How To Get From Cali To Medellin Or From Medellin To Cali Colombia

How To Get From Cali To Medellin Or From Medellin To Cali Colombia

Backpacking in Colombia and need to figure out how to get from Cali to Medellin or from Medellin to Cali? I got you. In this post, I’m going to cover all of the ways you can travel between Cali and Medellin including taking the Cali Medellin bus.

Behind Bogota Medellin and Cali are two of Colombia’s biggest and most important cities. Many travel here to learn Spanish and/ or Salsa. As Cali is one of the most important cities in the world for salsa you would be crazy not to take a dance class or two there.

I have personally studied salsa, bachata, and Spanish in both Medellin and Cali and you can read about my experience dancing in Medellin here, learning Spanish in Medellin here, and learning Spanish and salsa in Cali here.

Distance From Cali to Medellin

The official distance from Cali to Medellin is 420 km. The journey time is around 7.5 hours, although on a bus it is a little longer, so expect to be traveling around 8 hours to be on the safe side. I took the night bus and it took me 8 hours.

Flight time from Cali to Medellin is 1 hour and 5 minutes and there are over 10 flights each day.

Some things to be aware of when traveling on the Cali Medellin bus:

They will walk through the bus with a camera filming everyone. This is for security reasons, be happy they do this.
Your bags will be safe under the bus and they will give you a ticket you must produce to collect your bag.

You may be asked for your passport at some point on your trip. Don’t worry about this, think of traveling between departments in Colombia like traveling internationally. They just like to know where people are traveling. It’s totally normal.

The bus will almost always make a stop halfway, whether it is a 3-hour journey of a 12-hour journey.
Most of the buses now have wifi and plugs for charging, but you may need to get on the floor to find it under your seat!

Some things to be aware of when traveling by air in Colombia:

If you find a cheap flight with one of the budget airlines be sure to check the cost of checking in a bag. Do not take any chances with weight or size of carryon luggage as they will almost certainly weigh and measure your bag. Viva Air is the same company as Ryan Air so they will go out of their way to try and get money out of you! This means you need to read all of the terms and conditions and comply, print off your tickets, etc.

Booking and paying for tickets on one of the Colombian airline’s websites isn’t possible with an international debit card. I found this out the hard way! You can use an international credit card to pay, but if you don’t have one you will need to select the option to pay using Efecty. Once you select this payment method you will be emailed a code and have a limited amount of hours to pay, normally 12. You then need to find your closest Efecty and pay in cash for your flight there. 

Anyway on with the main purpose of this post, to help you travel between Cali and Medellin!

How to get from Cali to Medellin

Buses Cali – Medellin

Personally I prefer to take the bus than fly as air travel is oftern a bit of a pain. Plus if you are on a budget and need to check a bag then the prices can increase drastically. As the journey between Cali and Medellin by bus takes 9 hours I would recommend taking a night bus. That way you can make the most of your time and save money on accommodation… win-win!

Bus travel has changed a lot since I was last in Colombia and the buses are not only far more comfortable but shock horror, they now seem to run on time! This totally threw me as you used to have to add on 4 or 5 hours to the journey, but not anymore.

For this reason, if you decided to take a night but from Cali to Medellin I would recommend getting the bus after 9 pm. I got the 8 PM bus and I arrived at 5 am and had to just hang out in the bus terminal and wait for a reasonable hour to turn up to my hostel.

The bus companies that currently operate the Cali to Medellin rout are:

Expreso Bolivariano – 08:00 10:00 20:00 21:30 23:00
Empresa Arauca – 6:30 11:00 12:00 14:00 16:00 21:00 22:00 23:00
Flota Magdalena – 21:00
Expresso Trejos – 09:30 11:30 21:00

Taking the bus from Cali to Medellin is very easy. When you arrive at the bus terminal in Cali head upstairs to buy your ticket. I personally wouldn’t recommend booking through Busbud as they don’t have all of the bus companies on there, they add on an extra fee, and you have to find a printer to print the ticket as they won’t accept it on your phone. But you will need to decide which company you want to book with before you go as you will need to visit their kiosk to buy your ticket.

I personally always travel with Bolivariano whenever I can as in my experience they run on time, they have a lot of legroom, the seats are very comfortable AND the recline right back. All of the Colombian night buses I’ve taken with them I have had no issues sleeping. If they are full then just go to one of the other companies. With so many companies operating on this route it’s unlikely you won’t get on one of the night buses. But I’d always advise getting there between 7-8 pm if you want to be on the safe side!

Be aware there are two bus terminals in Medellin, Medellin Northe and Medellin Sur. If you are staying in El Poblado and you have a choice, try and go to the south terminal as it’s closer for you.

By Air

Many people choose the fly from Cali to Medellin rather than sit on a bus for hours. There are multiple flights a day and sometimes you can find a flight for less than the bus ride! But if you have a big backpack you will need to check in this can double the cost.

There are two airports in Medellin, a small one in the city close to the south bus terminal which has a limited amount of domestic flights. Or the main international one which is not actually in Medellin but in Rionegro about an hour outside of the city. This is the one you will likely fly into.

To get to Cali airport from the city center you have 2 options:

Option 1 – Take the bus

The cheapest way to get to Cali airport is by bus. Just head to the main Terminal de Transporte in Cali and ask for the Aeropuerto Bus. The bus is very easy to use and only costs $7,000 COP. From the bus terminal take a secure taxi to your accommodation.

Option 2 – Taxi or Uber

A taxi from Cali airport to the city center should cost between $50,000 and $70,000 COP depending on where you are going. There is almost never a long wait for taxis and they are safe to use. You can also use Uber, but just be aware there is still a little tension between Uber driver and Taxi drivers. You will need to act like the driver is a friend and get into the front seat of the car.

To get from Medellin airport to the city center you have 3 options:

Option 1 – Take the bus

You can easily and safely take a bus directly from the airport to the San Diago Mall. From there you can safely take a taxi to where you want to go in Medellin. The bus will cost $10,000 COP and a taxi to Laureles or El Poblado should be around $10,00 COP.

Option 2 – Shared Colectivo

This is another great option. The colectivo prices can vary a little but generally, it will cost around $17,000 COP. The colectivo will drop you off at San Diago mall and from there you can take a taxi to where you need to go. The cost is per person, not per ride and they will only leave once the car is full.

Option 3 – Taxi or Uber

A private taxi or Uber from Medellin airport to the city center will be around $80,000 COP. It’s the most convenient as it will take you door to door and you won’t have any waiting. But if you are on a budget this might not be your best option

Option 4Rent a Car

I really wouldn’t recommend this, but it’s an option if you prefer to drive yourself.

Option 5 – Private Driver

If you are feeling a little nervous and traveling alone then why not arrange for a Colombian Buddy to come to pack you up? You can make the most of your travel time by quizzing them on everything you need to know about your trip!

How to get from Medellin to Cali

Ok, so this is pretty much as above but in reverse.

By Bus

Remember there are 2 bus terminals in Medellin. So make sure when checking the bus times you are looking at times for the right terminal.

You can search for buses using the official Medellin Bus Terminals site here

There are lots of companies operating the buses between Medellin and Cali. I personally always choose Bolivariano.

The journey between Cali and Medellin by bus takes 9 hours so I would recommend taking a night bus to make the most of your time and save a night’s accommodation. I would recommend getting the bus after 9 pm. So you will arrive in Cali at around 6 or 7 am.

The bus companies that currently operate the Medellin South Bus terminal to Cali rout are:

Expreso Bolivariano – 09:00 20:00 21:00 21:30 23:15
Expresso Palmira – 22:00
Empresa Arauca – 05:30 07:30 09:00 10:30 12:00 14:00 16:00 20:00 21:00 22:00 23:00

When you arrive at the bus terminal in Medellin decide which company you want to book with and visit their kiosk to buy your ticket.

If that company happens to be full, then just pick a different one! With 3 companies operating on this route it’s unlikely you won’t get on one of the night buses. But I’d always advise getting there between 7-8 pm if you want to be on the safe side!

By Air

Personally I always take the bus over flying as air travel is such a drama with security and bag checkings bla bla bla. I prefer to just hop on a bus and go to sleep!

But many people do choose the fly from Medellin to Cali rather than sit on a bus for hours. There are multiple flights a day and sometimes you can find a flight for less than the bus ride! But if you have a big backpack you will need to check in this can double the cost.

There are two airports in Medellin, a small one in the city close to the south bus terminal which has a limited amount of domestic flights. Or the main international one which is not actually in Medellin but in Rionegro about an hour outside of the city. It’s most likely your flight to Cali will be from the main international airport. Which will take you an hour to get to at least?

To get to Medellin airport to the city center you have 3 options:

Option 1 – Take the bus

You can easily and safely take a bus directly to Medellin airport from the San Diago Mall. The bus will cost $10,000 COP and a taxi from Laureles or El Poblado to the Mall should be around $10,00 COP.

Option 2 – Shared Colectivo

This is another great option. The colectivo prices can vary a little but generally, it will cost around $17,000 COP. The colectivo picks up at San Diago mall. The cost is per person, not per ride and they will only leave once the car is full.

Option 3 – Taxi or Uber

A private taxi or Uber from Medellin to the airport will be around $80,000 COP. It’s the most convenient as it will take you door to door and you won’t have any waiting. But if you are on a budget this might not be your best option

To get from Cali airport from the city center you have 2 options:

Option 1 – Take the bus

The cheapest way to get from Cali airport to the city center is by bus. The bus from the airport will drop you off at the main Terminal de Transporte in Cali. The bus is very easy to use and only costs $7,000 COP.

Option 2 – Taxi or Uber

A taxi from Cali airport to the city center should cost between $50,000 and $70,000 COP depending on where you are going. There is almost never a long wait for taxis and they are safe to use. You can also use Uber, but just be aware there is still a little tension between Uber driver and Taxi drivers. You will need to act like the driver is a friend and get into the front seat of the car.

Option 4Rent a Car

I really wouldn’t recommend this, but it’s an option if you prefer to drive yourself.

Option 5 – Private Driver

If you are feeling a little nervous and traveling alone then why not arrange for a Colombian Buddy to come to pack you up? You can make the most of your travel time by quizzing them on everything you need to know about your trip!

 

How To Get From Cali To Medellin Or From Medellin To Cali Colombia

 

Looking for somewhere to stay in Cali? 

I recommend staying at El Patio Hostel it’s right in San Antonio and the owners are so lovely and helpful.

Looking for somewhere to stay in Medellin? Here are a few places I recommend: 

Parceros Med Hostel ( I stayed here for a month and loved it!)
Los Patios Hostel Boutique
Purple Monkey Hostel
Hostal Medellin -Laureles
El Jardín de la 10 – El Poblado

Book your trip now

Are you ready to book your trip?  To help you get the best deals and service here are the companies that I personally use to book all of my travel online. I always shop around before booking anything, but these are my tried and tested starting places.

  • Skyscanner – I’m a bit fan of Skyscanner, it is who I use to book all of my flights. I often will check other like Google Flights or Momodo, but I always go here first and it is who I book 99% of my flights with.
  • Booking.com – I LOVE booking.com especially when I can book and cancel free up until a certain point, mostly because my plans are forever changing. It’s easy to use and has one of the widest selections.
  • Airbnb – I’m not a huge user of Airbnb, but sometimes I do like to use it, and I ALWAYS check it before I book anything else. You can get some really cool places to stay here, and it is especially good in places like Cuba. If you don’t have an account and you click on this link then you will get $36 off your first booking.
  • Hostelworld – If you are looking for hostels then this is a great place to check first. They often have additional places that you won’t find on Bookin.com.
  • Agoda – Although I don’t use it as much as booking.com, Agonda is especially good if you are traveling in Asia as they really do dominate there.
  • Worldpackers – If you want to travel on the cheap and save money on accommodation then you need Worldpackers in your life. You can read more about it here. If you click this link to sign up and use the code CLAIRESITCHYFEET then you can get a 40% discount on your membership!
  • Book a Way – If you are traveling in Asia and want to pre-book your transportation then bookaway.com is a fantastic site to do so. They have buses, trains, and cars.
  • RentalCars – Looking to rent a. car while you are away? I always book through Rental Cars as they do a search of all of the big sites and find the best deals.
  • Welcome Pickups – Very occasionally getting from the airport to my accommodation is a total pain in the butt, or I’m traveling in a group and it makes sense to arrange a pickup. When I do I use Welcome pickups.
  • World Nomads – If you are looking for flexible travel insurance then it’s World Nomads all the way. I wrote all about insurance here if you want a more thorough review.
  • SafetyWing – AsI’m a Digital Nomad and not moving around quite so much anymore I personally use SafetyWing now for my health insurance. I wrote a full review here.
  • Viatour – Sometimes it can be a little expensive, but I like Viatour for somethings, especially if you can get a discount code! It’s also great for inspiration.
  • Klook – If you are traveling in Asia, then Klook is great! You can book all kinds of tours, activities, and train tickets, plus they even have sim cards and WiFi.

Claire Summers

Dancer, producer, traveller, photographer, cake maker, dog lover and knitter of Christmas scarfs.

Leave a Reply

Close Menu

Sorry to interrupt your scrolling!

I wrote this guide to becoming a digital nomad that I think you might like.

Just click the button below to get it on Amazon.

If you have a Kindle Unlimited membership you can read it absolutely free!