The scenery between the "White City," as Popayán is known, and Pasto is one of the most beautiful and dramatic in Colombia.
Both towns are perched high up in the mountains, so you'll have to transverse the western Andes on your way from one to the other. To do this, you will have to travel by land.
We recommend hiring a private car service to drive you 5 and a half hours through the mountains. Given that these towns are fairly small and located in different departments, renting a car to drive yourself is not really possible.
You can also go by bus. There are no direct routes, so you will have to transfer yourself and your luggage to a second bus in Genova, a town located right between Popayán and Pasto. Because of the necessary connection, this option will take around 7 and a half hours.
Adventure through the often tourist-neglected Colombian south on a 14-day trip that will take you to archaeological parks, architectural wonders, and beautiful towns. You can also traverse the county from north to south on this two-week tour.
By Private Transfer
Duration: 5.5 hours
Private transfer is the safest, easiest, and most convenient way to travel between Popayán and Pasto. Since these cities are mountainous and somewhat rural, navigating the road between them isn't easy for the inexperienced driver.
However, hiring a professional driver who knows the route guarantees that you will be able to make the journey without having anything to worry about. There are no major destinations in between these towns, but there are plenty of mountain-side rural communities that make nice pit stops. We would also encourage you to enjoy some local roadside restaurants for a true taste of the region.
Besides this, you will definitely be guaranteed gorgeous landscapes on which to feast your eyes on.
Once in Pasto, do not miss the chance to visit the beautiful Las Lajas Sanctuary; a cathedral perched on the side of a mountain with an arched high bridge crossed by a river. The sanctuary is considered one of the most astonishing places in the country.
Duration: 7.5 hours
Since there are no direct buses from Popayán to Pasto, you must first take a bus to the small town of Genova. Located halfway in between the cities, there is not much to do there, but it is a good place to get a meal before continuing your journey to Pasto.
The entire trip should take about seven hours and a half, and you can expect the buses used to be mid-sized. Depending on the day and time, they can get very crowded.
One of the best times to visit Pasto is in the first weeks of January when the iconic Festival de Negros y Blancos—the most important festivity in the region—takes place.