You can traverse the 83 miles (133 km) that stand between Cartagena and Barranquilla in around two hours. Given the distance, we recommend either hiring a private driver or renting a car to get there. The road is easy to navigate and fairly well-kept.
If you don't mind sharing a van with a few other people, you can also opt for a shuttle bus. This semi-private option takes the stress of car rental off your back, as it usually has door-to-door services. Since you will be waiting for other passengers to come in and out, this option takes about an hour longer than driving.
While you can take a flight, you'll have a layover in Bogotá, and this can double or triple the time it will take you to get to Barranquilla.
If you are visiting Barranquilla between February and March, make sure you check if your dates coincide with the Barranquilla Carnival, one of the largest in the world.
You can partake in the festivities as part of this 10-day tour through the Colombian Caribbean. If you're traveling outside of the carnival season, you can keep heading north on this 4-day itinerary that includes treks through the jungle and sunbathing in Tayrona National Park.
By Private Transfer or Rental Car
Duration: 2 hours
The most popular option to get from Cartagena to Barranquilla is to hire a private car. If you decide to drive yourself, make sure to let them know that you'll be dropping the car off in Barranquilla.
The airports are the best places to pick up and drop off your rental car, as they provide the most options for national and international companies. Although the road is safe, travelers unfamiliar with the region are advised to avoid driving at night.
The Troncal del Caribe is the more famous route to get to Barranquilla from Cartagena. However, you can also take Route 90A to get to Barranquilla faster and enjoy some pretty coastal scenery. There are no places of special interest in between these cities, only small towns and roadside restaurants.
If you feel like stretching your legs, however, most towns along the road will provide fresh seafood and a glimpse into more relaxed, local life. If you're taking a transfer, you can ask your driver for recommendations on the best stops and detours.
Duration: 3 hours
Several shuttle and van companies offer semi-private transfers from Cartagena to Barranquilla. Consider speaking with one of our local specialists if you'd like assistance with booking.
The greatest perk this option offers is that you are picked up and dropped off at your hotels. This saves you the headache of having to figure out transportation options from other points in the city, as you would have to with car rental.
However, keep in mind that you will be sharing the van with other passengers, and will have to wait for them to also be taken to their destinations. This usually makes the trip a bit longer.
Duration: 4 hours, more depending on layover
Since most people simply chose to go to Barranquilla by land, there are no direct flights offered to or from Cartagena.
The flights between Cartagena to Bogota—where you will most likely have to connect—and from Bogota to Barranquilla both take around an hour and a half. The layover time, however, varies between one and three hours.
Connections longer than three hours are extremely rare, so you will most likely get to your destination within six hours. However, this is still significantly longer than simply hitting the road.