Cartagena is considered to be Colombia’s jewel on the Caribbean coast. Unlike the rest of the country, Cartagena has been a tourist hub for quite a while as it’s a common stop for cruise ships sailing the caribbean.
Its attraction lies in the almost intact and colourful, colonial-style mansions in the old city that are surrounded by huge stone walls. Inside these walls, you’ll find a variety of delicious food on offer and smiling locals saying hello. Cartagena also hosts multiple international cultural festivals between January-March.
The distance from Bogota to Cartagena is 1061 km. The most popular ways to travel this distance are a 1.5-hour flight or a 22-hour bus ride. Prices range between 90,000 COP ($22.50) and 350,000 COP ($87).
For most people, a 22-hour journey is too long to spend on a bus, so many travellers choose to fly from Bogota to Cartagena. Flights are pretty cheap for this route and a lot of the time they’re actually cheaper than buses, especially when booking in advance. If you do choose to fly, consider including a carbon compensation fee to reduce your impact on the environment.
Flights from Bogota to Cartagena depart from El Dorado Airport (BOG). Departures are frequent, every 1 – 2 hours from 06:00 to 23:00, with a flight time of approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes.
There are 4 airlines covering the Bogota to Cartagena route; Avianca, Latam, Viva Air and Wingo. They all offer a cabin-luggage-only fare so, if you’re travelling light, you can save some money here.
In terms of service Avianca is a bigger airline and their service is superior. They offer refreshments and most planes have an individual tv and charging port. Latam is a good second choice, offering a fairly good service too.
Wingo is a low-cost airline providing a basic service, but it does the job pretty well and you can save some money rather than using the big carriers.
Viva air, on the other hand, is a low-cost airline that charges extra for everything, even checking in at the airport. Most of the time their service is poor so, unless the price difference with the other airlines is significant (which is not often the case), we don’t really recommend it.
There are 3 ways to get from the airport to the city centre: bus, taxi or private transfer.
Buses are a good option if you don’t have a lot of luggage but keep in mind that drop off stations can sometimes be 15 minute walks away from most hostels/hotels. Therefore, the most comfortable way is to take a taxi.
Option 1: Cartagena Airport by Transcaribe Bus
Duration: 20 minutes Cost: 2,500 COP ($0.60)
The orange and white buses run by Transcaribe, line T102, run frequently from just outside of the airport. This service passes by the city centre and runs from 05:30-21:00 every day. The ride takes about 20 minutes, depending on traffic.
The bus stop is on Calle 70 and Carrera 4, one block from the airport. The only Transcaribe line stopping there is the T102 so you won’t get lost. The bus rate is 2,500 COP ($0.60).
There are 2 stops equally close to the city centre , one is called ‘Parque Apolo’ and the other one ‘Boquete San Diego’. Don’t be afraid of the long names, you can just ask for ‘Centro’ or ‘San Diego’ and the driver or other passengers will help you to get off at the right stop.
Option 2: Cartagena Airport by Taxi
Duration: 15 minutes Cost: 15,000 COP ($3.75)
The taxi service runs 24 hours a day and is available from just outside of the arrivals gate..
Taxi prices are fixed depending on your destination area. Follow the signs to the taxi counter right outside the arrivals gate and indicate the area or neighbourhood where you are going. They will hand you a ticket with the price printed on it. You should give this ticket to the driver at the end of the ride along with your payment.
An average price for a ride to most hotel areas is 15,000 COP ($3.75), but it can be slightly more or less depending on the distance.
Option 3: Cartagena Airport by Private Transfer
Duration: 15 minutes Cost: 50,000 COP ($12.50)
Unlike other countries, Colombia’s taxi’s service is relatively poor; most vehicles are small and drivers are often rude. If you prefer comfort and good customer service, the best option is to hire a private transfer.
Multiple companies offer transfer services between the airport and the city center. The driver usually waits for you outside the terminal.
You can book the type of car, and most will offer amenities such as water bottles, AC and music.
The price of a private transfer for 2 people starts from 50,000 COP ($12.50) and it’s a set price to any location within the urban area. You can book online via BookAway.
Cartagena bus terminal is quite far from the city centre. There are 2 ways to connect from there: a 1-hour bus or a 30-minute taxi ride.
Option 1: Cartagena Bus Terminal to city centre by Transcaribe Bus
Duration: 1 hour Cost: 2,500 COP ($0.60)
The bus terminal is well connected by Transcaribe buses that take you to Cartagena city centre and the popular neighbourhoods of Getsemani and San Diego. You can find these buses just outside the bus terminal and they run once every 30 minutes. The line that takes you to the city centre is X104.
You should get off at the last stop, ‘La Bodeguita’, for the old city, or the one before called ‘Centro’ if you’re going to the Getsemani and San Diego areas.
Option 2: Cartagena Bus Terminal to city centre by Taxi
Duration: 30 minutes Cost: 18,000 COP ($4.50)
Taxis can be found right outside the bus terminal. Expect to pay 18,000 COP ($4.50) for a ride to the old city. Taxi rates are regulated by the local government. Nevertheless, as a general rule in Cartagena, it is better to agree on the price before stepping in.
Uber does not really work in Cartagena, but if you prefer using an app, locals use InDriver, which allows you to bid the rate you want to pay and drivers will accept or decline it.