Get in to Medellin

By plane
International Airport
Jose Maria Cordova Airport
Medellín is served by José María Córdova International Airport (IATA: MDE; ICAO: SKRG) [93], located in the nearby city of Rionegro.

Airlines serving this airport and its non-stop flights are:

Avianca : Miami, New York City, San Salvador, Lima and Madrid. Plus domestic routes: Bogota, Cali, Cartagena_(Colombia), Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, Cúcuta, San_Andrés_and_Providencia, Santa Marta and Monteria
Latam  (formerly LAN): Lima. Domestic Bogota, Cartagena_(Colombia), San_Andrés_and_Providencia and Santa Marta.
VivaAir : Miami, Lima, Panama City (Panama). Domestic: Bogota, Cartagena_(Colombia), Barranquilla, San_Andrés_and_Providencia, Santa Marta and Monteria.
EasyFly: has ‘after-dark’ flights from Rionegro’s Jose María Córdova to Pereira. During daytime these flights are from the local ‘Olaya Herrera’ airport.
International only:

American Airlines [98]: Miami.
Spirit Airlines : Fort Lauderdale.
JetBlue : Fort Lauderdale.
Iberia : Madrid.
AirEuropa : Madrid.
COPA : Panama City (Panama).
Wingo : Panama City (Panama).
AeroMexico : Mexico City.
InterJet : Mexico City, Cancún.
Avior Airlines : Caracas, Margarita Island.
Panama City has 3 airports and there are non-stops flights to 2 of these airports from Medellín (Tocumen: COPA -up to 6 times daily-, Panama Pacifico International: Wingo -daily except Saturdays-).

Low-cost Airlines and Seats

VivaAir  (formerly VivaColombia) is the largest low-cost airline in Colombia and its hub is at this airport. It serves 6 domestic destinations (Bogotá, Cartagena, Santa Marta, San Andrés, Barranquilla and Montería) and two international (Miami and Lima).

Wingo [109], a low-cost airline by COPA, has 6 weekly flights to Panama Pacifico airport.

Latam (‘Light’ Fare), Iberia (‘Basica’ fare), AirEuropa (Lite) and JetBlue (‘Blue’) are the low-cost seats (No checked luggage, no-frills). Avianca announced the same kind of service beginning November 2019. Spirit Airlines is a classic low-cost.

VIP Lounges-Clubs

Domestic: Avianca has two VIP lounges (Silver and Gold/Diamond) in the domestic area, airside 3rd floor – after security checks take elevator near gates 3 and 4. Both are also for StarAlliance members.

An independent room is The Lounge Medellin (by Global Lounge Network), located airside – after Security Control turn left and walk towards Gate 1. Take the elevator on the left hand side to the 3rd Floor. Open 5 AM – 11:30 PM (Mon – Fri), 5:30 AM – 10:30PM (Sat & Sun). For Priority Pass, LoungePass members, or 29 USD per entry.

International: COPA has a VIP lounge (Airside – take the escalators) open 3:30 AM- 6 PM Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Sunday. 3:30 AM- 8:30 PM Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday.

All, except for the Avianca Gold/Diamond, are available for PriorityPass [110] members.

To and From the Airport

A taxi from Rionegro’s International Airport to the city is COP 75,000 (January 2019) and this includes the toll on the road. Note this is a flat fee for most destinations in the city. Heading to the center or to Poblado via the traditional road takes around 45 minutes, via the new tunnel 20 minutes. The new tunnel of almost 9 km length was opened on August 2019, COP 16,900 one-way. Initially opens 5 AM to 9 PM daily.

Uber services the airport picking up passengers opposite (lefthand lane) doors 2 & 3. A trip to Poblado is roughly COP 60,000 including tolls and airport service charge. Uber has typed some instructions, in Spanish, for its customers at this airport .

Sharing a cab is common, you pay COP 20,000 per person as of September 2019 (Capacity of 4 passengers in a car, 8 in a mini-van) from the airport to the city, a little less in the way back (around COP 16.000); they will drop you off at San Diego near a large shopping mall and you can take local taxis right there. Small “collectivo” buses are also available, the current fare is unknown but more than the Combuses, the last stop is right by Metro Parque Barrio.

The inexpensive choice is taking the white and green official airport buses (Combuses, S.A.) marked “Aeropuerto”, at the top of the windshield in large green letters outlined in white. They depart approximately every 15 minutes from the airport (Starting just before 6 a.m. until midnight) right out of the front exit/entrance of the airport, and will take you to either Barrio San Diego (San Diego Mall) or behind the Hotel Nutibara downtown (Cra. 50 & Calle 53) for $10,000 COP as of September 2019. The San Diego stop is closer to Poblado than the Nutibara Hotel and there are many taxis that congregate there to take you elsewhere in the city. Free Wifi is available at the San Diego Mall to call an Uber. The Nutibara area is questionable after dark, especially for first time travelers. Take into account the journey by bus takes a little more than 1 hour.

Domestic Airport
There is a mid-sized local airport Olaya Herrera (IATA: EOH; ICAO: SKMD) near downtown and it is very convenient for regional and domestic travel with non-stop flights to 23 destinations, including tourist destinations such as Armenia, Bogotá, Bucaramanga, Ibagué, Manizales, and Pereira. Due to a temporary road closure there are two daily flights – one on Sundays – to Villavicencio. This airport is only open during daylight hours (dawn to dusk, predictably 6 AM to 6 PM).

Airlines: EasyFly  and Satena . Also charter flights from Searca .

Satena is the only airline flying from this airport to Bogotá, with up to 4 daily flights.

The airline LAN operated at this airport until February 2015. Aerolínea de Antioquia -ADA- [116] stopped operations during March 2019.

Regional Express Americas, a subsidiary of Avianca, requested approval for several domestic routes from this airport, due to start by end 2019.

To and From the Domestic Airport

Taxis charge regular city fares, no surcharge. There is no Metro station at the airport. Note than walking from the closest station (Poblado) is only recommended daytime, since this is an industrial zone empty and dark at night or Sundays. The airport is next door to the South Bus Terminal (200 mts).

By bus
Medellín has two bus terminals (North and South) managed by the same company and share a single website . Both terminals have mid-sized shopping malls in the premises. For a complete list of the destinations and transport companies check the webpage.

The North terminal is much larger and it is connected with Metro station Caribe and the rail system (Although passenger rail transport in Colombia is almost non existent). The buses serve cities North and East of Medellín (Cartagena, Santa Marta and Bogotá included).
The South terminal is next door to the domestic airport Olaya Herrera (closest Metro station El Poblado but not within walking distance). Serves towns South (Armenia, Manizales, Pereira, Cali).
Usually you have to know your destination, then find out which company takes you there, go and purchase the ticket (only some have online sales, the 2 largest being: Rápido Ochoa  and Expreso Brasilia ). A few companies sell tickets for many operators: RedBus mentions no additional charges , PinBus  charges COP 2.030 per ticket. Aviatur has fewer alliances and charges around COP 7.300 per ticket.

Bus from Cali to Medellín south terminal with Empresa Arauca takes 8 hours and cost 63,000 COP. (10/2018)

By car
There are four roads leading to Medellín from all cardinal points. From Bogota you can take Autopista Medellín and head west 7-9 hours with beautiful scenery. From Pereira, Cali and the south take road 25 towards Medellín. If coming from the Atlantic coast (Cartagena, Barranquilla) take route 25 south to Medellín (aprox. 11 hours). Of note, there is no road connecting Panamá with Colombia.

Trains are scarce and unreliable in Colombia. It is not possible to arrive in Medellín by boat.
Get around

The Metro is elevated; stations are wide, clean and with a view
Most of the city is built on a grid system. The types of streets are below.

Carreras run parallel to the river from south to north. Abbreviated as Cr, Cra, K, Kra or Crs.
Calles run from east to west. Abbreviated as C, Cll or Cl.
Avenidas are usually larger and main streets. The numerical system for the avenidas is used but some have names that are more commonly used such as Avenida El Poblado or Avenida Oriental.
Transversales usually refer to wide carreras atop the mountains in El Poblado neighborhood. The most famous are transversals Intermedia, Inferior and Superior.
In the neighborhood called Laureles there are also Diagonales and Circulares.
Each address consists of a series of numbers, for example: Calle 50 #65-8 which indicates that the building is on street 50 (Calle 50) 8 meters ahead from the intersection with street 65 (Carrera 65). The most central point, Parque de Berrio, is located by convention on the crossroads of Calle 50 and Carrera 50.

By metro
Metro

Timetables: Monday through Saturday from 4:30AM to 11PM. Sundays and holidays from 5AM to 10PM.

Frequency Peak hours: trains every 5 min, non-peak every 7 min.

Fare: single ride COP 2,550 for the year 2019 (includes Metrocable H, J, K and M and Tranvía transfers) The Metrocable line L to Parque Arví costs COP 6,000, from 9AM to 6PM.

Traveling through the city is easy and quick with the metro system [123]. It has 2 Metro lines

Line A: From Niquia to La Estrella
Line B: San Antonio to San Javier
Five Metrocable lines

Line J: San Javier to La Aurora
Line K: Acevedo to Santo Domingo
Line H: Starts at the Tranvía Oriente station to Villa Sierra
Line L: Santo Domingo to Parque Arví (Tourist cable, pay extra COP 6,000, closes 6 PM daily).
The new Line M: departing from the Miraflores station of the Tranvia and heading northeast, opened February 2019 for ‘educational’ month (while the community familiarizes with the service).
One electric streetcar line

Tranvía Line T-A: San Antonio to Miraflores.
Two MetroPlus bus lines

Line 1: Univ de Medellín – Av. Ferrocarril – Parque Aranjuez
Line 2: Univ de Medellín – Av. Oriental- Parque Aranjuez
The Metrocable is a sky train or cable car that has revolutionised transport in the city. The Metroplus system consists of long articulated buses powered with natural gas for a more environmentally friendly option. They run on exclusive roads and enclosed stations. A Metroplús transfer station opened in 2014, links both Metroplús Lines (1 and 2), with the Industriales Metrostation (Linea A).

Trains run from 4:30h to 23.00h on workdays and from 5:00h to 22:00h on Sundays and holidays. Single tickets as of 2019 are COP 2,550 (0.8 USD), including transfers between the Metro trains and MetroCable. If you need to change to Metroplus Line 1 and 2 or Tranvia you will need to pay again since there are turnstiles at the interchange or you may need to exit the station to get to the Metroplus/Metro. Tourist for a few days buy the ‘Eventual o Univiaje’ tickets for COP 2,550 each. It may be worth getting a Civica transport card if you are staying for a long time, which you can refund online. There are offices at the main Metro stations where you can present your passport and get a free Civica card with your name, or order it online [www.civica.com.co] and pick it up at the BiblioMetros. With the card, a journey cost COP 2,280 and you also get free transfer between Metro & Metroplus.

An electric trolley, tramway or streetcar (Tranvía or Line T-A) opened October 2015 with 3 stations and 8 stops, running for 4.2 km east of San Antonio station.

The Metrocable to the ecopark Arví – Line L – costs an additional COP 6,000 for the 4.5 km trip up the mountains (The trip lasts 25 minutes). Transfer at the Santo Domingo station of the Metrocable K line. Rides 6 days a week, closed on the first working day of the week (Monday, or Tuesday if Monday was a holiday).

Under construction: Metrocable (Line P) departing from the Acevedo Metro station and heading west to el Picacho, due by 2020. Also the MetroPlus Line 3 in Envigado and Itagui. More than 60 electric buses will join the fleet during 2019.

See the transit map at this link. Several stations have free Wi-Fi.

There are official apps at the AppleStore and Google Play for mobiles, search for ‘Metro de Medellin’. You can also plan your trip in Google Maps.

Metrocable San Javier, Metro Line J
By taxi
Taxis are cheap and plentiful. All taxis are yellow and have meters, make sure they use them (unless from the airport since there is a fixed rate of COP 75,000). As of January 2019 the meters start at COP 3,500 and the minimum fare is COP 5,500. You can hail cabs anywhere and normally go without incident – consider making note of the licence plate if you feel it’ll give you more confidence, because as gringos you can look like a target to some. As in most Latin American countries, their driving can be hair-raising, so hold on tight. All taxis should have a sticker in the rear door window with the current fares. Most yellow taxis are small compact hatchbacks, enough for 4 passengers and the driver, with limited storage capabilities. Taxis at the airport tend to be larger.

One can also hire a taxi by the hour for COP 25,200.

One reliable company is Tax Bernal, +57(4)4448882 .

Transport apps such as Uber, Cabify  (for regular private cars) and Easy Taxi (yellow cabs) work well here and are usually less expensive and safer than hailing a taxi on the street. While EasyTaxi merged with Cabify in January 2019 and now they share their app.

There are some ‘white’ taxis, usually small SUV’s parked at hotels. These are larger, more expensive and comfortable than regular yellow cabs. The first electric taxis are to arrive on 2019.

By bus
There are many bus routes throughout the city. They can be convenient when going somewhere that is not close to a metro station. However as of 2019, the routes are not on Google Maps, so planning a trip can be difficult. There are currently some interactive route maps, though they’re not as easy to use as Google Maps. Just search Google for “medellin bus map” to find them.

There are various routes, marked on the front and back of the buses. The cost, as of January 2019, varies according to the bus size/passenger capacity (Bus: large, Buseta: medium size, Microbus: small bus). Buses and Busetas (both sizes are the most common) cost COP 2,200. Microbuses are COP 2,300. Most drivers will give you change.

If you want to go around downtown or neighborhoods near the downtown area without using taxis, try using the Circular Coonatra.

By tourist bus
TuriBus is a modern hop on / hop off bus that goes around the city showing its parks, attractive neighborhoods and historical areas; it costs COP 40,000 (USD 15) for 1 day, COP 56,000 (USD 21) for 2 days. While they do not guarantee this, many times their guides also speak English and are happy to translate for you. Routes start at 9.30 AM, ends 6.20 PM.

By Bicycle
There are several bike paths and lanes in the Laureles and Estadio areas. Some neighborhoods are close to the mountains and are very hilly. There are some bike parking lots with security guards located next to places such as metro stations. On nights and weekends some major avenues are closed for the popular Ciclovia when you can ride a bike in the company of many other people exercising.

There is a free public bike system called EnCicla , you pick up the bikes at metro stations or other locations, the system is ever expanding. Monday to Friday pick up the bicycles 5:30 AM to 9 PM, latest return by 10 PM. Saturdays 6:30 to 3 PM, latest return by 4 PM. Not available on Sundays.

For the sign up online you need: Photo, ID, Metrocard (tarjeta Civica) and a copy of an utility bill with the address. It can take a long time for them to get back to you when you sign up (like a month), so it’s a good idea to sign up before you arrive. Perhaps calling them or going to their office would speed up the process. If you sign up online, select resident, otherwise you’ll have to go into the office to renew every week. It will ask you to upload a copy of your utility bill. Upload your passport again.

By outdoor escalator
This unusual system allows underserved indwellers to climb up the mountains in the way to their homes, the escalators go up equivalent of a 28-story building. Opened in December 2011, rides are free. They are located in the west of the city – Comuna 13, San Javier- which can be a rough neighborhood. You can take the bus or walk 2km to get there (you may have to ask for directions since the walk is not straight forward). Go during the day to appreciate the graffitis by the escalators and in the Comuna. Similar examples were only for tourist purposes, they are found in Bilbao near Portugalete, in the way down to the Vizcaya Bridge, and Monjuic Hill in Barcelona, Spain.

By car
Renting a car in Medellin, Colombia can enhance your visit, so it´s definitely worth considering. Take a day trip to Santa Fe de Antioquia, Santa Helena, El Peñol or Llano Grande in Rionegro. Driving from Medellin allows for spectacular views as you climb up and out of the city into the surrounding mountains that lead to your day trip destination. Car rental in town or at the airport at Localiza, AVIS, or the domestic site Alkilautos with locations in both airports.

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