A Traveler's Guide to Getting Around Bogota

How to get around Bogota like a local, from TransMilenio rapid-transit buses and other public buses to Uber and taxis.


Photo © iStock/Sohadiszno

Unraveling Bogotá's transportation maze

So, you've landed in the vibrant capital of Colombia – Bogotá. Now, the million-peso question: How do you navigate this bustling metropolis like a pro? Fear not. We've got the lowdown on the best ways to get around Bogotá, from TransMilenio to Uber and everything in between.

TransMilenio: Bogotá’s rapid transit system

There’s no metro in Bogota (yet), but the bus rapid transit system, TransMilenio, covers the city's major arteries and is one of the least expensive ways to get around. A model of urban transportation when it opened in 2000, TransMilenio is a way of life for Bogotanos, and is still the fastest way to escape heavy traffic. Try to avoid it during rush hour, though, as it gets extremely crowded. And always watch your belongings and beware of thieves.

To ride the TransMilenio, you’ll need a rechargeable TuLlave smart card, which can be purchased at TransMilenio stations or some supermarkets. Riders tap the smartcard when boarding. Download the TransMi app for real-time updates on bus arrivals, service disruptions, and station information.

SITP Buses: navigating Bogotá's neighborhoods

Looking to explore off the beaten path? The blue and white SITP buses crisscross the city, venturing into neighborhoods that TransMilenio doesn't reach. You can pay your fare on the SITP via the TuLlave card as well (make sure you top up your card in advance). And if you’re looking for an all-in-one public transit app, the Moovit app shows all SITP, TransMilenio and funicular routes and stops.

Taking taxis in Bogotá

Whether you're in a rush or just craving a bit of nostalgia, the official yellow taxis are a reliable option for getting around Bogotá. Just remember to negotiate the fare upfront or insist on using the meter to avoid any surprises. For safety reasons, don't hail a taxi on the street – use apps like Cabify or call (or have the restaurant, hotel, or club call) to order taxis.

Using ride-sharing services like Uber

Uber operates in major Colombian cities, including Bogotá, and is one of the safest and fastest ways to get around, although it still faces legal regulation challenges. (Note: drivers may ask you to sit in the front passenger seat to avoid drawing attention.) Uber has the added benefit of being able to set a price ahead of time. InDriver is another popular ride-sharing service in Colombia.

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