As one of South America’s most queer-friendly countries, Colombia continues to build a favorable reputation among LGBTQ travelers. With so many diverse destinations within the country, it’s easy to craft an itinerary that can fit your own interests, especially with the help of local experts.
In recent years, Colombia has managed to become one of Latin America’s leaders in quality of life – for LGBTQ citizens and visitors alike. Same-sex marriage has been legal since 2016 and discrimination based on sexual orientation has been illegal since 2011, and every city is home to an array of friendly businesses, attractions, and experiences.
LGBTQ tourism packages ranging from multi-day itineraries to one-day experiences are available from Out in Colombia, a gay-owned tour company that won the 2021 Impact Award from the IGLTA Foundation, in recognition of its dedication to responsible tourism development.
We’ve teamed up with Out in Colombia and came up with a few ideas to inspire your next trip.
Queer travels in Cartagena
A picturesque colonial port city on the Caribbean coast, Cartagena has long been a top draw for tourists, thanks to its historic walled downtown, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates to 1533. But LGBTQ travelers will find lots of decidedly 21st-century fun in this beautiful metropolis, too.
Out in Colombia, for example, connects travelers with unique experiences including rum and chocolate tasting experiences at El Arsenal, a celebrated restaurant with a massive Colombian rum menu, and gourmet dining at Celele, a stylish, gay-owned restaurant that specializes in contemporary coastal cuisine.
Speaking of Cartagena’s expansive coastline, no visit to this city by the sea would be complete without a day trip or overnight excursion to one of the many sun-soaked islands that dot the waters nearby. Out in Colombia organizes convenient speedboat transfers to Las Islas, a luxurious, environmentally conscious hotel where guests can spend the day or the night, with activities including wellness treatments, boat tours, and snorkeling tours in the warm Caribbean waters.
A great LGBTQ nightlife option in Cartagena is Crazy Breeze, a waterfront gay bar with a terrace. For a gay night stay in Cartagena, we recommend Casa Lola, a 22-room boutique hotel with two outdoor pools, a rooftop terrace, and a spa.
Exploring queer Medellín
Known as the “city of eternal spring” thanks to its year-round pleasant climate, Medellín is the second-largest city in Colombia (after Bogotá) and a tourism hotspot. Here, you can indulge in Colombia’s legendary coffee culture with a “coffee baptism with honey” at Le Spa Noir, an elegant new spa. You’ll also learn the secrets of Colombian cuisine during a culinary tour and cooking class offered by Out in Colombia, which includes a local market visit with a gay chef.
Another must-do is a walking tour of Comuna 13, a once-dangerous neighborhood that has been reborn with vibrant street art and small businesses. The ride up the hillside aboard the MetroCable gondola lift system is part of the fun, with spectacular city views that are ideal for photos. Tours by urban collective Casa Kolacho are conducted in Spanish, but Out in Colombia can provide bilingual tour guides to accompany participants.
LGBTQ travelers are usually drawn to a few specific parts of Medellín. The hip neighborhoods of Provenza and El Poblano, for example, are among the most favored by international visitors, thanks to its extensive array of hotels, Airbnb accommodations, restaurants, shopping, and nightlife — including LGBTQ bars and clubs. Among the neighborhood’s many popular restaurants and cafes serving regional specialties, we love Café Noir for its selection of wine, light international cuisine, and Colombian coffee.
For a fun overview of LGBTQ nightlife in Medellín, consider booking one of Out in Colombia’s after-dark tours, which includes VIP access to two venues — most likely Bar Chiquita, a trendy and lively little bar with indoor and outdoor seating, and Club Oráculo, a popular dance club that packs in locals and visitors alike.
Shopaholics, meanwhile, may also want to visit some of the local designer boutiques on Via Primavera; Out in Colombia also offers walking tours focused on shopping and design.
Medellín also serves as an ideal base for rewarding side trips. In the town of Guatapé, visitors stroll the colorful streets and climb the more than 649 steps to reach the top of El Peñol, a gigantic rock that offers postcard-perfect views from its summit. For a relaxing, nature-based getaway, consider a visit to Cannúa, a design-conscious hotel in the town of Marinilla that’s billed as “Colombia’s first upscale eco-lodge.” Coffee tasting, birdwatching, and pre-Hispanic trail hiking are just a few of the activities available.
Back in Medellín, there are many worthwhile hotels. Click Clack Hotel, for example, has a sleek, design-forward vibe and an attractive open-air swimming pool, while the Medellín Marriott offers an excellent location and all the amenities that you’d expect from an international hotel brand. Regardless of where you stay in Colombia, you’ll soon discover that one visit isn’t enough to fully appreciate all that this diverse country has to offer for LGBTQ travelers.
All photos provided by Out in Colombia