Stefan Arestis | Feb 26, 2018 | 4
Medellin gay guide: the best bars, clubs, hotels and things to do
Medellin used to be considered the crime capital of Colombia. However, over the past 10 years it has undergone a huge transition to become one of the safest and most advanced places in the entire country.
Medellin is also a very gay friendly city. The paisas (people of Medellin) are very welcoming and there’s also a large gay scene here. What impressed us the most was a public sign we spotted, which sets out the various police fines you can get: one of them was for homophobic abuse, which carries a fine of 657,000 Colombian pesos ($224). Whether this is actually enforced is another matter entirely, but the very fact that this is even in place speaks volumes!
We spent 4 months in Medellin, using it as a home base during our big trip in Latin America and loved it. This is our gay guide to Medellin featuring our favourite gay bars, clubs, gay friendly hotels to stay things to do.
Table of Contents
Gay bars in Medellin
Poblado is the main touristy heart of the city, with all the best restaurants, bars and hotels. In the evening, around Parque Lleras, it’s an extremely fun place to be, full of life, atmosphere and a few gay bars.
- Bar Chiquita: this was our favourite gay bar in Medellin. It has yellow twin flamingo statues outside to welcome you. The staff are gorgeous and extremely friendly here. They also make delicious cocktails and have a large outdoor terrace. We loved coming here for evening cocktails before heading to one of the gay clubs in Medellin. Bar Chiquita is open on Wednesday to Saturday from 6pm till 2am and is located at Carrera 37 # 10-37 Local 205.
- Donde Aquellos: this was our other favourite gay bar in Medellin. It’s slightly more cruisy than Bar Chiquita and also has a large outdoor terrace, making it ideal for people watching. Donde Aquellos is open everyday from 5pm to 4am and is located at Carrera 38 N° 9A – 26 near Parque Lleras.
There are a handful of other gay bars dotted around the city, which we never got round to visiting, but are still open and thriving today:
- San Marcos Restaurante Bar: this is a gay restobar located in the Laureles neighbourhood, which many of our local friends raved about. It’s open daily from 6:30pm to 2am and address is: Calle 34 # 66B – 53.
- La Cantina de Javi: an iconic gay bar in the downtown Centro neighbourhood of Medellin, which is in the style of a traditional Mexican cantina. It’s open Wednesday to Sunday from 8pm to 4am and address is: Calle 58 # 47 – 18.
- Ink Bar 33: popular gay bar in Medellin north of the Laureles neighbourhoud, near Viva gay club. It’s open everyday from 5pm-4am and address is: Calle 33 # 78 – 141.
Gay clubs in Medellin
Medellin has 3 main gay clubs, which get especially busy on the weekends. Whenever we went to any gay club in Medellin with friends, we’d usually share a bottle of rum or the local aniseed tasting brew: aguardiente. Word of warning, if you’re hitting the aguardiente, factor in a massive hangover the following day…!
- Viva Discotek: Viva is a huge club north of the Laureles neighbourhood and becomes a massive gay party on Saturday evenings. It’s got a large main dance area with reggaeton and electronic music, and a second separate dance area, more intimate, with salsa and other latin classic styles. We loved it just for this – gay couples dancing salsa together in one room, while twerking to a Maluma reggaeton beat in the other! Viva is only open Saturdays from 9pm to 4am and is located as Calle 51 #73-100 near the Stadium.
- Zero (Purple): Zero gay club is right in the heart of everything in Lleras Park, Poblado. It used to be called Purple, so there may be confusing reference to that in some places. It’s quite small, but always gets packed full of pretty paisa boys. We love it because they play a cool mix of Latino pop classics, which if like us you love, remember to have your Shazam to hand. Zero is open Thursday to Saturday from 10pm to 4pm and address is: Calle 10a # 36-2.
- Industry Club: the other popular gay club in Poblado, but more focused on electronic and crossover music and spread over 2 dance halls. We loved the atmosphere here, and if electro music’s your thing, you’ll love it here. We personally love Latino pop more, so preferred Zero and Viva for party. Industry is open on Friday and Saturdays from 10pm till 4am and location is: Calle 26A #43F 72.
Gay friendly hotels in Medellin
Poblado is where most tourists base themselves in Medellin because it’s where the bulk of the gay scene is, as well as the best restaurants and large shopping malls like Santa Fe. It’s also the most expensive part of town, so the further away you go from Poblado, the cheaper your accommodation options will get. These are the best gay and gay friendly hotels and other accommodations we found in Medellin:
Patio del Mundo: boutique hotel
Romantic and gorgeous intimate guesthouse in Poblado, which we also loved because of its proximity to the gay bars and clubs in Lleras Park. Patio del Mundo is located in a quiet residential street, with extremely friendly staff and a delicious bountiful breakfast. The gardens are stunning, and as a bonus, it has its own Jacuzzi for guests.
Rooms at the Patio del Mundo start from $520,000 Colombian pesos ($177/£136) a night. You can check availability and read more about it on Tripadvisor.
Sites 45 Hotel: medium budget
Sites 45 is around 15 minutes walk from the gay bars in Poblado, but nicely located in a very residential quiet neighbourhood. Rooms are really spacious and they’ve got excellent customer service. It also has a common area with gym and a rooftop pool.
Rooms at Sites 45 start from 290,000 Colombian pesos ($98/£75) a night. You can check availability and read more about it on Tripadvisor.
Hotel Roma: gay budget hotel
Hotel Roma was the only official gay hotel in Medellin we could find. It’s actually based in downtown, Centro Medellin, which is a taxi ride away from the gay bars in Poblado but close to La Cantina de Javi gay bar.
Rooms at Hotel Roma start from 32,000 Colombian pesos ($11/£8) a night. Check out their website for more information.
Live like a local: Airbnb
If you prefer to have your own place, there are many locals renting out their apartments on Airbnb. In Poblado you’ll find really beautiful apartments, which are dedicated to just rental tenants. They are expensive, but will have their own rooftop pools and even a small gym. If you venture outside Poblado to residential neighbourhoods like Laureles, you’ll find more affordable options.
You can claim $40/£30 off your first booking on Airbnb using our unique link. If staying more long term, we recommend joining some of the expat groups on Facebook where locals also advertise their apartments.
Things to do in Medellin
Here’s a summary of some of the best not-to-miss sightseeing highlights in Medellin:
- Plaza Botero: Fernando Botero is a Colombian artist, who is famous for his abstract, exaggerated bronze statues. They’re quite hilarious and worth seeing: imagine a giant muscly roman soldier with teeny dick or large fat woman sitting on a tiny horse.
- Cable car to Arvi Park: the metro is the pride of Colombia and includes several cable car rides. The most scenic is the cable car from Acevedo metro station all the way to Arvi Park, which goes from 1,900-2700m (6,230-8,860ft) high. Arvi Park itself is worth exploring and great for picnics. Tip: bring a jumper – there’s a slight drop in temperature the higher you go!
- Grafitti tour in Comuna 13: Comuna 13 used to be Medellin’s most dangerous neighbourhood but has since reinvented itself through art. The street art here is testament to that and as such, graffiti tours with a local is a must. It’s fascinating and quite touching to see how the youth in this neighbourhood used art and music to better their lives, which has over the past decade contributed to improving one of the city’s poorest areas.
- Picnic at Castillo Castle Museum: Castillo Castle in Poblado is stunning and is surrounded by some very beautiful gardens. Imagine the picture perfect backdrop of a wedding photo – this is it! The museum offers tours of the grandiose interior, and on a clear sunny day, the gardens are perfect for a picnic with friends.
- Dining out in Poblado: Poblado has the best restaurants of Medellin, especially around Lleras Park. It even has a decent Greek restaurant called The Greek Connection, which impressed our Stefan. Another favourite was El Cielo, a gourmet experience with 9 fabulous courses.
- Day trips from Medellin: if you have time, we strongly recommend taking a day trip to one of the small towns near Medellin. This area is famous for its coffee and the scenery is stunning. Our favourite is Guatape, a small town around 2 hours away from the Caribe bus station. It’s famous for its pretty, colourful, cutesy buildings, which are decorated with colourful bas-reliefs. You can also climb the Piedra del Peñol, a giant granite rock. It has 740 steps to the top, but once there, you’re rewarded with some of the best views you’ll find in the whole of Colombia.
- Flower Festival in August: if you’re in Medellin in late July/early August, check out the Flower Festival. It takes over the entire city for 2 weeks and is full of large concerts, contests, parties and culminates with a large colourful parade on the final day. To find out more, check out our 5 highlights of the Flower Festival in Medellin and watch our vlog about it here:
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