver?
Driving in Colombia can be complicated and dangerous.
The roads are sometimes in poor condition, outside of the big cities the signs are almost non-existent, and Latin American driving is particular!
We therefore advise you to choose the car with driver! It is, in our opinion, the best solution for regional visits (Caribbean, Eastern and Western Cordillera).
Distances and transport time
Flights in Colombia
Flights in Colombia are usually quite cheap and more if you get the offers, they are usually cheaper and cheaper than a long distance bus.
With a little information you can easily move around Colombia.
As this is a guide for people making a trip to Colombia, there are 3 companies that offer direct flights from Madrid – Spain to 3 major cities in Colombia (Cali, Medellin and Bogota):
Avianca, is a very popular company (you may get it on a chartered plane, but it is usually a good option).
Iberia, is another excellent option, but tends to be the most expensive of the 3.
Air Europa, is the option that is usually the cheapest, you know that the cheapest does not always come in the best conditions, but it all depends on how much you are willing to spend.
These are the 3 airlines.
You will have to do some research to find the cheapest tickets to Colombia and see what flights they offer that suit your needs.
If you want to know more about the city of Cali, take a look at our recommendations and we will help you solve your doubts about what to see in Cali.
Also if you want to continue discovering the area you can go south of Cali to see the fantastic region of Nariño and see a village situated on a hill between the mountains of the natural park of Farallones.
A unique place where you can merge with nature and discover its people and customs.
It takes about 11 hours to get to Colombia from France or Switzerland.
There is a direct flight from Paris Charles de Gaulle with Air France.
For a departure from the provinces or from Geneva, there is a stopover in Madrid (with Iberia), Lisbon (with TAP), Frankfurt (with Lufthansa) or Amsterdam (with KLM).
It is also possible to travel via the United States, but in this case you must fill in the ESTA form and comply with the customs and legal requirements of that country.
A vous de jouer
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