How to get from Medellin to Pasto by public transport

If you’re travelling in Colombia, Pasto should be on your list of places to visit – click here for 8 reasons why!

But getting to and from this amazing city is easier said than done…

Pasto’s tiny mountainous airport makes flying a relatively difficult option. As for trains…well, they don’t even exist for this route.

So, travelling by bus is actually a pretty useful option when visiting Pasto. Here are the details for the most popular bus route (Medellin ➜ Pasto, via Cali), compared with flying the same route:

Flying (via Bogota)

➲ Rough cost: 320,000 pesos (£80/US$105)
➲ Duration: 3.5 hrs (including an unavoidable stop in Bogota)
➲ Pros: the quickest option, great views over the mountainous region surrounding Pasto
➲ Cons: expensive compared to the bus, annoying that there are no direct flights

Bus (via Cali)

➲ Rough cost: 140,000 pesos (£35/US$45)
➲ Duration: 25 hrs
➲ Pros: cheap for a long distance, great views over the mountainous region surrounding Pasto
➲ Cons: an extremely long journey

panorama of mountainous jungle
Some of the fantastic views between Medellin & Pasto


Notes about the bus journey

Late departures – from personal experience, the public transport in Colombia never quite seems to leave on time. However, don’t use this as an excuse if you turn up late and miss the bus! Always best to arrive in plenty of time.

Winding roads – the first section of the journey (between Medellin and Cali) is steep and winding in places. Bear this is mind if you get travel sick or were planning to sleep during the journey (buses usually depart Medellin in the evening).

Journey times – these vary widely depending on traffic, road accidents, police checkpoints, roadworks and how long the driver takes to eat his lunch. For example, on my journey I encountered 2 police checkpoints, plenty of roadworks and a fair bit of traffic (mostly slow moving trucks on the steep winding sections).

a truck on a steep mountain road with sheer drop
The steep winding roads – don’t look down!


Split up the journey

The bus journey between Medellin and Pasto stops in the city of Cali – otherwise known as the capital of salsa dancing. Why not split up the long journey by staying there for a few days?

Cali is nicely positioned, such that the split journey times would be roughly 9 hours apiece (the total 25 hour journey from Medellin to Pasto usually has a short stop in Cali anyway).


Which company to choose?

Bolivariano is slightly more expensive than the other bus companies but in my opinion it’s worth it for the extra leg room and comfort – definitely on the longer journeys.

A white bus stationary at a bus stop
The Bolivariano bus I took



Don’t forget to check out these 8 things to do in Pasto!




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