Santa Marta to Cartagena

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Overview Compare Minivan Bus

To continue your journey along Colombia’s Caribbean coast, many travellers head to the country’s most visited destination: Cartagena.

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 appeal lies in the almost intact and colourful, colonial-style mansions in the old city that are surrounded by towering stone walls.

We also can’t help but mention the variety of delicious food options lining every street and the people who never seem to stop smiling. Cartagena is also the well-known location for multiple international cultural festivals during January-March.

How to get from Santa Marta to Cartagena?

The distance from Santa Marta to Cartagena is about 227 km (141 miles). There are no direct flights between the 2 cities, so the most popular options to get from Santa Marta to Cartagena are a 5-hour during bus ride or 4.5-hour minivan ride. Fares range between 40,000 COP ($9) and 85,000 COP ($19).

3 ways to get from Santa Marta to Cartagena

Transport ModeDurationCostsAvailability
Minivan5.5 hours85,000 COP ($19)Check Minivan Tickets
Bus4.5 hours
+ transfers
40,000 COP ($9)
+ transfer costs
Check Bus Tickets
Taxi4 hours500,000 COP ($110)Book a Taxi

A minivan is a popular choice when travelling any route between Cartagena-Barranquilla-Santa Marta and vice versa. They leave from the city centre of Santa Marta and also arrive in the city centre of Cartagena.

The bus tickets are cheaper than the minivan, but you’ll have to add the costs of getting to/from the bus terminals. When using public transport, you will be off slightly cheaper, but when using a taxi, the costs will be similar to the minivan.

Travelling by taxi from Santa Marta to Cartagena is another option, but can be expensive. Expect to pay between 500,000 COP ($110)700,000 COP ($155), depending on the holiday seasons. There’s also the option of booking a private car through BookAway, or alternatively, most hotels can arrange it for you as well.

Itinerary from Santa Marta to Cartagena

Santa Marta to Cartagena by Minivan

Duration: 4.5 hours
Cost: 67,000 COP ($15)80,000 COP ($18)
Duration: 4.5 hours
Cost: 67,000 COP ($15)80,000 COP ($18)

Taking a minivan from Santa Marta to Cartagena is an easy option as the vans leave from Santa Marta’s city centre and drop you off in the centre of Cartagena.

There are a number of different companies offering minivan service from Santa Marta to Cartagena, but the most popular ones are Marsol, Caribe Vans, Pro tours and Coche Express. They all used to operate every 2 hours, from 06:00-18:00.

Since the pandemic, options are a bit more limited. You can check the availability and book a minivan with Marsol through BookAway, providing your pick-up and drop-off addresses.

Unfortuantley the other bus companies are currently not available for online bookings.

Minivan schedule from Santa Marta To Cartagena

Bus CompanyOperating TimesDurationAvailability
Marsol Transportes06:00-11:30
5.5 hours85,000 COP ($19)
Check Bus Tickets

Note that departures are marked with a 5.5 hour duration time. This means that the minivan will also stop in Barranquilla to pick-up and drop-off passengers, adding an extra hour onto your journey versus going straight to Cartagena.

Expect to pay around 85,000 COP ($19) for the trip from Santa Marta to Cartagena. Prices can increase by around 25% during the holiday seasons though.

Santa Marta to Cartagena by Bus

Duration: 4.5 hours + transfers
Cost: 40,000 COP ($9) + transfers
Duration: 4.5 hours + transfers
Cost: 40,000 COP ($9) + transfers

Getting from Santa Marta to Cartagena is a cheaper option than the minivan, The main journey might be even quicker, but this excludes the transfer time to/from the bus station.

The easiest way to travel to/from the bus stations would be to take a taxi. However, this will also be more expensive and if you add the taxi costs to the costs of the bus ticket, the final costs will be higher than the minivan.

Luckiliy it’s also possble to get to the busstation by public bus.

Bus schedule from Santa Marta to Cartagena

Bus CompanyOperating TimesDurationAvailability
Unitransco3 departures a day
07:30-12:15; 10:00-14:45; 15:00-19:45
4.5 hours40,000 COP ($9)
Check Bus Tickets
Expreso Brasilia6 departures a day
07:30-12:15; 08:30-13:00; 11:00-15:30; 12:00-16:30; 13:00-17:30; 15:30-20:00
4.5 hours50,000 COP ($11)
Check Bus Tickets
Copetran3 departures a day
14:00-18:30; 18:00-22:30; 20:45-01:15
4.5 hours45,000 COP ($10)
Check Bus Tickets

How to get to Santa Marta Bus terminal

Duration: 15-30 minutes
Cost: 8,000 COP ($1.80)
Duration: 15-30 minutes
Cost: 8,000 COP ($1.80)

To get to Santa Marta bus terminal take a yellow cab and tell the driver that you want to go to the “Terminal de buses”.

The fare should be around 8,000 COP ($1.80) from Santa Marta city center, where most hotels are. If you are staying in the El Rodadero area, that fare will significantly increase to around 25,000 COP ($5.50).

There are three major bus companies that will take you from Santa Marta to Cartagena: Unitransco, Expreso Brasilia and Copetran.

They have buses leaving from Santa Marta Bus Terminal (Terminal de Buses) at various times every day.

You can book your tickets online (make sure to print your ticket in advance), or directly at the bus terminal.

How to get from Cartagena Bus Terminal to the city centre

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 ($0.55)
Duration: 1 hour
Cost: 2,500 COP ($0.55)

The bus terminal is well connected to the city centre of Cartagena, as well as the popular neighbourhoods of Getsemani and San Diego with the Transcaribe buses.

You can find these buses just outside the bus terminal. They run every 30 minutes and 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 are going to either the Getsemani or San Diego areas.

Option 2: Cartagena Bus Terminal to city centre by Taxi

Duration: 30 minutes
Cost: 18,000 COP ($4.05)
Duration: 30 minutes
Cost: 18,000 COP ($4.05)

Taxis can also be found right outside the bus terminal. Expect to pay 18,000 COP ($4.05) 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 to use an app, locals use InDriver, which allows you to bid the rate you want to pay, and drivers will accept or decline it.

More routes to Cartagena

Bogota to Cartagena

Cartagena Airport to Cartagena

Medellin to Cartagena

Palomino to Cartagena

More routes from Santa Marta

Santa Marta to Barranquilla

Santa Marta to Minca

Santa Marta to Palomino

Santa Marta to Tayrona

Bogota to Cali

Bogota to Cartagena

Bogota to Medellin

Cartagena to Barranquilla

Medellin to Bogota

Medellin to Cartagena

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