Medellín is Colombia’s second largest city.
Located in a valley on the northern stretch of the Colombian Andes, Medellín is a pretty city surrounded by mountains, lakes and coffee plantations.
As the capital of Antioquia and the Paisa region -a historic and cultural area encompassing several northwestern Colombian departments (states)- Medellín is locally known for its lovely weather, its beautiful people and its thriving textile industry.
Internationally, however, this city is more famous, or perhaps infamous, for being 90s drug lord Pablo Escobar’s hometown and main operation center of the Medellín Cartel.
However, the Paisa capital has come a long way since its times as a violent drug lord stronghold and has been reborn into a thriving, fun and safe city to visit.
Moreover, Medellín is second-to-none (OK, maybe Bogotá) when it comes to nightlife and party scene. Paisas definitely know how to have a good time and they sure drag foreigners into the fun.
The party scene in Medellín
Saying Medellín is the perfect party destination is an understatement.
The Paisa capital has a bit of everything you can wish for when it comes to nightlife. From cozy, low-key cocktail bars and rooftop venues blasting the latest reggaeton hits to underground electronic hipster clubs and a thriving gay scene. Whatever vibe you’re after, Medellín has it on the menu.
Needless to say, if traditional Colombian music is your thing, then you’re in luck. Colombians are usually very proud of their musical heritage and the sounds of vallenato, salsa, cumbia and merengue light up the more traditional bars known as fondas.
The best part? Medellín is still a very cheap place to visit and its nightlife is no exception. With beer prices that range from US$ 1 at a cheap bar to around US$ 3.50 at a fancy club, there’s no excuse not to get wasted and dance the night away!
Please note: Although Medellín is no longer the cocaine capital of South America, drugs are very present in its nightlife, this is especially true at nightclubs and amanecederos. In case that’s your scene, just be careful when scoring anything on the streets. Medellín may be much safer now, but scams, petty theft, and police corruption are not unheard of, particularly when you’re a tourist.
The type of party venues you can find in Medellín
- Bars: The classic drinking venue, found everywhere in Medellín. Usually, they are cover-free and open from late afternoon up until 2:00 am or later. There are all kinds of bars in Medellín. Some of them will serve food and some of them will have dancefloors.
- Clubs: Clubs are also everywhere in Medellín, particularly around Poblado and Laureles. They will usually have a cover that can range anywhere from 5,000 to 50,000 COP (US$ 2 – 20). Although most clubs in town play “crossover” (a mix of reggaeton, pop, and electronic music), you can also find single genre clubs that can play anything from techno to salsa. Clubs are usually open from 10:00 pm until around 4:00 am.
- Amanecederos: These are after-hour clubs. Most of them are located outside the city center. Amanecederos (a word that can be roughly translated as sunrise places) usually open around 3:00 am and close in the early morning. Amanecederos will almost invariably play some sort of reggaeton or crossover music.
- Fondas: Fondas are typical hole-in-the-wall bars. They play mostly local or Latin music and are known for being cheap and cheerful.
- Chivas: Along with fondas, chivas are the cherry on top of a very Colombian experience. They are basically buses that have been turned into moving clubs blasting Latin music while they travel around the city. Somehow chiva patrons manage to dance, drink and have a good time on a moving vehicle. Chivas are definitely not for tourists with a weak stomach. As is to be expected, regulations around this type of vehicles are very loose (or hardly enforced), so they don’t have set start or finish hours.
Fun things to do in Medellín
Medellín is a city full of great things to do during day and night. From small village day-trips to Pablo Escobar tours and pub-crawls. The fun in this city seems to know no end.
The Best Party Areas in Medellín & the Best Areas to Stay in Medellín for Nightlife
Medellín is a sprawling city of 2.5 million people. With dozens of districts and neighborhoods that range from the very poor to the extremely wealthy, if you’re visiting Medellín for nightlife, chances are you are looking for a place that’s safe, close to the clubs and well connected to the areas worth visiting in town.
Here’s a list of the best areas to stay in Medellín for nightlife:
This wealthy district, located around 4 miles south of Downtown Medellín should be your number one choice when deciding where to stay in Medellín for nightlife.
El Poblado is the top party district in Medellín.
Parque Lleras, located in the heart of the district and not too far from the metro station is an area teeming with bars, nightclubs, and amanecederos blasting everything from reggaeton to electronic music.
Nearby Calle 10 is home to many more bars and fondas, while also displaying a high number of cheap kebab places and empanada joints for the after-club munchies.
El Poblado is the most developed area in Medellín, and also the safest part of town.
This is also the epicenter gay nightlife in the city, with a handful of LGBT friendly bars and clubs.
The neighborhoods surrounding Calle 10, namely Manila and Provenza are also Medellín hipster and gastro areas. These two areas concentrate most of the high-end restaurants, boutique accommodation, lounge bars and cool local designer shops.
As a result of its coolness, nightlife and wealth, El Poblado is also the most exclusive area to stay in Medellín. That said, El Poblado is also the hostel district par excellence in Medellín, so finding budget accommodation in this part of town should be no problem.
Accommodation in El Poblado ranges from small boutique 3-star properties to luxury international-chain brands like NH, Marriott or Sheraton. A cheap hotel room in Poblado can cost you around US$ 30, while a big American or European name hotel can set you back anywhere from US$ 70 to 200 or more. See hotels in Medellín.
But Poblado is not all about the ritz and glitz. Hostels also come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of coolness in El Poblado. A dorm bed in this area can go anywhere from US$ 7 at a basic hostel to US$ 18 in one of the more boutique ones. See hostels in Medellín.
Accommodation options in El Poblado
- InMedellin Hostel (Cheap hostel)
- La Playa Hostel & Rooftop (Party/boutique hostel)
- Summer Wind Hotel (Cheap hotel)
- Ibis Medellín (Midrange hotel)
- Hotel Dann Carlton Medellín (Luxury hotel)
Laureles is a middle and upper-middle class neighborhood located west of Medellín city center.
This quaint area of town is a more chilled and down-to-earth alternative to El Poblado.
Laureles is home to an important student population thanks to the Universidad Pontificia.
This popular area is also home to Carrera 70, one of the main shopping and dining areas of Medellín. This street has all kinds of shops, restaurants, bars and hotels.
Being a little less upper-class and much less of a gringo town than Poblado, Laureles is the place to go if you’re looking for a more local partying experience while still being safe and nice.
Another point for Laureles is that, unlike El Poblado, most of its streets are flat, so no after-party drunk-climbing steep streets is required if you choose to stay here.
However, being a more “Paisa” area than El Poblado, partying in Laureles does mean fewer options with regards to music choice. In Laureles, Latin rhythms such as reggaeton, vallenato, bachata and salsa are kings of the night.
On the bright side, accommodation in the Laureles-Estadio district is significantly cheaper and other services such as supermarkets and small barrio shops are also more abundant.
All and all, Laureles is a great option to stay in Medellín for a real Paisa nightlife experience and it is also a 2-dollar Uber ride away from Poblado if you wish to go out in Medellín’s party hub.
Accommodation options in Laureles – Estadio
- Natural House (Cheap hostel)
- Laureles Loft (Cheap hotel)
- Laureles Plaza Hotel (Midrange hotel)
- Inntu Hotel (Luxury hotel)
Other party areas in Medellín
- Centro: Although a lot has changed in Medellín from its times as the most dangerous city in the world, we wouldn’t recommend the City Center for partying. Although Centro does have fondas, bars and clubs, this area of town is not considered safe for foreigners. Unless you are accompanied by a savvy local, you should avoid staying in the Centro area after sunset.
- The “Far South”: Neighborhoods and suburbs south of El Poblado are considered safe areas to stay and they offer some clubs and amanecederos. Envigado or Itagüí, for example, are some of the top areas for after-hours fun in the city, however, usually, the venues are far apart from each other so you will need to Uber from one to the other.
Is it safe to party in Medellín?
We’re sorry to be a buzzkill, but this does need to be addressed.
Of course, the answer to this question will depend on where and how you party.
El Poblado is the safest area to party and stay in Medellín. On weekends, you can find police officers on virtually every corner of the party area.
Laureles can also be considered safe during day and night and so are the wealthy districts south of Poblado.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that these areas are absolutely free from crime; if you’re a foreigner traveling alone, you’re basically a walking dollar sign.
Safety tips when partying in Medellín
- Leave your valuables at your hotel: Most bars and clubs in town accept major credit/debit cards and there are ATMs everywhere in Medellín. Take the cash you need for the night and one of your cards with you.
- Avoid walking around lonely or dark places: Stay on the main roads and popular areas.
- Be wary of people approaching you on the street: Medellín is an extremely friendly city. Scammers and thieves know this. If someone who looks suspicious approaches you, just say “No, gracias” and keep walking.
- Beware of pickpockets in the clubs: Take care of your wallet, phone, purse and coat. Use the club’s cloakroom whenever possible.
- Don’t leave your drink unnatended: And don’t accept drinks from anyone. Rape-drugs are a thing in Medellín, too.
- On that note: If you do drugs, and we are not saying you should, be careful what you get. Scamming foreigners who think they’re buying cocaine but are actually getting other stuff is not an unheard of practice. Also, don’t snort, swallow or drink anything a stranger offers you.
- Get someone from the bar to call you a taxi: If you’re not feeling fit for walking or your accommodation is too far to make it on foot, get a cab. Don’t risk it!
- If you get mugged: Or something happens to you, report it to the club staff and the police. Most of them are friendly and helpful.
Things to see in Medellín
Although many exclusively visit Medellín for partying, This city has a wealth of things to offer. We recommend you save some of your sober time to visit its amazing things to see and do such as:
- Plaza Botero & Museo de Antioquia: Medellín’s top cultural attraction. Located in the Centro area, Botero Square is full of sculptures by the Paisa artist. Nearby Museo de Antioquia offers a comprehensive collection of works by Botero, as well as other Paisa, Colombian and International painters, sculptors and photographers.
- Parque Explora: Medellín’s science museum, complete with a planetarium.
- Jardines Botánicos: Not too far from Explora Park, this beautiful park displays a collection of native colombian plants and flowers.
- Comuna 13: This shanty town used to be one of Medellín’s most dangerous places. Now it’s a safe, open air street art gallery and a photographer’s paradise.
- Parque Arví: Easily accessible from the city thanks to the Metrocable (cable car) system, this natural park is an oasis from the hectic city life.
- Guatapé: This quaint small Paisa town complete with one of South America’s largest monoliths is probably the best attraction on the outskirts of Medellín.
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