Gay Medellín Guide: The Essential Guide To Gay Travel In Medellín Colombia 2018

Gay Medellin Colombia - Comuna 13

Medellín in Colombia, once the infamous personal fiefdom of Pablo Escobar and know as one of the worlds most dangerous cities, has undergone a truly radical change in the past two decade.

While Medellín is still a little rough around the edges in places, today it has developed a reputation for innovation, social awareness, gastronomy and above all, being one of the most progressive cities in Latin America. Anywhere you go on the Gringo Trail in South America, people whisper of this fabulous city, it’s wild parties, its beautiful people and how electrifying the atmosphere is! Being the second biggest city in Colombia, Medellín is a hub of LGBT life in Colombia (well – tied with the Gay Bogotá scene), and you will find here queer life out on full display – more so than many of the more conservative countries in Latin America (or indeed areas of North America and Europe), which many travellers find extremely liberating.

While Medellín was not always so accepting of LGBT culture, in large part due to it’s strong Catholic heritage, today – much like the rest of Colombia – this friendly city is embracing diversity, welcoming citizens and travellers alike with open arms as part of Medellín’s  rich and colourful social tapestry. This supportive attitude culminates yearly in the annual Medellín Pride celebrations in June when, in stark contrast to North American Prides, the entire community marches claiming the steets for unapologetically Latin experience with an day of fiesta and celebration. Medellín, a city transformed, sucks you in and invites you to stay much longer than you plan. With all-night parties, beautiful green spaces, diverse neighbourhoods and a booming gastronomical scene Medellín should be top of the list for any gay travellers in Colombia!

Gay Medellin Colombia - Street Art in Comuna 13

Gay Medellín Guide: The Essential Guide To Gay Travel In Medellín Colombia 2018

Gay-friendly Attractions in Medellín

Being such a queer-friendly city, many of the attractions in Medellín gay travellers will want to see are the top attractions in Medellín anyway. All travellers in Medellín should take caution in less-developed areas with valuables and take taxi’s or ride share apps (especially if you do not speak Spanish) at night – and always listen to local advice when exploring. Gay travellers in Medellín should take special care in less developed areas in terms of public displays of affection where many residents may be less exposed to LGBT culture and may hold conservative attitudes…Though any reaction is more likely to be curious than outrage. Overall Medellín is very safe, especially compared to other Latin American cities, and a common-sense approach to travel will general ensure you have no issues exploring this beautiful and diverse city.

Gay Medellin Colombia - Comuna 13

Medellín is a truly vast city that extends through the Aburrá valley and surrounded by magical mountains so allow as many days as possible to explore. For art lovers a visit to the Museum of Antioquia is a absolute must (aka the Botero Museum filled with works by one of the most famous modern artist alive today – though the actually Botero Museum is another reason to also check out the Bogota Gay scene). For those interested in the modern street art in Medellín, or just wanted to see a more local way of life, a visit to Comuna 13 is an absolute must. Once on of the most dangerous areas in all of Medellín – today is has had a complete turn-around with the help of community initiatives , small businesses, some escalators and intriguing street art. You are able to explore some parts on your own – though be warned it is rather hard to get here and you will see and learn far more by going with an experience guide on a Communa 13 tour. You can also get some great aerial over-views of these areas from the Medellín cable-car system, especially the Metrocable which takes you up and over the mountains to Arví Park. A huge reserve perfect for hiking, cycling or simply visiting the hippy markets which take place here in the weekend.

Gay Medellin Colombia - Metrocable to Park Arvi

In Medellín you will quickly find the centre of gay life is in trendy Poblado around the Parque Lleras, but of course there are many, many other places you should explore in the city. One unique way to experience Medellín is with a local and your stomach, and Tasty Town Medellín food tours offers off the beaten track tours so you can really discover the heart-and-soul of Colombian food (while making recommendations for the best new restaurants opening in Medellín). They also offer an fun cooking class and tours to a local coffee farm which is something any caffeine addict should do at least once in Colombia. If you are looking to meet other LGBT travellers and supporters it is very popular to hike the Hills of Three Crosses (Cerro de Las Tres Cruces) on a Sunday or enjoy picnic’s at the Park Ciudad del Rio on weekends. There is also an event on at the roof-fop bar of The Charlee Lifestyle Hotel on the last Sunday of every month which is extremely popular amongst both the local and expat Medellín LGBT community.

Gay Medellin Colombia - Tasty Town Food Tour of Medellin

There is also plenty to do outside of the valley of Medellín, but our three favourite places are the small town of Jardin, the rock of El Peñol in Guatapé and Santa Fe de Antioquia. 

Jardin is often described as one of the most beautiful pueblos in all of Colombia and you can really get it all: coffee plantations, waterfalls, soaring mountains and all from the back of a horse. Now if only a hunky Colombian wrangler was also guaranteed.

And who would have thought a rock would be one of the best day trips from Medellín, but yes – the rock of El Peñol in Guatapé and it’s bizarre staircase draws in massive crowded who come to see the view of the surreal lake landscape formed below thanks to a dam formation. Normally combined with lunch and a visit to the delightfully coloured Pueblo de Zócalos – you get to hit two of the best instagram spots in Colombia in only one day!

If your more for history and a bit of wandering then Santa Fe de Antioquia is your best bet, a sleepy town that was one of the first towns in Gran Colombia with a side-visit to the famous visiting the Occidente Bridge. We really were not joking when we said Medellín had it all – It’s no wonder everyone ends up extending their stay.

Gay-friendly Dining in Medellín

As previously mentioned, Medellín has a very gay-friendly vibe and with so many places to explore (and a booming foodie scene) there is no need to limit yourself. Below is a few of the more popular, trendy places that have opened – and one institution everyone must visit – that you should try to visit, perhaps as a warm-up for the crazy gay nightlife in Medellín…

  • Carmen ($$$$) in Poblado – An elegant modernist interior serving up contemporary South American fine dining – what more could you want? You can’t go part the Cartagena inspired plantain-crusted fish with coconut rice risotto. Delicious!
  • Queareparaenamorarte ($$$$) in Retiro – It doesn’t get much better than this. Made famous by Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations they serve high quality Colombian fusion food in a exotic surrounding. The only downside is the location 45 minutes out of town so you will either need to rent a car in Medellín or take a ride share / taxi. But it will be a highlight of your entire trip!
  • Kabuki Cocina ($$) in Poblado  – Thousands of people can’t be wrong, this is a top choice in Poblado. An innovative Peruvian and Japanese fusion food, a central location and whimsical fairy lights makes this an unforgettable dining experience.
  • Hato Viejo ($$) in Centro – The place to go to try traditional Medellín dishes in a festive atmosphere. Waiters play their part, they have generous portions of Bandeja paisa (a must-try) and it’s central location makes it a great place to break while exploring downtown Medellín.
  • Cafe Zorba  ($$$) in Poblado – A trendy vegetarian cafe with plenty of indoor and out-door seating on the edge of President Park. Great for people watching, through the real delight is their pizza’s, salads and desserts!
  • Cariñito Mio Café ($$$) in Cuidad del Rio –  A casual cafe popular with locals. They serve great coffee and pastries in a colourful and cheery environment. Perfect for a digital nomad or simply striking up a conversation.

A city the size of Medellín has plenty more to explore!

We advise getting a full guidebook if you are staying for more than a night or two. It probably won’t have any information on Gay Medellín – that’s what we are here for – but it will have useful tips and an exhaustive list of the best attractions across Colombia to assist you on your fabulous adventure!

 

Gay Medellin Colombia - Bandeja paisa

Gay-friendly and Gay Hotels in Medellín

In Medellín you would be hard pressed to find a major hotel which had any issues with gay guests  – especially in the swanky neighbourhoods of El Poblado and Envigado (South-East) or Laureles (West and South of downtown – but some hotels are more popular with queer travellers due to their location and and inclusive environment or vibe, which are features here. These gay-friendly hotel in Medellín are frequented by members of the LGBT community and have great reputations. Each hotel and area offer something very specific, so be sure to choose the right style and location to meet your needs. Prices are cheap compared to North American and European hotels (thought quickly rising) and standards are high – so it’s a great place to splurge! Of course there are also hundred’s more hotel and hostel options in Medellín if none of these suit your desired budget, facilities or area!

Even choosing where to stay in Medellín is overwhelming, but luckily tourist accomodation is  centred around two areas: The upscale El Poblado / Zone Rosa neighbourhood with trendy bars, clubs and plenty of green spaces (and is safe to walk at all times of day or night), and the middle class neighbourhoods of Laureles, Estadio and Suramericana across the river which are more authentic with more locals, salsa clubs and cheaper prices. Accomodation in the downtown or Prado neighbourhood are not recommended as while they are beautiful to explore with caution during the day, at night are very seedy and best avoided.

Medellin Gay Guide - Metro Subway in Medellin Centro

Medellín is a giant city, and with many locations worth visiting. Don’t be afraid to explore outside your neighbourhood – either with the effective subway and Metrocable or using a ride-sharing app (which is cheaper than taxis, safer and you can preset your destination so nothing gets lost in translation!) 

  • Butterfly Gay Hostel ☆☆ – Newly opened in Poblado, this modern hostel with chic-eco design offers dorms and private rooms with pretty low prices. Great for meeting other LGBT travellers in Medellín and those on a budget. 
  • Tu Hotel Roma Medellin ☆☆☆ – Ok, so the central Prado neighbourhood is not an ideal area to stay – but if you speak Spanish and are comfortable in Latin America the Tu Hotel Roma is the only gay hotel in Medellin specifically catering to gay, lesbian and trans travellers. Speaking Spanish is a must here but it is a basic hotel with an on-site security guard, kind staff and is only 5 minutes from the subway station.
  • Hotel Vivre ☆☆☆ – A great option in the local Suraamericana neighbourhood, close to plenty of restaurants and bars. Clean and basic, this is the hotel for those who want consistency and no surprises.
  • Inntu Hotel ☆☆☆ – A budget-friendly spa hotel in the up-and-coming Laureles neighbourhood, the Inntu Hotel offers clean, well-designed rooms with an splash of luxury in the interior swimming pool complex. Hyper modern – this hotel offers elegance on a budget in a unique location.
  • Viaggio Medellín Grand Select ☆☆☆☆ – Loft and apartment living in Poblado, the Viaggo is perfect for a longer stay, with huge rooms and great outdoor public terraces. Sleek and white, this gay friendly hotel in Medellín is extremely popular, in large part to its city views and luxurious in-room free standing bath tubs!
  • NH Collection Royal ☆☆☆☆☆ – An up-scale spa hotel chain set back in a quiet corner of Poblado, this hotel offers city views, minimalist stylings and a tropical outdoor pool. Close to the best mall in Medellín (the Santa Fe Mall) with plenty of dining options either on-site or nearby!
  • The Charlee Hotel ☆☆☆☆☆ – Located in Poblado on the Parque Lleras (the centre of gay life in Medellín) this luxurious hotel offers rotating art installations, plush rooms with a mix of Balinese and European charm (it works!) and terrace rooms with incredible views over the city. Don’t forget the rooftop cocktail bar, outdoor pool and gym with hot-tun – The Charlee Hotel is the best 5-star boutique offering in Medellín.

Not your style? Want something a bit different? Really want to experience the Medellín gay scene? Why not take a look at misterbandb – gay alternative to airbnb where you can stay or rent rooms from gay locals in cities all over the world with zero hassles. What better way to know your staying gay-friendly! Get 10€ off  you first stay right now with one-click sign up!

Medellin Gay Guide - Outlook of Medellin Downtown

Gay Bars and Gay Clubs in Medellín

Anyone who knows anything about Latin America knows they love to party here, and Medellín leads the continent with it’s nightlife. New clubs and events are taking place consistently here so it pays to ask around when you arrive (hotel staff are a good bet) but at the moment here are the most popular nightlife spots and gay clubs in Medellín for travellers and locals. Things will get crazy – but just go with it. Just don’t forget your common sense. 

  • Zero Nightclub By Purple Bar – A crowd favourite just one block from Parque Lleras, Zero Nightclub plays a mixture of reggaeton, recent hits, R&B, and electronica well into the night. Drag shows throughout the week – and a healthy mix of expats and locals, though come early if you want to avoid a cover charge most nights.
  • BarChiquita – The hippest new-gay bar in Medellín, located in Poblado. Modern decor, kitschy art, killer cocktails and the freedom to be exactly who you are. What more can you want?
  • Viva Discotek – One of the biggest gay bars in Medellín, and the most famous – Viva’s dance floor can hold over 1,000 people and blasts mostly reggaeton and electronica with a dash of salsa in the more intimate second dance floor. Popular with locals of all types, check their Facebook page in advance to see the many themed parties they host.
  • Vintrash – A modern bar focussed on upcycling and ambience. Music here focuses on Latin, indie and electronic music – and their is a restaurant downstairs which gets good reviews. Very popular with the LGBT community in Medellín but by no means exclusive. 
  • La Cantina de Javi – A gay dive bar in the centre of the city, the booze is cheap, the atmosphere distinctly cantina like and it’s happening here on weekends from Wednesday til Sunday. Make sure to take a ride-share app directly here and back, but for an authentic taste of gay Medellín life. 
  • Donde Aquellos – A famous institution in Pobaldo frequented by the LGBT community in Medellín. With chic design, a great outdoor space and delicious cocktails this is more a place to meet and share a drink before hitting some of the more steamy dance-floors in  Medellín.
  • Wake Up Entertainment – Not a physical space but a entertainment group that is famed for it’s international DJs and all night-raging parties in industrial spaces. More LGBT friendly than exclusive, but there is something for everyone at this not-to-be-missed fiesta!

 

Medellin Gay Guide - Gar Bars in Medellin

Gay Saunas and Bathhouses in Medellín

Unlike some more Western countries, saunas and bathhouses in Medellín are still all the rage. Here are the biggest, with a reputation for being friendly to foreign travellers. Be aware that prostitution is legal in Colombia only in designated tolerance zones. Rent boys are common in sauna’s here, but at your own risk. It is not advised to visit Medellín’s Calle del Pecado (The Street of Sin) no matter what you here – It is extremely dangerous with drug dealers and pimps, and police will likely harass any foreigner found in or around this area. 

Gay sauna or not, in any sexual encounter, please take adequate precautions. No matter what your intentions are in Gay Medellin, you should bring your own condoms and lube to play it safe. Take home a hot guy or a hot memory, not an STD.

Besides, you never know what other fun surprises your trip might have in store for you…

Gay Medellin Sauna
  • Barbacoas Bathhouse – Located in the seedy / gay party area of Barbacoas is this hidden Medellín bathhouse. Clean, cheap and plenty of fun to be had – this is full of hot Colombian men, with none of the posing. 
  • Club de Tobi – Medellín’s most famous bathhouse, which is popular with tourists. A chic atmosphere, beautiful pool and plenty of lounging areas – Though it maybe too sophisticated as the action is more subdued here.
  • Sauna Club 55 – Modern and new – Sauna Club 55 is a good mix between sophisticated and full of action. The only downside here is the 9pm closing time…But good for mid-afternoon fix.
  • Olympo Club – Clean establishment and clientele with excellent staff. Good action, but the organised parties tend to lack any atmosphere.
  • Spartacus Sauna Medellin – A quiet place in Medellin City Centre. Facilities include a wet sauna, Turkish baths,“relaxing” massages, dark rooms and video rooms.
  • Hammam Club Turco Y Sauna – A quiet place with sauna, solarium and bar. Open every day.
  • La Caverna Medellin – A unsafe sauna only mentioned so you know to avoid. Prostitution and illicit drug consumed onsite draws a lot of crime and police attention to guests.

Gay Sauna Medellin

Gay Events In Medellín

A few of the biggest event on the Gay Medellín calendar each year – However in this city, the party never stops so whenever you choose to come, you can guarantee there will be some must-attend event going on. Gay Medellín just doesn’t stop!

  • Colombia’s Fashion Week in July 2018 – One of Medellín’s biggest annual events where over 50,000 people fly from all over the world to attend what is said to be Latin America’s finest display of fashion. Plenty of new faces, interesting people and event on over this week as models, designers and industry insiders come to work and play.
  • Banana Splitter (every other month) – A inclusive gay nightlife organization who host legendary parties all over town. Costumes, light and sound create a unique experience where Medellín’s gay subculture is on full display
  • Medellín Pride in July 2018 – Crazy, wild, unforgettable. In true Latin style the streets are over-run in Medellín as sexy boys and girls take over in a show of culture, solidarity and equality. A inclusive event where everyone takes part, there are no bystanders here and you will be whipped away in the atmosphere of it all. An event to plan any gay travel to Medellín around! 

Gay Medellín Map