09 Jan Traveling in Colombia by plane
Traveling to Colombia
A lot of you might question whether or not it’s worth it to spend so much time and money on exploring a country that is so foreign to us. The answer: Hell yes!
Nowadays, if you are well versed in the art of finding the cheapest tickets with airline companies (which I am) then you can get great priced tickets to Bogotá from Europe and the US.
On my previous journeys I managed to get the following pretty cheap tickets:
Budapest – Bogotá – Budapest (with a transit in Istanbul, Turkish Airlines): 378 EUR, return, including taxes and fees.
Milano – Bogotá – Milano (with a transit in Amsterdam, KLM): 450 EUR, return, incl. taxes and fees.
Vienna – Bogotá – Vienna (with a transit in Amsterdam, KLM): 530 EUR, return, incl. taxes and fees.
Not too bad, huh? 😉 There are great flights from Italy regularly, especially from Milan, Turin but also from Venice and Rome. And to get there, you can travel really cheap within Europe with low-cost carriers.
Traveling in and around Colombia by plane
It’s not cheap to fly within South America, 2 years ago I had to pay 150 EUR for a “domestic” one-way flight in Argentina between Buenos Aires and the Iguazu waterfall. But since I had limited time and the bus ride would’ve taken 20 hours, this was my only option. It’s a bit different in Colombia, there are 2 low-cost airlines with headquarters in Bogotá and the bigger airlines also have continuous promotions going on so you can fly pretty cheap within Colombia and relatively cheap in the region as well compared to other parts of Latin America (to Mexico, Cuba, Peru, Ecuador, Aruba and Panama).
Let’s see the details:
VivaColombia – https://www.vivacolombia.co/co
Colombian low-cost airline, works similar to its European counterparts (Ryanair, Wizzair, EasyJet). They have flights to many places in Colombia and also to Miami, Panama and Lima with really good prices (return ticket to Panama from 150 EUR, to Miami and Lima from 220-250 EUR). Just like any other low-cost carrier, checking in luggage has a fee and the size of your hand luggage is also limited. I’ve flown with them multiple times within Colombia, small delays (50-80 minutes) are an every day occurrence but other than that I’ve been satisfied with the airline.
It might be a bit difficult while buying tickets that it accepts European credit and debit cards completely randomly… I tried with 3 different cards so far, all 3 times unsuccessfully. It helps to have a Colombian friend with a Colombian credit card or if you are already in Colombia you can order the tickets online and then pay for it in person in any of the Carulla shops, only on the day of ordering the tickets. Éxito and Carulla are the 2 big supermarket chains in Colombia. I’ve bought my tickets like this many times now and the system works well, it’s easy and I can pay for my tickets at any of the cashiers, I only need to print and show them the confirmed order number.
Wingo – https://www.wingo.com/es
Panamanian Wingo arrived at the end of 2016. Headquarters are in Panama city, not Bogotá. They have great offers to Mexico, Cuba, Aruba, Panama, Quito, etc. For around 150-250 EUR you can fly to different popular destinations in the region. I haven’t flown with them yet, but I definitely will in the future 😉
Latam – https://www.latam.com/es_co/
Big international airline with loads of domestic and international flights. It’s worth it to check their promotions; they regularly have 25 EUR offers on domestic flights – with the option of checking in luggage. I’ve flown with them before, I was satisfied with their services – their online interface is the best compared to the others and surprisingly credit card payment is also smoother.
Avianca – http://www.avianca.com/es-co/
One of the first airlines in the world, they have a fleet with over 160 planes, with both domestic and international flights. Generally it’s a little bit expensive but they have a lot of domestic super promo tickets, which you can catch even 1 week before departure, it all depends on the offer. I’ve travelled with them a few times and I was really satisfied with them. Their service level is top.
Also interesting is that the Colombian and general subpages differ largely, which can be seen on the images below:
There’s a 1 minute difference between the searches and I also changed the Colombian subpage to the European one:
153 800 COP is roughly 50 EUR and the price of 203,25 EUR is offered to Europeans for the same flights… that’s more than 4 times the Colombian price, which is just mind-blowing… so it’s better to search and pay for flights on the Colombian subpage 🙂
It’s important to remember never to accept the “great” offers of the taxi “hyenas” lurking around the terminals of airports or in close proximity of them, they charge double the price of normal taxis – the official taxis are usually lined up in front of the airport so it’s not too difficult to find a normal taxi.
Bogota El Dorado Airport
The airport in Bogotá is one of Latin America’s most busy and modern airports. It’s easily accessible by taxi (approx. 10 EUR from the city) and it’s not far from the city center by Bogotan standards (45-60 minutes but it’s pretty much always unpredictable in Bogotá). There’s also a bus going to the airport, which costs 2000 COP (0,65 EUR) for one journey.
Cali Alfonso Bonilla Aragón Airport
Cali’s airport is also developing nicely, they just finished a new international terminal – it’s around 30 minutes from the city. By bus it’s 6500 COP (approx. 2,1 EUR) to the central bus station of Cali. You have to pay by cash on the buses that wait for tourists in front of airports. A taxi to the city is around 15 EUR.
Medellín José María Córdova Airport
The airport is around 45 minutes from the city, on top of a mountain. The taxi ride costs 75 000 COP (25 EUR), the bus costs 12 000 COP (4 EUR). Modern, international airport.
Cartagena Rafael Núñez Airport
Cartagena’s airport is significantly smaller than the others mentioned, around 15 minutes from the city, the taxi ride is around 10 000 – 20 000 COP (3,3 – 6,6 EUR).
Santa Marta Simón Bolívar Airport
Santa Marta’s airport is also smaller; it’s useful for those who are headed to paradise on Earth, also known as Tayrona National Park (you can go by bus or taxi as well, the taxi is around 100 000 COP, which is not cheap in Colombia, the ride is a little over an hour to the entrance of the Park).
Pereira Matecaña Airport
A small airport in the “Eje Cafetero”/”Coffee zone” close to the city center of Pereira – there is a public transportation (collectivo bus) between the airport and the city for 1800 COP (0,6 EUR), but the taxi is better option especially during the night. One of the best village in Latin America, Salento (Quindío) is just 1 hour from Pereira by bus.