The distance between Cartagena to Cali is 656 miles (1056 km). At this distance, the easiest way to get to Cali is to fly, which takes about an hour and a half. All other options will take you around 24 hours or more. Private transfers or a car rental would be expensive from this distance, but would allow you more comfort than a bus and would give you the freedom to stop and explore the Coffee Region.
If you have more time in the country, consider this 10-day itinerary—it includes visits to both the northern region and Cali. This action-packed itinerary will allow you to explore the white-sand beaches and rainforests of Tayrona National Park, the cobblestone streets of Cartagena, explore the Salsa rhythms of Cali, and visit the Carnival City of Barranquilla.
Duration: 1.5 hours
Rafael Nuñez International Airport (CTG) is located only about 4 miles (6 km) from the Cartagena city center. The best way to get to the airport is by taxi. The other option is to take a bus to the airport, but this option can be extremely slow. There are direct flights from CTG to Cali, with most flights taking approximately 1 hour and a half. Cali's International Airport Alfonso Bonilla Aragón (CLO) is located 12.5 miles (20 km) northeast of the city. Metered taxis are readily available from outside of the airport. In addition, ride-sharing apps like Uber are also available in Cali. There are several minibuses and private shuttles that go from CLO to the bus terminal in downtown Cali throughout the day. The trip time is about 30 to 40 minutes.
By Private Transfer
Duration: 21+ hours, depending on stops
If you want to move around independently, you could rent a car which takes about 21 hours to drive. Private transfers could probably be arranged, but would be extremely expensive at this distance.
Between Medellin and Cali, there are plenty of things to do and see in the Coffee Zone. Salento is a colorful and charming town to see the area's coffee culture and farms. From Manizales, a visit to the glacier of Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados is a must if you want to stop for a few days and hike around this stunning area.
Duration: over 24 hours
Another option, one that the least popular, is to take a bus from Cartagena to Cali. The bus station in Cartagena is about 8 miles (12 km) from the center. To reach it, the easiest way is to take a non-metered taxi, it will take about 30 minutes to reach the Terminal des Transportes, depending on traffic.
All routes are over 24 hours long and the only perk being is that it will save you from paying for accommodation for one night. There are no “direct” routes, as all routes stop mid-way for a “layover,” mostly in cities along the way like Medellin. You will then have to catch another bus to Cali from Medellin, adding hours onto your trip due to wait times. Doing it this way will take you anywhere from 27 to 32 hours in most cases and won’t really save you that much money over a plane ticket.