Editor’s note: This post was updated in May 2019.
The MDE International Airport is situated 7,300 feet above sea level on a plateau in the Andean highlands. Medellin is about 40 kilometers away so you’ll need reliable transportation to get into the city.
When you’re ready to make your 40-60 minute journey down the well-kept scenic drive to Medellin, here’s how you can go about it.
The Locals Choice – Shuttle Bus
Around 9,500 COP (~ $3.00 USD)
If you’re up for a little safe adventure rubbing shoulders with locals, the official airport shuttle bus is a fun option. They are clean, reasonably comfortable, and depart from MDE every 15 minutes or so from sunup to 10pm.
Here’s the hitch – the bus ride drops you off at the San Diego Mall in the city. Unless your accommodations are within walking distance you’ll need to take another bus or hire a taxi cab to get to your final destination. Add another 7-10,000 COP for the second leg.
Colectivo – a/k/a Shared Taxi
+/- 15,000 COP (~ $5.00 USD)
Solo travelers or couples familiar with shared taxis don’t mind cozying up with other travelers to save a few bucks and swap stories. Depending on the amount of luggage you and your fellow passengers have, this is a viable and interesting way to get down the mountain.
Here’s the hitch – A colectivo will end it’s trip at San Diego Mall in the city. Perhaps you can convince the driver to take you on to your final destination, but if not, you’ll need to hop on a bus or hail a taxi to get where you want to be. Add another 7-10,000 COP for the second transport.
The Travelers Express – Private Taxi
Set Price – 75,000 COP (~ $25.00 USD)
The most common way for travelers to get to Medellin is by official airport taxi. The taxi drivers you’ll find on-site are authorized to serve outgoing taxi service from the airport.
They typically speak some English, are often equipped with GPS and know the city well. They will take you exactly where you want to go for one fixed price. It’s a good way to go when you just want to get to your destination without distraction or secondary trips once you reach the city.
Here’s the hitch – It’s about two to three times more costly than shuttle buses or colectivos, including secondary transport.
VIP Personal Private Driver
About $5.00 – $10.00 USD more than a private taxi
It’s easy and very reliable to pre-arrange for an English-speaking personal private driver to transport you from the airport. They’ll be waiting upon your arrival to take you wherever you wish. They’ll even make stops along the way if you need food or beverages for your stay.
About 50,000 – 75,000 COP ($15 – $23.00 USD)
Uber drivers are not permitted into the airport for pick-ups. In fact, Uber is not even legal in Medellin as of 2019. We urge you to avoid this option as unexpected problems can arise if you try. If you feel daring, expect to pay 50,000 to 75,000 ($15 – $23 USD). Taxis, private drivers, and public transportation are reliable, safe and inexpensive.
However you decide to travel into Medellin, you might want to have a bottle of water and a light snack on hand. It’s altitude after all so keeping hydrated is good to remember.
Happy and safe travels!
About the author:
Copywriter – Traveler
I’m originally from the mountains of Colorado. When the great recession slammed the US economy in 2007 I sold my business and decided to shift gears. So, I laced up my boots, grabbed a bunch of maps and got out into the world in a deep immersive way. The last 12 years I’ve been happily spending my time in many countries throughout Asia and The Americas. I stay busy with freelance copywriting, business consulting gigs, and getting lost as often as I can.