Bogotá is a big city and you will need to know how to get around to make your stay easier! There are many transportation options and in this article, I will tell you everything you need to know to move around and get the most out of this incredible city.
Bogotá, as any world capital, can be intimidating. If you have read anything about this city, you could be concerned as it is a very big and busy metropolis. But you don’t have to be, since it is easy to move around if you know the important information. After reading this article, you will navigate the city like any local.
Part of the fun of coming to Bogotá is to explore its extensive surface. If you are staying in downtown, most of the commonplaces of interest are within walking distance. However, if you want to experience more of this incredible city, you will have to move around on wheels of some kind.
I have learned from my multiple trips through this beautiful capital, that it is important to use the correct routes and always enjoy the ride. Bogotá is a city that surprises you in every corner, as it is a taste of Colombian culture where you will find interesting people and scenery in every corner. Therefore, if you are in a bus, a taxi or any means of transportation, pay close attention to your surroundings and you will surely have a pleasant experience.
That being said, let’s dig into the topic. With these tips, you will make the most out of your visit into this magical place.
There are four main ways to get around the city: by public transportation using SITP or Transmilenio, taxis, ride-sharing apps such as Uber or Cabify and biking for shorter distances.
SITP – Integrated Public Transportation System
© Photograph by Alejo Barón
Bogotá has an integrated public transport system called SITP. It consists of Transmilenio, a mass rapid transit system, and regular buses.
Transmilenio works like the subway system but instead of running underground, it runs on the surface beside cars. Transmilenio are long red buses that have a preferential lane on the main avenues; therefore, it is the fastest means of public transportation in the city. It has been one of the biggest initiatives of the government to help mobility of thousands of people. Throughout the city you will find Transmilenio stations in strategic places, that will allow you to travel in the direction you are heading towards.
How does it work? The system is divided by colors and letters. For example, if you want to move from south to north, you must use the green route with the letter B. These letters are accompanied by numbers, that allow you to locate the routes and stations of that specific bus in the map. But do not worry about memorizing this information. By using the apps described below, you will know exactly which bus to take according to your destination. Just wait and see! (Get more info about Transmilenio in How to Read a Transmilenio Map?)
The final destination of most of the buses are central points of the city called “portales” or portals. All the Transmilenio buses have a sign in the front with their final destination. This will help you go in the direction you want to go.
Depending on where you are heading, some stations are far from nearby neighborhoods. Therefore, on the multiple Transmilenio stations, you can take “alimentadores”. These are small green buses that take you from the station to surrounding neighborhoods. Very convenient, right? You can find all the information you need in this link http://www.sitp.gov.co/Publicaciones/servicio_alimentador.
Accompanying the Transmilenio, there are buses integrated into the SITP. These buses complement the Transmilenio with alternative routes and travel along regular roads with the cars. They are easily recognizable as they have the SITP letters on the side and are usually blue.
© Photograph by Tu Llave Plus website
Transmilenio and SITP buses are both used with a card called “Tullave”, which you can buy and recharge either at the multiple Transmilenio stations or at the places described here: http: / /www.tullaveplus.com/web/public/puntos-de-recarga. The value of the card itself is COP $5,000 (apx. USD $1.75) and the value for a Transmilenio ride is COP $2,300 (apx. USD $0.81). For this price, you can hop on all the buses you want, as long as you do not leave the stations. Besides, you can use this same card for “alimentadores” without any extra charge. On the other hand, the value of the SITP buses is COP $2,100 (apx. USD $0.74).
If you have any inconvenience or question about the system, at the entrances of the Transmilenio stations you will find the company’s personnel. They are very friendly people, usually wearing Transmilenio vests, who are ready to help you with any kind of information and answer your questions.
It is important that you know that the first service, in both Transmilenio and SITP, starts between 4:00 am and 6:00 am and the last one runs between 9:30 pm and 11:00 pm, depending on the route.
Now, to make everything easier, here are apps that will help you to move around the city by giving you the steps you need to follow to get to your destination. You can use Moovit (https://moovitapp.com/) to plan your trip, the SITP planning site (http://www.tullaveplus.com/web/public/planeador-tullave) or Google Maps (https://maps.google.com). These sites will give you complete indications of the routes you must take to get to where you want to go, either by taking Transmilenio or regular buses. You can also ask the people who you are staying with to tell you how to get to certain places. Colombians are usually very friendly and they will gladly help you.
© Photograph by SITP website
The most common routes to cross the city are: north–south along Av Caracas between Av Jiménez and Portal del Norte stations; northwest–southeast along Av Dorado between Portal El Dorado and Universidades (goes to bus terminal and airport); and north–south along Carrera 7 (access to Candelaria, Chapinero, Zona G, Zona Rosa, Usaquén). If you want to know more about this, you can read our article Main Roads to Move Around Bogotá.
If you are going to spend a few days in the city and you do not want to waste valuable time moving on public transportation, taxis are a good option. Taxis in Bogota are not that expensive. A short trip can cost around COP $8,000 (approx. USD $3).
There are multiple authorized taxi enterprises such as Easy Taxi and Tappsi. For your security, it is always better to request a taxi service downloading the company’s app: http://www.easytaxi.com/co/ or https://tappsi.co/. You can also request a taxi by calling Taxis Libres (311 1111), Taxi Express (411 1111) or Radio Taxi (288 8888). It is also safe to pick up taxis on the street during the day, for short rides or when you are with a group of people.
In Bogotá, you will not find authorized taxi stands on the streets or on the main roads, but you will find them at the airport and inside shopping malls, such as Unicentro, Calima, Andino or Gran Estacion (click here to find more Shopping Malls in Bogotá). These stands are usually found next to the main doors of the mall or at the parking lots. They are easy to recognize as they are usually yellow and black. Security guards inside the mall can also help you locate these points easily.
In any case, when you hop on a taxi, it is important that you make sure the taximeter is on and it starts counting at 28. At the end of the ride, the taximeter will show you how much you have to pay. Normally, in the back of the copilot’s seat, you will see a chart with the amount to pay depending on the count in the meter. In the chart, you will find at the left of every column the units that the meter marks and next to it, the price in COP.
© Photograph by movilidadbogota
You could also use Uber or Cabify, which are widely used in Bogotá by locals, despite the debate about its legality. To know more about this apps and how to use them in the city please refer to Uber and Cabify in Bogotá: What You Need to Know.
Bogotá in recent years, has grown its bicycle network and bikes have become an important way of transportation, especially for short distances.
If you want to know more about how to get around in Bogotá by bike during your stay, you can find more information on the article How to Rent a Bike in Bogota?
Bogotá, as any big capital, is not exempted from petty crime. Therefore, it is important that you take normal precautions, especially when using public transportation. Always keep your personal belongings in sight and safe, carry closed bags and be aware of pickpockets, mostly during rush hours. Always be aware of your surroundings. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
It is also important to point out that at night, it is recommended to always request an authorized service, such as the taxi companies mentioned above or Uber, as it is safer.
To Sum Up
You can choose any means of transportation in Bogota as you can venture to explore the city in many ways: through 100 routes of public transportation, hopping on a taxi, using ride-sharing apps for reasonable prices or you can exercise while moving around using a bicycle. You can also try all of them and see which one you like the most. However, whichever option you choose will take you to incredible places that will make your stay pleasurable. You will probably want to come and see more.
Now that you know how to move in the city and what your options are, you are ready for your trip! Do you need more information? You can contact us at Colture and tell us what else would you want to know about Bogotá. You can also visit our homepage to have more information.