Medellín is one of the few cities in Colombia that has two airports available for commercial travel: José María Córdova International Airport and Olaya Herrera Regional Airport. Each one of them has a very different flight offer and the way of transporting to and from them is also different.

After using the Medellín airports dozens of times to travel both within Colombia and abroad, I decided to prepare this guide where I tell you everything you need to know if you plan to visit Medellín by air.

Jose María Córdova Airport [surroundings of Medellín]

This Airport is the most important access door that Medellin has. But something that few people know is that in fact it is not located within the city of Medellín. It’s actually located in a town called “Rionegro”, which is 24 kilometers away.

All the main national and international airlines that have direct connections with Medellín, land in this airport. These include Viva Air, Avianca, Latam Airlines, Wingo, Ultra Air, Spirit, American Airlines, Copa Airlines, among others.

If your flight to Medellín is coming from any city in Colombia or any other country, you will most likely arrive at the Rionegro airport. Therefore, you have to keep in mind that your arrival time at your accommodation  will be at least an hour after the airplane lands.

Although this airport has only one terminal and is small, we could say that it is divided into two sections. The northern section, for international flights boardings and arrivals, and the southern section for domestic flights.

All incoming flights, both national and international, have the same exit point: the basement of the airport. Place where you can pick your lugage, find the official taxis, find the pickup point for vehicles, and take a bus to the city.

The only difference that exists between arriving on a national flight vs. an international one, is that in the second case you will have to go through an immigration process to register your entry into the country (applies to both Colombians and foreigners). In my experience, this can be a 20-60 minute process, depending on your arrival time.

Similarly, when you leave Medellín from the José María Córdova Airport you must go through an immigration line that takes something around 30 minutes before reaching the boarding gates.

On the other hand, the security control for domestic flights is quite simple and in the worst case it could involve standing in line for 15 minutes.

Getting to Medellin from Jose Maria Cordova’s Airport

The ways to get to the Rionegro airport are by car, by bus or by taxi. You should know that despite the fact that Medellín has a fairly complete public transport system, neither the metro, nor the metrocables, nor the tram connect directly with the airport. The best option will depend on your budget and your available time.

By Uber

The Uber App gives you the option of requesting a private vehicle to travel to or from the Rionegro airport.  

But there is a detail that you should consider. Transportation in private-owned vehicles through these apps is not regulated in Colombia.

This means that when picking you up or taking you to the airport the Uber drivers could make some special requests that may sound strange to you. 

One of the most common is that drivers ask you to ride with them in the front seat. They do this mainly to avoid police controls, who could fine them if they discover that they are transporting passengers through ridesharing apps.

Another request that is quite common is that they ask you to pick you up on the second floor of the airport (above the basement). This is quite common, as drivers want to avoid any direct contact with the official airport taxi drivers.

Nevertheless, taking an Uber is a really safe option for you and is the transfer alternative of my preference whenever I have to leave the airport. 

It’s also common that Uber drivers try to call you on your phone to establish the pick-up point. If you do not have a local phone line, my suggestion is that you use the chat of the app or to contact them through Whatsapp. You can take advantage of the airport’s free Wi-Fi network for this purpose.

Keep in mind that the fare that you see in the Uber app already includes the payment of the tolls, so you don’t have to pay anything in addition to your driver. 

By Taxi

To get to Medellín by Taxi from the Rionegro airport, the only option is to take one of the white taxis with blue lines, located in the basement of the airport. 

The yellow taxis that you use to see around the city of Medellín do not have permission to pick up passengers at the airport, so it is normal that you do not see any available.

The taxi fare is standardized: $90,000 colombian pesos. Keep in mind that this cost already includes the toll payment, so your taxi driver should not ask you for additional money. 

In the same way, you should consider that this transfer option is only available to be paid with cash in local currency. 

In case you don’t have cash you can withdraw in any of the ATM machines or exchange some money in any of the exchange houses located inside the airport.

By Bus

The cheapest option to get to or from the José María Córdova airport is by bus. This bus is taken from the airport’s basement and costs $9,500  Colombian pesos per person ($2 dollars). The bus will transport you to the San Diego Mall, where you will probably need to take a taxi or Uber to your final destination.

Wifi connection at the Airport

One of the most common questions that you might have when you are traveling (especially if you are from another country) is whether there is internet at the airport. Fortunately, you have the possibility of connecting to the Rionegro-JMC Airport Wi-Fi network for free, for periods of 30 minutes.

In fact, the quality of the internet is quite good. I have used it to have video calls from my work, see social networks, download files and in general it is perfect.

Covid-19 restrictions

Currently, to enter the airport they do not require a vaccination card or a negative covid test. These requirements can be requested by the airlines depending on your country of destination. Something that is mandatory is the use of surgical masks inside the airport. But to tell the truth, the authorities are only demanding this at the boarding gates access points.

Opening Hours: can I spend the night at the airport?

The JMC airport in Medellín is open 24 hours a day, because it has plane departures and arrivals almost at all times. If you are thinking of spending the night there, keep in mind that the temperature drops. I recommend that you go well dressed.

On the other hand, the airport does not have very comfortable chairs to spend the night, so you would probably have to sleep on the floor.

Another point to consider is that most businesses (restaurants and shops) close after 10 pm. The same applies to VIP rooms.

In general, after 11 at night and until 5 in the morning, there will not be much life in the place. But no one will stop you from staying.