Medellin Nightlife | The Best Bars, Clubs, and ‘Perrenado’
Interested in a little Medellin nightlife? You’re in the right spot, jefe.
If you’ve found yourself in the “City of Eternal Spring” currently…
In your first day or two, you’ll suss out the city sights, cruise up and down the cable car, and join one of those cheesy Pablo Escobar tours.
So what else is there to do?
Hit the bars and clubs, ¡por supuesto!
Home to 2.5 million paisas, aka Medellin locals, and counting, the city is small enough to navigate with ease but big enough to boast pumping after dark entertainment.
In fact, Medellin nightlife is so debaucherous it attracts a sizable contingent of expats who settle here for the hedonism. Week after week, they hit El Poblado’s glamorous clubs to let loose and rumba, attempting to romance a seemingly endless array of hot Colombianas along the way.
Joining them is a continuous stream of bushy-eyed backpackers, each as eager as the next to get snuck into Colombia’s most nefarious illicit export.
P.S: This guest post on nightlife in Medellin comes from Harry Stewart, who has spent copious amounts of time in Medellin and traveled all over Latin America.
Throw in a party hungry local populace with a predisposition to dance, and you’ve got a crazy fiesta almost every night of the week in Medellin.
To help you navigate such a decadent minefield of pure self-indulgence, we’ve put together the ultimate Medellin nightlife guide.
Within this bad boy, you’ll learn:
- What Makes Nightlife in Medellin, Colombia So Great?
- How to Survive Partying in Medellin | Safety Guide
- Medellin Nightlife Costs | How Much You’ll Spend on a Killer Night Out?
- Where to Party in Medellin
- Best Bars in Medellin, Colombia
- Best Clubs in Medellin, Colombia
- Nights to Rumba | Hottest Spots on Any Given Night
Click the links to skip ahead to your specific section of interest or just keep on scrolling as we dive right in to the rice and beans of this Medellin nightlife guide.
Just remember one thing before we begin…
Nightlife in Medellin, err all of Colombia, is not for the feint of heart.
What Makes Nightlife in Medellin, Colombia So Great?
I’ll be frank, Medellin doesn’t stack up with Bogota nightlife.
The capital’s infamous Zona T offers so much depravity not even a Catholic nun would come out unscathed.
And while my battered and bruised liver is testament to the debauchery of Bogota, I can comfortably proclaim that Medellin comes in a close second
Let’s find out, shall we?
Venues For All Tastes
Regardless of what you’re into, you’re bound to find it in Medellin.
From hipster hole-in-the-wall bars to bombastic laser-strewn discotecas, there’s a suitable spot for everyone to unwind with a drink.
The same applies to the music.
Sure, Latin beats dominate the soundwaves. And it’s true that reggaeton and top 40 Latin pop remain supreme.
But dig a little deeper and you’ll find plenty of other bailable beats. Most clubs play “crossover,” which means you’ll get a healthy dose of bachata, vallento, merengue, cumbia, and salsa thrown into the mix.
And for those who prefer to kick it gringo style, a smattering of grungy rock bars and pulsing techno super clubs can be found throughout the city as well.
A Vibrant International Scene
Remember all the backpackers and expats I mentioned above? They like to party too. And they’ve bestowed Medellin’s nightlife with a distinct international vibe.
Since recovering from the dark old days of narco-terrorism, Medellin has transformed into a desirable hotspot for the party crazed international crowd.
Expect to meet plenty of gringos out and about, the perfect respite for when you need a break from butchering your sloppy español.
Of course, for many us, rubbing shoulders in the club with some random dude from Norway isn’t ideal. After all, we want to stand out as exotic in the eyes of the locals.
Thankfully, all you got to do is get off the main tourist strip and you’ll be the only white dude in sight.
Amazingly Beautiful Women
Paisas are widely agreed to be the most beautiful women in Colombia.
Hell, to say they’re the hottest in Latin America wouldn’t be such a stretch. Some might even go so far as to proclaim them the biggest babes in the world.
I’ll level with you.
Medellin has some decent venues and a fun party vibe.
But the real reason the city has become synonymous with nightlife is that the women are just that damn gorgeous. Tens and nines as far as the eye can see.
For the red-blooded gringo with one thing on his mind, it’s easy to understand the appeal.
And for our female or gay readers, the dudes are undeniably guapo as well – but that ain’t my forte.
There Are Stacks of Different Places to Explore
Most visitors confine themselves to the gringo-friendly Parque Llerras, a tree-lined entertainment district packed full of bars and clubs.
But they needn’t.
Other cool places to party abound in Medellin, from student hangouts to high-end haunts.
In fact, there are at least five worthwhile districts to peruse, which we’ll check out in more detail below.
Big Bottles of Booze
Where we’re from, table service and bottles of hard liquor are typically relegated to the economic elite.
But in Colombia, it’s totally normal to order a whole bottle of booze to share with your buddies.
Just be sure to check prices in advance to avoid a nasty case of bill shock when it comes time to pay.
It’s Reasonably Priced
Okay, so we ain’t exactly in Guatemala. You won’t get away spending ten bucks on an epic night out anymore.
Having said that, partying in Medellin is relatively affordable in all but the exclusive locales.
Prices across the board are considerably lower than North America and Europe. Keep an eye out for open bar specials to drink yourself into a stupor for pennies.
How To Survive and Thrive Partying in Medellin
Like elsewhere in Colombia – and Latin America – nightlife in Medellin has a seedy underbelly.
Ya tu sabes.
So here’s a few quick safety tips to take into consideration while enjoying a little nightlife in Medellin:
Don’t “Dar Papaya”
First and foremost, you need to consider your personal safety on a night out. After all, as a gringo you’ll stick out like a sore thumb, becoming a desirable target for undesirable types.
Muggings, drink spiking, and robbery can and do occur during that boozy 3 a.m. haze.
To mitigate the risk, don’t do what the locals refer to as “dar papaya.” Literally, that means “give papaya,” which admittedly makes zero sense. The real meaning, however, is rather astute: “Don’t make yourself an easy target.”
Don’t get blackout drunk, don’t trust seedy strangers, and don’t assume that stunner at the bar is interested in your personality.
Medellin is packed full of what the locals refer to as “pre-pagos.” These Medellin girls, who are usually smoking hot and dressed to the nines, are essentially undercover prostitutes.
It might sound harsh, but I’m not talking about your run-of-the-mill gold-diggers here.
The pre-pago’s primary income stream is dating and sleeping with men, meaning they’re experts at extracting huge sums of cash in record time.
And if they don’t feel they’re getting a fair deal, they’ll demand an outrageous fee at the end of the deed. You’d better pay up too, lest you end up in the bad books of a pissed off Colombian pimp.
To differentiate a pre-pago from a legit chick, strike up a conversation about their career and ask for a few in-depth details.
Colombian Marching Powder
The rumors you’ve heard are true:
Colombia is awash with cheap, high-quality cocaine. And Medellin is no exception.
I’m not here to condone nor to pass judgement.
But I do feel it’s important my readers know the risks.
Given coke is strictly illegal in Colombia, partaking involves dealing with the underworld and their predisposition for violent crime. Aside from the risk of being rolled, some shady dealers like to tip off the police who’ll promptly arrest you to extort a bribe
You have been warned.
Cracking the Social Cliques
Paisas prefer to go out in groups of half a dozen or more. They sit together, drink together, and dance together, essentially ignoring the rest of the bar.
This set up is far from ideal for those itching to strike up a conversation with the opposite sex.
But it is what it is and it isn’t going to change.
Rather than trying to barge your way into a circle – which is a massive faux pas – play it cool and see if you can form a friendship with one of the dudes.
If you’re lucky, you *might* be invited to join them.
Equally essential is paying attention to group dynamics. Colombian guys are famously possessive and protective of their gals, even potential flames. They’re also rather hot-headed, so you definitely don’t want to piss them off.
Suffice to say, speaking some Spanish will go a long way in these types of situations.
Too Many Dudes
Colombians hate a chorizo fest. And every bouncer under the sun knows this.
Many clubs, especially salsa joints, won’t let a group of dudes in to ensure the boy/girl ratio is kept in check.
Bring a lady or two or expect to be denied at the door.
Medellin Nightlife Costs
Ultimately, what you spend is up to you.
Hostel pre-gamers who hang out at backpacker orientated bars might get away with a $20-30 night. On the other hand, indulging in high-end liquor and table service at an upscale club would set you back hundreds.
The following should give you some indication of how much it costs to party in Medellin.
- A small bottle of beer in a pub: US$2-5
- A basic mixed drink: US$2-7
- A cocktail: US$5 and above
- A bottle of imported spirits in a bar: $50-200
- A bottle of local spirits in a bar: $30-80
- A glass of wine: US$2-6
Where to Party in Medellin?
This is a damn good thing, as you’re not stuck to one scene like in other Colombian cities. I’m looking at you Cali nightlife.
The following are the top five hotspots in town:
Smack bang in the center of the upmarket El Poblado neighborhood is Parque Lleras, the city’s premier zona rosa – aka nightlife district.
Despite what you might have gathered from the name, it isn’t really a park in the true sense of the word. Rather, El Lleras is a series of tree-lined streets chock full of over a hundred pumping bars, clubs, restaurants, and cafes.
Given it doubles as the city’s main tourist district, you’ll come across stacks of foreigners hopping around.
Venues range from cheap and downtrodden to super upscale.
Revelers keen to hit up a massive super club should give the compact Parque Lleras a miss and opt for expansive Barrio Colombia instead.
It’s location outside the city center gives nightclubs a lot more space to play with. As a result, the high-tech discotecas found within are obnoxiously large.
Note that the whole scene is undeniably upmarket, so expect to part with quite a few pesos in a night out here.
Medellin is famed for its sweeping city views. And in Las Palmas, one can enjoy the awesome vista all night long while sucking down a drink or two.
Situated at the top of the valley on the road that leads to the airport, the zone is full of upscale bars, restaurants, and clubs that overlook the city.
Las Palmas kicks off on weekends and prices tend to match the altitude.
Have the gringo crowds in Parque Lleras got you down? Then head for La 33 instead, a buzzing semi-suburban nightlife zone where the locals go to get loose.
As you might’ve gathered, Latin beats dominate the scene here. But there’s also a smidgen of rock and electro around for those prepared to look.
Best of all, prices are way more reasonable than the above options.
Another cool Colombian hangout is La 70, A.K.A Libertadores de América.
Most of the action here unfolds in the afternoon, so it’s a top spot to indulge in a few lazy daytime beers. Don’t forget to grab a delicious local dish to line your stomach for the night to come.
Again, food and drink are way cheaper than the ritzy central barrios.
Best Bars in Medellin, Colombia | Top 5
You’ll certainly be able to find your scene.
More of a bar-fly then a club-fiend? Check out the following venues:
Bogota Beer Company
Locally known as the BBC, this English pub style brewery is the best spot in Medellin to indulge in a craft ale or two.
Homesick gringos will love its western inspired ambience, not to mention the wide array of tasty and filling pub classics like burgers and wings.
Come for a warm up or to watch live sports on TV.
There’s a few “Bogega” locations spread throughout Medellin, but the main Bogota Beer Company in Parque Lleras is ideal for chilling with friends or downing a few brews on a first date.
La Octava Bar
Roqueros rejoice, for you won’t hear any reggaeton or cumbia in this audacious rock bar.
The action in La Octava takes place from Thursday through Saturday, when an amped up crowd come to down copious amounts of booze as they bop along to heavy local bands.
There’s even a ball pit to relive your childhood, which is stacks of fun once you’ve polished off a few.
The Blue Bar
Backpacker favorite Blue Bar is an awesome spot for party goers seeking an international vibe. On almost any given night of the week, the place packs out with gringos and locals looking to get loose.
Note that women who prefer their fair skinned counterparts, AKA Gringo Hunters, tend to hang out here as well.
And almost like clockwork, it switches to a no-holds-barred discoteca at 11:30 p.m., which is the best time to either move out or make a move.
Envy Rooftop Bar
On the other end of the spectrum is the Envy Rooftop Bar, an exclusive El Lleras local without a scruffy looking backpacker in sight. In fact, don your best threads because you’ll need to be looking shmick to pass their strict dress code.
Situated on the 18th floor above the luxurious Charlee Hotel, this prestigious lounge bar is a popular hangout among telenova stars and other local celebs.
It’s priced accordingly, so expect to splash some cash.
Sometimes all you want is a nice quiet ale. In that case, this laid back microbrewery in Barrio Colombia fits the bill.
Cerveceria Libre sells a solid variety of in-house beers as well as a smattering of local craft favorites. It tends to attract a more mature crowd and pulls in the most punters during the afternoon, so don’t come looking for a wild party.
Best Clubs in Medellin, Colombia | Top 5
With that in mind, here’s the best clubs in Medellin:
Old school favorite Babylon is a guaranteed crazy night out in Medellin, albeit a little on the sleazy side.
Featuring a heady mix of backpackers and youthful paisas, expect to see revelers free pouring spirits and dancing on the tables as the night progresses. As it’s a crossover venue, there’ll be no shortage of contemporary Latin tunes.
Thursday is ladies night, where the first 200 girls get in free. Guys have to pay, but it’s an open bar which equates to unlimited fun.
Babylon is a classic.
While Babylon is a classic, Bendito Seas is up and coming. Well, up and coming in the world of gringo hunters.
If you want to meet cute Paisas, then this is a damn good place to start from Thursday through Saturday nights.
You might not meet stunners in this club, but you sure to have one hell of a time. In fact, this might be the best club in Medellin for foreigners on their first trip to the city.
Well-to-do revellers could check out Kukaramakara, an upmarket club where affluent paisas come to carouse. Live bands rock the house most weekends, belting out a mix of Latin and western rock and pop. In-between bands, it’s more of a crossover affair with endless Latin tunes.
Dress your best and bring plenty of cash.
Dulce Jesus Mio
All this partying might have you feeling a little guilty. After all, you should be immersing yourself in traditional Colombian culture, right?
Well, you can do both at this bizarre haunt named Dulce Jesus Mio. Get your culture fix and get sloshed at the same time.
By traditional Colombian culture, I am referring to a cheesy and hilariously kitsch recreation of a typical Antioquian town.
It’s totally fake, utterly ridiculous, and a hell of a lot of fun.
Salseros looking to shimmy the night away should make a beeline for Son Havana, a pumping La 70 venue that attracts an enthusiastic local crowd. Live musicians bust out tunes on weekends, which is the best time to come.
Although not strictly an expert’s only affair, most of the dancers here know how to strut their stuff. Brush up on your steps and bring a partner to blend in.
It packs out at midnight, so come earlier or reserve a table in advance.
Best Nights to Rumba in Medellin
Mondays are hardly action packed in Medellin. After all, the weekend is still but a distant memory.
Budding salseros could work on their moves at a dance school like FreeDance.
Otherwise, if those unshakable alcohol cravings become too hard to ignore, there’s always some action on El Lleras. Another fun option is to attend an outrageous fonda at La Chismosa in Las Palmas.
El Eslabon Prendido is the place to go on Tuesday, a small heaving salsa bar which pulls in an impressive Tuesday crowd. Although the live band goes off and the drinks are cheap, be aware that you’ll struggle to find space to move.
Dulce Jesus Mio throw an amazing Tuesday fonda party, complete with live comedy, hilariously dressed wait staff, and ample insane antics under a buzzing neon light.
Things start to heat up a little by midweek, although they’re hardly at their peak.
A short stroll down from Parque Lleras is El Social, one of the liveliest spots on a Wednesday and a great place to people watch. Beers are fairly cheap and the local dishes are tasty.
Those with a more generous beer budget could head on to the upmarket Envy Rooftop Bar, which is always bopping on a Wednesday. Know that it’s pricey and has a strict dress code.
Thursday is ladies night which means the fairer sex can get wasted for free.
Try Babylon in Parque Lleras for plenty of action and a nonstop crossover mix. The first 200 girls don’t pay cover and there’s an open bar inside. Unlimited booze and babes? Yes please.
If gringo-packed clubs aren’t your thing, there’s a cool fonda going on at Bendito Seas. Although the secret is getting out…
You’ll be spoilt for choice on Friday as the paisas come out of the woodwork to unwind after a tough week at the office.
Try Vintrash for a variety of different genres in a four story club, Kukaramakara for an upscale crossover experience, or anywhere on La 70 to rumbear with the locals.
Unsurprisingly, Saturday is a crowded and boozy affair as well.
Parque Lleras is packed with people drinking in the street, while lesser known districts such as La 33 and La 70 see their biggest crowds. Those after some upmarket action could check out Rio Sur.
Like most cities in the world, Sunday in Medellin is pretty much dead.
Everyone’s hangover from the weekend and gearing up to start the work week. If you’re determined to have a beer, Bogotá Beer Company will be your best bet.
Gringo’s Guide to Medellin Nightlife | El Fin…
There we have it. All you need to know about hitting the booze in Medellin.
And then some!
There’s certainly more to hit than booze when talking about Medellin nightlife.
Te lo juro.
As I said, I don’t quite rate la rumba in Medellin as highly as Bogota. But hey, it’s pretty hard to top perfection.
Either way, you’ll find some awesome all night action almost every night of the week in the City of Eternal Spring. And, as you’ve probably figured out by now, the women are gorgeous everywhere you look.
All that’s left to do now is get out there and enjoy it.
For that, you’ve simply gotta…
Get your ass to Medellin!
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