Getting there & away
Buses traveling to and from Ibarra ($2.50, 2½ hours) and Quito ($5, five hours) leave and arrive via the bus terminal. There are frequent departures, but the selection of times is better in the mornings. Long-distance buses go to Cuenca ($16, 17 hours, once a day), Guayaquil ($13, 13 hours), Ambato ($6, eight hours), Ríobamba ($7, 10 hours) and San Lorenzo ($6, six hours).
Transportes Velotaxi (Carabobo near Bolívar), two blocks north of the bus terminal, has small, fast buses to Quito at least every hour from 2:25am to 10:30pm.
Note that there can be a very thorough customs/immigration check between Tulcán and Ibarra even though they are in the same country.
Cooperativa Transportes Norte (298 0675; Sierra & Manabí) goes west of Tulcán along the border to Tufiño, Maldonado and Chical. Buses leave from Sierra between Manabí and Cuenca. There is a bus to Tufiño ($1, one hour) every couple of hours until midafternoon. At least one bus departs daily around 11am to Maldonado ($2.50, 4½ hours) and Chical ($2.75, five hours) via Tufiño.
Cooperativa 11 de Abrilbuses leave from a stop in front of the cathedral – these buses go to the thermal springs as well as many other nearby destinations.
The airport (298 2850) is 2km northeast of downtown. TAME (298 0675; Sucre near Junín; 8:30am-9:30am, 11:30am-2:30pm & 3-5pm Mon, Wed & Fri, 8:30am-1:30pm & 3-6pm Tue & Thu) has an office downtown and another at the airport. TAME flies from Quito to Tulcán at 11:15am Monday, Wednesday and Friday and returns to Quito at 3:30pm on the same days. The $30 flight fills up fast. There are also flights to Cali in Colombia at 12:30pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, returning from Cali at 2pm ($68 one way, plus a $25 international departure tax). Note that flights from Tulcán to Quito are often full.