The vibrant city of Medellín and the modern city of Cali are 260 miles (420 km) apart.

The easiest and most common way to get to make the journey is by plane.

You can also easily rent a car in Medellín and drop it off in Cali, as both cities are well developed, have international airports, and large tourist infrastructure. Keep in mind that the journey by land adds around eight hours to your trip, and that's not even counting food stops, bathroom breaks, and possible detours. 

There are also direct buses in Medellín leaving for Cali every 30 minutes. This option adds about one more hour to your trip by land and usually employs large, comfortable buses. 

See more of the Colombian south on this 14-day off-the-beaten-path tour, or hit all the highlights from north to south on this other two-week tour that includes salsa classes in Cali and much more.

By Plane

Duration: 1 hour

Flights from Medellín to Cali leave from José María Córdova International Airport (MDE), which is actually located in Rionegro about 40 minutes from the city center. 

The trip itself is only an hour, and the route is mostly serviced by national airlines Avianca and VivaColombia

Once in Cali, you will find a string of official airport taxis waiting for passengers right outside the exit. To ensure your safety and avoid getting scammed, take these rather than street taxis. 

By Car

Duration: 9 hours

More intrepid travelers who want to venture through the coffee region can rent a car in Medellín and drive it all the way to Cali. The two cities' respective airports are the perfect pick-up and drop-off places. 

The distance between the cities itself is not great, but you will pass through the Andes from start to finish, so the journey is long and winding. The best route to take is via Cartago on Route 25.

However, you will be rewarded for your efforts with the opportunity for some great road stops and side-trips. You could, for example, take a small detour to Manizales. This greatly underrated city is ranked #1 for the best quality of life in the country and is still mostly unknown to foreigners. 

If you have more time, don't hesitate to make an overnight stop at Salento. This will take you a bit out of the way, but it will be worth it when you go to the Cocora Valley, home to the highest wax palms in the world.

By Bus

Duration: 10 hours

The journey by bus is a direct route from the southern terminal in Medellín to the bus terminal in Cali. 

Buses used for this route are large and fairly comfortable. They tend to be air-conditioned, provide small entertainment screens at the back of every seat, and have bathrooms. You will usually make only one 15-minute stop to stretch your legs. 

Of course, you will not be able to make any scenic stops and detours when traveling by bus. You will, however, have 10 hours of beautiful views from your window.


Map of How to Get from Medellín to Cali
Map of How to Get from Medellín to Cali