How to Get to Medellin from the International Airport (2019 update)

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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.

UBER (Caution)

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.

Special Tip

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:

Steve Wiley

Copywriter – Traveler

Business Consultant

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.

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37 COMMENTS

  1. Like to see ways to get back to the airport, I am in las Palmas and see a bus on its way up the hill every now and then on its way to the airport, but have no idea were it starts and how often. The port aria told me there’s a number you can call to get him to stop, but has no idea how to do this. Thanks

    • You can just wave your arm at just about any local bus and they’ll stop and pick you up in Colombia.

      I’ve been told in the past you can pick up the airport shuttle near San Diego Mall, which is at the start/end of Las Palmas highway, but if you’re already further up it, then I’d just try to pick it up from the road.

      You can also try to get a share taxi from the Terminal del Sur (Southern bus terminal), but it could take a long time for anyone else going there to show up.

      I just pay for taxis nowadays.

  2. I will be arrival in Jose Cordova Airport around 10:30pm and pretty much forced to take the taxi for the first time in Medellin. Do you have any recommendations or tips on which airport taxis are official and which will are red flags? Thanks for your help.

    • Pretty much any white taxi at the departure area is official. The rate is too, 60,000 pesos or about $30. Confirm it when you get in, but I’ve never had an issue with airport taxis trying to rip me off. You’ll find most drivers pretty honest, which is something I appreciate living in the city.

  3. Hi. I’m only traveling to Medellin to take a bus to Pereira from Terminal del Sur. Do you know if there is any direct way to get from JMC airport to terminal del sur?
    Thanks,
    Marc

    • I don’t know. The airport shuttle bus normally terminates in downtown Medellín. You might be able to find a share taxi (colectivo) that is going to Terminal del Sur. If you don’t want to spend $30 on a taxi yourself, take the shuttle bus and get off at the first stop which should be near the San Diego Mall, then switch to a taxi, which will be a lot cheaper to Terminal del Sur at that point (about $5).

  4. Howdy! I just arrived in Medellin and I went from the airport to the Hotel Diez for a total of 15,800 pesos. The bus from the airport was 8800 pesos. I had one very large suitcase and two smaller ones and they put them nicely in the back of the bus and gave me 3 tickets one for each piece. I got off at the San Diego first stop. A young kid got me a taxi, I gave him 2,000 pesos or so and the taxi cost 7,000 pesos to hotel Diez en el Poblado. So, my math is bad, it cost me 16,000 pesos. So, in my opinion, I see no reason to take a taxi unless you wish to save a little time. I believe a taxi is now 75,000 pesos one way which is around 37 to 40 US dollars. So round trip $80 taxi verses $16 give or take a few dollars. Kind of nice to save $64. BTW If you are staying in the Lleras Poblado area and you need to change dollars or maybe Euros too (Not sure?) there is a place called INTER-Dollar right by MONDONGOS Restaurant. They don’t ask for ID or anything. Fast and a better ate than the banks. 1960 pesos per dollar! Mondongos is pretty good Colombian dishes as well.

    • UPDATE ON CHANGING money….Official rate is about 2400 COP to the dollar now in January, 2015. You should get about 2200 COP at an ATM. You might want to just check out the ATMs at the airport where I hear the rate is high. Most agree that using ATMs is better than the hassle and rate at the banks.

      • Taxi to airport from anywhere in town or back, door to door, is 58,000 COP for a cab full of people or just you, which with the current rate is much less that $30 US one way.. and NO TIPPING is required….BTW I’ve been here 4 years or so, I take cabs exclusively around town, and I have never had a rip-off or criminal activity perpetrated by a cab driver on me. Of course be as guarded as you would be in any city. There is no night rate or holiday rate.

        • The official 2014 yellow taxi rate to/from the airport is actually 60,000 pesos ($25) – not 58,000 pesos. This is posted inside most taxis and also listed on the Medellín city government website at http://www.medellin.gov.co/transito/taxis.html.

          The white Aeropuerto taxis have a special rate for going to the airport, which is 52,000 pesos from Medellín or 57,000 pesos from Envigado. You will have to call for a white Taxi Aeropuerto at 261-1616.

          If you have a very late flight it can be difficult to find a taxi at the airport so they may charge a bit more.

    • Yes, however you may want to heed the following comment which was left on our post about bus routes:

      The one important thing you failed to mention, is that all of the busses to the airport, originate in El Centro, behind the hotel Nutibara. In fact, many of those busses to the airport take the northern route. Thus bypassing San Diego altogether. I have waited at the San Diego stop for over 30 min for a bus that never came, and had to take the 15,000 Peso shared taxi option from San Diego instead. However, if you just go straight to the spot where they originate in El Centro, then you won’t wait more than 10 min. In my experience, those busses to the airport more frequently use the northern route, and skip San Diego entirely.

  5. I don’t know if this article can be updated, but it’s a little out of date and some things need corrected, and some clarifications. To get to the bus at the airport, you go left out of baggage claim. There may or may not be a bus waiting, but there will probably be a line of people waiting during the day. There are two bus routes to Medellin – one to San Diego Mall area, the other to downtown near Hotel Nutibara. They alternate, so ask the driver or the guy who is directing the buses. I think the fare is now 8000 COP. Going from Medellin to the airport, it is best to go to the area near Hotel Nutibara. Any taxi driver should know where it is. The driver will put your luggage in the luggage compartment and give you a rubber tag to claim it. You will pay the fare after you are on the bus, both to and from the airport.

    I have never used the colectivo taxis. Does anyone know where they are at the airport?

    • Thanks for the updated info John. I wan’t aware of a colectivo taxi option, only the shuttle bus which I thought always stops at San Diego before ending in downtown.

  6. Just used the bus recently to get to Medellin from the airport. You go to the right about 50m when exiting the baggage claim area.
    The cost was 9000cop.
    Easy cheap way to get into town.

  7. Hi, I will be arriving at Jose Cordova Airport at approximately 8.00pm. By the time I collect my luggage, clear immigration and customs I guess that will add another 60 minutes (?). Will the bus still be running around 9pm? When do the buses actually stop running? Thanks.

  8. I’m staying in Salento, 1 hour from Pereira. We have to take our plane at the Jose Maria airport of Medellin. Is there a direct bus from pereira to this airport or must you go first to the citycenter of Medellin and then take the shuttle. We would lose a lot of time this way. Thanks!

    • A bus from Pereira would stop at the southern bus terminal (Terminal del Sur) in Medellin, and from there you can get a smaller bus or a share taxi (or a regular taxi) to the international airport, which is about an hour away in Rionegro. Allow time for this transition.

  9. Is there a bus that takes you from the airport to the city where I can pick up the bus that runs to Jardin? If so what does the bus look like and where would I look for it at the airport?

  10. I’ll be arriving in Medellin late at around midnight. Is it safe to take a taxi or an uber to an area of the city such as Laureles to my accommodation at this hour of the night, or should i get a hotel at the airport and wait out the night. Sorry if my question sounds ridiculous, but I have never been to Medellin before and I have heard horror stories on the internet about the taxis. By the way, the airport I will be arriving is the one in Rio Negro. I believe it’s about an hour drive to Laureles. Is this area/road taken from the airport dodgy or sketchy? Anything that should be brought to my attention?

    Thanks

    • Hi John, the road from the airport is not sketchy and there are taxis available at the airport late. I have arrived at midnight or later many times and never encountered a problem finding a taxi at the airport. The airport taxis are white and are safe in my experience. It will take probably 50 minutes to Laureles at that hour with no traffic. The fare should be 60,000 pesos and they may add a bit for the late hour.

      I have been living in Medellín over six years and have never had a problem with a taxi and we use them all the time (my Colombian wife and I). I use EasyTaxi or catch taxis on the street and never encounter problems.

  11. I would LOVE to try one of the cheaper alternatives to get to the airport, but the cheap VivaColombia flights I choose leave very early in the morning. The going rate as of Sept. 2016 has been 70,000 from Sabaneta. However, don’t settle for a little yellow cab at that price–you can get an English speaking driver and a really nice ride for 70,000 if you line one up ahead of time.

    • The white airport taxis from Sabaneta cost 65,000 pesos to go to José María Córdova airport. I took one recently but you have to call them in advance to schedule. It’s 75,000 pesos from the airport to Sabaneta in a white airport taxi.

  12. I just wanted to let everyone know I flew into Medellin at midnight on a Thursday and was able to take a bus into the city. There were two buses right outside the entrance to the airport, to the left – I told them where I was going and they told me which bus to take. The only downside is I waited a little longer (still less than 20 minutes) because they wanted to get more passengers.

  13. Hello,

    I’m arriving in Medellin on July 3rd, which is a public holiday. Do you think there will be taxis & buses anyway ?

    Thanks.

  14. Quick update as I completed this commute on Sunday 9th July.

    There are in fact two different busses to the right of the pick up area – one goes to San Diego Mall, one to city centre, however they are marked the same. Price was COP 9,500.

  15. In the comments I am reading that late at night it can be difficult to find a Taxi at the Airport to go into Medellin and I also read there even very late there are always Taxis at the Airport. Hence I am a bit unsure about what to do. I will be arriving at the Medellin Airport on a flight scheduled to land at 23H45. Therefore it will be quite late by the time I have recovered my luggage and passed Immigration, something like 01H00 I imagine. Are there taxis at the Airport at this late hour or should I think to pre-booking from a transfer service such as Latin Host or Medellin Airport Transfer?

    Thanks

  16. The 2019 government established taxi rate from the airport into Medellín is 75.000 COP, not 65.000 COP. Do not allow taxi drivers to vary from this set rate and tipping is not the standard in Colombia.

  17. You mention safe ways to travel. But u didnt mention what to avoid saftey wise. From my point of view comibg into Medellin at midnight is the most dangerous part of the Colombian trip.