Jardin, Colombia is a magical place. It’s a cute little town in the mountains with just enough traveler infrastructure to make it enjoyable to visit, but not overrun by tourists like Guatape or Salento. And it’s only a three-hour bus ride from Medellin to Jardin. So whether you’re on a short holiday in Colombia or living in Medellin as a digital nomad, you can’t miss a weekend trip to Jardin.
Jardin is a quick and easy trip from Medellin — of all the bus journeys I took in Colombia, this was the most low-stress. But if you’ve never taken a bus in Colombia before, you might be wondering exactly how it works. In this post you’ll find the step-by-step details for getting from Medellin to Jardin to start the perfect trip to Colombia’s most beautiful small town.
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- 1 What to expect when traveling from Medellin to Jardin
- 2 Step one of your journey: Get to Terminal Sur in Medellin
- 3 Step two: Buy your bus ticket and find your bus
- 4 Step three: Enjoy the journey from Medellin to Jardin
- 5 Step four: Walk or take a moto taxi to your Jardin hotel
- 6 Can you do a day trip to Jardin from Medellin?
What to expect when traveling from Medellin to Jardin
Jardin is a small town in the Eje Cafetero — the Coffee Axis. While the town has a population of 15,000, it’s still very much an agricultural center. In other words, traveling to Jardin means going to a very rural, remote small town in the mountains of Colombia.
All that is to say when you travel from Medellin to Jardin, expect the trip to be a bit bumpy. Roughly 2/3 of the time, you’ll be on an unpaved mountain road. It’s very curvy and steep in some places.
Don’t worry — the driving in Colombia is remarkably sane by South America standards. Your bus is more likely to crawl down the mountains at 10 mph than speed recklessly toward cliffs. But it can still be a rough journey. If you’re prone to motion sickness, bring some medication (or at least an extra plastic bag!).
Additionally, the bus doesn’t make any formal stops along the way until you’re very near Jardin. In other words, no bathroom breaks. If you do this journey in reverse, from Jardin to Medellin, you should also be aware that Jardin doesn’t have a true bus terminal, so use the restroom before you leave your hotel.
Step one of your journey: Get to Terminal Sur in Medellin
In order to start your journey from Medellin to Jardin, you first need to get to the south bus terminal — “Terminal Sur” in Spanish. (Medellin’s other, bigger bus station is called “Terminal Norte,” or the northern terminal. There are no buses to Jardin from Terminal Norte.)
Unfortunately, Terminal Sur isn’t on the metro line in Medellin. The only public transportation option is to take a city bus. I wouldn’t really recommend doing this unless you’ve used Medellin’s buses before. The bus routes are confusing if you don’t know the city well. Instead, take a taxi for 15,000 COP from the backpacker district El Poblado.
The taxi trip only takes about 10 minutes. Traffic is really bad in this area in the morning, so allow plenty of time.
Step two: Buy your bus ticket and find your bus
When you reach Terminal Sur, go into the bus station and look for the ticket windows. Buses from Medellin to Jardin are run by the companies in windows 33 and 34. They’re clearly marked with signs that say “Jardin.”
Rapido Ocha is the only company running big, 19-seater buses. These are the fastest option. But they only leave very early in the morning (4:45 and 8:50 am) or in the afternoon, about hourly after 1 pm. Tickets cost 27,000 COP.
If you want to leave Medellin more like mid-morning, go to the next ticket window — simply labeled “Jardin” — and ask for a minibus. These leave roughly hourly from 8 am until about 11:30 am, and then more frequently starting at about 2 pm. The minibuses make a brief stop in Andes, a bigger city 20 km away from Jardin, but it really only adds 10 minutes to your journey. Minibuses cost 30,000 COP.
When you receive your ticket, it’ll tell you which “gate” your bus departs from. Follow the signs to that gate. You won’t be allowed into the waiting area until 30-ish minutes before your bus departs.
Bus departures from Terminal Sur aren’t always clearly announced. Starting around 10 minutes before your departure, go outside and look for your vehicle. You’ll probably have to show several staff people your ticket. Someone will eventually point you in the right direction, but it can be a little chaotic. Even the locals who were on my bus didn’t quite know which bus to get on.
Step three: Enjoy the journey from Medellin to Jardin
Once your bus departs, you’ll sit in traffic in Medellin for a little while as you get out of the city. But within half an hour you’ll be on the open road.
The views along the way are stunning. Early on, you’ll travel through a protected area, thick jungle all around the road. After about an hour, you’ll come to a small town with some impossibly steep roads. You may pick up a few other passengers along the way.
Then, the next two hours are on an unpaved road. When I visited in February 2019, this road was also under construction. There was heavy truck traffic and the road itself was pretty bumpy. (The construction did not appear to be paving the road, unfortunately.)
The bus creeps through this section at about 40 miles an hour max. Luckily, the mountain views are still great. You’ll also start to see visible signs of the Coffee Axis — small coffee plantations, men riding horses between villages, and trucks filled with coffee beans.
You’ll reach a paved road again right before the town of Andes. From here, it’s less than half an hour of straight-up to reach the center of Jardin.
The bus drops you off in Jardin at the intersection of Calle 8 and Carrera 5 — one block from the main plaza.
Step four: Walk or take a moto taxi to your Jardin hotel
The last step in your journey from Medellin to Jardin is to check into your hotel.
Jardin is a tiny town, so if you’re staying in the center, you can just walk. I recommend Hotel La Casona. It’s very central and it has its own tour agency that can help you book activities.
If you’re on more of a budget, you may want to stay at one of the hostels on a farm outside of town instead. I stayed at Canto de Agua — while the location was gorgeous, I can’t really recommend it due to the obnoxiously loud music the staff played until 10 pm every day. Still, it’s probably the best value-for-money in town for backpackers.
If you’re staying in one of the out-of-town places and don’t want to walk, you can hire a moto taxi (basically a tuk tuk) from the town center near the bus station. This should cost you no more than 5,000 COP.
Can you do a day trip to Jardin from Medellin?
After reading about how easy the bus from Medellin to Jardin is, you might be wondering if it’s possible to get there and back, while exploring Jardin, all within a day.
Technically, you could make this work. You’d want to leave on a very early bus or minibus — probably around 7 am. That would get you to Jardin by 10:30. You could then take a 5 or 6 pm bus back to Medellin in the evening. This would give you plenty of time to explore the town and do a bit of day-hiking nearby.
However, you’d end up spending almost 7 hours in transit in one day. It would be an exhausting, long day trip, and you’d miss out on Jardin at its most magical — in the evenings, when the central plaza comes to life. I’d really recommend spending at least one night here.
A slightly easier, slightly quicker day trip from Medellin if you still want to see the Coffee Axis would be Jerico. The bus trip is a little shorter — three hours instead of three and a half each way. And buses leave much more frequently.
Overall, Jardin is one of the most pleasant towns in South America. With a near-perfect climate, gorgeous architecture, mountains all around, great hiking nearby, and few other tourists, this hidden gem really has it all.
You’ll surely fall in love with this little town in the heart of the Coffee Axis!
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