Metro de Medellín
Metro de Medellín is the only metro system in Colombia and the first experience of modern massive transportation in the country. Completed in 1996, the metro crosses the metropolitan area of Medellín from north to south and from east to west. Line A is 23 km long and runs from north to south while line B runs 5,6 km through the city centre from west to east connecting with line A in at San Antonio right in the centre. The metro operates from 5:00am to 11:00pm and trains are very frequent. They are spacious and have huge windows that provide excellent views of the city (they run above the city). The journey was 1.700 COP (December 2009).
Metro is a very convenient way to get around Medellín. And it's very clean, it is even not allowed to eat once you are inside the station or the train. I did not know this before so once I ate pandebono (which I bought in a bakery on the way) while waiting for the train. A security guard came to me to warn me that this was not allowed. Of course I respected it. Anyway, it would never came to my mind to throw anything on the floor, but most of the people do this in South America. I saw many dirty buses and trains, people just throw away everything, from empty packing of the food to plastic bottles, no matter where. So I much understand the point and support their idea.
From Medellín to Tolú
I had read somewhere that the bus from Medellín to Tolú takes 8 hours. Maybe the night bus only takes 8 hours, but the day bus doesn’t. Coming back to Medellín from Santa Fe de Antioquia I went to ask for the morning buses to Tolú. At Expreso Brasilia they had buses at 5.15 and 6.45. The price was 77 000 pesos and the journey was 10 hours. I also asked at Rapido Ochoa, which had buses at 5.30, 7.00 and 8.30. The price was 60 000 pesos (so maybe Expreso Brasilia was 67 000) and the journey also took 10 hours.
I was early in the morning and didn’t take the metro as planed, but a taxi from the hotel to Terminal del Norte. It was 7000 pesos (July 2008) and I arrived already at 6am to the terminal. I bought the ticket and breakfast (there is a place selling fruit salads) and sat down to wait.
I was taking the 7.00 bus with Rapido Ochoa, but it didn’t leave until 7.20. At 9am we stopped for breakfast. I had already had breakfast so I didn’t eat and I was sure we were stopping for lunch as well, but no, we didn’t make any more food stops (so I was lucky to have some bread and sweets in the bag). The bus only stopped for new passengers or for passengers to leave and at a few road constructions. As in many places in Colombia the bus was going over the mountains and as the road has a single lane lorries slow down the traffic. There had also been some small landslides along the road (one where half the road was gone). Along the road two movies were shown and a film about tourist attractions in Colombia.
Not until 18.40 did the bus arrive to Tolú, more than 11,5 hours after seven. In Tolú the bus stops just by the main square.
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
From Medellín to Santa Fe de Antioquia and Back
Medellín has two bus terminals, Terminal de Norte and Termnal de Sur. Terminal de Norte is located 3 km north of the city centre, and it serves the north coast and surrounding towns, including Santa Fe de Antioquia. I only made a day trip so I left the hostel early in the morning. I walked to Poblado metro station and took a metro to Caribe station which is connected to the bus terminal.
There is a good and frequent bus service between Medellín to Santa Fe de Antioquia and also busetas (minibuses). Two companies run buses from Medellín to Santa Fe de Antioquia, Gómez Hernández and Sotraurabá. I bought the ticket at Sotraurabá office and it was 9.500 COP (December 2009). The bus left in 15 minutes so there was just enough time to take a quick coffee. The journey took about 1,5 hours. From the bus terminal in Santa Fe de Antioquia a short walk uphill from the main road took me directly to Plaza Mayor, the main square, from where I started to explore the town.
- Road Trip
From Medellín to Cali
In Medellín I took a taxi from Tamarindo hostel in El Poblado to Terminal del Sur (buses to the west and south of the country leave from here) where I was supposed to take a 23:00 bus to Cali. I did not buy the ticket in advance so I arrived to the terminal two hours earlier to have enough time to prepare for my trip. To my surprise, all the buses for that night were fully booked. The following day was Christmas Night (I did not think about it before) so many people decided to travel. For Colombians it is very important to spend it with their family.
I was thinking about what to do when I local guy started to talk to me. He told there was a possibility that one of the companies was going to arrange another bus to Cali. He brought me to the counter where many people were already waiting. After almost two hours in a line the bus finally arrived, and fortunately, we all came in. The ticket was 38.000 COP (December 2009).
We left Medellín at midnight and arrived to the bus terminal in Cali at 9:00am. From there I took a taxi to Tostaky guesthouse in the charming colonial neighbourhood San Antonio.
- Road Trip
From Medellín to El Peñon de Guatapé and Guatapé
One day I took a day trip to El Peñon de Guatapé (a giant rock formation) and then further to the charming town of Guatapé. Natalie from hostal Tamarindo suggested that I should leave early as it was the area with a lot to see and explore. Buses to Piedra del Peñol leave from Medellin's Terminal de Norte. There is a 15-20 minutes walk from the hostel to Poblado metro station. I took a metro to Caribe station which is connected to the bus terminal.
Sotrasanvicente bus company has regular service to El Peñon de Guatapé. The 1 hour and 45 minutes journey was 12.000 COP (December 2009). I got off the bus at a gas station and then it was an easy 20 minutes walk up the hill to the parking lot at the foot of the rock.
After climbing the rock I walked back to the main road and wanted to continue to Guatapé when a beautifully restored oldtimer jeep stopped and offered to drive me to the town for 2.000 COP. It was not a very scenic road to walk, and besides, it saved me time. The driver dropped me off on the main square. This is also from where busetas (minibuses) leave for Medellín. You have to buy the ticket in advance in Sotrasanvicente office on the square. The journey back to Medellín took 2 hours.
- Road Trip
From Medellin to Turbo and Back
Turbo is on the Pan-American highway and there are regular buses here from Medellín. They leave from Terminal de Norte. Two bus companies travel to Turbo on alternating days, Sotraurabá and Gómez Hernández. It is recommended to travel at night and thus arrive in Turbo early in the morning, a few hours before catching the boat to Capurganá or Triganá (they only have morning departures). In the past, the area was not recommended to travel at night due to guerrilla activities but nowadays it is safe.
I travelled with Gómez Hernández and took a 9:00pm bus which was 56.000 COP (December 2009). The bus was quite comfortable, with a toilet and TV. But as usually, the air-conditioning made it really cold so I was glad I wore warm clothes and had a little blanket with me. In the morning you can see many banana plantations - Urabá is Colombia's banana growing region.
We arrived in Turbo at 5:00am. There is no real bus station (only a very small basic terminal) but most of the companies are located on Calle 10. El Waffle, the dock area, is just around the corner.
After returning from San Pacho I took a 10:30am bus back to Medellín. I knew that 56.000 COP for such journey was beyond any reasonable limits. When I asked for the better price there was no problem to get it for 50.000 COP. The road is one of the worst main highways in Colombia. On the way we made a stop for lunch and then arrived to Terminal de Norte in Medellín at 18:30pm. Then I took a metro to El Poblado.
- Road Trip
The Metro in Medellín
To use the metro is a good way to get around in Medellín. The trains are going between the south and the north for 23 km and from San Antonio in the centre there is a line going west for 6 km. Stops I used (other than the ones in the city centre) were Caribe (just next to Terminal del Norte), Universario (for the Botanical Garden), Industriales (for Pueblito Paisa), Poblado and Floresta. The metro is clean and it feels safe. The trains are going above ground and in the centre also on viaducts above the streets.
A single ride was 1400 pesos (July 2008). You can also buy a ticket for ten rides.
- Budget Travel
To Medellín from Manizales
If you are staying at Mountain House in Manizales you can take a bus to the terminal, but as it was the time when people went to work and I had a lot of luggage I decided to take a taxi instead. The taxi had a taximeter and it was 5120 pesos to the terminal. At the terminal I bought a ticket for Medellín with the company Empresa Arauca. The bus was leaving at 8.30 and the ticket was 29 500 pesos. For the first part of the journey the driver was driving very fast, so fast that it was impossible to read a book. The later part of the journey went over the mountains and then we slowed down because of all the lorries, road construction and curves in the road.
After 4 hours and 45 minutes we arrived to the southern bus terminal, Terminal del Sur. I was going to Hotel Capitolio more in the north and looked for a taxi. I realised I had taken a taxi on the wrong side of the terminal because as it passed the main entrance of the terminal the taximeter already showed some thousand pesos. For the taxi to the hotel I paid 8000 pesos.
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
To and from Santa Fe de Antioquia
The buses to Santa Fe de Antioquia leaves from Terminal del Norte. As I was only making a daytrip to Santa Fe de Antioquia I took an early morning bus. The bus left at 7.15 and the ticket was 9000 pesos.
After a while we turned to a road where I saw a sign saying “Tunnel closed”. We continued a while and then we came to the closed tunnel, where we had to turn around. Now we had to take the old road over the mountains. The chauffer asked the passengers which road to take and we went past the small town San Cristobal. Along the road the mountain sides were steep and there had been some landslides (that’s probably why the tunnel was closed). After 2 hours and 45 minutes we arrived in Santa Fe de Antioquia. The bus terminal is situated only two blocks from Plaza Mayor.
When I arrived back to the terminal after visiting Santa Fe de Antioquia there was almost an hour until the next bus left, but there was a colectivo (shared taxi) only missing one passenger (excluding me). I took the colectivo which cost 13 000 pesos. This time the tunnel was open (before the entrance you could see that there had been landslides as there was earth on the road) and it took only 1 hour and 10 minutes to reach Terminal del Norte in Medellín.
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
From Bogotá to Medellín
The bus terminal of Bogotá (www.terminaldetransporte.gov.co/) is located 5km west of the city centre. It is divided into five módulos (units) with buses leaving to different parts of the country. Buses to Medellín leave from Módulo 2 - Azul. At the bus terminal you find restaurants, cafeterias, bars, many shops, ATMs, waiting and left luggage rooms, bathrooms and even showers, so you'll have no problems to prepare for the long bus journey.
From La Candelaria I took a taxi to the terminal which was 9.000 COP. Many companies run buses from Bogotá to Medellín. I bought a ticket for a 10:00pm bus with Rapido Ochoa. It was a direct bus, it only had one rest stop. The chairs were quite comfortable and there were enough room for the legs. The bus had a toilet and they showed movies during the night (though I'm wondering who watched them). As usually in long distance buses in Colombia, the air-conditioning was put to the full and we were freezing. People wear warm clothes and they usually bring blankets and pillows to the bus. I learned to do the same.
We arrived to Terminal Norte in Medellin at 7:00am. From there I took a taxi to Hostal Tamarindo in El Poblado where I was staying.
- Road Trip
Bus Companies in Medellin
Carrera 64 C # 78 - 58
Calle 58 No 54 (Local 101)
Calle 48 No 27 (San Deigo)
FLOTA LA MACARENA:
Terminal De Transp.
Norte Taquilla 18A
Sur Taquilla 17A
- Road Trip
Not sure I'd do this if I had the time to explore on my own but if you just have a few days in Medellin it is a great way to see some of the highlights of the city. The Bus starts ar Parque Los Fundadores, Better known as Parque Poblado, and stops at the Barefoot Parque at the park by the observatory, at Botero Plaza, at a crafts market, and Up the hill to Pueblito Piasa.
Its a good introduction to the town and If I remember right is around $10 a person.
One of the coolest things in Medellin. The MetroCable is an attempt to bring inexpensive metro transportation to the people who live up the hills and not in the vally floor. They use a very impressive series of cable cars that seat 8 and leave every 20-30 seconds to climb up the mountian to 3 different stations.
Whay is this Inovative? because these neighborhoods are amongst the poorest in the city. How many cities do you know of that fund huge infrastructure programs to help the poorest. The metro only charges on the way up and the ticket serves as a transfer to the train. This gives transportation that opens economic opportunities to neighbor hoods that have never had any opportunity. The contract to build the hige stations also stipulated that schools and parks be built all along the route. Another line is in the planing stages.
As a tourist it is worth going up for the view and to look down into common life in the communes. Just remember that the person next to you might not be a tourist and this is their home so please be respectful.
Calle 9c Sur No.50ff-97
It is an option of entertainment, the easiest way to get around Medellin City.
Currently TURIBUS schedule from 9:00am and 1:00pm to 5:00pm.
Not sure I'd do this if I had the time to explore on my own but if you just have a few days in Medellin it is a great way to see some of the highlights of the city. The Bus starts at Parque Los Fundadores, Better known as Parque Poblado, and stops at the Barefoot Parque at the park by the observatory, at Botero Plaza, at a crafts market, and up the hill to Pueblito Paisa. Its a good introduction to the town and If I remember right is around $10 a person..
Buy your tickets at the TURIBUS buses.
Get special discounts in museums, restaurants, shopping and others sites of interest in the city, showing your TURIBUS ticket.
Adult’s price $12.000
The elderly price $10.000 (more than 60 years)
Child’s price $10.000 (between 4-12)
TICKET’S SALE UNTIL 1:00PM
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits
Medellin has 2 airports, the large, main airport in Rionegro and the smaller, regional airport of Olaya Herrera within the city limits. From Rionegro, taxis (well organised and safe) take you to the city for a fixed price of 20 Euros and takes around 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Another option is the mini-bus service which leaves from the airport to the stop at the back of Hotel Nutibara in the centre of Medellin. Also takes around 1 hour, costs 3 euros.
The buses leave every 20 minutes, each way.
Rionegro serves international destinations and the flights to Bogota (from as low as 30 Euros one-way) as well as to other cities within Colombia by Avianca, AeroRepublica (which I prefer, now renamed COPA Colombia) and Aires.
Info updated February 2011.
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