Looking for fun and frolic in a sultry and exotic location. Look no further than Colombia. It’s easy to get to and there’s so much to do, see, smell, taste, and enjoy. Come with some friends or just your boo. Don’t have a boo?! That’s okay, too. Colombia is a beautiful, warm country with some very beautiful, hot men.
Your sexuality doesn’t define you, but it can change the way you travel. Here at OUT in Colombia we curate itineraries combining the best of Colombia’s many touristic highlights with authentic experiences in and with local LGBT+ communities in many places. Colombia is our home and it’s also home to warm, welcoming, and accepting people. Here are 6 top experiences in Cartagena, Bogotá, and Medellín, 3 of Colombia’s best gay destinations, that will show you the best ways to change how you travel and get you started on planning the perfect escape to Colombia you’ve been dreaming of.
Cartagena is probably the destination most people envision when they think of Colombia. It is a city of exquisite contrasts. Perched on the Caribbean coast, the city boasts a rich and vibrant historical center behind ancient walls which was granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1984. In addition to its colorful colonial charm, it also has a strip with modern beachside high rises, shopping malls, and more right outside those stone walls. And Cartagena sits near an archipelago, with an array of islands offering more than 20 beaches to enjoy, many of them private, making it the perfect gay beach destination. Cartagena is a welcoming city, with an abundance of activities and sites to discover, dining options to enjoy, art and culture to soak up, alongside some entertaining gay nightlife venues in the Centro part of the Old Town and in Getsemani. The team at OUT in Colombia can also help you plan your perfect stay at any number of internationally-branded hotels, gay-friendly hotels, and boutique or design hotels here in this city. Our top 2 favorite experiences for Cartagena highlight the best of the Costeño lifestyle.
1. Rum & Chocolate Tasting
One of my personal favorites, in our top pick, you sample two of Colombia’s tastiest treasures together: rum and chocolate during this 90 minute hands-on (tongue-on?) demonstration at one of the city’s best bars. Your very skilled mixologist will give you a history of this much-coveted liquor that the Caribbean region’s ubiquitous sugar cane produced. Colombia’s national liquor will surely become your favorite, too, as you sample 4 very distinctive rum brands specially paired with select chocolates. You’ll learn about the distillation process of the sugar cane into rum, its tumultuous history, as well as the proper sampling techniques incorporating your eyes, nose, and mouth. You will also intuit why the active ingredient in the cocoa beans (theobromine) translates to “food of the gods.” This is a particularly happy 90 minute experience that will leave you feeling like you are in heaven for the rest of the day, too.
2. Island Hopping on a Private Boat
OUT in Colombia works with local LGBT+ entrepreneurs to help develop tourism products that become part of our packages and create opportunities to participate in the country’s growing tourism industry. Ensuring the economic benefits of tourism are shared among the community, supporting local economies, is one of our major commitments and is one of the most impactful actions we feel we can take to promote social equity. Examples include CookingOUT Experiences, which feature gay chefs from struggling communities and an Afro-Colombian tour package that celebrates the unique contributions of Colombians of African descent. This includes a visit to Palenque, the first village in the Americas of free Africans who escaped slavery under Spanish rule, where, to this day, locals speak their native African language and hold on to unique customs and traditions.
Bogotá is the capital of Colombia and its largest city. It is a popular destination best known for its history, culture, arts, culinary scene, shopping and so much more. El Dorado International Airport (BOG) is the 3rd busiest airport in Latin America and is likely to be the starting point of your amazing Colombian adventure. Every Sunday, bustling Bogotá transforms its busiest expressway into a car-free zone to encourage residents and visitors to use their legs and lungs to get out and explore its many treasures: vibrant street art, gorgeous green parks and plazas, exquisite boutiques, historic churches, and exceptional restaurants. You’ll want to focus your visit on the trendy Chapinero neighborhood that is the heart of the gay community here in Bogotá, a city which elected its first lesbian mayor, Claudia López Hernández, in 2019. Be sure to take in the touristic neighborhood of Candelaria, which is also very lively. Here are our top two recommendations that will have you experiencing the very best of Bogotá.
3. Dining OUT
This is one of OUT in Colombia’s signature experiences, an adventure in discovery, discourse, and dining. We pick you up from your hotel and take you to an undisclosed location where you will enjoy an exquisite private dining experience that includes scintillating conversations with a diverse group of local LGBT+ community members and leaders. Also a member of the local community, our very own Chef Danilo will prepare your dinner. What can be more inspiring than engaged conversation and a delectable meal? This is an exclusive and truly authentic way to experience an evening out in Bogotá like a life-long resident.
4. Community OUTing: Bogota Historic City Tour
Your bilingual, gay-friendly tour guide will meet you at your hotel to take you on this intimate exploration of the capital that ranges from 3 hours to a maximum of 9 hours, depending upon your personalized list of must-sees. Even while en route, you can change the order of sites or add and delete locations. From taking the cable car up to the sacred mountain of Monserrate for outstanding morning views over the city or to watch a late afternoon sunset, tell us what interests you and we can put together your bespoke tour of one of Latin America’s most renowned capitals of arts and culture. Museums? This city has them, from Gold to Emeralds and Botero to Gabriel García Márquez. From the sleek Museum of Modern Art (or MAMBO, so how could you resist?) to the opulent Museum/Church of Santa Clara. Bogotá, like the rest of Colombia, is a study in contrasts and this tour will help you explore them all. Shopping? Discover small boutiques filled with unique style or exquisite hand-crafted articles to bring home as souvenirs of your time here. There are food markets full of the abundant produce of Colombia’s rich terrain, as well as flea markets that tell a secret history of the people who live there. In between sightseeing, you’ll enjoy a traditional lunch at a popular local restaurant. This is a fascinating tour that is as individual as you are. If you are short on time, there is also an express version of this tour that does not include lunch.
The City of Eternal Spring has had a dark past. Even today, as Colombia’s second largest city, it is always striving for improvement and recognition beyond its recent significant achievements. As the capital of Colombia’s rich Antioquia Department, it enjoys a gorgeous setting in the foothills of the Andes. The region’s fertile soils make the perfect growing medium for robust coffee and gorgeous flowers which, along with gold and textiles, make up Colombia’s second largest economy. Paisas (what Medellin residents are called) are very open, friendly, and welcoming which makes this city probably the friendliest of gay-friendly Colombia. You’ll be able to find gay bars and clubs throughout Medellín, although some of the trendiest are in El Poblado. The city offers fewer international chain hotels than Bogotá and Cartagena, but there are many apartments as well as boutique and privately-owned hotels that we are happy to book for you. There is so much to see and do in and around Medellín, here are our top two recommendations:
There is no experience more authentic for living like a true Paisa than roaming the local market and food hall to find the very best ingredients to put together a perfect meal. Not to fret, you’ll be accompanied by a member of the local LGBT+ community who just happens to be a professional chef and will guide you through the stalls, show you what to look for in selecting exotic fruits, fresh vegetables, and prime meats. You will also interact with the vendors and mix with the locals before heading back to the kitchen to whip up an authentic Colombian dish under the chef’s direction. Much sampling and sharing is involved, plus you learn how to concoct a signature aperitif from a local liquor that will certainly make this lunchtime meal something to remember. Buen Provecho!
6. Medellín Transformation Tour
It was not much more than 25 years ago Time Magazine called Medellin “the most dangerous city on Earth.“ Colombia’s second largest city was the home of gangs, guerillas, and drug lord Pablo Escobar. But in 2013, Medellin became honored as the “world’s most innovative city” by the Urban Land Institute. What spurred this incredible transformation? Well, it would be the building of the Metro in 1993, for starters, but the people of Medellin themselves, proud, enterprising, welcoming, resilient, and imaginative, were the impetus of this change through education, sustainable urban planning, and sheer will.
In this experience, which is like saving the best for last, you will see these places and meet the people who continue to galvanize change and improvement, including those members and activists of the local LGBT+ community. There are impressive tours of exquisitely clean and modern transport, impressive green living initiatives and parks, museums – including works by Fernando Botero, and visits to transformed barrios, including the infamous Comuna 13. You get to enjoy a traditional lunch at a local restaurant, as well as options to add on to make this exceptional experience even more impactful. Ask me -- or my team -- about them!