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Is there Uber in Medellín? Yes, Uber is available in Medellín, Colombia. It provides a convenient and often more affordable alternative to traditional taxis and public transport. Uber’s presence in Medellín has been marked by its ups and downs due to regulatory challenges, but currently, it continues to operate in the city, offering a range of services from economical rides to more premium options.

Medellín, the City of Eternal Spring, is Colombia’s culture, innovation, and tourism hub. If you’re planning a trip here, you might be wondering how you’ll get around. Thankfully, like many South American cities, Uber and rideshare exist here.

The city’s transportation system includes Metro, buses, and taxis, with Uber adding a modern and flexible option for residents and visitors. Uber’s app-based service allows for easy booking and payment, making it a popular choice for navigating the city’s vibrant neighborhoods and attractions.

In this post, we will outline everything you need to know about Uber, other rideshare options, taxis, and alternative transport options in Medellín.

Is There Uber In Medellín?

cartoon of man ordering a taxi, a large phone shows the different options for different taxis
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Uber returned to Medellín and the rest of Colombia in 2020 after briefly ceasing operations due to legal challenges. Since its comeback, Uber has been popular among locals and tourists for its convenience, safety features, and transparent pricing. The service offers various vehicle options to suit different needs and budgets, including UberYa and more luxurious choices like Uber Comfort.

Are Ubers Cheap in Medellín?

Compared to traditional taxis, Uber can be more cost-effective, especially for longer distances or during off-peak hours when dynamic pricing is less likely to increase fares. The pricing structure of Uber also adds a layer of predictability and transparency, as riders know the estimated fare before booking a ride.

How Much Does Uber Cost in Medellín?

Uber fares in Medellín are calculated based on a combination of factors: a base fare, cost per minute, and cost per kilometer. Prices vary depending on the type of service chosen and current demand. For example, a ride from José María Córdova International Airport to Medellín city center might cost approximately COP 100,000 ($25 USD), depending on traffic and the specific service selected. Late at night or during busy periods, prices can easily double.

Uber can be more attractive to tourists than taxis in Medellín as taxi drivers commonly try to negotiate fares directly with passengers, especially for rides outside the city or late at night. This practice can sometimes make Uber a more straightforward choice for those unfamiliar with local taxi pricing norms.

How Do You Pay for Uber in Medellín?

Payment for Uber rides in Medellín can be made through the Uber app using international credit cards, debit cards, and, in some cases, cash. This flexibility makes Uber accessible to both locals and international visitors, even those without a local bank account.

Common Uber Issues in Medellín?

While Uber is a reliable mode of transportation in Medellín, users might occasionally face issues such as longer wait times during peak hours or in less central areas.

Also, due to the city’s topography and complex road networks, GPS inaccuracies can sometimes lead to confusion in pick-up locations.

Illegality of Uber in Colombia

One issue is that Uber is operating in a legal grey area in Colombia. Ridesharing has been deemed illegal in Colombia after a court challenge by the taxi industry. Uber continues to operate by offering “car rental” and “private driver hire”; however, the legality of its operation is shaky at best. Mostly, a blind eye is turned to Uber’s ongoing operation. However, drivers may ask passengers to sit in the front seat to avoid drawing unwanted attention. Additionally, there may be extra scrutiny around taxi hotspots like the airport.

Do I Need to Tip Uber Drivers in Medellín?

Tipping is not mandatory for Uber rides in Colombia, including Medellín. However, if you experience exceptional service, a small tip is always appreciated by drivers. The app may offer the option to add a tip electronically after the ride.

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Are There Other Ride-sharing Apps in Medellín?

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Image from Freepik

In addition to Uber, Medellín hosts a variety of ride-sharing and taxi app services, offering residents and visitors multiple options for getting around the city. Here are some of the prominent alternatives:

  1. DiDi – Often considered the main competitor to Uber in many markets, including Colombia, DiDi offers similar services at competitive rates. DiDi is appreciated for its promotional offers and discounts, which can make it a cheaper alternative at times. The app provides various service levels, from economical options to more premium rides.
  2. Cabify – Another popular choice in Medellín, Cabify distinguishes itself with a strong commitment to safety and transparency. Prices are calculated by distance and are known upfront, just like Uber. Cabify tends to focus on offering a higher quality of service, with well-maintained vehicles and professional drivers. Cabify gives users the option to connect with either private drivers or registered taxis.
  3. InDrive – Unique among ride-sharing services, InDriver allows passengers to negotiate the fare directly with drivers before confirming the ride. This can lead to lower prices, especially during off-peak hours. InDriver’s model promotes transparency and flexibility in pricing.

Each of these apps provides a different experience, pricing model, and set of services. Users may choose based on personal preference, specific needs, or price sensitivity. It’s also common for residents and visitors to have multiple ride-sharing apps installed to compare prices and availability.

Taxis in Medellín

ride share taxi app with taxi with backdrop of a city
Image by Freepik

The traditional yellow taxis are a staple on the streets of Medellín, offering another convenient option for getting around the city. They’re especially useful in areas less served by ride-sharing apps or during peak hours when app-based services might have higher rates due to surge pricing. Taxis in Medillín are required to use a meter.

Are Taxis Cheap in Medellín?

Taxis in Medellín are relatively affordable, particularly for short to medium distances within the city. They offer a viable alternative to ride-sharing services, especially for those who prefer not to use smartphone apps or when immediate service is required without the wait for an app-based ride.

How Much Do Taxis Cost in Medellín?

Taxi fares in Medellín start with a base rate (around COP 5,000) and increase based on distance traveled. The cost per kilometer is set by the city, making fares predictable. However, for longer distances or trips outside the city, it’s not uncommon for drivers to negotiate a fixed rate with passengers beforehand.

A typical taxi ride from José María Córdova International Airport to Medellín city center can cost upward of COP 100,000 ($25 USD), similar to the rates for ride-sharing services. This price can vary based on the time of day, traffic, and specific destination within the city.

Do Taxis Accept Credit Cards in Medellín?

While cash has traditionally been the preferred method of payment for taxis in Medellín, an increasing number of taxis now accept credit cards or mobile payments, especially those booked through taxi apps. However, confirming the accepted payment methods with the driver before starting your trip is always a good idea.

How Do I Catch a Taxi in Medellín?

Taxis can be hailed directly on the street, found at designated taxi stands, or booked through various taxi apps. For safety and convenience, many locals and visitors prefer using apps to book their rides, ensuring that the trip is recorded and that the taxi is officially registered.

Are There Taxi Apps in Medellín?

The Cabify app offers passengers the option between private drivers and registered taxis in Medellín, offering an alternative to hailing a cab on the street. These apps include:

Using Cabify, passengers can enjoy the convenience of booking a ride with their smartphone, including the ability to track their taxi’s arrival in real time and to pay electronically.

Are Taxis Safe in Medellín?

Taxis in Medellín are generally safe, especially when booked via reputable taxi companies or apps. It’s always advisable to use common sense and take standard safety precautions, such as avoiding unmarked taxis and sharing your trip details with someone you trust.

Common Taxi Scams in Medellín?

While taxi scams are not rampant, they do occur, especially targeting tourists. Common scams include taking longer routes to increase the fare and claiming that the meter is broken to negotiate a higher fixed rate. Using taxi apps can mitigate these risks by providing a record of your trip and a predetermined route. Mapping apps like Google Maps can also be helpful to ensure you are taking the most direct route.

Here’s a comprehensive list of potential taxi scams that travelers should be aware of when visiting Medellin:

  1. Tampered Meters: Some taxi drivers may use tampered meters that run faster than usual to overcharge passengers. Always ensure the meter is reset at the start of your journey, and ask the driver to stop if it seems like the meter is running faster than it should.
  2. The Scenic Route: This occurs when a driver takes a longer route to increase the fare. It’s advisable to have a general idea of the route or to use a GPS-enabled device to track your journey.
  3. Fixed Price Offers: Drivers might offer a fixed price for a journey that is significantly higher than what the metered fare would be. Insist on using the meter unless you are sure the fixed price is reasonable.
  4. Refusal to Use Meter: Some drivers may refuse to use the meter, especially during peak hours or in tourist areas, to negotiate a higher fare. It’s best to find another taxi if the driver refuses to use the meter.
  5. Switching Notes: A driver might switch a high-value note for a smaller one, claiming you gave insufficient payment. To avoid this, use small bills and announce the denomination aloud as you hand it over.
  6. Counterfeit Money: There are instances where taxi drivers give counterfeit change to unsuspecting passengers. Familiarize yourself with the local currency and check the change you receive.
  7. Belongings Theft: Never leave your belongings unattended in the taxi. Some drivers or accomplices might steal items from your luggage, especially if it’s stored out of your sight.
  8. Airport Scams: At airports, some unofficial taxi drivers might claim to offer a better rate but end up charging much more. Always use authorized taxi services or pre-booked rides.
  9. Ride Hijacking: In rare cases, additional passengers might get into the taxi to intimidate you into paying more. Avoid shared taxis unless it’s a legitimate service where sharing is common.

To mitigate these risks, it’s advisable to use reputable taxi apps or services where the fares are standardized and the journeys are tracked. Keeping small change handy, being aware of the usual fares for common routes, and staying alert can also help avoid falling prey to these scams.

Do I Need to Tip Taxi Drivers in Medellín?

Tipping taxi drivers in Medellín is not customary, but it is appreciated for excellent service or when the driver helps with luggage. A small tip, rounding up to the nearest thousand pesos, is a kind gesture.

Other Ways to Get Around Medellín

Bus and bus driver at a bus stop

Medellín offers a variety of transportation options beyond ride-sharing apps and taxis, catering to different preferences and needs. Here are some of the alternative ways to explore and navigate the city:

Metro System

The Medellín Metro is the only metro system in Colombia, renowned for its cleanliness, safety, and efficiency. It connects major parts of the city, including residential areas, business districts, and tourist attractions. The system includes lines A and B (metro), J, K, L, M (Metrocable), and 1 and 2 (Tram).

  • Metro Fare: Tickets cost COP 2,500 (about $0.65 USD) for a one-way trip, making it an economical choice for getting around.
  • Website for more information: Medellín Metro

Metrocable

The Metrocable is a gondola lift system designed to reach some of the city’s hillier regions, providing not only a means of transportation but also stunning views of the city. It’s integrated with the Metro system, allowing for seamless transfers.

  • Metrocable Fare: The Metrocable is included in the price of a metro ticket when used as part of a continuous journey.
  • Website for more information: Medellín Metro

Buses

Medellín has an extensive network of city buses, including the newer, more efficient Integrado buses connect with Metro stations and are usually green, which operates along dedicated lanes. The rest are private buses that come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Buses are a great way to reach areas not covered by the Metro or Metrocable. Buses can be taken from dedicated stops, or in some cases flagged down along their route. Destinations are displayed in the front window of the bus but you might need to ask around to find out which bus is going your way if you’re not familiar with the city.

  • Bus Fare: Bus fares vary depending on the route but are generally around COP 2,000 – 2,500 (about $0.50 – $0.70 USD), with the fare displayed on the front window. Tickets can be purchased on board but carry small changes as drivers won’t be able to break large notes.
  • Website for more information: As many buses are privately operated, it can be difficult to find accurate, up-to-date information. However, Moovit has collated a lot of information on routes and schedules.

Bicycle Sharing

Medellín promotes cycling with Encicla, a free public bike-sharing system. It requires registration, and users can borrow bikes from numerous stations across the city. The service encourages short trips as part of the city’s sustainable transportation initiatives.

  • Website for more information: Encicla

Walking

Many of Medellín’s neighborhoods, especially in the city center and in areas like El Poblado, are pedestrian-friendly. Walking is a pleasant way to explore the city’s vibrant streets, parks, and plazas and experience the local culture up close.

How Do I Get from the Medeillín International Airport to the City Center?

Passengers with luggage in airport flat illustration
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José María Córdova International Airport, Medellín’s main airport, is located about 20 km (12 miles) southeast of the city center. Here are the main transportation options:

Private Transfer

Private airport transfers can be booked in advance for a hassle-free journey to your destination. Prices vary but start at around COP 75,000 ($20 USD) for a one-way trip to the city center.

Taxis

Official airport taxis can be found outside the arrivals hall. These whit taxis offer offer fixed-rate fares to Medellín, costing approximately COP 100,000 ($25 USD). The journey to the city center takes about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic.

Airport taxis also have the option to take a ‘collectivo’ ride paying for an individual seat in the taxi and sharing it with other passengers. Rides cost COP 25,000 ($6 USD) and take passengers to the San Diego Mall.

Buses

For travelers on a slightly tighter budget, regular buses and shared shuttle vans connect the airport with the city. The fare is around COP 20,000 ($5 USD) per person. Buses drop passengers off at the San Diego Mall or the downtown area (not recommended at night), from where you can catch a taxi or Metro to your final destination.

How to Travel Between Cities in the Colombia

Three passengers on a train reading books and tablets

Traveling between cities in Colombia offers a variety of options to suit different preferences, budgets, and time constraints. Here are the main modes of transportation available for intercity travel in Colombia.

Bus

Buses are one of the most popular and economical ways to travel between cities in Colombia. The country has an extensive network of bus routes connecting major cities and towns. Bus services range from basic to luxury, with amenities like air conditioning, reclining seats, and onboard restrooms.

  • Cost: Prices vary depending on the distance and the service level. For example, a bus ride from Medellín to Bogotá might cost between COP 60,000 to COP 120,000 (approximately 15-30 USD).
  • Booking: Tickets can be purchased at bus terminals or online through various bus company websites.

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Air Travel

Domestic flights in Colombia are a fast and convenient way to travel between major cities. Airlines like Avianca, LATAM, Viva Air, and Satena operate frequent flights connecting cities like Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, Cartagena, and more.

  • Cost: Airfare depends on the time of booking and the airline. A one-way ticket can range from COP 100,000 to COP 500,000 (approximately 25-125 USD).
  • Booking: Flights can be booked online through airline websites or travel agencies.

Car Rental

Renting a car is a flexible option for those who prefer to travel at their own pace and explore off-the-beaten-path destinations. Major international and local rental agencies are available in most cities.

  • Cost: Rental costs vary but expect to pay from COP 150,000 per day (approximately 38 USD), excluding fuel.
  • Booking: Cars can be rented online or at airport and city rental offices.

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Ride-Sharing and Taxis

While ride-sharing services like Uber are available in major cities, they are less common for intercity travel. Taxis for longer distances can be negotiated directly with drivers.

  • Cost: Varies greatly based on distance and negotiation.
  • Booking: Directly with the driver or through local taxi services.

Trains

Train travel is not a common mode of transportation for intercity travel in Colombia, as the country’s rail system is limited and primarily used for freight transport.

Tips for Intercity Travel in Colombia

  • Plan Ahead: Especially during peak travel seasons, it’s advisable to book tickets in advance.
  • Safety: Always use reputable transportation companies and be cautious when traveling at night.
  • Travel Insurance: Consider purchasing travel insurance for longer journeys or if traveling to remote areas.

Is There Uber Eats in Medellín?

Cartoon image of a man and his phone showing food delivery options

No, Uber Eats is no longer operating in Medellín. However, there are a number of other food delivery services that are available in the city in its place.

Altenrative Food Delivery Services in Medellín

Medellín boasts several other food delivery platforms that are highly popular and offer an array of culinary choices:

  • Domicilios.com: This is one of the most established food delivery services in Colombia, including Medellín. It has a vast selection of restaurants and types of food available for delivery.
  • Rappi: A local startup that has grown significantly across Latin America, Rappi offers not only food delivery from a wide range of restaurants but also grocery and pharmacy products. It’s known for its quick delivery and wide coverage in the city.

These platforms have user-friendly apps available for both iOS and Android devices, making it easy to browse menus, place orders, and track deliveries in real-time.

Ordering and Payment

Ordering through these platforms is straightforward: users can browse through the list of available restaurants, select their meals, and pay online using credit/debit cards, or, in some cases, cash on delivery. Promotions and discounts are frequently available, offering savings on a variety of meals and cuisines.

Final Thoughts on Uber in Medellín

Medellín’s transportation scene provides a mix of modern and traditional options, with Uber playing a significant role in how locals and tourists navigate the city. Whether opting for ride-sharing, taxis, the Metro, or exploring by foot, Medellín offers convenient and affordable ways to enjoy its beauty, culture, and attractions. Uber, along with other ride-sharing apps, complements the existing transportation infrastructure, ensuring that there’s a mode of transport to suit every need and preference. As the city continues to grow and evolve, so too does its approach to mobility, making Medellín not only a leading innovation hub but also a model for urban transportation in Latin America.

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