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How to Get From Cali to Medellin

I’m here to help Colombia backpackers who need to know how to get from Cali Colombia to Medellin or Medellin to Cali. If you’re considering Cali vs Medellin, why not explore both? In this post, I’m sharing all the ways to travel from Cali to Medellin, including taking the Cali a Medellin bus.

After Bogota, Medellin and Cali are among Colombia’s biggest and most significant cities—many travel there to learn Spanish and salsa dancing. As some of the world’s best cities for salsa, you’d be crazy not to try a class!

Read about my experience dancing and learning Spanish in Medellin.

Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?

The Insurance companies I recommend are Hey Mondo and Safety Wing

Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single-trip cover, annual multi-trip cover, and long-term travel cover. Safety Wing is great value, with monthly coverage starting at $45.08. It’s super easy to use, and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy.

Read my full travel insurance post here, where I go into detail about all companies. 

How Far is Cali Colombia to Medellin?

The official distance from Medellin to Cali and vice versa is 420 km. The journey time is around seven and a half hours but takes longer on a bus, so expect to travel closer to eight hours to be safe. A Cali to Medellin flight is around one hour, and there are multiple every day.

What to Know About the Cali a Medellin

Someone will walk through the bus with a camera filming everyone—this is for security reasons, so be thankful they do this. Your bags will be safe under the bus, and they will give you a ticket to collect your bag at your final destination.

You may be asked for your passport during the trip since traveling between departments in Colombia is similar to traveling internationally. Colombia’s government officials like to know where people travel, which is normal.

The bus will almost always stop halfway, whether on a three- or 12-hour journey. Most buses offer WiFi and charging plugs, though they’re sometimes under your seat.

Quick Tip: Book accommodation, tours, and transport ahead of time online to save money and stress. 
Best Medellin ToursClick here to check out the top Medellin tours
Best Medellin Accommodation: Click here to check out the best accommodation in Medellin
Best Medellin Transport: Click here to book a bus, ferry, or train in Medellin

Need Transportation in Colombia?

I highly recommend booking Colombia transportation with GottoGo. You can search for buses, shuttles, ferries, and flights on their website—I love their customer service. I know them personally from my time living in Guatemala, and they genuinely care for their customers. If a delay occurs and you miss your bus, call them for help.

If you book through GottoGo, you will pay more than at the bus station, but it’s worth it for the ease and security. Click here to search for transportation in Colombia.

What to Know About Cali Colombia Flights

If you find a cheap flight through a budget airline, confirm the cost of a checked bag. Don’t take any chances with your carry-on luggage weight or size. Many airlines will go out of their way to try and get your money, so read all the terms and conditions before booking.

You can’t book or pay for tickets on Colombian airline websites with an international debit card (I found this out the hard way). While you can use an international credit card to pay, you must choose the Efecty payment method if you don’t have one. You’ll be emailed a code and have limited hours (typically 12) to locate the closest Efecty and pay in cash for your flight.

Cali Medellin Travel Options

Cali a Medellin Bus

I prefer to take the Cali to Medellin bus since air travel can be a significant pain. If you are on a budget and must check a bag, prices can increase drastically. Since the bus journey from Cali to Medellin takes eight to nine hours, I recommend the night bus to maximize your time and save money on accommodations.

Bus travel has changed a lot since I was last in Colombia—they’re far more comfortable and usually run on time!

If you take a night Cali Medellin bus, I recommend catching one after 9:00 p.m. I took the 8:00 p.m. bus and arrived at 5:00 a.m. only to hang out in the bus terminal until I could check into my hostel.

Bus companies with roundtrip Medellin to Cali service:

Expreso Bolivariano

Empresa Arauca

Flota Magdalena

Expreso Palmira

Taking the bus from Cali Colombia to Medellin is simple. When you arrive at the bus terminal in Cali, head upstairs to buy your ticket. I don’t recommend booking through Busbud, as they have limited offerings and charge an extra fee—plus, you must print your tickets since they don’t accept digital ones. Decide which company you want to book with in advance, as you will need to visit their kiosk to purchase tickets.

I travel with Bolivariano whenever possible since they usually run on time and offer ample legroom and comfortable reclining seats. I have had no issues sleeping on the night buses I took in Colombia. If the bus you want is full, check with another company. I suggest arriving between 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. to reserve your seats.

There are two bus terminals in Medellin, Northe, and Sur. If you stay in El Poblado, go to Sur (the south terminal) because it’s closer.

Cali to Medellin Flight

Many fly from Cali to Medellin rather than sit on a bus for hours. There are multiple daily flights, and you can sometimes find one that costs less than a bus ride. If you have a big backpack, you must check it for an extra fee.

There are two airports in Medellin—one is small and centrally located in the city near the south bus terminal, with limited domestic flights. The main international one is not actually in Medellin but is located in Rionegro, about an hour outside the city. The best way to book your Cali Medellin flight is through GuateGo. They charge a small booking fee to cover expenses, but the service makes life much easier.

How to Get to the Cali Airport From Downtown

Option 1: Bus

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

Option 2: Taxi or Uber

A taxi from the Cali airport to the city center should cost between COP 50,000 and 70,000, depending on where you go. There is rarely a long wait for taxis, which are usually safe to use. You can also check Uber, but there is tension between Uber and taxi drivers. Remember to be polite and friendly regardless of which method you choose!

Quick Tip: View my full Colombia packing guide here including a downloadable checklist. And check out my Colombia Essentials shopping list here.

How to Get to Downtown Medellin From the Airport

Option 1: Bus

You can easily take a direct bus from the airport in Medellin to the San Diago Mall. From there, take a taxi to your lodging. The bus will cost COP 14,000, and a cab to Laureles or El Poblado should cost roughly COP 10,000.

Option 2: Shared colectivo

This is another excellent option—colectivo prices vary but generally cost around COP 18,500. The colectivo will drop you off at San Diago Mall, where you can catch a taxi. The cost is per person, not per ride, and they only leave once the car is full.

Option 3: Taxi or Uber

A private taxi or Uber from the Medellin airport to the city center is around COP 80,000. This is the most convenient option as it takes passengers door-to-door without waiting. This isn’t the best choice for budget travelers.

Option 4: Rental car

I don’t recommend renting a car as it’s expensive and driving in Colombia can be stressful. If you have the budget, however, it’s worth considering.

Option 5: Private driver

If you’re nervous about traveling alone, arrange for a Colombian Buddy to pick you up!

When you’re ready to return home, the journey from Medellin to Cali is the same but reversed.

Wondering where to stay in Medellin? I recommend staying in either El Poblado or Laureles, and here are a few of my favorite places to stay:

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

You can also read my full Where to Stay in Medellin Guide here.

Medellin Travel Guide Planning

🧳 Any recommendations on what I should pack for Medellin?

Yes! I have created a whole packing guide to Medellin which you can read here and you can also check out my packing list for Medellin on Amazon here.

🚗 Where can I book bus or private transportation while I’m in Medellin?

I strongly recommend using GottoGo. You can book almost all transport in the major tourist destinations through them online. They don’t just cover buses they also cover shuttles, ferries, and private drivers.

🎫 Where can I buy tickets for museums, attractions, and tours in Medellin?

I recommend either Viator or GetYour Guide. They have a lot of options!

👩‍⚕️ What is the best insurance to have while traveling?

I recommend using Heymondo for a great value policy. The app also offers you 24/7 Dr Chat. For Digital Nomads check out SafetyWing digital nomad insurance.

I have also written a blog post covering all my recommended travel insurance here

✈️ Any flight recommendations?

WayAWay offers you cheap flights with cashback. You can use this code CLAIRE22 to get 10% off. Otherwise Skyscanner or Expedia are my go-to flight searching platforms.

📱What do you use for internet connection while traveling?

I’m a big fan of personal WiFi devices and they have saved my ass so many times when traveling. I wrote a full review of the top travel WiFi devices you can read here. I personally use GlocalMe as I can either pop in a physical sim card or use their local carrier.

With regards to my phone connection, I use e-sims while traveling, so rather than having to swap out my regular sim card I can download the app and buy a virtual sim card. I recommend using eitherAirhub or Alosim. Both have great coverage of multiple countries and are very easy to use.

🛏️ What is the best platform to use for booking accommodation?

The 3 best platforms that I normally use are, and Expedia They offer great deals and multiple options. I always check all three to be sure of the best deals.

🛅 Do you have any luggage recommendations for traveling?

I do have a complete list of the best packing and luggage products that I recommend, you can check the list here. I’m currently traveling with this suitcase and this backpack. 

How to Get From Cali to Medellin: Final Thoughts

The journey from Cali to Medellin is easy, thanks to the many bus and flight options. Do you need somewhere to stay in Cali before heading to Medellin? I recommend El Patio Hostel in San Antonio—the owners are lovely and helpful. Regarding Cali vs Medellin, I think both cities are worth visiting during your Colombia vacation. With my Cali Medellin travel guide, you’re ready to tackle a multi-city trip to Colombia!

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