Bucaramanga to Medellín

Bucaramanga to Medellin

Bucaramanga is a city in Colombia which is capital of the Santander department. Bucaramanga is also known as the city of parks and offers the following points of interest for tourists and photographers;

  • Agua park, San Pio park
  • Sagrada familia cathedral
  • Day trip Chicamocha national park (Panachi)
  • Day trip to Girón
  • Day trip to Floridablanca
  • Modern art museum
  • Las Palmas park and nightlife
  • Modern shopping malls

Bucaramanga, ColombiaBucaramanga, Colombia

I had never heard of Bucaramanga, I saw it on the map and decided it was a good place to stop on the way from the Venezuela border to Medellín.  It’s actually a hidden treasure, a great city to visit with lots of good value hotels and plenty of restaurants and bars.

To get around the city, taxis are cheap and metered, regular buses are super cheap but a little complicated to use.  There is a bus rapid transit system called Metrolinea, the roads have a separate lane for the Metrolinea and these only stop at stations that you need a ticket to get inside.  It’s like a metro/tube but using a bus with a private lane, it’s cheap very easy to use.

Mercagan Parilla, Bucaramanga

Mercagan Parilla, Bucaramanga

One of the best steaks I have had in my life was at Mercagan Parilla, I’ve enjoyed steaks in Argentina and Uruguay so my standards are pretty high, I strongly recommend this restaurant if you are in town.  A restaurant I recommend for cheeseburgers is El Corral.

A great place to go for food, a drink and a dance is Parque las palmas.  You’ll find a wide variety of good quality restaurants here, several beer bars and a disco.

Chicamocha National Park (Panachi), Colombia

Chicamocha National Park (Panachi), Colombia

Chicamocha national park, also know as Panachi is located along the Chicamocha canyon.  To get here you must take a cable car from the valley which provides awesome views of the canyon.  At the top you’ll find an interesting monument celebrating the culture of Santander.  There is also a small zoo, restaurants and a market.  You must try the fresh strawberries dipped in delicious melted Colombian chocolate.

To get to Chicamocha national park from Bucaramanga you must take a bus towards San Gil or even Bogota.  Berlinas has a service which will drop you off at the cable car.  Check before buying your ticket that the bus will stop for you and tell the driver in advance that you want to stop at Chicamocha national park (Panachi).  This could be a perfect opportunity to use Maps.me to make sure you don’t end up in San Gil, or further away in Bogota!  To return you can flag any bus down going in the opposite direction back to Bucaramanga.

San Juan de Girón, Bucaramanga, Colombia

San Juan de Girón, Bucaramanga, Colombia

A short bus ride from Bucaramanga is the peaceful village of San Juan de Girón, or simply Girón.  Girón was the first town founded by the Spanish in the region.  For those of you looking for an authentic Spanish colonial village, there’s no better place to experience it than Girón.  There are some great little restaurants around here to be discovered too.

The famous food of Bucaramanga are big bottomed ants, or hormigas culonas.  You can buy these in most places, even in the bus station if you need something to eat on the bus!

Overnight bus from Bucaramanga to Medellín, 8 hours, 80,000Overnight bus from Bucaramanga to Medellín, 8 hours, 80,000

I went a day earlier to the Copetran office to buy my ticket to Medellín.  I paid 80,000 pesos for my ticket, I later discovered than when buying bus tickets in Colombia, you can ask for a discount.  I could have got the ticket for as little as 40,000 pesos.  Another way to get this discount is to turn up 10-20 minutes before the bus is leaving and they will be shouting this price in the station whilst looking for passengers.

Copetran is an excellent bus service, as was Bolivariano from the Venezuela border.

Medellín to Cali

2017-04-01T11:36:02+00:00November 12th, 2016|Colombia, South America|37 Comments


  1. Stacey January 27, 2017 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    What a cool place! Haven’t heard much about it to be honest. That park sounds so cool! Can’t wait to keep following your adventures

  2. Midori January 27, 2017 at 2:07 pm - Reply

    I’m jealous of your gigant dish with delicious meat!!!! hahahaha great post

  3. Fiona Mai January 27, 2017 at 6:03 pm - Reply

    I felt really excited to read your post though I had never heard of this place before. I’m not so good at orientation so perhaps I need to prepare better for transportation when I travel there, eg. mapping and noticing bus departure time etc. Also the steak you mentioned sounds so good!

  4. Joseph January 28, 2017 at 12:44 am - Reply

    That steak at Mercian Parilla looks yummy. If it compares to that famous steaks in Argentina, it must be delicious. Thanks for this great guide.

  5. Clare January 28, 2017 at 4:17 am - Reply

    I have never heard of this place and never visited when I was in Colombia. It looks great though and I do love national parks. Maybe I can visit on my next trip to Colombia 🙂

  6. Rhiannon January 28, 2017 at 10:31 am - Reply

    When I crossed from Venezuela to Colombia I used the Maracaibo-Barranquilla border crossing, so this would have been out of my way, but it looks like a great alternative should I ever find myself that way again (not likely for a while given current situation over there..). It’s a shame you found out about the discount AFTER paying 80,000 but even so, £20 for that length of journey isn’t so bad?

  7. Vicki Louise January 28, 2017 at 10:44 pm - Reply

    I haven’t made it to Colombia yet, but I’ve read such great things – and that steak at Mercian Parilla looks so delicious – it would be worth a visit just to Bucaramanga for that!

  8. Kreete January 28, 2017 at 10:57 pm - Reply

    What an exotic trip this seems to have been. How are things with English language over there? Or do you speak Spanish? The steak seems delicious and good to hear it passed your high standards! I would love to go on that cable car to see the canyon views. Did you mostly travel by bus? Did it feel safe?

  9. Angie January 29, 2017 at 1:58 am - Reply

    I haven’t heard of this place before but in truth, my knowledge of Columbia isn’t that great so it’s fantastic to start building up informatio of this country. Thanks for the tips you have provided, pinned for future reference.

  10. Lisa January 29, 2017 at 9:13 pm - Reply

    I wasn’t familiar with this place looks interesting. Seems to be plenty to do and see. The food sounds awesome and good variety of places to eat. Might have to visit one day. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Oana January 30, 2017 at 7:31 pm - Reply

    I haven’t heard of this place before but I will love to visit Colombia one day. That stake looks so yummy. Thank you for sharing!

  12. Travel Lexx January 30, 2017 at 10:13 pm - Reply

    That steak looks amazing – I’ve heard great things about Medellin and looks like there is plenty to do. The overnight bus sounds adventurous too! I’ve had a fair share of those in South East Asia

  13. wayfaringsarah January 31, 2017 at 3:50 pm - Reply

    what an awesome place! That food looks so so so good. Medellin is meant to be a great place to visit so I hope you really enjoy your time there!

  14. Shona February 1, 2017 at 8:06 am - Reply

    It looks great James. A good cross section of info for us and wow, what a steak!

  15. Alexis Rivard February 2, 2017 at 8:11 pm - Reply

    Bucaramanga sounds amazing! It’s nice to hear of a place that isn’t on the ‘gringo trail’ in South America because I’ve heard so much about the popular spots but now I know I’d like to visit there when I get to Colombia. That’s a great tip about showing up 10-20 minutes before the bus leaves. I’d be keen on that because I’m an amazing procrastinator.

  16. Barry February 2, 2017 at 10:02 pm - Reply

    Great stuff – this is a part of the world I’ve yet to explore. Your travel style seems very similar to mine so I can imagine myself following the same route.

  17. Marta February 24, 2017 at 5:48 pm - Reply

    Very helpful and fun to read about!

  18. Paulina on the road February 24, 2017 at 5:58 pm - Reply

    I would love to travel to Colombia. Hope to make it there one day. Will definitely considerate your tips 🙂

  19. Magda February 24, 2017 at 8:12 pm - Reply

    Looks Great! Must add to my bucket list!

  20. Jen Morrow February 24, 2017 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    I have not heard of this place either. What a nice treat to stop and check it out. Colombia is high on my travel wish list.

  21. Ricci - wheninmyjourneys February 25, 2017 at 1:59 am - Reply

    Looks like a very packed day trip. I also like to use public transportation because it is cheaper and you get to immerse yourself better (in a way) with the place you’re going to.

  22. Sandy N Vyjay February 25, 2017 at 3:33 am - Reply

    Bucaramanga is indeed a revelation. Just like you, I am hearing about this place for the first time. I know that Colombia is emerging as a travel destination of late, but still, this place is indeed a hidden gem. The city seems charming with a lot of gardens and parks areound it. A nice place to spend some quite time.

  23. carlinn meyer February 25, 2017 at 6:34 am - Reply

    Eating ants sounds quite interesting, I think I would rather stick to that delicious steak haha. I would definitely want to go up the cable car and see the gorgeous views of the canyon!

  24. Fillia Barden February 25, 2017 at 7:42 am - Reply

    wow, Colombia looks not much different from my home country. I should visit there since I can enter the country without visa 🙂

  25. Tara February 25, 2017 at 12:53 pm - Reply

    I don’t know what I’m more jealous of! the steak or your adventure!

  26. Bhushavali February 25, 2017 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    There is a Sagrada Familia in Colombia? I didn’t know that! I’ve been to the one in Barcelona. Thanks for this post!

  27. danik February 25, 2017 at 2:57 pm - Reply

    Didnt know there is a SAgrada Familia in Colombia. Great write up

  28. Ellis February 25, 2017 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    THat is quite a journey you are making. Colombia looks great. Seems they have a good bus system.

  29. Tracy (lifeofkuhl) February 25, 2017 at 3:53 pm - Reply

    What a beautiful city! I love your photos and I love great food…The steak sounded fantastic!

  30. Ticking the Bucketlist February 25, 2017 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    Big bottomed ants, or hormigas culonas…are they really ants? I would not dare to try it…I havent tried any strange food ever…guess dont have the cuts for it! Did you try it?
    I would love to take the cable car ride…totally enjoy city views from the top!

  31. kathy (from walkaboutwanderer.com) February 26, 2017 at 1:33 am - Reply

    My friend spent quite a lot of time last year in Colombia and absolutely loved it. She has recommended I go there.
    It’s hit and miss in some countries if turning up at the bus station just moments before the bus leaves is worth it. Some countries book up well in advance leaving you hanging around for hours but it is good to know this is not the case when heading to Medellin. I have never asked for a discount on a bus in any country. Perhaps I should start asking just in case.

  32. Vicky @ A Backpack Full of Adventures February 26, 2017 at 8:23 am - Reply

    Like you, I’ve never heard of Bucaramanga – but it sounds like a fantastic place to visit! I love the sound of Chicamocha National Park and the cable car – the view must be amazing from up there!

  33. Stephanie Bills February 28, 2017 at 3:41 am - Reply

    Chicamocha national park sounds incredible. In fact, all of the destinations you mentioned here sound amazing. I have yet to make it to Columbia, but it is definitely at the top of my “must see” destinations for 2017.

  34. Seven Continents Sasha February 28, 2017 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    I have never heard of Bucaramanga either, though if I go back to Colombia I may well visit s it looks like a cool place to visit for a few days. The steak looked delicious. I also never realised you could get the buses so much cheaper but I tended to fly a lot in Colombia as it was usually the same price but took much less time. This is a very helpful post, thanks for sharing!

  35. loudy February 28, 2017 at 3:37 pm - Reply

    Colombia is a stunning country, I’ve heard quit a lot about it, I can’t wait to visit it. Awesome post thanks for sharing

  36. Stella the Travelerette February 28, 2017 at 11:59 pm - Reply

    This looks like a great trip! I also love the steak in Argentina, so I’m glad to hear the parilla you found here was good too. And I definitely would want to try the big bottomed ants. But then I am an adventurous eater!

  37. Priyanka Singh March 1, 2017 at 3:39 pm - Reply

    Prior to this post even I was unaware about Bucaramanga and its good to know that the city has night life too. With no other choice available I’ve to settle for Cheese Burger as I don’t eat beef neither I’m so daring who would like to try big bottomed ants.

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