Buses in Medellin

Medellin bus
Medellin bus

Buses in Medellin are definitely the way to go.

I was afraid to take them when I first arrived because I didn’t know how they run and didn’t know where they go or how to ask for information.  But with a little help from a few locals, it has become one of my favorite adventures.

Taking the bus is cheaper than the Metro (by a little) and you always find yourself taking routes and seeing places you otherwise wouldn’t see.  The drivers are extremely helpful and always polite.  And, they appreciate it when you are polite with them.

1. All buses within Medellín cost between 1,400 and 1,600 COP (80 – 90 cents US).

a.  Bus drivers will always have change for you (and will prefer smaller denominations bills, like 5,000 or 10,000 COP).

b.  You must go through a turn-style and then pay the driver.

c. To get off the bus, there is usually a red button to press near the front of back door.  (I had a hard time finding that the first few times and I panicked).

d.  Everyone I have sat next to so far has helped to inform me of when to get off the bus.  I also ask the driver to shout out to me when I reach my destination and he almost always remembers!

2. The bus routes in Medellin are usually listed on the lower left-hand corner of the outer windshield, which means nothing if you cannot understand what they are saying or if you don’t really know where you need to go.

(Really important:  ask someone… Everyone in Medellín wants to help you, especially if you are a tourist!  Even the bus drivers will stop and try to walk you through it.  Do not be afraid of holding the bus up!)

3. There are two types of buses in Medellin:

a.  The circulars, which literally just go in one big, round circle around the city.

b.  The “others” which only go in one direction.

4.  The most useful information I have to-date:  the website for bus routes

Transporte en Linea:  Find where you are located, click on the spot and then a list of buses will appear in a pop-up box.  Click on each bus and the route will show up on the map so you can have various choices of places to go.

And here’s a new resource for visualizing Medellin bus routes.

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  1. Hi. I love this website, thank you! I am trying to figure out the Transporte en Linea website (with the link you attached). You say to click on a place and routes will appear, but I have clicked in many places and nothing happens besides zooming in the screen. I usually will write the part of town that I am trying to get to that I am trying to get to and many options appear and I am not sure which one really the one that is best. I would love if I could click on a spot and the corresponding routes would appear. Any suggestions? Thanks.

  2. Has anyone ever come across problems with bus vendors before in Medellin? I understand they are just trying to make a living and would never have the intention to insult them but today, I was on the bus and there was a vendor trying to sell chocolate. I was walking to the back and of course the bus was moving and I walked pass the man, it was a tight squeeze but got through. I sat down minding my own business and all the sudden the vender sat across from me and said (in spanish) ¨hey bro, you almost knocked me over motherfucker watch out ¨ then gave me a death stare for a good few seconds. After he was minding his own then as he was walking off the bus, he kept looking back at me then once he was off the bus he kept starring at me until the bus drove off. I´m only learning spanish atm so I didnt know what he said until someone told me after on the bus. I didn´t even realise he had an issue with me. I thought he was trying to sell me chocolate so so I just kept to myself the whole time and he spoke so fast I didn´t understand. Anyone else experience something similar before and is it something of concern or a problem here? Just curious as I´m new here and want to know how to deal with the vendors in polite manner as I don´t want to come across as if I´m insulting again in the future. Cheers.

    • Hey Brody, in all my experiences riding buses in Latin America, I’ve never had someone say something so aggressive and rude to me.

      It’s especially surprising in Medellín as paisas pride themselves on their politeness. I’d chalk it up to this guy 1) having a bad day, or 2) feeling the need to exert some kind of dominance (“this is my bus route, my city, stay out of my way gringo”).

      Even if you did understand what he’d said to you at the time, I think playing the ignorant tourist card is still your best bet. Either pretend you don’t understand what he’s saying (“no entiendo”) or offer a simple response like “perdon” (pardon) or “lo siento” (I’m sorry).

      Responding aggressively with insults would only escalate the situation, and you can’t count on the other people on the bus to come to your rescue. Paisas tend to mind their own business and not get involved.

  3. This is the last article I could find regarding the bus routes in Medellin. I have noticed a bunch of new red and white busses around town now. They all have new routes but I am confused as to their purpose. I think the general public would find information about this new transportation fleet quite helpful. Thanks

  4. Please provide some information on how to use the intregated bus system to get on the Metro or to complete a trip after riding the Metro. I can’t find any information in English on using the integrado. Thanks

    Also what about the metrobuses?