After spending a whirlwind 36 hours in Bogotá, we made our way to Salento, Colombia. The travel day was relatively short but it did take me a bit of research to determine the best way to get from Bogotá to Salento. Salento doesn’t have its own airport and the drive is up, over, and around the large Andes mountains so the best travel options took a bit of consideration. But have no fear, friend! In this guide, I am going to share all the ways you can get from Bogotá to Salento and what I think is the best way.
In case you’re new here (welcome!), my husband and I traveled through Colombia over 2 weeks in June 2022. I highly recommend starting with our full 2 week itinerary and then hopping over to this list of amazing things to do in Salento. After reading that post, you won’t question why you should make the trek to this tiny Colombian town! Going from Bogotá to Salento before heading to more touristy cities like Medellín and Cartagena will give you an appreciation for a different side of Colombia that not every tourist experiences!
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Bogotá to Salento
Bogotá and Salento are both located within the Andes mountains at elevations of 8,661 feet and 6,545 feet respectively. Read: you will be traveling over or through lots of tall mountains to reach these cities. But don’t let that deter you! Colombia has decent options for transportation so you’ll make it there one way or another. The main determining factor of what transportation you choose will be your budget. You can get from Bogotá to Salento by plane, bus, or by car but each option costs wildly different amounts. The other consideration is time. As you can imagine, taking a bus through mountains is not a quick endeavor. Or for the weary. Or those that get motion-sick.
If you have a decent budget and are short on time, traveling via plane is going to be your best option. If you want to experience the drive through the mountains, have a full day to travel, and a bigger budget, traveling by private car is a wild trip you won’t soon forget. For the backpacking, budget-conscious friend, bus will be your best, yet slowest, option.
No matter which option you choose, keep on reading because I’ve taken the guesswork out of it for ya. This guide has in-depth instructions to travel from Bogotá to Salento by plane, bus, and car.
There are two smaller airports near the town of Salento: Pereira and Armenia. Each airport is about an hour from Salento and it’s really potatoes whether you choose Pereira or Armenia to fly into. We actually flew into Pereira and out of Armenia on two different airlines because of the flight times we wanted! I recommend having an idea of when you want to arrive and depart from Salento and choosing flight times. Each airport is tiny so there’s no real benefit of flying to one over the other.
There are four main airlines that fly into each of these airports: LATAM, Viva, Copa, and Avianca. The airlines are small Colombian airlines and service several flights to each location each day. Flights are typically pretty affordable–airlines know they have to compete with buses to stay relevant so you can often find flights for under $100 USD. You can even book the same day and still pay around $100 USD!
In terms of travel hacking, I do not recommend cashing in points for a cheap, short flight like this. Save those points for something better!
Once you reach the airport, you have a couple of different options to reach Salento. Depending on what hotel you choose to stay in, you may be able to book a car with the hotel to get you from the airport. We stayed at the Hotel Salento Plaza and a driver from the airport to the hotel was about $30 USD. If that isn’t in your budget, you can also take a bus from the airport to Salento. You can book a bus ticket from Pereira via Expreso Alcala or from Armenia via Cootracir. Tickets are around $2 USD.
Related: The Ultimate 3 Day Salento Itinerary
Taking a bus from Bogotá to Salento is not for the faint of heart. However, if you are on a tight budget and have plenty of time for a full travel day–the bus is a viable option. There are no direct buses to Salento, so you’ll have to take the bus to Armenia or Pereira. Depending on traffic and road conditions, the bus could take you anywhere from 7 to 12 hours. Along windy, mountainous roads… Look, I’m not trying to talk you out of taking the bus, I just want you to know what you’re in for!!
If you decide you’re up for the challenge, you’ll have many options available. Head to the bus station in Bogotá (Terminal Salitre Bogotá) and find the buses to your destination. The most luxurious buses will cost you between $20-30 USD with not-as-nice buses around $15 USD. I recommend a nice bus with AC, toilets, and outlets. Expreso Bolivariano comes highly recommended! You can buy your tickets online ahead of time. The nicer the bus, the more likely it is to sell out closer to departure time.
Because there are no direct buses to Salento, you’ll have to connect and take a bus from Armenia/Pereira to Salento. The ride is between 45-60 minutes and costs around $2 USD. You can book a bus ticket from Pereira via Expreso Alcala or from Armenia via Cootracir.
If you’re a friend traveling through Colombia with a bigger budget and more than just 2 short weeks, you may opt for a private car! Whether you rent a car or go with a driver, this will be more costly than taking the bus. I’ve seen several different companies advertise charging just $75 USD for the 7.5 hour drive. This option would be great if you’re wanting to see more scenery without being stuck on a bus with a bunch of other strangers!
The Best Way to Travel from Bogota to Salento
Plane, bus, or car? You have plenty of options but in my humble opinion, one is a clear winner. Taking a short flight from Bogotá to Salento is the best way to get from point A to B. You will still have to take a bus from the airport into the town of Salento, but this route is quickest! Flying is more expensive than the other two options but it’s still relatively affordable.
A quick 45 minute flight followed by a quick 45 minute bus or shuttle will have you getting from Bogotá to Salento in no time!
Salento is an adorable town with great coffee, great hiking, and amazing people that should absolutely be on your Colombia itinerary. While it may seem difficult to get to and you may be tempted to skip it altogether, I promise it’s worth it! There are several options to get from Bogotá to Salento whether you want to take a flight, the bus, or go by car. Flights are quick and easy, the bus is super affordable and easy to find, and a private car will allow you to see all the sights without being surrounded by strangers! Whatever route you choose, you’re sure to have an awesome time visiting Salento.