Medellin Airport Taxi: A Guide to Avoiding Scams and Securing Safe Transport

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No matter how long you’ve been here, it’s your first trip or you’re a resident, you have to be on high alert at the airport for many things, most of all the scams. Rionegro International Airport is a breeding ground for scammers, and this all happens in a 100 square meter space, right outside the International gate exit doors. Unless you have transport secured before you exit those doors, you will be entering something straight out of Thunderdome. 

If you are a seasoned traveler, you are well aware of the term “Touts” and that is what you will have to navigate when those sliding doors open. They all have the same sales pitch “Taxi Medellin” which sounds great, and in some cases it isn’t bad. However, more often than not this is the beginning of a scam, and most that don’t live here have no idea they’re getting scammed at all. These guys prey on tourists, because most that live here are well aware of the bait and switch scams that happen with transportation here in the city of eternal spring, so these scammers prey on the uninitiated and unsuspecting tourists entering the city. 

Overpaying for transportation

What most tourists don’t understand is that there is a government agreed-upon rate from Rionegro International Airport (MDE) to most places in the Aburra Valley. This rate is $110,000COP (in 2024). Taxis all adhere to this rate. If they do not, you are encouraged to get the license plate of the taxi driver and report it immediately to the mayor’s office. I will add the phone number at the end of this article. The main thing I can tell you is that these guys saying Taxi Medellin, are not licensed taxi drivers. They will walk you out to their unmarked car which is parked in short term parking, and they will take you to your destination from there. I can’t emphasize enough how dangerous this is. Especially if you are a tourist or don’t speak Spanish well. 

If you choose this option, you can expect the rate to change, and you will likely be asked to pay the toll at the tunnel as well. The $110,000COP price INCLUDES the toll, so don’t get scammed with this one either. I have heard of people getting charged $250,000COP for transportation to Medellin from the airport, which equates to about $60-70 USD which based on the distance seems ok. In my last trip to the US, I took a flight into Dallas, and the taxi ride from DFW to Arlington, TX which is a 15 minute taxi ride was $58, so the 50 minute ride with tolls for essentially the same price doesn’t seem too bad. However, as the Beyonce song says, ‘This ain’t Texas’ the cost of things here are considerably less, and you are needlessly overpaying. 


The bigger consideration is the safety factor. If you are getting taken to a car by a tout, then you are bypassing the security that the government has given you. Let’s call it like it is, you are getting in the car of a stranger. This is what your mom warned you about as a child. Do not do this. I can’t emphasize enough how preposterous this idea is. You are getting in the car of a complete stranger, who the government has never vetted, Uber, Didi or InDrive has never done their safety checks on, and now you are rolling the dice. 

This city is dangerous enough for the uninitiated, don’t add to this by leaving your common sense at home. 

The Proper Procedure to Getting A Taxi

If you are getting off a long flight and just want to get home, you may feel like the above option is easier, and less hassle, it may seem that way, but I assure you that it’s not. Actually it’s easier than walking to short term parking with someone who may or may not rob you. Stay on the first level and walk outside and there will be taxis lined up waiting. Most will be white taxis or yellow taxis. They are allowed to be there because the National Police only allows legitimate taxis to park there. If there is ANY variation to this, the drivers are trying to skirt the police and this is asking for a bad time. 

If ANYONE offers to help you get a taxi, I recommend politely say no, and head outside to the taxi waiting area. Paisa people are very friendly, but these folks are not doing it out of the kindness of their hearts. They will at best be expecting a tip, at worst they will be leading you into a trap – quite possibly both. This does apply to uniformed airport staff as well, if someone is offering to help you get a taxi, they’re just trying to divert you into another method of transportation. Do not do it. Another common thing is that you will be taken upstairs to the departures area to get a taxi. This is done to again evade police scrutiny. The police up top are not monitoring the transportation, that area is for unloading passengers so they are focused on security. On the bottom floor, the Medellin transport police are there in addition to the National Police. They are there for your protection. Do not meet a taxi in the arrivals area. 

Alternatives to Taxis

All of these warnings make it seem like Taxis are dangerous, which is not always the case. The wrong taxi is dangerous, the vast majority of taxi drivers are honest, hard working people who have a wealth of knowledge about their city, and are more than happy to tell you about it. But, taxis aren’t for everyone. Some like the directness of using ride sharing apps and even more don’t like to carry cash on them. All Taxis are cash only here, so if you want to use your card to pay, you are likely going to want to use a ride sharing app. 

In addition to the convenience the ride-sharing apps are less expensive because the drivers don’t have to pay for a license or taxes. Because of this, ride sharing apps are not completely legal here in Colombia, so if you want to use one there are a few things you need to keep in mind:

First, the drivers will likely not be picking you up in the crowded area around the International arrivals gate. You will probably be contacted asking to meet you in the second floor arrivals area. This is normal in this case, running counter to the advice given about taxis. However, there is a level of security here thanks to the application you are using. If you plan on using a ride sharing app, I recommend downloading it and securing a ride before exiting the secure area. There is fast, free wifi in the airport, so this is a way for you to have a ride secured before you navigate the unsecured area outside of the doors. 

The apps that are popular here are Uber which is the most popular and secure app for tourists, InDrive, which allows you to name your price for the ride, and Didi which is the most popular app for locals. The positive for Uber and Didi is that you can add your international credit card into the app and it will process in a cashless manner. InDrive, you will need to have cash or a Bancolombia/NEQUI account. Another positive with Uber is that there is an option for taxis, so you can get a taxi and have double security. If you elect a driver who isn’t a taxi, and the police stop the car, you and the driver can both be fined for using an illegal ride-sharing service. Just some food for thought. 

The other option is that there are busses which will take you to Medellin. There is a green “Metro” bus which is part of the Medellin transportation service, and there 2 other options which will either take you to the San Diego Mall or the North Bus Terminal and you can take a taxi to your destination from there. These are cash only, and much less expensive at $14,000COP. If you elect to take the Metro bus, you will need a Civica ride card, and if you are a tourist staying for a few days this isn’t necessary. However, this is the same card you will be using on the Medellin Metro if you plan on using that. There is a $5000COP charge to get a card, so factor that into your decision making process. 

Be safe

As a tourist, you have to be hypervigilant here. This beautiful city has many scammers and people looking to take advantage of you. If you come here and get scammed before you even get to your destination, it will sour your vacation at best and it could be fatal at worst. If you don’t speak Spanish well, you are an even bigger target here, and I can’t recommend enough that you cover yourself as best as you can. Ask your hotel about airport pickup in advance. This is the safest way. They will arrange transportation for you, and this is the safest way. You can also look through our list of trusted providers. There, we have vetted everyone, and only place the best providers on our site. 

Even if you are a seasoned traveler, be on guard, because the scammers are evolving faster than the laws can react. Having a safe, secure and fun trip here in Medellin starts the moment your plane lands here. If you have any specific questions, or want recommendations, feel free to email me at [email protected] and I’ll put you in touch with a trustworthy transport driver. Stay safe out here. 

4 Responses

  1. Nice article. Many thanks.
    I have traveled several times to Medellín. There may be some people trying you to offer help when you leve the customers area. I always ignore them, go out and take a white cap (Servicio Especial). I never had any issues with them. I know, sometimes it’s hard not to get distracted, but all in all this is only for about 30 seconds.

    So if you don’t show that you are uncertain, they will be great taxi drivers.

    There is also a very reliable company, Taxivan that offers pre-booked transportation. You can use WhatsApp to contact them + 57 316 4913192.
    As MDE has free wifi you easily find your driver.

  2. I will give the same warning I always do about Uber and other ride sharing apps. Foreigners assume that Uber in Colombia is like Uber in the US. It is not, and is lacking in safety. Why? Because of the (lack of) experience of the drivers. The average 20-year-old in the US has thousands of his behind the wheel. Not so here. I have encountered many unsafe drivers and even know a few that bought a car and got their drivers licence specifically to drive for Uber. So the lack of safety here doesn’t derive from criminal intent but simply from a “learner’s permit” level of experience.

  3. Great article, Steve. I will be using this information when I arrive in Medellin in early July. Let me know if you have a safe driver that could pick me up at the airport late at night.

  4. Re Uber. I hired an Uber to go from Laureles to Poblado. It showed a fare of about 16K. When I got the credit card charge it showed that I went to the airport which of course I didn’t. I complained to Uber and they decided to “adjust” my airport fare but wouldn’t give me a full credit. Uber went along with the rip-off!

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