Comprising two (domestic and international) terminals, Bogota’s El Dorado International Airport is Colombia’s busiest and the third most trafficked airport in all of Latin America. As the most convenient aviation gateway into the country, Bogota International Airport handles over 50 percent of the air traffic in and out of the country, with over 30 million people transiting through its gates every year. That’s more than twice the amount of passenger air traffic of Lima’s International Airport. Located about 15 kilometres west of the city centre, the airport is bordered by the neighbourhoods of Engavita and Fontibon, and connected to the heart of the city via Avenida 26, or Avenida Eldorado.
Over the last decade, Bogota’s airport has ranked among the best in the world and certainly the most efficient and friendly in all of South America. Originally built in the mid-1950s, El Dorado has undergone major restructure and renovation over the years, and the addition of Puente Aereo – a terminal dedicated solely to servicing the national carrier Avianca Airline – has now created two separate hubs: the main international and domestic terminal (T1) and Puente Aereo (T2) which is used to handle the domestic overflow. When arriving in Bogota (and most importantly, when leaving) do make sure to double check which terminal you’ll need to reach. A free 20-minute shuttle bus service connects T1 with T2.
The government released plans to build a secondary airport in Bogota, so far named El Dorado II, to deal with the ever-increasing volume of passengers and cargo coming to and from Colombia. Work is expected to end in 2020, and the new airport, also located west of Bogota, is expected to be linked to the existing one via a high-speed rail line. By the end of 2017, new extension work is expected to include new VIP lounges, more Duty Free shopping option, and additional food and beverage outlets. This airport operates 24 hours a day.
Major airlines operating from Bogota
A total of 25 international airlines run service to and from Bogota, the main ones being:
- Aerolinas Argentinas
- Air Canada
- Air France
- American Airlines
- Avianca (connecting to almost all of its fellow Latin American nations)
- Delta Airlines
- LATAM (from several Latin American countries)
- Turkish Airlines
- United Airlines
Regional Airlines operating from Bogota
Half a dozen airlines service the most popular domestic destinations within Colombia, with the top three most popular hubs being Medellin, Cali and Cartagena.
- Copa Airlines Colombia
- Viva Colombia
You’ll find info desks in both terminals and dedicated tourist information desks at the arrivals area.
Getting to and from Bogota International Airport
Avenida Eldorado (Avenida 26) leads from the airport straight to the city centre, and it should take about half an hour at most to cover the 15-kilometre distance by private transfer or taxi. Given the convenient location of El Dorado, it is very easy to get into town, however, for even more convenience and peace of mind, organizing a private transfer straight to your hotel is the best (and fastest option) especially if arriving or leaving late at night or in the early morning.
A very efficient Mass Rapid Transit Bus (Transmilenio) and regular SITP buses supply the short route into town but you’ll have to purchase tickets at the station in the local currency before catching public transport.
Two taxi options (yellow and white) are also on offer, with yellow being ‘regular’ taxis and white being the deluxe version. Surcharges apply for airport services and pre-paid vouchers must be purchased before you join the taxi rank queue.
It is uncommon for first-time visitors to land in Bogota and connect to an onward flight immediately. While it is certainly possible – but plan on having at least 2 hours up your sleeve and hope for no delays arriving – it is much more advisable to spend at least 2-3 days in this wonderfully vibrant capital city. There’s so much to see and do in Bogota. And whatever you do, check with your agent regarding connection times via Bogota, whether domestic or international. Regulations can differ between airlines and destinations, and you may be required to collect your luggage here before moving on, rather than have your luggage transferred. Trust your agent to know best.
Hotels offering day-room rates abound around El Dorado International Airport. The following hotels offer rates between 10am and 7pm. All offer free shuttle transfers, but please, note that day rooms cannot be booked. They are based on availability by day.
- Sheraton Bogota Airport
- Aloft Bogota Airport
- Holiday Inn Bogota Airport
If arriving in the afternoon and needing somewhere close-by for a little shuteye, then the following hotels may be more suitable:
- All three mentioned above
- Hotel Habitel
- Hotel Tequendama
- San Pablo Hotel
Once again, all the above mentioned hotels offer free airport pick-up and drop off.
Colombian currency, the peso (COP) is denoted by a dollar sign ($). At time of writing, USD 1 will buy you approximated COP 3,000. The most common small denominations used in Bogota are 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 peso coins. Although Colombia’s neighbours readily accept USD notes for payments, this is not the case here, so always make sure you have cash in the local currency and do keep small notes handy for minor purchases. The Spanish word for ‘thousand’ (mil) is commonly used by locals when quoting prices, so keep this in mind. Many vendors also get lazy with their own currency, so if someone asks for 5 or 10 pesos, trust that they mean to add a ‘mil’ at the end of their price. Several exchange bureaus are located in the domestic and arrivals’ areas of both T1 and T2.
Medical services for passengers is offered by Aerosanidad, and they can easily be contacted via airport staff in case of an emergency. You’ll find a well-stocked pharmacy both in the departures and arrivals areas of T1 and a general and vaccination medical facility (run by the Fontibon Hospital) on the second floor of the New Terminal.
You’ll find a food court in both terminals, and quite a few cafés are located airside as well. In all, there are over 30 food outlets at El Dorado, so if you wish to squeeze another visit at Crepes & Waffles – Colombia’s favourite food-chain institution – you’ll be in luck. Ubiquitous airport food outlets like Dunkin Donuts, Burger King and McDonald are present, as well as plenty of international food options, including Japanese and Italian. For a local taste head to Juan Valdez Café for top-notch coffee and arepitas, mini versions of the corn & cheese pastries sold in street stands all over the country.
A selection of VIP lounges are found at Bogota’s International Airport
Avianca Sala VIP – Location: New National Terminal, Airside.
Hours: 6:30AM – 4:00 PM * 7:00PM – 10:30PM (Daily).
Lounge access: Pay at door (US$30)
Sala Elite Copa Airlines Colombia – Location: National Terminal, Airside, North Wing, between gates 3 and 5
Avianca Sala VIP – Location: New National Terminal, Airside, 3rd floor, near gate 28. Showers are available.
Hours: Open 24 hours (Daily)
Lounge access: Pay at door (US$30)
Sala VIP LATAM – Location: New National Terminal, Airside, 3rd floor, in front of Gates 34 – 35. Showers are available.
Hours: 2:00AM – 12:30AM (Daily)
Avianca Sala VIP – Location:Puente Aéreo, Airside, 2nd floor
Hours: 6:30AM – 4:00PM * 7:00PM – 10:30PM (Daily)
Lounge access: Pay at door (US$30)
Wifi access is offered, free of charge, throughout the entire airport.
You’ll find ATMs on the on the first and second floors of T1, as well as the arrival’s hall of T2.
Left-luggage facilities are found near Entrance 1 in the international terminal, near the Hertz Rental Car outlet. You can store your luggage for a maximum of 24 hours, for a small charge.
Local craft shops and boutiques are found in both terminals, with a dedicated Duty-Free section found in the international departures area. Good quality souvenirs (including leathergoods, coffee and emeralds) are sold at the airport duty free so if you didn’t manage to buy all you wanted in Bogota’s markets and shops just head to the airport early and you can shop to your heart’s content.
Dream of travelling to Colombia? Bogota’s El Dorado International Airport is your ideal introduction and gateway to this fascinating, colourful and unforgettable destination. For fantastic itinerary ideas, check out our comprehensive Colombia tour page and contact us for more info.
Author: Laura Pattara
“Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 15 years. She’s tour-guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and has completed a 6-year motorbike trip from Europe to Australia. What ticks her fancy most? Animal encounters in remote wilderness, authentic experiences off the beaten trail and spectacular Autumn colours in Patagonia.”