I am a big fan of using public transport when I’m traveling. Not only does it save me money, it also adds to my experience of that country. One of my favorite parts of my day was my bus adventures around Medellín. That said it took me a week of getting on the wrong buses and being utterly confused to get to grips with transport in Medellín. So to help you navigate your way around the city of eternal spring here is my guide to using public transport in Medellin.
Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that you need to be prepared for anything! Travel insurance has always been high my list of things to get before I travel but now more than ever its at the top of my list.
I’m pretty sure we have all had travel plans messed up because of COVID and not all insurers covered this. So when looking for travel insurance it’s important to check it covers travel disruption due to COVID-19, Hey Mondo, Passport Nomads, Safety Wing, and Travel Insurance Master all provide cover for this.
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. You even have the option to start the cover when you are already on your trip, although you won’t be covered for the first 72 hours. For me my favourite feature is their app which offers you a 24/7 Dr chat and the ability to file a claim direct in the app.
Passport Nomads provides the most comprehensive cover for Digital Nomads. The game changer with them is that you have a red card and if you find yourself in need of medical care you just contact them and they will pre load your card with the funds to cover your treatment, meaning you won’t need to pay out of pocket and then put in a claim later.
Safety Wing is great value with monthly cover starting at $39. It’s super easy to use and it just renews each month. They have an excess of $250 and it’s simple to make a claim through their website. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy and I like that it renews on a monthly basis, so I don’t have to pay out a big lump sum up front.
I also use Travel Insurance Master for some short vacation type trips.
If you are doing shorter trips or an extended backpacking trip then Hey Mondo or Travel Insurance Master are the best option. If you are a digital nomad or planning travel of at least 6 months then go for Passport Nomads or SafetyWing.
Using Medellin Transport – Civica
If you are planning on staying for a while and traveling by metro in Medellin (Medellin Subway) or using the free Medellin city bikes you will need to get a Civica card. It’s pretty straightforward to get one. Just go to San Antonio Metro Station with your passport and stand in line.
You will need to pay for a ticket to cross the barrier and get the card (no logic whatsoever I know). With this card, you can top up at any Medellin Metro kiosk and use all of the metro and cable cars.
Using the Metro in Medellin
The Metro in Medellin is really easy to use. You can get a temporary rechargeable ticket or get a Civica card and add money to ride the metro. You will just need to go to the ticket booth the first time to get the card, and from then onwards you can use one of the machines, which can be found at each station, to top up the card. If you aren’t sure where you are going you can download the Metro app or check on Maps. The metro included the subway system and the Medellin cable cars.
The Metro has a fixed price for each journey, so no matter how far you go, as long as you remain within the system, all journey cost 3,050 COP.
Using Ciclovia in Medellin
If you want to use the free public bikes in Medellin you will need a Civica card.
Then you have two options:
- If you are a tourist you will only be able to get a pass for 1 week.
- If you want to use it for longer than a week you will need to go through the whole process again. The only way of getting the permanent pass is by proving you are a resident. To do that you need a bill with your name and address on it.
You can apply online here they will send you an email confirmation and you will then need to go down to the office and register for it to take effect.
Using Colectivos and Buses in Medellin
I love getting the buses in Medellin. I was always the only “Gringa” on the bus and this often made local people curious. I made so many bus friends just chatting to people on the bus wondering what I’m doing there. Mostly other women who want to practice their English with me.
One of the great things about taking the buses in Medellin is they have fixed prices. This means you can ride the bus without having to say a word! Simply get on the bus hand the driver the money and take a seat. Follow along with google maps and hope for the best!
For the first week, I got it wrong ⅗ times. But by the second week, I knew my way around better. It’s difficult navigating around any new city and using public buses in Medellin is no different. I’m confident though that the reason I know Medellin so well is because of all of the wrong busses I’ve gotten on.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that Colombians are some of the friendliest people I have ever met and will always help you out if you do get lost.
If you aren’t sure all you have to do is ask. I got chatting to a woman one morning who when I was about to get off the bus and walk 15 minutes told me not to because the bus goes closer to where I was going. She then told me the right place to get off. I’ve also had a driver shouting for a friend to come and get me and walk me onto the right bus. In my experience Colombians always go over and above to help people.
Taking Taxis in Medellin
If it all goes wrong on the bus, or you need to get somewhere quickly than taxis are cheap in Colombia. I also always use Medellin taxis at night. Although in my experience getting the bus in Medellin is safe, it is waiting for the bus that makes me nervous. I don’t like to be stood still in any country on my own at night.
A moving target is more difficult to get than a still one!
Most taxis in Medellin have meters so just check the driver resets it. Medellin isn’t like Bogota and I often flagged a taxi down late at night by myself with no problems. You can also use the easy taxi app to pre-book a cab. This is a safer option if you are concerned about flagging down a cab.
Using Uber in Medellin
Uber does operate in Medellin. But it is illegal, so use with caution.
Do you need to know how to get to the airport in Medellin? Take a read of this post as I explain how to take a taxi to Medellin airport as well as taking a colectivo to Medellin airport.
Need to book transportation in Colombia?
I highly recommend booking all of your Colombia transportation with GuateGo. You can search for buses, shuttles, ferries, and Flights on their website. What I love most about them is their customer service. I know these guys personally from my time living in Guatemala and they really do look after their customers. So if anything happens and you get delayed and miss your bus, you can just call them and they are always there to help.
If you book through them you will pay a little more than if you book in person at the bus station. But it’s worth it for the ease and security in my opinion. Click here to search for transportation in Colombia.
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:
El Jardín de la 10 – El Poblado
Read my full Medellin Accommodation guide here.
This post was proofread by Grammarly