Taxis provide great convenience. But what if you knew the best bus routes in Medellín as well?
You could save a lot of money, at least 2 million pesos a year (about $1,000).
If you don’t take the bus, we understand. It’s a complicated system.
We’re not talking about the Metroplus: that has easy-to-follow routes that go to only certain parts of the city.
The Metro is even easier. There are two lines, one that runs north-south, the other east-west, with a couple of Metrocables.
Well that’s why we’re here.
We’ve written about taking the bus before, a long time ago, and there are some good tips in that story. This is a follow-up to it. So instead of telling you how to take the bus, we’re going to tell you the best bus routes in Medellín for foreigners, the ones that get you to your favorite destinations.
Hold on tight…these bus drivers sometimes seem like they’re racing…
1. Ruta Hotelera
These routes provides travelers with the most direct bus route between Laureles and Poblado, two of the city’s most popular districts.
There are two buses, the 304 and the 305.
Some of the most important stops along these routes include:
- Terminal del Sur: Here you can take buses to other parts of the country or take a domestic flight at the small airport next door, Enrique Olaya Herrera.
- La Milla del Oro: The Golden Mile, an opulent stretch of Avenida Poblado, is known for its business centers, malls, nightclubs and restaurants.
- The Hills: No, not that lame reality show that made a bunch of idiots famous. I’m talking about the hills of Poblado, where you’ll find some of the best shopping and eating, as well as some of the city’s most posh apartments.
- Parques Lleras and Parque Poblado: The two areas are known for their nightlife and restaurants.
- La 70: This is the Parque Lleras of Laureles.
- Avenida Nutibara: One of the main arteries of Laureles, you’ll find clubs, restaurants, grocery stores and a new theater along this stretch.
You can’t miss them. They are the bright yellow buses that run between downtown Medellín and Envigado that say — wait for it — ENVIGADO on the front.
There are four different buses:
Two run along Avenida Poblado. One of them says La Paz on the front. This one goes to the neighborhoods in the southern part of the suburb.
The other one says Rosellon. This one goes to the hills in the eastern part of the city.
These are the same two options for the other two buses, only they run along Avenida Las Vegas.
Along the routes, you’ll pass landmarks such as:
- Ciudad del Rio/Museo del Arte Moderno: Spend a day here and enjoy not just the museum, but Ciudad del Rio’s beautiful park, a delicious lunch at Bonuar, and great coffee at Cariñito Café.
- Universidad EAFIT: Foreigners often take Spanish classes here, although there are other more economical options such as CIE Spanish school and I Speak Paisa.
- Every Metro station from San Antonio in El Centro to Envigado in, well, you know.
- Milla de Oro
- Several major malls (Monterey, Premium Plaza, Punto Clave, San Diego)
- Parque San Antonio
- Parques Lleras and Poblado
3. Circular Sur 302 and 303
Get ready to make a big loop on the 302 or 303, so big you will cover major roads in four districts: Belén, Candelaria, Laureles-Estadio and Poblado.
Like the other routes, you’ll pass places such as malls (Monterey), parks (Parque de Las Luces and Parque de Los Pies Descalzos) and nightlife districts (La 70), the most important place along the way is Migración Colombia.
If you’re staying in Medellín more than three months, it is essential you familiarize yourself with this office or you will be staying here illegally. It’s really easy to renew your tourist Visa.
If you get another Visa, be it business, girlfriend, marriage, work, etc., you’ll still have to make an appearance here.
Most people take a taxi to the international airport, José María Córdova. There is a cheaper option.
Outside Centro Comercial San Diego, there is a bus stop along Las Palmas where a white bus with green trim and big letters that say AEROPUERTO will take you to the international airport for 9,000 pesos (about $4.50). But you might wait a while if you go there, as a reader pointed out in the comments, hence this late addition to the post.
The bus originates outside the Hotel Nutibara in downtown Medellín, near the Plaza de Botero.
A taxi costs 60,000 pesos (about $30) unless you are in a collectivo, or shared taxi, which will cost 15,000 (about $7.50).
If I’m making a trip that does not require me to take a lot of luggage, I opt for the airport bus.
5. Santa Elena
You’ll find these blue buses at a stop in El Centro, on a street called the Ayacucho. The bus stop is about four blocks east of the Oriental, where the big Iglesia de San José is.
The bus will take you to what is esentially downtown Santa Elena, where you can take other buses toward Parque Arví.
On your way, you should eat at Uchuva Lounge. Just call ahead. These days, they’re open by reservation only for groups of six or more.
You can ride the Santa Elena bus the opposite way as well, if you’ve already taken the Metrocable to Arví and want to take a different route home.
One thing to keep in mind is that the local buses can be less safe than the metro or taxis. Several years ago during my second time to use a local bus in Medellín I experienced someone jumping on the bus I was on brandishing a knife and he robbed several passengers in the front of the bus. I was luckily sitting in the back but I decided not to use buses after that experience.
My Colombian girlfriend also won’t let me use local buses as she says they are not safe. She has several girlfriends that have been robbed on buses. She won’t use buses.
I have seen reports in the local press on a regular basis about robberies on buses in the city. For example, recently I saw one report about five or six jumping on a bus near the Los Molinos mall in Belén with weapons that robbed passengers. Another recent report was three robbers that jumped on bus route 141 brandished knives and stole cell phones from passengers. I also have heard about several bus robberies with guns. I also have heard that bus drivers sometimes act as an accomplice to robbers.
I understand the local authorities recently decided to use some civil police on some bus routes to try to address this problem.
I purposely looked for an apartment near a metro station. I currently live one block from a Metroplus station so it is easy for me to use the safe metro instead of buses.
Better not walk anywhere either! People get robbed a whole lot more walking than on a bus, even though it’s not that common either. Stay in the apartment double locked in, I heard a friend of a friend of a friend who only single locked and they were robbed.
All joking aside, that’s too bad your bus was robbed. I’ve been on buses here 1000+ times and never had anything like that happen, nor have I heard of any friends who this has happened to.
wow, didn’t realize that jeff. i’ll keep that in mind. and thanks for commenting so people are aware of it
Do a Google search for “ladron bus Medellin” and you’ll see several articles in Spanish – on the second page of search results is a bus security video of a robber brandishing a gun on a bus.
Thanks for posting this – I will refer to it when I am next in Medellin. I have used buses a lot in Medellin, mostly la ruta hotelara between poblado and belen and to st helena and from the airport. I have also used meteoplus, mainly from Belen to industriales. I haven’t ever had a problem except some overcrowding. Getting through the turnstile is a problem and not disability friendly but taxis have their risks as well, so the cheaper option is worth looking at.
I love the post!! it is so helpful even for me who I’m from Medellin! About safety…well I have been millions of time in buses and I have never seen or been a victim of a rob.
The one important thing you failed to mention, is that all of the busses to the airport, originate in El Centro, behind the hotel Nutibara. In fact, many of those busses to the airport take the northern route. Thus bypassing San Diego altogether. I have waited at the San Diego stop for over 30 min for a bus that never came, and had to take the 15,000 Peso shared taxi option from San Diego instead. However, if you just go straight to the spot where they originate in El Centro, then you won’t wait more than 10 min. In my experience, those busses to the airport more frequently use the northern route, and skip San Diego entirely.
Dan, thanks for the tip…I’ll update the post shortly to reflect that 🙂
They stop by San Diego Mall. I used it twice this month. 9000 pesos to airport
After all, it’s a lottery out there. Especially in December, when the number of robberies and other crimes increases.
I’ve discovered the route of Comercial Hotelera after quite some months of spending money on taxi to get from Belén to Poblado. It was that kind of ‘bring-the-champaign’ moment.
bring the champagne, or bring the wine? just checking 😉
Can someone explain the bus stops? They are unmarked. Do all the buses use the same stops? Can you flag down a bus? And when getting off the bus, will they only stop at one of their listed stops or will they drop you where you ask them to?