"How to get to Zipaquira and the Salt Cathedral . ." Colombia Transportation Tip by wavesport
Colombia Transportation: 45 reviews and 35 photos
Unless you’re totally petrified about traveling unescorted (i.e., without a guide), visiting the Salt Cathedral at Zipaquira using public transportation is easy, much cheaper, and it gives you more flexibility with your time. It’s especially easier if you go on a weekday when it’s less crowded.
If you’re in Bogota, go to a TranMilenio (TM) station, go to the ticket booth and pay COP$1,700 (US$1.00) for a fare card. Board a bus that’s marked “Portal del Norte.” There are different numbered buses which stop at specific stations, but all of them will end at the northern terminal (Portal del Norte). Do NOT get on any bus that’s marked “Ruta Facil” because it’ll stop at every stop so it takes forever to get to Portal del Norte.
When you get off at Portal del Norte (end of the route), it might seem hectic with hoards of people, but don’t panic. Stop, breathe, and relax. Look around and you’ll see the bright multi-colored collectivo buses parked on the other side of the station platform. Go to the exit turnstile and look up above the exit and you’ll see a sign “Zipaquira.” That’s your reassurance that you’re heading in the right direction.
When you get on the other side of the platform, look for a collectivo bus with the sign “Zip - Chia.” That the bus that you want to board for Zipaquira. Jump on the bus and find a seat!
After the collectivo bus leaves the Portal del Norte station, it’ll pick up a few more passengers from the street. As it leaves Bogota, a man will come around to collect the fare which is COP$3,700 (US$2.10). Now you can relax . . . nap . . . or sight-see.
When the collectivo bus arrives in Zipaquira, it’ll stop about a block from the bus station and all passengers will have to get off. As you get off, be sure to take note of your surroundings so you know where you’ll have to return to take the bus back to Bogota.
The Salt Cathedral is southwest of the town and I always carry a compass so I got my bearings. Instead of heading directly there, I wandered around town to sight-see and eat lunch. If you get lost, just ask someone to point the way. If you don’t speak Spanish, or you can’t properly pronounce the word “Zipaquira”, have it written down on a piece of paper to show someone for directions.
You can take a taxi to the Salt Cathedral, but I walked. You’ll see road signs for Zipaquira so you know you’re heading in the right direction. I thought it was a fairly easy walk.
When you get to the Salt Cathedral, find the ticket booth. You’ll be given different options on what to see and do (climbing wall). I just opted for the general admission and passed up the 3-D movie and the other extras.
With your entry ticket, go to the main entrance of the Salt Cathedral where you have to join a guided tour which is included with the entry fee. There’s no exception. If you don’t understand Spanish, ask when there’s an English speaking tour guide. You might have to wait 30 minutes, but an English speaking tour guide is well worth the wait. If you have to wait, go to the nearby snack shops for ice cream, drinks, food, etc. Once you get inside, the tour will take about 40-45 minutes. Afterwards, you’re free to explore the Salt Cathedral on your own.
When you’re done, walk or take a taxi back to town. You can catch the Bogota bound collectivo bus on the street, but since I didn’t know what street, I found it easier to go to the bus station and look for a collectivo bus with a sign “Portal del Norte.” The fare back to Bogota is the same as to Zipaquira.
When the collectivo bus arrives in Portal del Norte, go to a TM ticket booth and pay COP$1,500 (I don’t know why it’s cheaper) to board a TM bus back to Bogota. If you’re staying in the La Candelaria area, look for a TM bus with the sign “Museo del Oro” or “Las Aguas.” If you intend to take a taxi from Portal del Norte, be sure to exit the collectivo bus BEFORE it enters the Portal del Norte station.
If you’ve got more money than time, paying for a “escorted tour” from Bogota is an option, but for the average budget tourist, it’s a no-brainer on how to get to Zipaquira and the Salt Cathedral.
Whether or not the Salt Cathedral is a “must see” destination is a personal opinion . . . For me, a “must see” destination is one that I would come back to see again and again. The Salt Cathedral is a one and done visit for me.
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