For first-timers, read through this info so you can make the most adequate plans for your trip!
There are many options when it comes to traveling to Bogotá or getting around the city. For first-timers, read through the info below so you can make the most adequate plans for your trip!
Getting in and around Bogotá isn’t difficult to figure out, especially if you’re prepared to taxi your way throughout the trip. It’s inexpensive and will get you anywhere. But if you’re on a budget, buses are just as useful. Here’s a quick breakdown:
GETTING TO BOGOTÁ
You’ll be landing at El Dorado International Airport (BOG), also known as Bogotá International Airport, situated about eight miles (13km) away from the city center. Keep in mind that Bogotá Airport has two terminals: El Dorado terminal, which services domestic and international flights, and Puente Aéreo terminal, which is for Avianca flights only (Colombia’s flag airline carrier).
From BOG to Bogotá by airport shuttle:
This may be the most efficient and economical way to travel from the airport to the city. The airport offers a free shuttle (5am-11pm, leaves every 20 minutes), featuring multiple stops including connections between terminals (takes approx. 15min). Hop on the shuttle from the “Alimentador” stop (located in front of the main terminal or at the Puente Aéreo terminal if you flew in with Avianca) and the shuttle will stop at El Dorado station, where you can take the TransMilenio – Bogotá’s bus rapid transit (BRT), to your destination. Only passengers with small luggage and a Tullave card (to purchase a card ask for un tarjeta azul or “one blue card” at any TransMilenio station) can board, which costs around COP$1,800 or USD$0.54 for one-way fare.
From BOG to Bogotá by bus:
Another lost-cost alterative is by bus, which are plentiful and run quite frequently from the airport to the city center. At around COP$1,500 (USD$0.45), look for a bus with Aeropuerto (airplane) on its side at the paradero (bus stop) just outside the main entrance of the terminal. This bus will take you to the city center, which takes approximately 40min. Buses are not recommended for first-time visitors, however, since they only pass by the city’s main areas. Bus drivers are known to be kind and friendly, so don’t be afraid to ask for help, that way they can drop you off as close as possible to your destination.
From BOG to Bogotá by private car:
Booking a private car is a great option if you’d like to secure transportation prior to arrival. For as little as $15 per person, you can book a private vehicle with City Discovery. You can call ahead and have your hotel arrange for a private sedan and driver to meet you at the airport. The ride takes approx. 20 min.
Here are other private car companies we recommend:
DotTransfers: With all type of vehicles available from economy sedans, luxury Mercedes Benz S Class to double decker buses (fits up to 50 persons), this company has you covered.
Blacklane: An excellent car service equipped with professional chauffeurs that charge either per ride or per hour, perfect for luxury travelers looking to explore the city in style.
From BOG to Bogotá by taxi:
Well-regulated, safe, and affordable, taxis are the most convenient way out of the airport. Locate the taxi booth near the international arrivals terminal and purchase a ticket voucher. The price will be printed on the voucher (average fare is around $13) and simply present the voucher to any taxi driver at the curb. Upon arrival at your hotel, you pay the taxi driver only the price printed on the voucher. Its simple, easy and headache free!
Renting a car at BOG:
The cost of renting a car online, prior to arrival, can offer slightly better rates than booking the car at the airport, though it’s more convenient to book at the airport. To rent a car you need to present a valid driver’s license (from your country of residence) and be at least 21 years of age.
There are three car rental companies available at El Dorado Airport, each located at International Arrivals near baggage claim. Look for Avis Rent a Car (Mon-Fri, 6am-11pm and Sat-Sun, 6am-11pm), Budget Rent a Car (Sun-Sat, 5am-11pm) and Flash Rent a Car.
GETTING AROUND Bogotá
The best way to get around Bogotá is either TransMilenio or taxi, though walking is ideal if you plan to explore one neighborhood for the day. Keep in mind that the city is quite large and public transportation is the best way to get around. If you want to rent a car or drive in the city, take extra precaution because drivers are known to not follow the signs and make unexpected turns and stops.
Bogotá’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), known as TransMilenio, is the largest BRT in the world and the best way to get around the city. Comprising of over 1,500 buses, 146 stations, 112km, 12 lines and tallying over 2.2m daily riders, this is the fastest, easiest and most economical way to get around. Over 8 million residents, and no metro system to speak of, riding on the TransMilenio during rush hour should be avoided. Be wary of pickpockets and keep all belongings in front of you at all times.
To board the bus you need to purchase a TransMilenio Card, which is available at any TransMilenio station. The most useful, and most popular card for tourists is the refillable Tarjeta Cliente Frecuente (costs COP$2,000 or USD$0.60), which provides access to almost every TransMilenio station and SiTP bus. With this card you can charge up to COP$85,000 (USD$26) or enough for 50 rides. Add credit to your card at any shopping center or at a TransMilenio station via automatic credit machine (similar to the Oyster card in London).
Other cards include: azul (blue), rojo (red) and verde (green). Get a blue card (no ID necessary) because the green card is not accepted at all stations and the red card requires registration. Buses run Mon-Sat from 6am-7:30pm and all day long on Sundays and holidays. Beginning Feb. 3, 2016, ticket prices will increase to COP$2,000 (USD$0.60) per ride. If you would like more information on departure times and key routes, check out Surumbo.
For business travelers looking to explore the city in style and luxury, here are a couple of private car companies that we recommend.
Blacklane: From Business Class to First Class, this company exudes luxury like no other. Simply book online or download their app, indicate pickup/drop off times or pay by the hour, select your car of choice and when you land at the airport your chauffeur will be waiting for you at the gate! To ensure exceptional customer service, each ride includes free 15-min curbside wait time (or 1 hour for airport pickups) and, if you happen to change your mind, you can cancel up to one hour prior to pickup, absolutely free of charge!
Limos.com: With every type of vehicle to satisfy your transportation needs, this company has you covered from party buses, airport transfers, executive private cars and, of course, limos! Hiring chauffeured transportation and limousine service in Bogotá allows you to avoid the hassle of parking and the headache of confusing directions in one of the world’s busiest cities.
Safe, affordable and reliable, taxies are the most convenient way to get around the city. Bogotá has a very efficient and well-regulated taxi system, which uses units to calculate fare (all meters should start at 25 units) and the minimum fare for a ride is 50 units or COP$3,400 (USD$1). Expect taxi drivers to be friendly and helpful. Tipping is not necessary.
If you don’t speak Spanish, don’t worry just point out the address on your phone or have your destination written down in Spanish by the hotel or by an employee from the airport. Check out the very popular Tappsi, an e-hailing app specially-made for Latin American cities.
Other than the Transmilenio, Bogotá has an extensive network of privately owned buses and busetas (little buses) to navigate the city’s complicated street grid. With the exception of a few streets, there are no bus stops, which means you have to flag down the bus from the sidewalk (just like you would hail a cab). Keep in mind that the placard in front of the bus indicates the last stop of the route, so be sure to ask the driver, or other passengers, whether your stop is on the way. To get off, simply ring the bell or tell the driver ‘por acá, por favor’ (here, please). One ticket costs about COP$1,450 (USD$0.45) per person.
To better manage this complicated network of streets and bus companies, the SiTP (Integrated Public Transport System) is being phased in by the city to help organize all routes under one umbrella. Check out the popular TransmiSitp app to help organize your way around the city.
If you love to cycle then you’re in the right place! In 2015, the city approved a plan to add nearly 3,000 new bicycles and over 250 public bicycle stations throughout the city. Over 2 million Bogotanos (almost 30% of the city’s population) cycle on over 300km of specially designated bicycle lanes called Ciclorutas, which means bicycling is THE way to get around!
Bogotá is also credited with starting the hugely popular biking event Ciclovía in 1974. Originally instituted in 1976 to help promote green energy and healthy living, this progressive civic program now boasts one of the most comprehensive networks of bicycle paths in the world. Every Sunday (7am-2pm) and during every festival, many roadways are closed to cars and open to bicyclists only.
What do you think of these transportation tips? Let us know in the comments.