Taxi, Air conditioned bus, Regular bus, Uber, Motorbike-taxis, Rickshaw, horse & buggy
Cartagena is certainly not a silent city.
Predictable, right ?
Public and private transportation are largely guilty. No complaints when we have to move around in such a big city and they help us…and if they honk their horns 12 times per second it is probably considered part of their job, I GUESS since did not find another reason so far.
They are yellow and recognizable, they do not have the meter but between all the places where I have been they are certainly very honest and the rates are consistent and equal from taxi to taxi.
But, it does not hurt to ask and bargain on a rate before getting into the taxi…especially if you do not speak Spanish, or do not look like you are from Colombia.
The taxis are clean, the drivers are kind, and they will even help you with suitcases,
and almost most of the time they do know where to go!
(what everyone expects from a taxi driver all over the world, right ?:
NOT REALLY in many places I’ve seen none of the 3 things, really!).
The rates are very cheap and there are extra charges on late night rides.
To find the right price check the “official” rates here: http://cartagenainfo.com/taxis/
and add 20% (the table above and hasn’t been updated since (2014)
From the airport to downtown I paid 14.000 COP ( June 2018 )
Tips: not required Timing : 24 / 7
Air conditioned, clean and safe.
They are faster than other buses because they stop only at regular stops and they have their own priority lane.
To get on one of these buses you have to have their card which is your “ticket” and money can be added anytime you want.
For security reasons, the bus stop are all enclosed, you access them with a card or you simply can’t get in. If you do not have one go to the booth and buy the card ( 4000 COP ) and than you can recharge it and pass the gate where you will wait for the bus. There is always security so these official busses are very safe.
What I did the first time: When I got there I didn’t have the card, so I paid another passenger the amount of my ticket so I could enter.
What I did the second time: The second time ( I swear I was in hurry and needed to go to the airport ) I did my puppy face I pretended I did not speak any Spanish and they let me in for free, Girls go for it…Guys, Not so sure that works without boobs.
What I did the Third time: Tried but it did not work.
Timing: from 06.00 am till 11.00 pm to ask information and directions go the employee at the booth at the entrance of the bus stop.
Busetas (colored public bus) are a fun experience.
These buses are painted in different colors and decorated, inside and out.
On the outside, the colors represent the routes they travel.
The destinations are also shown on signs posted on the windshield. And in case you can not see the sign due to the sun or because it is night, the bus attendant announces ( really loudly ) his destination from the door of the bus.
Even though they shout and have their destinations written on their windshields, itès still almost impossible to know where to go and which bus goes where. And I speak fluent Spanish! So be ready for a jungle of noises that will not let you hear or get what they are saying in between fruit vendors that announce their pineapples, water vendors or just the traffic honking …
So forget about understanding or hearing what they say..try to read : yeahhh right !!!! GOOD LUCK!
Directions are written in a very similar color you can guess if you are fast enough because the bus do not really STOP, so be fast ..so the best way is just ask other passenger at the bus stop. And often they don’t even know. So be persistent.
When you are actually on the bus you will quickly realize that the drivers are most probably “Kamikazes” coming from a terrorist organization by the way they drive.
Or Bruce Willis clones ( “Colombian version” ) ready to save the world…and driving like crazy..to succeed.
They honk their horns an infinite number of times, to increase their beliefs that their buses are the size of a Chihuahua dog not realizing that they are really San Bernards, the journey consists of a kind of role game where the passengers help their drivers by yelling to him “right, left, turn the steering wheel” or shout “the light is green” or telling him to pass the toll both without paying when the bar is up.
These buses are crowded and dirty, but they are safe and super cheap, 2300 Cop no matter where you go…and lot of fun!
Generally you do not have to wait for a bus for more than 5-10 minutes.
When you go to the airport, take the bus marked: Crespo. Tell the driver that you are going to the airport or he may not stop there if he thinks no one needs to go.
Most probably the same drivers that were working for the bus company before (here above) and most probably had been fired since they caused too many accidents or got too many tickets never worry about finding a job, they just become motorcycle taxis.
Fast: Absolutely! Safe: NOT REALLY…… but again just my opinion! But if you’re an adrenaline junkie you won’t want to miss taking one of these.
Try them if are in hurry: use your negotiation skill, fares are different from site to site but they are regular workers for a company so do not be scared or think they are kidnappers, they are not, it is a regular job this is a regular way to move around in all of Colombia.
They will get you ( dead or alive ) where you have to go most probably in the quickest time possible…
Do not, ever, mention that you are in hurry!
Colored and diffused in the areas of “Manga” and “Pie de la Popa” where traffic is less than the old city.
They clearly make short journeys, the cyclists are courteous and smiling, sometimes older, who will tell
you the story of the real Cartagena as they pedal.
They are authorized and have a license plate or a license number.
we all know what Uber is, and yes it does work in Cartagena.
Inside the “Old Town” you can still find these antiquated modes of travel that are usually just for a quick tour, or you can book the all city tour with a Travel agent where usually the itinerary is around 4 hours and does include basically the whole city. You can be like a prince or princess.
Rates are different and you can find them posted inside the old city walls for short tours or at a travel agency for longer ones.
Usually the Grand city tour will show you:
– Convento / cerro de la Popa ( worth it for the panoramic view )
– San Felipe Castle
– Old city and his walls
– Santa Teresa Square
– San Pedro Claver Church
– Santo Domingo Church and square
– Cartagena Cathedral
– Bolivar Park
– Gold museum
– Inquisition Palace
– Plaza de la Aduana
– Plaza de los Coches
– The clock tower square – Tore del Reloj
– El portal de los dulces
– Pedro de Heredia Theater
Have fun and let me know YOUR experiences below in the comments!