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TLDR? The Olaya Herrera airport was the first in Medellin. Now it only operates domestic flights, but it’s still one of the busiest in Colombia!
Did you know that Medellin has two airports?
If you arrive on an international flight, you’ll most likely land at the Jose Maria Cordova airport in Rionegro, a town 30 minutes from the city.
But if you want to make short national flights or trips to smaller towns, the Olaya Herrera airport can be an excellent air terminal to depart.
Get to know everything that Medellin’s local airport offers so you can schedule your domestic flights for a weekend getaway!
Olaya Herrera Airport was Medellin’s first international airport before Jose Maria Cordova.
And although it no longer operates as such, it’s still one of the airports in Colombia with the most air traffic due to the number of charter and regular flights that arrive and go to all parts of the country.
The Olaya Herrera is in the southwestern area of Medellin between the Guayabal and El Poblado neighborhoods. It’s also right next to the South Terminal, where inter-municipal buses operate.
It’s an airport with some restrictions for air operators on aircraft size and weight since Medellin is a valley, which can complicate takeoff and landing procedures.
The beginnings of this airport date from 1930 to 1932. Its initial goal was to transport people from Bogota to Medellin and vice versa. It began as a small air terminal with an unpaved 3195-feet-long (974m) landing strip.
In 1995, Olaya Herrera was declared a National Monument to raise awareness of the heritage value of modern architecture in Colombia and the importance of its conservation.
Today the airport is an architectural icon and continues to captivate with its beauty.
Elías Zapata Sierra was the architect who designed its avant-garde spaces, ceilings, the central hall, the terraces, and the stained glass windows that attract thousands of tourists every year.
Many locals remember famous international characters who walked through the halls of this historic airport. Some of them are:
Two of the most recognized national airlines operate at the Olaya Herrera airport, as do some travel agencies that offer charter flights or cargo services.
Among them, you’ll find:
In this way, these airlines or personalized air transport service companies reach destinations such as:
Many of these destinations correspond to small Antioquian municipalities with a short runway or towns where larger aircraft can’t arrive.
When you leave Olaya Herrera airport, you can take one of the taxis in a line outside.
The traditional yellow taxis don’t have specific rates since you’re within the city, so the value depends on your destination.
Also, if you are a little riskier with new experiences and want to save money, you can take one of the urban bus routes that pass through the area.
Among the best-selected routes are the Comercial Hotelera which crosses El Poblado, Laureles, El Estadio, and other commercial and tourist spaces in Medellín.
You can also find the Poblado station of the Metro System approximately 20 minutes away on foot. This way, you can reach any area of the city safely and economically.
The airport is also relatively close to Calle 10, which goes up to El Parque del Poblado, Parque Lleras, Provenza, and more places in the south.
Moreover, you can find the South Terminal next to the airport, where you can take a bus trip to the surrounding villages.
Address: Carrera 65 A #13-157 ,Medellín, Antioquia
The Olaya Herrera airport operates between 4:30 am and 6 pm every day. The shops open at 6 am.
For national flights, it’s recommendable to arrive two hours in advance. For international flights, if you’ve hired a charter to another country, you should arrive three hours in advance.
Besides flight services and the astonishing architecture, Olaya Herrera airport offers a series of amenities and facilities that might interest you. Here are some of them.
The Olaya Herrera has two waiting rooms for passengers, traditional Colombian or international food areas, as well as a direct exit to Plaza Gardel as an area for smokers.
Plaza Gardel is a small park in front of the airport where you can find a monument to the Argentine singer. It’s a perfect place to go out for fresh air and take a walk while you wait for your flight. Cultural events are held there, including the International Tango Festival.
There are also souvenir shops, quick snacks or drinks, or services such as ATMs, travel agencies, and clothing stores.
The airport cafes also offer a coffee-tasting experience so you can enjoy some of the best coffee beans in the world while you wait for your flight departure. Some of the most popular coffee shops are:
You can also go for a long walk to the South Terminal Mall to do your last-minute shopping in case you didn’t find what you needed at the airport, or just do some window shopping while you wait.
For people with reduced mobility, the airport has adapted ramps, bathrooms, and spaces that allow moving comfortably.
If you require special services or attention, remember to inform the airline.
There’s a public parking lot with 24-hour private security and 214 cells if you have a rental car and decide to leave it there. You can pay hourly and even daily rates.
You can also pay a monthly fee if you’re having a long trip and want to leave your vehicle safe in the airport parking lots.
The air terminal has a free internet network. Just search for the Wi-Fi network called AeropuertoMedellin-EOH.
However, sometimes the internet network isn’t strong enough or may fail from time to time. If you need to do a last-minute task or a business meeting, you can try the Wi-Fi connection at restaurants and cafes.
You’ll find a VIP room from The Regional Lounge. It offers spaces to rest, work a little, or eat a snack while you wait for your flight.
However, to enjoy VIP Lounge services, you must be a priority pass member.
They offer premium services such as a more trustworthy Wi-Fi network, air conditioning, a bar, TV, and buffet service.
It’s important to know where you can spend the night in case you have a flight very early in the morning or if it gets canceled.
Luckily, Olaya Herrera Airport is near the El Poblado neighborhood, one of the best places to book your hotel or Airbnb. Also, one of the most popular for its busy nightlife and a wide variety of restaurants, bars, and clubs.
You can stay at:
If you have some free time, I recommend going for a walk near the airport. You’ll find something fun to do or a great place to grab a bite while waiting for your flight.
Renting a car at the airport can save you a lot of time, get your vehicle on the spot and start getting around Medellin comfortably.
Perhaps this service is perfect for higher budgets. You should consider extra costs such as gas and tolls, but it’s one of the best options to tour Medellin and its surrounding small towns.
Remember to have a valid driver’s license and verify that the car has the legal papers up to date.
Inside the airport, you’ll find some car rental agencies. You might want to manage one as soon as you arrive in Medellin.
The airport doesn’t have lockers to store luggage, so consider it so that you can take care of your packages in case you have to wait for long periods.
An insider tip is to store your luggage in the lockers of the south terminal, so you can do your shopping without having to worry or take your bags with you.
The airport has a curious offer for tourists and aviation lovers: receive a guided tour with prior registration in which you’ll discover the patrimonial history of the Airport! Check the airport website to request it.
Being a national monument, the airport continues to promote the culture and history of the city through its spaces.
From time to time, art shows, dance lessons, and temporary painting and photography exhibitions take place in its halls and corridors.
At the time of my visit, I had the opportunity to admire the exhibition Medellín en 100 palabras, where they showed the stories made by the winners of last year’s contest.
The contest encouraged thousands of citizens to take a creative journey through words and build the history of Medellín through their fragments.
The death anniversary of Carlos Gardel is always celebrated with tango shows and other activities. This year, there were also drawing workshops and an exhibition of illustrations in the Plaza Gardel.
Also, don’t miss the airport heritage festivals!
This year the entire airport was decorated with ornamental lights. If you’re lucky, you may encounter some of these cultural celebrations at the time of your flight.
Although the Medellin domestic flight airport is a bit small compared to the one in Rionegro, it has flight offers to several destinations within the country.
Besides, it has complete amenities and offers to make your trip a pleasant experience!
Take a flight on the route that you like the most and enjoy the experience of flying over the mountains of the Aburra Valley!
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