Expat explores gay Medellín and its most fabulous neighborhood

The view from Club Ejecutivo, one of the country membership associations in Medellín. (Photo: Author)

Imagine the streets of New York, Tulum’s greenery, and LA’s weather combined with a skyline of a metropolis surrounded by mountains. The Poblado neighborhood of Medellín comprises an abundance of trendy restaurants, cafes, boutiques, sex shops, and the most popular gay bars. Queer nightlife might not compare to Bogotá, but this part of town has become a vibrant fusion of Colombian culture, tourism, and expatriates from all over the globe.

Skip the trial and error of conquering a new destination with this guide to everything you need to know about fabulous Medellín.

Remote working

Pergamino is by far the most popular coffee shop in Poblado. (Photo: Author)

Pergamino is the most frequented coffee shop chain by locals and travelers alike. Its line requires a twenty-minute wait during peak hours. But, worst of all, you must get back in line to order something else. Remote workers will find refuge in the nearby underrated Azul Selva. It has plenty of outlets, a more elegant style, and none of the hassle. In addition, you’ll discover the underground gems by being spontaneous and approaching small businesses, local cafes, and eateries like you would on a first date, especially since most places offer Wifi! There is a Starbucks – ironically across the street from a colorful human-sized ‘Medellín’ block sign – but you must ignore this temptation like a corporate mirage. You’re in a land known for coffee, for God’s sake. 

Dining and Cocktails

Alambique is such a local hotspot that you will not get a table without reservations. (Photo: Author)

There are two types of restaurants in Poblado: those catering to a visual fabulosity or those serving dishes worth writing home about. Of course, some places could be both! For example, Carmen (get the octopus) and Alambique (get everything) are fabulous on Instagram and for your taste buds. Vegan hotspot Restaurante Kai is also amazing through the lens and in your mouth. 

Envy Rooftop is a cocktail date spot during the week, but it turns into a weekend party. (Photo: Author)

Envy Rooftop is undoubtedly chic with a pool and city views, and El Bosque Era Rosado is on the mountain overlooking the city, surrounded by a forest adorned with vibrant purple lights. Both offer vibes and picture-perfect scenery for cocktails; however, their food makes you question if the view was worth it. Envy’s sushi taste like it was born in a carbon box, and Rosado has a kink for putting sea creatures in the most unsuspecting dishes (a nachos nightmare). However, we still suggest visiting for a fabulous time. 

What El Bosque Era Rosado lacks in cuisine, it makes up for in its ethereal scenery. (Photo: Author)

Then there are places like Mondongo’s (awesome Colombian cuisine), Mundo Verde, Smash, and Pesqueria (seafood delight) that promise an incredibly satisfying meal in a more casual setting.  

If you’re up for touring a more local neighborhood, Chiclayo Cocina Peruana in neighborhood Envigado will serve one of the best meals you have in Colombia. It is close to Envigado Mall, the largest shopping center in Medellín, so you can plan to make an entire day out of it. El Tesoro Shopping Park is the most bougie mall if designer brands are your game. Maximize your dollars by only buying Colombian brands. You will pay higher prices than you would at home for any imported brands.

Gay Nightlife

The entrance to Medellín’s most famous gay bar. (Photo: Bar Chiquita)

Gay nightlife in Poblado revolves around Bar Chiquita. It’s visibly created with gay Instagram in mind. But, be warned, Colombians are many things, including scam artists. There are rumors (reviews) that Chiquita’s bartenders sometimes charge tourists increased prices for their drinks; we experienced this firsthand. However, it’s not worth the fight – especially if you’ve been drinking – instead, pay the price of being a gringo and enjoy the night. Otherwise, it might turn into a tipsy shouting match, and you will have to explain to all future dates why you don’t feel comfortable meeting for a drink at Chiquita.

Fortunately, Club Oráculo also picks up later in the night and is more dancy and cruisy, and the owners know how to put on a show. It offers multiple floors of fun, including a terrace with tables encircled in a cage. Plan in advance and catch one of their impressive and sexy performances. Most of the clubs here have a cover, so bring your pesos. 

Affordable Luxury 

There’s no shortage of luxury. Get your nails done, get a facial, and don’t sleep on the massage! Go to the gay sauna! There’s privileged magic in becoming part of a higher spending class by earning dollars but paying with pesos – make the most of it. Go ahead and shop till you drop buying hair and skin care products from the list of Dermamedik’s (or your chosen local dermatologist) recommendations to make you beautiful. If you’re ever going to live like Gwynneth Paltrow, now is the time.

However, you should appreciate all aspects of travel culture and visit Santo Domingo Savio or Communa 13 via the Metrocable de Medellín. The Metrocable is a gondola lift system implemented by the City Council of Medellín almost twenty years ago, connecting the poorest communities to the rest of the city’s civilization. Previously, no public transportation existed, so these neighborhoods lived like an island in the mountains. The Metrocable provides reliable and safe access to everyday necessities and better employment opportunities – if only a means to leave. The tourism stops were closed when we went, so we decided to check out La Sierra, the last stop. The neighborhoods are divided by economical levels in the mountain, with the poorest residing at the peak. Sierra is where Pablo Escobar used to hide out during the height of his drug cartel days.

The Metrocable de Medellín connects entire communities to modern products and cultures. (Photo: Author)

Today, it’s a humble yet still beautiful part of Medellín’s voice and its culture of resilience. We heard salsa music blasting from one of the homes in the distance. There’s never not a reason to dance in Colombia.

Mother and daughter taking a stroll on a Sunday afternoon. (Photo: Author)


Author Jamie Valentino trying not to fall from Chorro de las Campanas’ slippery waterfalls. (Photo: Author)

Medellín might not be near a beach, but there are plenty of outdoor activities and wilderness to explore. One of the most accessible hikes is Chorro de Las Campanas, which will be friendly even to the most inexperienced hikers. Wear your bathing suit so you can jump in the waterfall at the end of the hike. 

Not your traditional hike. (Photo: Author)

Pan de Azúcar is another must-see hike, a nature trail of stairs offering a view of the skyline the entire time. This is more athletically intensive. However, you will stop complaining when you see local children doing it without dropping a sweat. Make sure to bring water, but if you become desperate enough, there are streams along the route. But we suggest just using them to wash off your sweat instead of drinking.

Floridian expat Tyler Gomez has been living in Medellín for four months with Colombian-American girlfriend Camila Rodriguez. (Photo Author)

Upon arrival at the top, you’ll be inclined to shout you’re king of the world and take a photo stepping over Medellín. Not bad for your next Instagram post, huh?

I got his permission to take this photo. (Photo: Author)

Before partaking in any outdoor hike or destination, familiarize yourself with the best mode of transportation to get there. For example, you can only get to Chorro de Las Campanas via a bus at the Envigado metro station. Additionally, the mountain trail that leads to the Chorros stop seems like the bus will tip over and fall to your death at any moment. 

Alabamian expat Teralyn Legall visits Chorros de Las Campanas. (Photo Author)


Imagine if, instead of endless billboards, Times Square offered a scene worth staying in, like, I don’t know, blocks of lively bars and restaurants? Enter the blocks of Provenza, Pablado’s most vibrant sector. Go Thursday – Sunday to experience its peak liveliness. It’s a mile of music, street vendors and performers, and countless locals and tourists drinking and dining. We got to experience this during Pride, and it was a giant gay Latin mosh pit. We loved it. 


Medellín’s Atanasio Girardot Stadium has some of the most loyal fans in Latin America. (Photo: Author)

What is there to say about fútbol besides that it is Latin America’s favorite sport – if not its own religion -and Colombian folks are passionate. If you’re less impressed when it comes to grown men kicking a ball across a field, the stadium’s masculine animalistic energy alone is worth experiencing. We went to a local game at Medellín’s Atanasio Girardot Stadium, and fans cheered like it was a World Cup.

Day Trips

The perfect setting if you want to disconnect from city living but still enjoy the feeling of luxury. (Photo: Author)

Part of the beauty in visiting Medellín is all the nearby sightseeing you can do with a day trip. Our most recommended out-of-town destinations for the day are Guatapé for boating or Jardín for hiking and nature. Do not hesitate to maximize the experience and spend the night. What’s better than a vacation within a vacation? We chose one of the cabanas – complete with a terrace fireplace – at Luxé by The Charlee. A stay that would surely be thousands of dollars in the U.S. was only $200 a night. Getting around on the tuk-tuks made it feel like we were on a South African safari.

No filter is needed to show magic in Medellín’s landscape. (Photo: Author)

RELATED: Out in Colombia – Exploring queer Cartagena & Medellín

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