Trying to figure out how to get from Pereira to Salento? I’ve got all your options here!
If you’re traveling around Colombia, chances are one of your stops will take you to Salento, the charming city set among rolling hills and mountains in the Colombian countryside, within close proximity to the Cocora Valley.
It’s not particularly hard to get to Salento, as long as you know the hurdles and how to avoid them. No worries, I’ll break it all down in the following sections!
Flying Into Salento
Most people choose to fly to Salento, however, the closest airport to Salento is actually in either Pereira or Armenia.
The airport in Pereira is the Matecaña International Airport (PEI). The airport in Armenia is El Edén International Airport (AXM). You can get cheap flights to either of these airports from Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena, or other big destinations in Colombia for around $50 pp. Cali is only 3 hours away from Armenia, so I wouldn’t recommend flying between these cities – the bus will do fine.
There are several domestic airline carriers offering very inexpensive flights within Colombia, including Avianca, Viva Air, EasyFly, Wingo, and LATAM. If you have the choice, I would choose to book with Avianca over the other options – we had the best experience with them overall.
How Far is the Drive from Pereira to Salento
Salento is 45 km (27 miles) from Pereira, but because the roads are windy, it takes minimum 1 hour to get between the cities.
Here are 5 different options for getting from the airport in Pereira to Salento:
I’m including all 5 ways to get from Pereira to Salento on here, however, 2 of these methods of transport may not be the best methods (I explain why in their sections!).
The bus is the most economical way to get from Pereira to Salento.
Bus tickets run 11,000 COP (about $2.50) each and buses leave from the Pereira Transportation Terminal and arrive at the Salento bus terminal, and vice versa on the way back.
The Pereira Transportation Terminal is about a 15 minute drive from the airport, so you will need to get a taxi there. This should run about 14,000 COP (3 USD). Either ask the taxi to turn their meter on, or negotiate the price to something close to 14k before you leave (there might be a higher charge leaving the airport than arriving at it).
Buses between the cities run frequently, usually about every hour from 6:30am to 7:30pm, so there shouldn’t be any problem with getting a bus ticket day of in Pereira. However, if you are arriving at night (close to when the last bus will depart), or just want to play it safe, you can buy your bus tickets ahead of time here. This is also where you can check bus schedules.
The bus ride took just over 1 hour, and was very comfortable and safe. There is a luggage hold and the seats are nice and cushy. When you arrive in Salento, the bus station is right on the edge of town – you can walk anywhere in the village from the station, no problem.
On the return journey from Salento to Pereira, I would buy your bus ticket ahead of time since the terminal is really close to town, so it’s easy to grab ahead of time and be sure of your seat.
Funny story: When we bought our bus tickets at the station in Salento, they literally just wrote the date and time on a post-it note and stamped it. A post-it!
Plan for around 1.5 hours coming from Salento to get to the Pereira Transportation Terminal and then to the airport by taxi. If you’re heading to Salento from Pereira, your total transit time will depend on how close you arrive at the Transportation Terminal compared to when the bus departs.
2. Getting from Pereira to Salento via Taxi
Pereira Airport to Salento
Taxis are a straightforward way to get from Pereira to Salento. When you exit the airport, there will be a taxi queue, where you can stand in line to get to the next taxi. Taxis from Pereira airport to Salento are a fixed price, so make sure you agree on the price before you get in.
We were quoted 150,000 COP (about 35 USD) when we were there, which I was only able to haggle down to 140,000 COP (about 32 USD). The driver told me that was the lowest possible fare to Salento. This was a lot higher than what was estimated on Rome 2 Rio, so…. it’s possible we got massively overcharged.
It’s also possible we were charged more because it was at about 11 at night and there was little to no chance the taxi driver would be able to pick up someone on the way back.
We did need to show identification (our passport) to an transportation official as we left the airport in the taxi. Driving time should be about 1 hour, longer if there is traffic.
Taxi from Salento to Pereira
If you want to take a taxi from Salento back to the Pereira Airport, I would recommend asking your hotel to call a taxi for you, as there not a lot of taxis just hanging around Salento.
3. Private Transfer
If you prefer to not deal with taxis (or taxi driver roulette), there is always the option to have a private car transfer you straight from the airport to Salento. This option is nice because you have a dedicated driver, and can arrange rides both to and from the airport ahead of time.
An added benefit is you can schedule a ride for literally any hour of the day. Prices are higher ($38/pp) but the convenience factor here is also very high.
4. Ride Sharing Apps (Uber, Cabify, Etc)
We tried to get a ride by calling an Uber or Cabify at the Pereira airport, but had no luck getting connected with a driver (this was a common occurence in Colombia, actually). You can definitely try it, but I would advise you to not bank on getting a driver this way.
5. Rental Car
While you can rent a car at the Pereira Airport and drive yourself down to Salento, this is one option that I am hesitant to recommend. Roads, including highways, in Colombia are often very narrow and winding, and there can be really tight corners and crazy drivers. Plus, the public transit options in Salento (the willy jeeps) are very cheap and convenient – you definitely don’t need to have your own car.
We’ve driven in lots of countries around the world, but we were very happy to not drive in Colombia.
However, if you still prefer to rent a car, I would book with Rentalcars.com – they are my favorite site to rent cars from. And you will find staffed parking lots in Salento if your lodging doesn’t provide parking of its own.
How to Get from Pereira to Salento – Final Thoughts
When we visited Salento, we tried to get a Cabify and ended up taking a taxi down, and then took the bus to Pereira on the way back out. My top choice to arrive in Salento is via the bus, as it’s a safe, inexpensive, and easy way to travel.
However, different situations, arrival and departure times, and preferences warrant different choices – so hopefully you have a good idea now of your options for transport to Salento – safe travels!
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Securing some travel insurance is an important part of prepping for any international trip – you never know when something might happen, and your regular insurance generally won’t cover you overseas. Costs for a medical emergency on vacation can add up extremely fast, so it’s just better to be safe than sorry. (If covid has taught me anything, it’s that you never know what could happen!)
I like booking insurance at Insure My Trip, as they offer a variety of plans with different coverages to choose from, so you can find the right option for you. Plus, they have great customer support if you need help before, during, or after your trip.