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Foreigners may be confused with the airport in Medellín because the international airport is not located in the city.

First, you have to keep in mind that José María Córdova Airport is located in Rionegro, one hour away from Medellín, and this is where international flights arrive, as well as some domestic flights. 

While Olaya Herrera Airport is located in Medellin, it cannot receive international flights or large aircraft. It only operates flights within the Colombian territory.

José María Córdova

28,000 and 30,000 travelers per month during 2023.

Olaya Herrera

100,000 passengers per month during 2023.

The entry of foreigners has been massive in recent years in the city. During 2022, a record 1,386,153 passengers arrived in Medellín, and although official figures for 2023 have not been presented, they are expected to be even higher.

At Medellin Guru, we know how important security is, and according to the figures presented by Procolombia, most foreigners who arrive in Colombia are from the United States. For this reason, we decided to make a guide focused on Americans with their emergency numbers in Colombia. You can download it below.

Medellin Guru Guides

Download Safety Guide for US Citizens in Colombia we have created with helpful information about Medellín and Colombia.

Olaya Herrera Airport

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. However, it 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 on your location in the city, the taxi fare will likely be 20,000 pesos, more or less. The Beat and DiDi mobile apps are other options for a price similar to taxis.

In addition, some bus routes go by Olaya Herrera Airport with fares  between 3.200 to 3.500 pesos. (less than 1 dollar). Also, the South Bus Terminal in Medellín is located only one block from Olaya Herrera Airport.

Inside the terminal at José María Córdova airport
Inside the terminal at José María Córdova 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.

Old Route
60 Minutes
New route
20 Minutes

This 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 the country.

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 this airport listed below. Also, all six 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 20 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 mix it with water before blasting. These pre-injections were needed to waterproof the area before digging and minimize the possibility of affecting the water sources in the area.

The project involved an estimated investment of 1,000 billion pesos (about $300 million USD).

Banks

380,000 million pesos.

Government

220,000 million pesos.

Concessionaires

220,000 million pesos.

However, news reports on July 25, 2019 (in Spanish) indicated that the new tunnel would open on 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 ex-President of Colombia, Iván Duque.

The new tunnel route has a toll of 21.800 pesos for cars (5.22 dollars). 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 permitted to use the new tunnel.

the new tunnel to reach the airport
the new tunnel to reach the airport

1. White Airport Taxi from the Medellín Airport (or to the Airport)

At the José María Córdova airport, many white airport taxis agree to serve the airport.  

Using white airport taxis is the method to get from the Medellín International Airport to Medellín, which most foreigners use. They will take you to any address in Medellín or the Aburrá Valley.

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 between 23.000 and 30.000 colombian pesos.

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. Also, beware that some taxi drivers may try to charge a higher “gringo” fare to tourists.

Yellow taxis lined up at San Diego mall
Yellow taxis lined up at San Diego mall

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. Several more taxi companies are registered in neighboring municipalities like Envigado and Bello.

The 2024 yellow taxi fare to the José Maria Córdova airport from Medellín is 110,000 pesos.

Also, the cost is higher than other municipalities in the valley. For example, the fare to the José Maria Córdova airport from Sabaneta in a yellow taxi is higher at 125,000 pesos. Also, we have a detailed Medellín taxi guide.

The white taxis supposedly have an exclusive deal with the airport for the return trip from the airport. But you can sometimes find yellow taxis looking for a return fare to Medellín. And I have negotiated 90,000 pesos from the airport to Medellín in a yellow taxi.

Colectivo taxis at the Texaco gas station next to San Diego mall
Colectivo taxis at the Texaco gas station next to San Diego mall

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 starting in 2024 using the new tunnel route is set at 30,000 pesos per person to Medellín and 25,000 pesos per person for a trip to the airport.

The shared taxis from the airport only go to and from 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 typically be waiting for passengers in the Texaco gas station parking lot that is located next to the 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. 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.

Airport buses behind Nutibara hotel
Airport buses behind Nutibara hotel

4. Bus from the Medellín Airport (or to the Airport)

The official airport bus is the cheapest way to get to/from José Maria Córdova airport; the fare is only 20,000 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.

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, which 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 20 minutes. The buses that use the tunnel will have a lighted sign on the front that says tunnel.

Another 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 in 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 passengers are waiting.

The airport buses leaving the José Maria Córdova airport operate from 6:30 am until the day’s last flight. From Medellín to the airport, the buses operate from 4:00 am to 9:00 pm every 40 minutes or so.

5. Uber, Beat or DiDi Mobile Apps from the Medellín Airport (or to the Airport)

Uber is one option to/from the Medellín airport. Uber exited the Colombia market on February 1, 2020, but returned on February 20, 2020.

Beat is an option for Uber in Colombia. 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 option for Uber is DiDi, which is another ride-sharing app. DiDi is a transportation company headquartered in Beijing, China.

The fare to the airport will depend on where you are but generally ranges between 110,000 and 123,000 pesos.

Medellín Airport Transfer vehicle options
Medellín Airport Transfer vehicle options

6. 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 directly to your destination.  And if you go to the airport, a private driver will meet you where you are staying and transport you to the airport.

Private drivers typically use better vehicles than many taxis. And some private drivers are English-speaking.

At Medellin Guru, we want to recommend the services of JJMdetours, a company with extensive experience transporting foreigners. They have staff who speak english, and you will be safe. Their rates to transport you to the airport start at 110.00 pesos, and you can also take different tours in the city with them. 

JJMdetours
Open
Metro option
Foreigners also have economical options to get to the airport.

7. Alliance with the Medellín Metro

On November 8, 2023, a new way of transportation to the José María Córdova Airport was announced, requiring a civic card to move to this place.

This is an alliance between Metro de Medellín, Rionegro Airport, and the company Combuses, with which they seek to make this route easier and easier for those who live in Medellín and foreigners visiting the city.

This new service will operate 24 hours daily and has 26 buses to guarantee passenger demand. Keep in mind that the cost per trip is 14,000 Colombian pesos.

To make this trip, it will be essential to have “La Cívica,” the card the metro uses to access its different means of public transportation.

You can get it at the Rionegro airport, where you will find cars marked with the metro logo. there, you will only have to have your foreigner’s identity card issued in Colombia or your passport, but you will not have to pay anything to have this card.

If you wish to arrive from Medellín to the José María Córdova airport, you will have to go to the expositions station, at the north entrance, where you will find the Combuses buses, where they start their route that goes through the tunnel, and it is a direct route without stops.

Get to know and explore Colombia

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 14,000 to over 130,000 pesos ($3 to $36).  Also, you can use these same options to go to the airport from Medellín.

Remember that the worst time to go to/from the airport is during the evening rush hour

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Editor’s note: Updated January 31,  2023, with new information and images.

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