Airplane: Flying is the fastest and safest way to travel in Colombia. For some destinations, like Leticia, it may be the only means of transportation. Most cities are served by at least one of the domestic airlines, and there are also very good flight connections to the Caribbean coast with Bogota. The San Andres and Providencia Islands are also served from larger cities in Colombia.
Colombia has numerous major and minor airlines. The most important are
Avianca / SAM – the most important domestic airline with a large network of national and international routes.
AeroRepública – the second largest Colombian airline covers a similarly large domestic flight network as Avianca.
Aires mostly uses propeller planes and also flies to smaller places.
Satena – offers flights to the Amazon region, Los Llanos and the Pacific coast. It flies to regions that would otherwise be practically inaccessible.
Ship: According to oxfordastronomy, Colombia has around 3,000 km of coastline to the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic. Therefore there is a considerable amount of shipping traffic in the country, which, however, consists almost exclusively of irregularly operating cargo ships that also take passengers with them. Few travelers use it, but the route between Buenaventura and Isla de Gorgona is interesting.
Rivers are important transport routes in regions such as Chocó and Amazonas, where there are no or hardly any roads. Unfortunately, these two regions are known for guerrillas and paramilitary activities and are not recommended for tourists. The area around Leticia is an exception.
The Río Magdalena used to be the most important waterway in the center of the country, but shipping here has lost much of its importance over time. However, in certain regions it is still possible to travel on the river.
Train: There are hardly any passenger trains in Colombia. The most important route runs on the Caribbean coast between Bogotá and Santa Marta (in the east of Barranquilla).
Car: Colombia is not a great place to travel by car. Security is a big problem in Colombia. Cars are broken into frequently. More importantly, streets are made unsafe by guerrillas, paramilitaries or common criminals. In public transport there is a good possibility that one can travel through risky areas without problems, in the car this chance is much smaller.
A good paved road runs between Santa Marta in the wilderness of Colombia via Barranquilla to Cartagena. It only takes 5 hours to drive between Barranquilla and Venezuela on the Trans-Caribbean Expressway. Road conditions on the Guajira Peninsula can be poor in the rainy season. Although the cities on the coasts and important places in the interior of the country are connected to Bogota, these routes are often not particularly easy to drive.
In cities, traffic is very dense and chaotic. It takes time to get used to the local driving style, but even then the risk of an accident is high.
Right-hand traffic and seat belts are mandatory in Colombia.
A national driver’s license is required to drive in Colombia. Sometimes an international driver’s license is required, so bring it with you.
A rental car is a better solution than arriving in your own car, but it is also not recommended. Although the vehicle has a Colombian license plate, it attracts less unwanted attention between local vehicles. But given the driving style in Colombia and the convenience of public transportation, it’s safer to travel by air, bus, and taxi.
It is best to rent a vehicle from large international companies such as Avis, Hertz or Budget. All have offices in major Colombian cities and at El Dorado Airport in Bogotá. It is often cheaper to book a car before leaving than after arriving in Colombia.
Bus: as there are almost no passenger trains in Colombia, buses are the most important means of transport. The bus system in Colombia is extensive and also reached small villages. The bus companies with a large route network include Expresso Boliviano, Flota Magdalena and Expresso Palmita.
Every city has a bus terminal (Terminal de passajeros) between which the intercity buses run. Bogotá is the most important transport hub in Colombia, from here buses go to almost every area of the country.
There are frequent buses on the main roads so there is no need to buy tickets in advance. On smaller routes with only a few journeys a day, you should buy your ticket a few hours before departure. The only time when it is necessary to buy tickets in advance is during and around Christmas and Easter when all Colombians are out and about.
Buses are the most important means of transport in and around cities. In almost all larger and some smaller cities there is a separate urban bus service. City buses are usually slow and crowded.
In some cities there are bus stops (paraderos or paradas), usually you just signal the bus driver by waving that you want to ride.
There are many different types of buses in city traffic, from old wrecks to modern air-conditioned vehicles. The buseta (small buses) are widespread, especially in Bogotá and Cartagena.
Some cities like Bogotá also have colectivos. These minibuses travel the main routes and are faster than buses. They offer inexpensive connections to cities and airports in the surrounding area.
Motorcycles:In some cities, especially in the north, there are fast “moto-taxis”. However, they are not the safest mode of transport and are even banned in some cities like Cartagena (no one seems to care about the ban).
Metro: A metro was opened in Medellín in 1995. The city is still the only one in Colombia with a metro system.
A subway was also planned in Bogotá, but this was never implemented in favor of the Transmilenio bus system.
Taxis in Colombia are quite cheap, especially if you are traveling with several people. The price is usually calculated per trip, regardless of how many people are traveling, but some drivers charge an additional fee for large luggage. Taxis can also be chartered for longer distances.
In larger cities, taxis have taximeters, but they are not always switched on with pleasure (tourists often charge too high a fare). Inquire about the local tariffs before driving.
There are hardly any metered taxis in smaller towns. However, there are general tariffs for certain routes, so make sure you get the driver’s insurance before you set off.
Do not use a taxi in which there is another person besides the driver. Taxi drivers sometimes have a friend with them for safety reasons, but robberies have also occurred before
bicycles:Colombia is not an easy country for cyclists. Truck drivers and car drivers have no regard for bicycles. On the other hand, numerous roads in Colombia are paved and the safety situation is improving. Even in the smallest towns you can find a workshop where bicycles can be repaired. Bike rentals are rare, but you can buy bikes almost everywhere. If you are serious about cycling in Colombia, you should bring your own, well-equipped bike.