If you’re travelling to Medellín or Bogota and have a little extra time up your sleeve, you’ll want to include a visit to the incredible palm trees of Salento – the only question is how you’ll get there.
Whether you’re travelling from Medellín or Bogota to Salento, this guide will help ensure you make it to and from the quaint town of Salento safely, comfortably and without spending a fortune.
When we were in Colombia, we were surprised by just how little information there was about this South American bus journey. There are more roundabout ways of getting from these two major cities to the awesome hub of Salento but there is an easier way!
Regardless of how you want to travel (Bogota to Salento | Salento to Bogota | Medellín to Salento | Salento to Medellín), buses are available and reasonably easy to organise.
As one of our real highlights in Colombia (which otherwise didn’t quite live up to our high expectations), Salento is a must-see.
This guide is designed to help get you to and from Salento by bus…
Bogota to Salento Bus (or Salento to Bogata)
To get from Bogota to Salento by bus, travellers need to transit either via Armenia or Pereira as, at this stage, there are no direct connections. The journey is easy going, even with minimal Spanish, so don’t be put off making the journey.
Though the journey from Bogota to Salento isn’t direct, it’s about as close as it comes. You have two route options (travelling via Armenia or Pereira), but Armenia would be our recommendation (as connections are much more frequent).
The total cost for the following two bus trips (one way from Bogota to Salento or Salento to Bogota) falls between COP64,500 and COP74,500.
Should you wish to return, from Salento to Bogota by bus, simply carry out this journey in reverse.
#1: Bogota to Armenia (or Pereira) by Bus
Buses depart frequently from Terminal De Transporte Salitre in Bogota and tickets are readily available to purchase, even if you’re looking to depart on the next bus.
When you make it to the terminal in Bogota, take the entrance on the right and you’ll find the ticket counters directly in front of you.
Though there are many companies offering reliable transfers to Armenia, look out for Expreso Palmira, Velotax and Fronteras.
Given the option, we’d suggest you stick it out in the main lines rather than being pulled off to the side – you’ll end up with on a larger, more comfortable bus and will be assured of your departure time.
You are able to jump onboard buses both to Armenia and Pereira but the onwards connections from Armenia are much more frequent; because of this, it would always be our preferred route.
Trip length varies but it took us 9.5 hours as we ran into heavy traffic towards the end of the journey.
Tickets cost approximately COP60,000 – COP70,000 from Bogota to Armenia on the bus (USD20 – NZD23.45 or NZD 28.30 – NZD33) and we suggest you aim to leave the city by 10.30am if you want to guarantee a bus connection through to Salento the same evening.
#2 Armenia to Salento by Bus
When you disembark the bus in Armenia, follow the footpath around to the main terminal.
Once inside the terminal, turn sharply to your right and head right through the terminal and back outside. There, you will see signs for Salento buses and mini-vans that depart every 20 minutes or so.
Bus tickets from Armenia to Salento are COP4,500 (USD1.50/NZD2.10) and are purchased onboard. We were told buses run until 8pm daily though later transfers may be available at certain times of the year.
Salento to Medellín Bus (or Medellín to Salento)
Getting from Salento to Medellín by bus (and the return journey, Medellín to Salento) is even easier as direct connections are available through Flota Occidental.
At present, departures are available from the Salento bus station at the start of town at 8am, 10am and 4pm (they used to also be available at 11am and 12pm so do check back to see if the timetable has changed).
Tickets can be purchased at the small counter at the station for COP49,000 (USD17/NZD24) and availability can be checked online. Flota Occidental now also accept ticket purchases online, though this wasn’t on offer when we were travelling (so we can’t speak to how easy the site is to use).
We had no problem booking our ticket in person, half an hour before our 10am departure but if availability is limited, you may like to walk to the station the day before to secure your seats (or try their online ticketing system).
The journey takes approximately 6 hours, travelling through Pereira before dropping passengers at Terminal del Sur Medellín. There, local buses and reasonably priced taxis are available to take you to your final destination (just remember to ask the driver to put the meter on).
Making the Trips in Reverse
Obviously, if you’re wanting to make either of these journeys in reverse (Medellín to Salento or Salento to Bogota) the same instructions can be applied, working from back to front.
Generally tickets do not need to be purchased in advance in Colombia but if in doubt, check in with the carrier online or pop along to the bus station a day ahead of time to secure your spots.
Salento to Bogota Bus
As there are so many buses available on this route (both larger coaches and smaller mini-vans), just like when heading in the other direction, you’re able to turn up and purchase tickets for the next available departure (again, travelling via Armenia will give you more in the way of options.)
Medellín to Salento
If you’re heading from the city of Medellín towards Salento, again you’ll want to book tickets through Flota Occidental. Currently, departures are available at 9am, 11am and 2pm for COP49,000.
Salento – Absolutely Worth the Visit
Salento is a beautiful, relaxed town that’s worth going out of your way to see; a must-see on your Colombian itinerary.
Though there’s a little to the bus journeys, they’re straightforward and definitely worth persevering with.