The nightlife scene in Colombia


Having access to a good nightlife scene can be a determining factor for many expats upon choosing their next destination. Tell us more about the nightlife in Colombia.

In Colombia, what is the nighlife culture like: is it common for people to go out at night? Is there a big difference between the nightlife during the weekdays and weekends?

What are the most popular evening or nighttime activities (e.g. bars, nightclubs, shows, cultural activities, etc.)?

Is it safe to venture out in the evening and at night in Colombia?

Is there anything in particular that surprised you about the nightlife in Colombia?

Are there any apps or websites (or any other resources) that would help in staying informed about evening and nighttime activities?

Thank you for sharing your experience.


Nightlife in Colombia typically picks up around 9 p.m., whether it's a regular dance venue, karaoke, bars or "hostess" bars.

The weekend unofficially starts on Thursday nights, even though many partiers are scheduled for work on Friday.

In larger cities, if you usually carry a copy of your ID, at nightlife venues bring your original passport or cédula, just in case they're checking at the door.

Expect the music to be loud in most of the above-indicated places.  If you sometimes use earplugs, it would be a good idea to bring them.

In Cali, salsa reigns.

Men will often be asked to buy drinks for new acquaintances, even if the place is not a full-on "hostess" bar.  Beware the chicas who want a fresh refill after every dance-song ends, including refills for their "amigas."  These girls are getting a commission on each drink sold .. and pulling a soft scam on the new caballero.  If you go along with this program, you may find your pockets lighter by hundreds of thousands of pesos in about half an hour, even if drinks are just 15 lucas each.

Do not agree to a request to buy bottles or rounds for a full table of amigos .. unless you really want to .. or have money to burn.

Rule for Expats:  Do not leave your drink unattended.  If you forget and you're with new acquaintance(s), forget that drink and -- if thirsty -- order a fresh one.

Many places outside the major cities will close between 1 and 2 a.m.

New Year's Eve, while traditionally a lively scene in any North American city, may be dead in places in Colombia outside the biggest cities.  One time, dateless on New Year's Eve .. I rode around Armenia, Quindío, in a taxi for close to an hour .. and the driver and I could not find any places open.

If you are planning to go to a place that is new to you .. and are not sure whether to walk or take a taxi, do the latter.

You may be vulnerable if exiting a club solo late at night.  Be watchful, see that the posted 'vigilante' is still present and alert, take a verifiable taxi if available.  Ideally, there will be a marked taxi or the club can call for one.  Don't handle money in public in this situation.

If properly colored and marked taxis are unavailable at a somewhat remote location at a late hour, you may have trouble obtaining one (by phone, for instance).  Do whatever you can to verify that an available driver parked outside the club is well-known to the staff.  In this case, the cab will probably not have a meter.  Negotiate the fare before entering the taxi.  If the driver attempts to re-negotiate the fare higher after the ride starts, do not argue hard.  Paying extra pesos is preferable to being left on a dark, remote road where anything could happen.

Never enter private cars late at night, no matter how friendly the male or female patron(s) at the venue have portrayed themselves.

Do not wear flashy jewelry or show a wad of bills .. so that you avoid becoming a target.

Attire will vary by venue.  If going to a popular club in Bogotá or Medellín, many of the women will be wearing heels and fancy dresses that show escote.  The machos can get away with a really casual aspecto.

Men can go out solo in Colombia.  Security at virtually all clubs is adequate.  There's always a doorman or two at the entrance.  However, having a companion is generally preferable.

Have fun.  Don't forget your dancing shoes.


These days, places inside the major cities close between 1 and 3 a.m. but there are always popular places (some just outside the city limits) which stay open all night long, for those that have the stamina!

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