Medellin is a beautiful Colombian city situated in the heart of the Andes Mountains. Needless to say, there are tons of things to do in Medellin. The City of Eternal Spring draws millions of tourists to its little corner in the Andes every year.
Airports are naturally anxiety-inducing, especially in foreign countries. No stress! I'm here to help you make your trip as enjoyable as possible.
Here's your handy guide to navigating the Medellin International Airport!
What's Medellin Airport called?
Medellin's airport is officially known as Medellin Jose Maria Cordova International Airport (IATA: MDE). Named after Jose Maria Cordova, a celebrated member of the Colombian Armed Forces.
Where is Medellin Airport located?
The Medellin Jose Maria Cordova International Airport is 18 miles southeast of Medellin, in the city of Rionegro. There is an airport in Medellin called Olaya Herrera Airport, but they only serve regional and domestic flights.
For me, it's pretty easy to get lost and confused in an airport. I don't like to admit it, but it happens. The Medellin Airport is the second busiest airport in Columbia. The airport receives an average of 8 million travelers a year, so I went into it concerned that the foreign language signage for a large portion of travelers, I might be in for some chaos. Luckily, the Medellin Airport only has a 3 level passenger terminal, one of those solely dedicated to food. Cross off being potentially late for my flight as I was able to quickly navigate around.
Arrival & Departure
To break things down a bit further, Medellin Airport's arrival and departure hall simultaneously serves domestic and international flights. The arrival hall is on the 1st floor, while the departures are on the 2nd. If you're looking for a bite to eat after your long flight, head to the 3rd level for some great local and international cuisines.
The airport also features all the conventional services, including currency exchange, luggage wrapping, duty-free shops, wheelchair-renting services, smoking areas, public telephones, Wi-Fi services, police services, etc. While I didn't use any of these services during my visit (okay, I did use the Wi-Fi a little to download episodes of Narcos) I didn't see any extremely long lines or poor customer service.
Getting to Medellin city from the airport.
There are several means of traveling to and from Medellin Jose Maria Cordova International Airport. The primary forms of transportation are bus, taxi, or car rental. Car sharing services such as Uber and Lyft are not legal in the area, but I noticed serval of them in practice in other areas of the city. I can't recommend those as transportation as I cannot ensure the validity of those services. So choosing to do so is at your own risk.
Referred to as "busetas," traveling to and from Medellin Airport by airport bus is standard practice by locals and travelers alike. It costs about 10,000 COP for a one-way adult ticket, and tickets can be purchased from the bus driver onboard. (Note: I had brought local currency with me - which I would recommend to ensure you can purchase tickets.)
Make sure to catch the bus outside the airport, at gates 2A and 2B. The "busetas" traveling from the airport to Medellin's city center run 24 hours a day. You can expect a bus at these stops every 15 minutes.
These buses are small and can accommodate 19 people. I traveled light but it is something to consider should you be traveling with larger luggage. It takes about an hour to get to Medellin; it could be longer with traffic. Once you reach the city of Medellin, the bus makes two stops, one at San Diego Mall and one at Hotel Nutibara.
Traveling By Taxi
Traveling by taxi is a quick and easy way to get to and from Medellin Jose Maria Cordova International Airport. There are two types of Medellin taxis, the yellow local taxis and the white airport taxis or "Colectivos," the more affordable option. You can find these airport taxis in the taxis rank, located at the airport's main terminal.
The airport taxis can accommodate all your luggage; however, other travelers often share these taxis. You can expect to pay around 16.000 COP for a one-way trip to or from Medellin; these trips usually take about 45 min. Travel times are essential, especially if you're in a hurry to catch your flight.
Renting A Car
Renting a car is an option for you to get from Medellin Airport to the city center. A car rental will allow you to explore the city's beauty at your own pace and schedule. While renting a car gives travelers a little more freedom, it is more expensive than traveling by bus or taxi. The car rental desk can be found in the main terminal, located on the first floor.
It should also be noted that Medellin and Colombia as a whole has a large amount of motorbikes. Often times these bikes will be very close to cars and weaving in and out of certain positions. It's not easy to drive a car in Colombia if you aren't a skilled driver or at least comfortable with tighter roads and traffic.
Hotels Near Medellin Airport
Should you have a layover at Medellin Airport and need a place to rejuvenate and revitalize, there are several top hotels within 2 km of the airport.
The Movich Hotel Las Lomas is one such hotel. Located 1.8km from Medellin's airport in Rionegro, this beautiful 5-star hotel has luscious gardens, a gorgeous pool, and comfortable rooms to catch some zzzs before your next flight.
Travelers Rio Verde Living Suites is another fabulous 5-star hotel, 1.9km outside Medellin's airport. This stunning hotel has a sun terrace, state of the art sauna, and an excellent fitness facility. You'll feel like you're on holiday before your holiday starts.
Plan your next trip to Medellin
Your one visit away from being a pro at Medellin Airport, so set you plans with Pilot! Pilot will help you have everything you need all in one place. The Pilot team recently visited Medellin, so even if it's your first time to Medellin, it won't be for Pilot!