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!
At Ecuador’s Casa Divina Lodge, we offer elegant and comfortable lodging in the middle of the Ecuadorian cloud forest.
We boast 4 private hand-built wooden cabins in a natural setting. where our guests can enjoy the sounds of nature.
Casa Divina Lodge is located one and a half kilometers from the town of Mindo, Ecuador. Mindo is in the western lowlands of Ecuador, about 2 hours from Quito, and known for its mega biodiversity.
Run by an Ecuadorian/American couple, Casa Divina Lodge has been operating since 2007. Here, our guests enjoy a perfect combination of local knowledge, love for the cloud forest and world-class birdwatching in a relaxed, family-friendly environment.
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.
Recently, a 99-year-old Scottish man proved to the world he can still tango, stunning crowds at the World Championship. It just goes to show how timeless this UNESCO listed dance is. From its seductive roots to its resonance in pop culture, tango has proved time and time again that it is a dance for the ages.
Cut to Seb and I nervously walking into the dance studio for our first queer tango lesson. We’d managed to find time in the middle of sightseeing around Buenos Aires, dead excited to learn queer Tango and honour the Latin culture. Well, what we expected to be an easy-going afternoon, filled with laughter and cheer, turned out to be exhausting! But it certainly was the most romantic, sensual and intimate dance we’ve ever experienced in our 10 years together. With the tango, you have to give passion. You have to tell a story. It’s emotional. Powerful. And it certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted…
The Origins of Gay Tango
Initially, in the 1880s, tango was originally danced between 2 men in the back alleys of Buenos Aires. This is because there was a shortage of women at the time amongst the immigrant population. Therefore, the only way for men to get with a woman was either via prostitution or to impress her with some sultry dance moves. Therefore, the men practised with each other!
Sadly, since the late 1800s, same-sex tango dancing got lost in Buenos Aires… until the 2000s, when queer tango milongas (tango clubs) started to pop up, offering classes for the LGBTQ community.
We love Argentina. It’s got it all: hot guys, delicious food, loads of cute boys, stunning scenery, a huge diversity of wildlife…and did we mention it has the hottest guys on the planet…?!!
Above all else, Argentina is one of the most gay-friendly countries in Latin America and in our opinion, one of the most gay-friendly in the world. It’s a very easy country for gay travellers to explore, with many top not-to-miss highlights to check out. Most of the big cities also have fun gay scenes, particularly Buenos Aires, which has one of the best on the continent.
During our big trip in Latin America, we’ve travelled at length around Argentina, all the way from the Iguazu Falls in the north right down to the Patagonian tip at the other end. Based on our first-hand experience, we’ve put together our comprehensive country guide to Argentina for gay travellers to help inspire your trip here.
LGBTQ+ Rights in Gay Argentina
Despite the strong influence of the Catholic Church, Argentina has one of the most progressive LGBTQ rights in the world. Homosexuality was legalised back in 1887 and in 2010 it became the first country in South America to legalise same-sex marriage, which included adoption rights. Argentina is also one of the most trans-friendly countries in the world, allowing you to change your legal gender without having to undergo hormone therapy, surgery or any psychiatric diagnosis. Rosario, in particular, is famous for being a trans person haven in Argentina.
With regards to the army, gay men and lesbians have been allowed to openly serve since 2009. Sadly, the same law does not (yet) apply for transgender people. Finally, whilst anti-discrimination laws are lacking across parts of Argentina, Rosario and Buenos Aires have their own in place. However, in 2012, legislation was introduced adding life imprisonment to hate crimes based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.
Located in the heart of the vivid district “La Mariscal”, near the historical center of Quito, 40 km from the airport and at walking distance of Bars, Restaurants and Shops, Boutique Hotel Casa Joaquin is a small oasis of comfort, peace and tranquility a delightful mix of European tradition and contemporary trend.
The Mariscal district is also the “gay-zone” with bars and discos at walking distance from the hotel. Quito is gay-friendly. You can see man hugging and kissing, walking hand in hand on the streets.
A few highlights of your stay with us:
* Our staff helps you selecting what to visit and how to get there * Location right in the tourist area with everything on walking distance. * Cozy bar and rooftop terrace with spectacular mountain view * Regional fresh fruit at your disposal * Breakfast buffet with local specialties * Comfortable stay with plenty of details * European-Ecuadorian hospitality and decoration, unique design * Shuttle and tours with bilingual drivers
Our team will receive you warmly and help you with all your needs and questions to discover this amazing city and make your stay comfortable & unforgettable.
Visiting the Galapagos Islands is very high up on the bucket list for most travellers. If you love island hopping and spotting wildlife, you’ve probably dreamt of one day visiting these incredible volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean.
The ideal way to explore the Galapagos Islands is aboard one of the many excellent gay cruises on offer. Not only is exploring these unique islands with a like-minded fabulous bunch of gays heaps of fun, but it also allows you to visit the more remote islands, thereby getting a deeper experience.
We’ve led our own branded Nomadic Boys cruise to the Galapagos with Ishpingo Tours – a local gay-owned/operated tour company based in Quito. In addition, there are several other gay cruises to the Galapagos to choose from, whether it’s a large group leaving on a fixed date, or aboard a private gay charter. In this article, we’ve rounded them all up so you can choose the best one for you.
OUT ADVENTURES GALAPAGOS GAY CRUISE
Out Adventures is one of the best gay tour companies out there that organises exclusive trips for LGBTQ travellers. They provide a luxury cruise around the Galapagos Islands aboard their private yacht, The Grand Queen Beatriz, and oh boy she sure is absolutely grand! Amenities include sundecks, a hot tub, bar and very spacious bedrooms, some with private balconies.
Seby took one look at the dark green colour of the Amazon River, turned to Stefan and declared:
“I am NOT swimming in there Stefan. I will NOT become piranha fish food!”
Stefan got his way in the end and managed to persuade Seb to jump in, to the joy of the staff on board the Anakonda cruise who found our bickering (and Seb’s irrational fears) highly amusing.
Irrational fears? Contrary to popular belief, swimming in the Amazon River can be quite safe. Our guides knew the spots where tourists like us could swim safely and conquer their Piranha-phobia. Piranhas are not aggressive or territorial, but more like scavengers. They will not go anywhere near you.
Despite this, Sebastien lasted a whole 7 seconds in the Amazon River before he jumped straight back into our boat…
Piranha-phobias aside, there are many options for gay travellers to explore the Amazon jungle in South America, whether as part of a gay group tour, on a luxurious cruise along the Amazon river or staying in a jungle lodge. This is our guide summarising each of these based on our first-hand experience travelling in Ecuador and Peru as a gay couple.
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.