If you're flying into Colombia, the chances are you'll land into one of the country's four main airports, namely: El Dorado in Bogota, Jose Maria Cordova in Medellin (Rio Negro), Alfonso Bonilla Aragón in Cali, and Rafael Núñez in Cartagena. You will be reassured to hear that all are modern airports which are well served with ATMs, car rental places, currency exchanges, left luggage, restaurants, shops and Wi-Fi. In other words, you needn't spend much time arranging things for your arrival as most things can be done easily at the airport itself.
Getting from the Airport in Bogota
The main airport in Bogota, and indeed Colombia, is El Dorado, to which the majority of national and international flights arrive. The airport lies approximately 15km to the east of downtown Bogota and the easiest way to manage your onward journey is just to get a taxi from right outside the terminal. The cheapest taxis are the yellow vehicles which leave from a clearly signed authorized taxi stand downstairs in El Dorado. All taxis are metered, but the approximate cost of the journey will be around 15,000 COP to 30,000 COP, depending on your final destination. A small surcharge will be added to the final amount on the meter as taxi drivers need to pay to enter the airport. More upmarket executive taxis are also available at the airport, though the price of these is somewhere between 30 and 100% higher than the normal taxis, and must be negotiated before you get in.
El Dorado airport in Bogota is located approximately 15km to the east of the city center
The airport also operates a bus service (Bus Satélite) which runs a circuit every 25 minutes of the terminals and major installations at the site. One of the stops on this route links into the city’s main transport network. However, if you don't know the city well already this is more hassle than its worth. Taxis are not expensive and the public transport network is perplexing when you've not dealt with it before. Trying to get your head round it all immediately after a long flight is not much fun, especially if you arrive at an anti-social hour.
Getting from the Airport in Medellin
If flying internationally to Medellin, you'll land at the Jose Maria Cordova international airport at Rio Negro, just outside Medellin. Taxis from here are more expensive, costing about 60,000 COP, mainly because the airport is a way away from the city center. Drivers should charge a set rate for any destination within Medellin and this fee includes the tolls paid by the driver on the main road into the city. The up-to-date price for the airport run will be displayed on a sticker on the passenger’s side of the taxi’s windshield, and not on the meter.
Expect to pay around 60,000 COP for the journey from the airport in Medellin to the city centerBuses also run from the airport to the industrial center of the city, to an area called San Diego, and cost approximately 10,000 COP. These tend to leave whenever full, but do not operate either late at night or first thing in the morning. Some domestic flights to Medellin arrive into the much more conveniently located Enrique Olaya Herrera airport. This is situated in the city itself, just next to the southern bus terminal, so a taxi to your hostel or hotel will be substantially cheaper at around 6,000 COP or so.
Getting from the Airport in Cali
The national and international airport in Cali, Alfonso Bonilla Aragón, is the country’s third largest and is served by Avianca and LAN flights to the United States, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Spain. Throughout most of the day a cheap bus service runs between the airport and the main bus terminals in Cali and Palmira (from where you can catch a bus into central Cali). Taxis are also readily available and aren't too expensive.
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Getting from the Airport in Cartagena
Cartagena’s airport is the best placed to reach your eventual destination as it is located in the heart of the city. Taxis (or walking) and the only real options here, but the distance will not be great so the journey shouldn't be expensive.. These vehicles rarely (if ever) have meters however, so make sure to agree the price before embarking on your journey. To avoid the hassle of negotiating prices, you might prefer to walk just outside the airport terminal and order private transport via the Uber app. This firm does operate in Bogota, Medellin and Cali as well, but given the more remote locations of these cities airports it is not always possible to order their services from the airport.