How to get to Salento fast & cheap

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Salento is one of the most popular destinations in Colombia’s Coffee Region. The colorful colonial town is surrounded by farms growing world-class coffee. But the star attraction is the Cocora Valley a stunning area to hike and see the world-famous trees that tower over the landscape. It is an awesome place to visit and a must-see in Colombia. So let’s get started and find out how to get to Salento! 🚍

How to get to Salento from Medellin

To get to Salento from Medellin you can either:

  • Take the bus 🚍 or
  • Take a plane ✈️

The bus is a long windy ride so if you get motion sickness it may be a good idea to take a flight. Flights within Colombia are cheap, particularly if you book in advance and are only traveling with a carry-on.

Read also: 10 Things in Salento not to miss

Option #1: Bus Medellin to Salento

The bus from Medelin to Salento is the cheapest option and costs 78,000 COP (20 USD) one-way. The bus company that operates the route is Flota Occidental.

You can book the bus directly on the Flota Occidental website or you can use other bus booking sites such as Redbus or Busbud. On some, you can also reserve your seat.

When we booked buses in Colombia we usually had to try more than one site because our online payments would not be accepted.

Colombia can be very bureaucratic and they will ask for a ridiculous amount of personal details for small transactions such as buying a bus ticket. So sometimes our passport numbers would not be accepted. But we always found one site that would work in the end.

If you cannot book the tickets online you can also buy tickets in person at the Terminal del Sur Bus Station in Medellin. This is the station that the bus will depart from.

🍴Tip: If you are looking for a cheap meal before your bus journey there is a large food court at the bus station. You can get big traditional meals for 18,000 COP (4.50 USD)

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How long will the bus from Medellin to Salento take?

Flota Occidental will tell you on their website that the bus will take 6-7 hours. But expect it to take about 8-9 hours or even longer. Colombian roads in the countryside are quite bad and there can be loads of roadworks and traffic jams.

When I took the bus end of 2023 there was a valley we passed through for a few hours that was full of roadworks. I do not expect them to be finished any time soon so I think there will be roadworks for the foreseeable future.

The bus should drop you at the Salento Bus Terminal which is at the edge of town. Although when I caught the bus I arrived at night and we were just dropped on the side of a random road in town! So make sure to have an offline map downloaded.

🤢 Tip: The first 2-3 hours of the bus ride from Medellin to Salento are super windy. So if you get motion sickness either take a flight or get your medication ready. Also, I sat at the front of the bus and found the engine to be super loud. So next time, I would try to get a seat at the back for a quieter ride.

How to get to Salento? Take a bus to this bus terminal in Salento
This is Salento’s bus terminal

Option #2: Flight Medellin to Salento

If you are short on time, taking a flight from Medellin to Salento is the fastest option. The flight only takes about 50 minutes and is far more comfortable than an 8-9 hour bus.

I caught the bus from Medellin to Salento while Katharina took the plane because she gets motion sickness. She had by far the better travel day! We also saved money by not checking in her luggage because I took both our bags on the bus.

💰 Tip: If you are returning from Salnto to the same city you depart from, ask your accommodation to keep your check-in luggage. This can save you 50% on the flight price.

View out of an airplane overlooking green hills and Pereira
Flying from Medellin to Pereira Airport on the way to Salento

Is there a Salento Airport?

There is NO airport in Salento so you will either have to:

  • Fly into Pereira ✈️
  • Fly into Armenia ✈️

They are both major cities located near Salento. Both cities are about 1 hour by bus from Salento so you should just fly into whichever city has the cheapest flights. Flights from Medellin to Pereira are generally cheaper than flights from Medellin to Armenia.

I recommend flying with either Avianca or LATAM. They are good quality and have good deals especially if you book in advance.

Should I fly or take the bus?

If you book flights a bit in advance you can get a flight for as low as 30 USD. So if you are traveling with a carry-on you will only pay 10 USD more than the bus.

The flight is much more convenient and you will have a much nicer travel experience. I am usually a fan of taking buses and seeing the countryside but in this case, I recommend taking the flight. Especially with me taking the bus and Katharina taking the flight we have a 1:1 comparison.

There was some nice scenery on the bus ride but I spent hours stuck at road works. Plus the buses are quite small and not that comfortable. It was quite loud and the driver was driving like a maniac.

If you are on a tight budget the bus will be the best option because you will not have to pay to check your bag which could add another 30 bucks to the ticket price.

Read also: 29 Proven Way to Travel Cheap 💰

How to get from Pereira Airport to Salento

If you fly into Pereira you will have to make your way from the Pereira Airport to the Transportation Terminal Pereira and catch a bus to Salento from there.

To get there you will either need to take an Uber or a taxi. I always preferred taking Uber in Colombia. The yellow taxis are much more likely to rip you off and it is always safer in an Uber.

The car ride from Pareira Airport to the bus terminal in Pereira takes about 15 minutes and should not cost more than 15,000 COP (3 USD). A bus from Pereira to Salento costs 10,500 COP (2 USD) and they leave roughly every hour. The bus reaches Salento in about 1 hour.

It’s also common to take an Uber all the way from Pereira Airport to Salento. This costs around 170,000 COP (45 USD) and doesn’t need to be arranged in advance. The car ride takes about 1 hour.

Read also: 6 Amazing Hikes in Jardin 🥾

How to get from Armenia Airport to Salento

If you fly into Armenia then you will have to make your way from Armenia Airport to the Armenia Transportation Terminal. The cheapest way to get there is to take a bus.

There is a bus with an “Aeropuerto” sign on the windshield that will take you to the bus station for 4,000 COP (1 USD). Otherwise, I recommend taking an Uber.

The bus from Armenia to Salento leaves roughly every 20 minutes and should cost 5,900 COP (1.50 USD) for the one-hour journey. The bus driver tried to overcharge us by double, so make sure to get your ticket at the bus terminal or remember the price 😉

Read also: Salento or Jardin – Which town is better? 🤔

Two buses parked in a dirt car park that are the best way how to get to Salento from Armenia
These buses run between Armenia and Salento

How to get to Salento from Bogota

If you are traveling from Bogota to Salento then you have the same decision to make about whether to:

  • Fly ✈️ or to
  • Take the bus 🚍

The bus takes about 9 hours and costs 78,000 COP (20 USD). The flight takes about 50 minutes from Bogota to Armenia or Pereira and then 1 hour on the bus from there to Salento.

You can get a flight with Avianca or LATAM for as little as 30 USD. So if you are travelling with carry-on only it is by far the best option on how to get to Salento from Bogota.

Option #1: Bus Bogota to Salento

There are no direct buses between Bogota and Salento so you have to:

  1. Book a bus to Armenia 🚍
  2. Take a bus from Armenia to Salento 🚍

The bus journey will take around 9 hours in total to arrive and cost about 78,000 COP (20 USD). I bought a ticket with Expreso Bolivariano and was happy with the bus and the service.

There will be a stop for food during your journey so make sure to grab a Menu del dia if you are hungry. These are the daily lunch specials that are popular in Colombia where you can get a lot of food for a really low price.

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A plate of food with beans, meat, rice, soup on a plastic tray at a bus stop while traveling on a bus a great way how to get to Salento
Not bad for bus stop food!

Option #2: Flights Bogota to Salento

Because there is no airport in Salento you will have to:

  • Fly into Armenia ✈️ or
  • Fly into or Pereira ✈️

From Bogota, flights are usually a bit cheaper to Armenia so I recommend flying there. The best airlines to fly with are Avianca or LATAM. You can get a flight for a little over 30 USD so once again it is only a little more expensive to take a flight than the bus if you only have a carry-on.

I recommend taking the flight if you have a carry-on only or get motion sick as the bus ride is nice but not super scenic. Plus you will most likely get stuck in the traffic around Bogota for a while.

Remember you will have to catch the bus from Pereira or Armenia once your flight arrives so read the instructions about how to get to Salento from there here:

  1. How to get from Armenia Airport to Salento
  2. How to get from Pereira Airport to Salento

How to get to Salento from Jardin

If you would like to visit another town in Colombia’s coffee region then we highly recommend Jardin. It is one of the prettiest towns in the whole country. From there you can also easily visit Filandia.

Jardin is becoming more and more popular every year with tourists. But it has far fewer foreigners visiting and a much more traditional feel than Salento.

In Jardin, you will see old farmers in cowboy hats hanging out at the main square and riding their horses through town. This is something you will not see in Salento and makes Jardin special.

Read also:
The Complete Travel Guide to Jardin
🤠 How to get to Jardin’s best waterfall
🥾 6 Hikes in Jardin + Quirky Attractions

Option #1: Bus/Flight via Medellin

To get from Jardin to Salento is much more adventurous if you go direct. But we chose to go from Jardin back to Medellin and then fly/take the bus from Medellin to Salento. This is because we read online that the roads are super windy and Katharina gets motion sickness.

So if you want the most comfortable journey it is best to:

  1. Take the bus from Jardin to Medellin 🚍 (3h)
  2. Then fly to Armenia or Pereira ✈️ (1h)
  3. Take the bus from there to Salento 🚍 (1h)

But for a more adventurous and scenic journey, you should take the bus as described below.

Read also: How to hike the Cocora Valley 🌴

Option #2: Bus Jardin to Salento

There is no direct bus from Jardin to Salento so you will have to take 2-3 different buses to arrive. The first bus you will need to take will be from Jardin to a town called Rio Sucio.

This ride will be in a Chiva which is a colorful traditional bus used in the countryside of Colombia. We read from multiple people that this bus could take around 5 hours and is on really windy and bumpy roads. But it is supposed to be a beautiful drive!

A local Colombian bus called a Chiva parked on the side of the road which is one of the best ways how to get to Salento
One of the Chivas that will take you from Jardin to Rio Sucio. It is a local experience!

The bus departs from outside the Jardin Transportes Suroeste Bus Terminal. There should be one bus departing in the morning around 7 am and another departing in the afternoon around 2 pm. But just check with locals when you arrive as the schedule may change.

Once you arrive in Rio Sucio you will have to look for the bus that takes you directly to Salento. If no buses are going direct to Salento then you can take a bus to Pereira and then catch a bus to Salento from there.

Read also: Like Salento? Visit Filandia!

A colorful streets in the town of Salento in the coffee region of Colombia
The colorful streets of Salento

Now you know how to get to Salento!

Salento is one of the most popular places to visit in Colombia and for good reason. We hope you enjoy your time there and this blog post helps you to make your journey nice and smooth.

Also, make sure to leave a comment if you have any questions and check out our other articles about Colombia below!


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Hi, I am Allan, a travel, health and fitness fanatic from New Zealand. I'm a former lawyer who turned into a full-time nomad in 2020. For the last 4+ years I've been traveling the world. I'm always on a hunt for good food, activities on a budget and workouts on the go. I hope you find my tips helpful and get inspired to travel more!

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