There are several ways to get to Medellín from the Airport. Medellín actually has two airports, so we look at how to get to and from both of Medellín’s airports.
Most travelers arriving or departing on international flights will be utilizing the José María Córdova international airport in Rionegro. The trip down from José María Córdova international airport to Medellín provides numerous spectacular views of the Aburrá Valley with about four million people in the Medellín metro area.
Editors note: this popular article has been updated with 2020 fares for going to and from the Medellín airports.
To/From Olaya Herrera Airport (EOH)
Olaya Herrera Airport is located in the city of Medellín. And it is easy to get to and from. But Olaya Herrera only has domestic flights in Colombia with two airlines serving the airport: EasyFly and Satena.
The easiest way to get to/from Olaya Herrera is via taxi. Depending where you are located in the city, the taxi fare will likely be 10,000 pesos or less. Uber in Medellín is another option for a price similar to taxis or at peak times more expensive.
In addition, there are some bus routes that go by Olaya Herrera Airport with fares between 2,200 to 2,300 pesos. Also, the South Bus Terminal in Medellín is located only one block from Olaya Herrera Airport.
To/From José María Córdova International Airport (MDE)
José María Córdova international airport (MDE) is located in the municipality of Rionegro, which is about 21 miles (35 km) east of Medellín at a higher elevation.
With a new tunnel route that opened in August 2019, it now can take half the time compared to the old windy road route. With the new tunnel route, it take as little as 20 to 30 minutes depending on traffic and your destination, of course.
The old route normally took 40 minutes to over an hour on the windy road, to go from José María Córdova airport to Medellín or the reverse direction.
José María Córdova is the second largest airport in Colombia and it has non-stop flights to several international locations in the U.S., Europe and Latin America as well as many domestic flights in Colombia.
From José María Córdova you can fly non-stop to Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Miami and New York (JFK) in the U.S. For non-stop destinations in Latin America, you can fly to Aruba, Cancún, Caracas, Lima, Mexico City, Panama City and Valencia . You can also fly non-stop to Madrid in Europe
There are seven different transportation options to get to Medellín from the airport (José María Córdova) listed below. Also all seven options work in reverse to go from Medellín to José María Córdova airport.
When Did the New Túnel de Oriente Open?
The new tunnel to/from the airport opened on August 15, 2019, Túnel de Oriente, which reduced the driving time to/from José María Córdova airport by up to half to about 18 minutes. The tunnel was originally scheduled to open in March 2019 and new reports early in 2019 indicated this was rescheduled to August 1. The delay was due to concerns about water leaks in the tunnel.
So, the project contractor had an environmental requirement to pre-inject a material derived from cement and mixed with water before blasting. These pre-injections wee needed to waterproof the area before digging and minimize the possibility of affecting the water sources in the area.
However, news reports on July 25, 2019 (in Spanish) indicated that the new tunnel would open in August 15, 2019 and this was confirmed in news reports on August 14. The inauguration of the Tunnel on August 15 was attended by the President of Colombia, Iván Duque.
The tunnel project involved an estimated investment of 1,000 billion pesos (about $300 million USD), with about 380,000 million pesos financed by the banks, 220,000 million pesos more contributed by the government and another 220,000 million pesos by the concessionaires. This major project unlike many others in Colombia reportedly had no cost overruns.
The new tunnel route has a toll of 16,900 pesos for cars and 21,000 pesos for trucks of up to 3.4 tons. Five double booths were installed in each direction. Four of the booths only receive electronic payment with Flypass and the fifth is a cash booth. Also, motorcycles are not be permitted to use the new tunnel.
1. White Airport Taxi from the Medellín Airport (or to the Airport)
At the José María Córdova airport, you will find many white airport taxis that have an agreement to serve the airport. There are at least three companies offering white airport taxi services: Acoa Taxi Aeropuerto, Aerotaxi, and Rápido Medellín Rionegro.
Using white airport taxis is the method to get from the Medellín international airport to Medellín, which most foreigners use.
The fare for white taxis to go to Medellín is fixed. Most noteworthy, there is even a sign at the airport with the fares. But the fares on this sign are for the old route and not the new tunnel route.
With the new tunnel opening fares have changed to a higher price due to a higher toll (16,900 pesos for the tunnel route for cars and 12,000 pesos for the old route). The fares for white airport taxis using the new tunnel are 5,000 pesos more expensive than what are shown on the sign at the airport.
And there is no additional charge for late at night. You should only pay the fixed fare and this fare includes the toll on the road.
The following are the 2020 fares from the José María Córdova airport for white taxis to three areas in the Medellín metro using the new tunnel route (and the old slower route):
- To Medellín – 80,000 pesos (old route 75,000 pesos)
- To Envigado – 85,000 pesos (old route 80,000 pesos)
- To Sabaneta – 91,000 pesos (old route 86,000 pesos)
If you are going to the airport via white taxi you can call and schedule a pick-up and they show up consistently on-time in my experience. The fare for the white taxis to the airport is cheaper than from the airport. The following is the 2019 discounted fare to the airport for white taxis from three areas in the Medellín metro using the new tunnel route (and the old slower route):
- From Medellín to the airport – 70,000 pesos (old route 65,000 pesos)
- From Envigado to the airport – 77,000 pesos (old route 72,000 pesos)
- From Sabaneta to the airport – 85,000 pesos (old route 80,000 pesos)
Keep in mind that all these fares include the toll on the airport road. So, watch out for taxi drivers trying to charge extra for this toll.
Also, beware that some taxi drivers may try to charge a higher “gringo” fare to tourists. A few white taxi drivers have attempted to charge me a higher fare thinking I was an unsuspecting tourist.
Each time I was able to get the driver to accept the fixed fare once I threatened to call his company and told him I have lived in Medellín for many years and know the fare is fixed.
2. Yellow Taxi from the Medellín Airport (or to the Airport)
The ubiquitous yellow taxis in Medellín are another way to get to/from the airport. There are roughly 30 taxi companies registered with the city of Medellín. And there are several more taxi companies registered in the neighboring municipalities like Envigado and Bello.
The 2020 yellow taxi fare to the José Maria Córdova airport from Medellín is 80,000 pesos effective on December 9, 2019 (up from 75,000 pesos), which includes the toll on the airport road.
Also, the cost is higher from other municipalities in the valley. For example, the fare to the José Maria Córdova airport from Sabaneta in a yellow taxi is 85,000 pesos. Also, we also have a detailed Medellín taxi guide.
For the return trip from the airport, the white taxis supposedly have an exclusive deal with the airport. But you can sometimes find yellow taxis looking for a return fare to Medellín. And I have been able to negotiate 65,000 or 70,000 pesos from the airport to Medellín in a yellow taxi.
3. Colectivo Taxi from the Medellín Airport (or to the Airport)
Another option to/from José Maria Córdova airport is a colectivo or shared white taxi. At the airport, you can find colectivo taxis going to Medellín. These are white taxis shared by three or four passengers. The regular taxi fare is split between the passengers.
So, with four passengers the new colectivo taxi fare in 2020 using the new tunnel route is set at 20,000 pesos per person to Medellín and 17,000 pesos per person for the trip to the airport.
The shared taxis from the airport only go to and from the San Diego mall in Medellín. You will need to catch another taxi to or from your location. Also, there are normally yellow taxis lined up here. So, it’s easy to catch a taxi.
To go to the airport in a shared taxi, make your way to San Diego mall, which is located about four blocks from the Exposiciones metro station. The white shared airport taxis will be waiting for passengers typically in the Texaco gas station parking lot that is located next to San Diego mall.
Also, if you get there first, make sure to claim the front passenger seat in a shared taxi. Otherwise, you will be crammed in the back seat with two others. And normally the colectivo taxis wait until they have four passengers.
In addition, if you have a lot of luggage, shared taxis aren’t really a very good option.
4. Bus from the Medellín Airport (or to the Airport)
The cheapest method to get to/from José Maria Córdova airport is the official Aeropuerto-Combuses airport buses, as the 2020 fare is only 10,500 pesos. The airport buses are small with only 19 seats. But this is an inexpensive and reliable option in my experience. The bus from the airport takes about one hour, depending on traffic.
The airport buses departing the airport have two possible destinations. Ask to make sure you get on the correct bus, as they aren’t marked. One destination is San Diego mall where it will stop at a bus stop across from the mall. It is easy to catch a taxi from here to your destination. This is also located near the Exposiciones metro station.
Most of the airport buses to/from the San Diego mall use the new tunnel route that takes about 25 minutes. The buses that use the tunnel will have a lighted sign on the front that says tunnel.
The other destination is behind the Nutibara hotel in El Centro. The Nutibara hotel is located within easy walking distance from the Parque Berrio metro station. The airport buses behind the Nutibara hotel do not use the new tunnel route to the airport. So, it takes at least 45 minutes to over an hour, depending on traffic.
When going the reverse direction to the airport you can go to the bus stop across from San Diego mall or behind the Nutibara hotel in El Centro. The buses from Nutibara also stop at the northern bus terminal if there are passengers waiting.
The airport buses leaving the José Maria Córdova airport operate 24 hours per day. And from Medellín to the airport the airport buses operate from 3:30 am to 10:00 pm.
5. Uber from the Medellín Airport (or to the Airport)
Uber is another way to get to/from the airport with rates similar to the taxis if you use UberX. Uber’s rates to/from the airport depend on the location and what type of Uber service you use.
For example, from José Maria Córdova International airport to El Poblado the Uber fare estimate via UberBlack is 84,600 to 108,100 pesos and via UberX is 64,400 to 81,400 pesos.
The benefits of Uber include typically better vehicles than taxis (such as a Renault Duster SUV or Daihatsu Terios compact SUV) and a cashless transaction.
But Uber has been battling the legality of its service in Colombia for several years. And sometimes the authorities crack down on Uber to/from the airport.
Editors note on January 12, 2020, Colombia ordered Uber to cease its ride-hailing operations in Colombia late in 2019, effective immediately, after a judge ruled the company violated competition rules. And Uber on January 10, 2020, decided to exit the Colombia market on January 31, 2020.
6. Beat or DiDi from the Medellín Airport (or to the Airport)
In addition, Beat is a new competitor to Uber in Colombia with prices that can be lower than Uber. Formerly known as Taxibeat, the company was founded in 2011 by Nikos Drandakis in collaboration with associates Nikos Damilakis, Kostis Sakkas and Michael Sfictos in Greece. The ride-hailing service was acquired by MyTaxi in February 2017, and was soon renamed to Beat.
Today Beat is part of the FREE NOW group, the ride-hailing joint venture of BMW and Daimler.
Another competitor to Uber is DiDi, which also can have lower prices than Uber. DiDi is a transportation company headquartered in Beijing, China.
7. Private Driver from the Medellín Airport (or to the Airport)
Using a private driver is typically the most expensive method to get to/from the Medellín international airport.
From the airport, a private driver will wait for you outside of customers or baggage claim with a sign with your name and transport you direct to your destination. And if going to the airport, a private driver will meet you where you are staying and transport you to the airport.
Furthermore, rates for private drivers to/from the international airport typically are at least $30 USD (103,000 pesos) and even higher. For example, here are the rates at four private airport transport services in Medellín:
- Medellín Airport Transfer – $35. Also, we have a separate article about Medellín Airport Transfer.
- Black Diamond – $30
- Colombia4u – $48 (includes return trip but that is a per person charge – so if you have three passengers it is $144)
- Latin Hosts – $34
However, private drivers typically use better vehicles than many the taxis. And some private drivers are English speaking.
The Bottom Line: How to Get to Medellín from the Airport (or to the Airport from Medellín)
There are seven different ways to get to Medellín from the international airport ranging from inexpensive buses to taxis and private drivers. These options also have a wide range in price from 10,500 to over 120,000 pesos ($3 to $35). Also, you can use these same options to go to the airport from Medellín.
I normally use the white airport taxis to get to Medellín from the airport. And I have never encountered a problem in over 60 trips to/from the airport in the past eight years. In addition, I have used the bus and colectivo taxis a few times. These options save money but can take more time in my experience.
The worst time to go to/from the airport in my experience is during the evening rush hour. Once I left the José María Córdova airport on a Friday at 6 pm and consequently didn’t get home until nearly 8 pm due to heavy traffic.
In addition, “How to get to Medellín from the airport?” is a common question asked by expats visiting Medellín. So, we included this question in our list of Medellín frequently asked questions (FAQ).
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Editors note: updated on March 20, 2018 with new fares.
Editors note: updated on December 23, 2018 with the new date that Túnel de Oriente will open and shorten the trip to/from the airport.
Editors note: completely updated on January 14, 2019 this article originally published in October 2017 with the new 2019 fares for Medellín airport taxis, the airport bus and Uber.
Editors note: updated on June 6, 2019 with information that news reports have reported that Túnel de Oriente will open on August 1, 2019.
Editors note: updated on July 25, 2019 with information that news reports have reported that Túnel de Oriente is delayed again and will open on August 15, 2019.
Editors note: updated on August 14, 2019 with confirmation that news reports indicate that the Túnel de Oriente that shortens the trip to/from the Medellín International Airport will open on August 15 and added the toll for the new tunnel.
Editors note: updated on August 25, 2019 with information that the airport buses now operate 24 hours per day from the Medellín International Airport to Medellín.
Editors note: updated on October 15, 2019 with information about the new fares for white airport taxis and colectivo (shared) taxis that use the new tunnel route.
Editors note: updated on November 23, 2019 with the new yellow taxi fare for Medellín to the airport that is effective on December 9, 2019.
Editors note: updated on January 6, 2020 with current 2020 fares for transportation options to/from the Medellín airports.
Editors note: updated on January 12, 2020 with information that Uber on January 10, 2020, decided to exit the Colombia market on January 31, 2020. So, Uber will no longer be an option in Colombia.