The distance between two of Colombia's largest cities, Bogotá and Medellín, is 260 miles (419 km). The easiest way to make the trip is to fly, which takes about an hour. Going by car is also an option—the route takes significantly longer (over 10 hours), but this is a great way to see the hilly, scenic countryside, and there are a few noteworthy stops you can make along the way. Private transfers are recommended over self-driving, though it can be an expensive option at this distance.
Buses run from Bogotá to Medellín numerous times every day and are an economical way to go; you can expect at least 10 hours on the road. There are also shared vans called colectivos mainly used by locals—if you choose to go this way, prepare for a crowded, bumpy ride.
If you have more time in the country, consider this nine-day itinerary—it includes both Bogotá and Medellín, along with visits to Coffee Country and Cartagena.
Duration: 1-hour flight
Direct flights between Bogotá and Medellín are about an hour long. In Bogotá, the major airport is El Dorado International Airport (BOG). Nearly all international and domestic flights will arrive and depart from here. Colombia's main domestic airline is called Avianca, which offers domestic routes to all major cities. The airport is about 9 miles (16 km) from the center of town, and a private transfer or taxi is your best bet for getting there.
Medellín has two airports, and most visitors fly into Aeropuerto Internacional José María Córdova (MDE). MDE offers flights from Bogotá, other cities in Colombia, and major international destinations. The airport is located in nearby Río Negro, about 21 miles (35 km) from Medellín's city center. From the airport, you can take a taxi directly to most hotels in the city for a flat fee or hire a private transfer.
The other airport, Olaya Herrera (EOH), is inside the city limits near the Terminal del Sur bus station. Regional domestic flights arrive here, including multiple daily direct flights from Bogotá on Satena airlines.
From either airport, you can also use a ride-share app like Uber. Uber is not actually legal in Colombia, but it's regularly used by travelers and locals alike. Keep in mind that drivers are notorious for getting lost (especially in Medellín), and police often target airports to ticket drivers.
By Private Transfer
Duration: 10-11 hours, more with stops
Going overland from Bogotá to Medellín takes over 10 hours—and is an expensive option at this distance—but having a car and driver gives you the freedom to explore the route between Bogotá and Medellín. You can certainly make the drive in one day, though many travelers opt to take their time, spending the night at one of the pleasant towns along the way.
Consider a stop in Reserva Natural Cañon de Río Claro, a beautiful nature preserve that offers tours and outdoor activities. This private nature reserve features caves, whitewater rafting, swimming, and hiking. It’s a well-known spot for bird-watching as well, and it features some nice accommodations if you want to break up the road trip with an overnight stay.
Another point of interest before reaching Medellín is El Peñon de Guatape, a spectacular viewpoint with 360-degree views of the landscape. You can also visit the nearby village of Guatape for a colorful portrait of rural life.
Duration: 10 hours
Bus service runs regularly throughout the day, usually every half-hour between Bogotá and Medellín. Most buses leave from the main terminal in Bogotá, which is aptly named La Terminal, located in the Salitre neighborhood about 3 miles (5 km) west of the city center. It's one of the least expensive ways to make the journey, but it can be very slow depending on traffic. Plan to devote about 10 hours on the bus to get there. Some of the more high-end bus companies, like Expreso Bolivariano, include amenities like WiFi, power outlets, a restroom on board, air-conditioning, and usually a movie, at least to help pass the hours.
Duration: 9 hours
If you're looking for a budget-priced adventure, choose a colectivo, a (typically overcrowded) shared van widely used by locals. Colectivos dart quickly around traffic, so you're likely to arrive in Medellín in nine hours or less—unless it breaks down on the side of the road, a somewhat common occurrence. Keep in mind that colectivos depart only when they are full, and be prepared for a bumpy ride.