Close

Travelling around Colombia

Recommend

Most Colombians live in urban centers and do not own cars. That said, expats living in large or mid-size Colombian cities will have lots of easy transportation options, from mass transit to inexpensive taxis. If you’d like to rent a car to drive in Colombia, there are several international companies available.

Public Transportation

Colombia's larger cities — Bogotá, Cali, Bucaramanga, and Medellín — have mass transit systems in place. Bogotá, Cali, and Bucaramanga have organized bus networks throughout the city, which operates in designated lanes. Medellín has the country's only metro system. Like mass transport in other cities, lines of service are clearly marked by different letters, numbers, or colors and follow a schedule of stops.

All large and midsize cities also have public buses that commute alongside regular traffic. There are no set schedules and stops vary. Most people flag a bus from the street and simply tell the driver when they want to get off. Lack of set stops can mean that trips are very slow. These smaller buses have a flat fare and to use them simply enter in the front and pay the driver.

 Important:

When using public transpiration always be mindful of your belongings. Keep backpacks and purses zipped and wear them in front of you. Never use cell phones on mass transit as ‘phone snatching’ sometimes occurs before the doors automatically close.

Taxis

Taxis are a cheap and efficient way to get around and there are lots to be found in larger cities and mid-size towns. Do not hail a cab from the street. Unlicensed taxis are notorious for scamming and sometimes robbing foreigners. The best choice is to use an application like EasyTaxi or Tappsi to call a cab or to ask your hotel or restaurant to call one for you.

The Uber app is another excellent option for expats. Uber vehicles are generally larger and nicer than taxis and cost nominally more. The Uber app allows users to pre-enter a destination address and pay through a registered credit card, so there’s no worry about having change or being misunderstood with an address.

Both Uber and Tappsi have English language options.

 Good to know:

Two important tips for using taxis and Uber in Colombia are to be sure to have smaller bills (20.000 COP or smaller) and don’t slam the car’s door. Foreigners will quickly find that car doors are much lighter in Colombia and that drivers are very particular about taking care of their vehicles.

Renting a car

Major rental car brands such as Avis, Budget, and Hertz are available in Colombia and are generally located near airports. The minimum requirements are a passport, valid driver’s license from your home country, an international driving permit, and a credit card with an available balance to be held as a deposit. Drivers must be 23 years old.

 Important:

Overland travel in Colombia poses few risks beyond slow traffic and winding roads. However, it is recommended not to travel at night in southern parts of Colombia, particularly between Popayán and San Agustín, as robberies are common.

Road traffic regulations

Many travelers will find driving in Colombia chaotic in cities and less so in rural areas. Most international driving laws apply in Colombia, though they aren’t strictly followed.

  • Minimum driving age is 18 years
  • Colombians drive on the right side of the road
  • Third party liability insurance and a medical policy are required
  • Seat belts are obligatory for all passengers
  • Colombia has very strict laws for drinking and driving. The maximum blood alcohol level is 0,04%.

 Good to know:

If you get in an accident, do not move your vehicle. Call the police and wait for them to arrive. Once they have viewed the scene and written a report you will be able to move your vehicle.

 Useful Links:

Avis
Budget
Hertz

Taxi Apps:

EasyTaxi
Tappsi (in English)
Uber (in English)

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
Recommend
expat.com Your favourite team
Member since 01 June 2008
Small earth, Mauritius
Write a comment

See also

Want to become a digital nomad in Colombia? The digital nomad's guide to Colombia will help you make the most of your nomadic life abroad.
From rich culture to a diverse landscape and modern cities, expats in Colombia have a lot to choose from for leisure time activities.
Keeping in touch is important for anyone living abroad. This article has information on cell phones, the internet, and postal service in Colombia.
This article has practical advice on working with international shipping companies, transporting pets, and moving your belongings to Colombia.
connection to localhost:9312 failed (errno=111, msg=Connection refused)