Your Guide To Taking The Bus From City To City In Colombia

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TLDR? There are lots of intercity buses that depart from Medellín, which you can take to get around Antioquia or the rest of the country!

Ah, the bus. Sometimes bemoaned, existentially omnipresent, perhaps misunderstood. But it’s the always-there-when-you-need-it member of common transportation options.

The bus can get a bad rap sometimes, no matter what country you might happen to be in. However, in Colombia, it is quite the handyman in terms of getting around the country.

In this small guide, I’ll introduce the inter-city bus system in Colombia. I’ll also summarize some important tips surrounding it comfortably. This includes some of the major centers and stops in Medellin.

First Off: Why The Bus?

The bus system can sometimes feel chaotic compared to flying or renting a car in Colombia, but it’s far more economical. It is overall a great way to observe some of the beautiful landscapes you’ll inevitably be passing through on your journey.

Colombia is, for my money, possibly the most naturally beautiful country on earth in terms of its ecology and landscapes. The bus allows you to study these landscapes in leisure, even compared to renting a car.

Many of the country’s most beautiful locations are more easily accessible by bus than most other kinds of transport. These kinds of places include national parks, smaller villages, and towns. It’s even a convenient choice to get to many of the bigger cities.

Because with the bus, you don’t need to worry about keeping your eyes on the road and can just admire all of the natural beauty that Colombia has to offer.

The bus is typically cheaper than either flying or renting a car. On top of that, it’s generally more environmentally friendly than either of those options.

It’s a definite must if you plan on visiting small mountain towns like Santa Fe de Antioquia.

So in many ways, it makes sense to take the bus to have the opportunity to relax and enjoy the scenery a bit more. Unless you’re in a major hurry or are trying to access a place that you can only get to by flying,

Depending on where you’re going, you’ll find different sizes of buses. These range from massive inter-city clunkers to tiny little Chivas rolling across the winding roads of the Andes.

Where To Buy Tickets

You can easily purchase tickets either at the station or online, though it is helpful to know of a couple of resources to help you navigate the latter.

Some of the major sites for buying bus tickets in Colombia include:

One thing to be aware of is you’ll have to go to the desk that corresponds to the company that you bought the ticket from.

That’s true even if you purchase your ticket ahead of time online. You’ll receive a receipt in your email that informs you of the company to that your ticket corresponds.

When you get your bus ticket, check the actual ID number of the bus you’re taking. This is often the main indicator you’ll have once you’re in the actual waiting area for which bus is yours.

Once You’re On The Road

Many of the major bus companies in Colombia have cabins and amenities that are on par with places elsewhere. They have ample space and comfortable seats.

Most of the major bus companies also come equipped with things that people have come to expect in the modern world. These include USB plugs to charge your phone and movie and tv selections on touch screens on the back of the chairs in front of you.

With some of the smaller shuttles and chivas, you can expect a much more modest set of accommodations.

That being said, you’re almost guaranteed to be looking out the window. You’ll be looking at whatever forest or canyon you happen to be trundling past at whatever moment! It could be said that a lot of your experience when you’re taking the larger inter-city busses will hinge on a couple of primary factors.

I would these identify as:

  • The personality and driving style of your bus driver
  • What time your ticket is for

The first factor I bring up is because of the Colombian bus drivers. They are often so familiar with their routes that they take them on in a style that many would describe as being slightly on the speedier side.

A friend of mine described it as saying that some of the bus drivers were a little bit “Schumaher

The second factor I rate as being fairly important as well. Many of the longer bus rides between major destinations in Colombia are scheduled as red-eyes that go overnight. So, if you have a ride that’s scheduled to leave at 11 PM and arrive at 8 AM, chances are that you’ll end up sleeping at least for part of the way.

Catching The Bus In Medellin: Estacion del Norte and Estacion Sur

In Medellin, two major bus stations can ship you out of town: Estacion del Norte and Estacion Sur.

As their names imply, one of these is located more on the city’s north end and the other in the south. Although in actuality, both are not too far away from the center of things.

Both stations are quite easy to get to from within the city in a variety of different fashions. You can always catch a car that typically ends up being relatively cheap.

If you want to take the Metro, the closest metro to Estacion del Norte is Caribe on the A-line, and the closest to Estacion Sur is Poblado on the same line.

One thing I noticed about the stations when I went there was that they felt almost more like airports than the bus stations I was used to.

They had tons of places to eat, drink and even go shopping should you be so inclined.

The stations can be a bit chaotic at times, so if it’s your first time at one of them, I recommend arriving a bit early. Definitely, before your departure, make sure you have ample time to figure out what terminal to head to.

Seeing The Beauty of Colombia From The Comfort of The Bus

The bus is a great way to travel around Colombia. It leaves you with the time and space to try and understand the country and all of its beautiful landscapes.

The fact that someone else is taking care of the driving leaves you with the space and time to take it easy and soak things in by taking a slow way. And on top of all that, it’s the cheap way to go!

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