Gay mega clubbing with 5,000 Colombian boys in Bogota? Tick!
Swimming in a rainbow river, the Caño Cristales?Tick!
Remote paradisiac Caribbean Islands like Providencia? Tick!
Partying in the most exciting Carnival of South America outside of Rio? Tick!
Sniffin’ up tons of fresh cocaine in Pedro-Escobar-heartland: Medellin? Ti…no wait…
…you may also have been inspired to visit this incredible country from Netflix’s Narcos series, but as every Colombian will rightly tell you, the awful cocaine industry that gripped the country with an ugly civil war for decades is now ancient history. And good riddance to it!
Colombia has evolved to not only become one of the best and safest tourist destinations in all of South America, it has also become one of the most gay friendly.
We spent 6 months travelling in Colombia during our big trip in Latin America, using Medellin and Bogota as a base. We cannot rave enough about it! We were captivated, mesmerised and totally impressed. Colombia is such a rewarding destination offering beaches, culture, gay scene, loads of partying, beautiful landscapes, and some of the hottest people to walk our planet!
Medellin is Colombia’s second city. What used to be the capital of a billion-dollar cocaine industry has now transformed into an exciting, super modern and buzzing gay friendly metropolis.
The Paisas (the nickname of people from Medellin) often compete with the Rolos (the nickname given to the people from Bogota) as to who is better. A common joke is that Medellin has the best weather (the “City of Eternal Spring”) and unlike Bogota, has managed to build a successful public transport system – honestly, mention that to them and it will spark a whoooole long conversation about it!
In terms of the gay scene, however, Bogota wins for us hands down simply because of the incredible super club, Theatron! The gay scene of Medellin is just as vibrant to explore, of course, particularly around El Poblado, where the majority of the city’s best nightlife can be found.
We spent almost a year living in Medellin and during that period we were fortunate enough to try out various different places to stay. We’ve put together our 6 best gay friendly hotels in Medellin for gay travellers, where you can feel confident you’ll be welcomed as a queer traveller and won’t have any problems getting a double bed.
Where to base yourself in Medellin
The majority of the best gay bars and clubs of Medellin can be found in and around El Poblado. This was definitely one of our favourite parts of Medellin as you’re close to the main gay bars as well as to the city’s best restaurants. The majority of the best luxury hotel brands are in Poblado, but the downside is that it is not cheap: this is one of the most expensive parts of the city!
Whilst Bogota in Colombia is home to the largest gay club in South America, Medellin is notorious for having the most beautiful guys…the famous hot singer, Maluma, is a Paisa boy…just sayin’…
The people from Medellin and the area around it are nicknamed “Paisas”.
Mmm mmm! Gimme some of that sweet Maluma sugar any day of the week
They are a proud and fun bunch who live in a city notorious for having an “eternal spring” weather throughout the year. As such, it makes it a popular base for digital nomads and startups. We based ourselves in Medellin for almost a year because of this.
Medellin also has a fun gay scene to explore. Whilst it’s not as big as the Chapinero gay scene of Bogota, there are still plenty of awesome Medellin gay bars to check out, which we’ve summarised in this article. For more, be sure to check out our comprehensive gay guide to Medellin.
Where are the Medellin Gay Bars?
The majority of the gay bars of Medellin are located in the “El Poblado” area. This is the touristic beating heart of Medellin, where the city’s best hotels, restaurants and nightlife can be found. It’s a lot of fun here. There’s always an electric and young vibe, particularly at weekends. The Paisas love to party and will quickly embrace you.
Outside of El Poblado, there are gay bars dotted around in other neighbourhoods of Medellin, particularly in the downtown “Candelaria” area and the more residential “Laureles”, which is where we based ourselves.
Medellin used to be considered the crime capital of Colombia, this is the city where drug lord Pablo Escobar reigned during the 70s and 80s. However, over the past 15 years, it has undergone a huge transition to become one of the safest and most advanced places in the entire country.
Medellin is a very gay-friendly city. The paisas (people of Medellin) are very welcoming and love to meet foreigners. Whilst its gay scene is not as big as Bogota’s, there are still loads of gay hangouts, largely based in Poblado. What impressed us the most was a public sign we spotted in our hotel, 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). The fact that this is so prominently displayed in a public area speaks volumes about safety here for LGBTQ travellers!
We spent 4 months in Medellin, using it as a home base during our big trip in Latin America, and we loved it. This is our gay guide to Medellin featuring all our favourite gay bars, clubs, gay-friendly hotels to stay at and things to do.
Is Medellin safe for gay travellers?
Medellin is Colombia’s second-largest city. It is very modern and extremely progressive. While Colombia is a majority Catholic country, and quite conservative in some ways, big cities like Medellin are becoming very accepting towards its LGBTQ community. Nowhere is this more evident than during Medellin’s gay Pride festival where the entire community takes part to celebrate and support gay rights in a truly Latin fiesta style!
We never felt unwelcome or experienced any hostility from the locals during our time in Medellin, although be aware that some areas of the city should be avoided, particularly at night time, whether you are gay or straight.
5,000 Colombian gay boys partying away in the same club? What’s not to love…!
Theatron makes theatre out of a clubbing experience. From the castle-like architecture to the epic dancefloor production, Theatron grabs its patrons by the throat and thrusts them into an experience they’ll never forget. It’s where all the gay folk of Bogota end their Saturday evening and serves as the ultimate finale to a night out.
Ever been to a club with 5,000 other gay boys with 13 rooms spread across 5 floors?
Neither had we until we went to the huge Theatron gay club in Colombia’s capital city, Bogota. The gay scene here is all about this infamous mega-club, which is the largest in Latin America. It’s like no other place we’ve ever been to and is certainly the largest gay club we’ve visited.
Lonely Planet calls Cartagena the undisputed queen of the Caribbean coast…well that was before these two queens sashayed their way into Colombia’s most touristic city!
The fifth-largest city in Colombia, Cartagena’s old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site. We adored the city’s mix of old and new architectural design. A sprawling maze of cobblestone alleys, colourful colonial-style buildings, and vines of shrubs climbing down the sides of ancient walls could be found on one side. Towering silver skyscrapers and industrial catwalks can be seen on the other.
One minute, we were dancing under the disco lights to Cher’s ‘Believe’, the next, we were in the adjacent room, getting down to some Latino-infused techno. Moving between 13 rooms of music, each with a different style or atmosphere, we had a baker’s dozen worth of experiences in a single night.
This is Theatron – a mega-club built from the ruins of an old cinema; where most of the Bogota gay boys end their Saturday night and party until the early hours of Sunday. After paying a visit to it, you know nothing else you do that night can top it!
But where do all the gay boys of Bogota head to before congregating at the mother of all gay clubs? After all, Theatron doesn’t really get busy until after midnight.
We found the gay scene of Bogota to be full of many excellent bars. There is something for everyone, no matter what you’re into. In this guide, we’ve put together some of the best gay bars in Bogota to head for a drink before partying the night away.
With wintertime approaching here in the Northern Hemisphere, what’s a gay beachcomber to do? Why not flip the seasonal script and head south of the equator, where summer will be here before you know it? Here are six fun options for the beach-loving queer traveler to consider checking out in the coming months.
1. Punta del Este, Uruguay. The scenic coastline in this small South American country is a popular short trip from Buenos Aires, located a short flight or a ferry ride away. Queer travelers have been drawn to this well-to-do area of the country for years, but they also head west to the quieter Playa Chihuahua beach, located not far from the airport. This is also a nude beach, a testament to the open-minded society here (Uruguay legalized gay marriage back in 2013). And check out the male-only gay hotel located here, Undarius, if you’re looking for some fabulous lodging.
2. Praia Mole, Florianopolis, Brazil. Florianopolis, located between Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, is a stunning island hugging the southern Brazilian coastline. The city is legendary for its nightlife and its beaches. Praia Mole may be one of the most beautiful — and while it’s not an exclusively queer beach, it’s a very popular gathering spot for the local LGBTQ community.