Years under the sway of drug cartels left their mark on Medellín, particularly on Vía de Las Palmas, Medellín's colorful, Las Vegas-style "party row." Medellinenses love to get their party on, and the city's beautiful women are famous throughout the country (as are their surgically enhanced faces and bodies). Medellín's best dance clubs are located on Vía de Las Palmas, popular with the area's famous as well as with foreigners. La 70, centered on Carrera 70 near the stadium (Metro: Stadio), is another popular party area featuring smaller, less glamorous clubs and bars. If you're not much of a dancer but enjoy downing a drink or two, head to Parque Lleras in La Zona Rosa, one of the most exclusive spots in town and a great place to people-watch. And if you're headed anywhere in La Zona Rosa or La Vía de Las Palmas, make sure you go with a well-stocked wallet. Note, too, that most restaurants in La Zona Rosa turn into bars around 9 or 10pm.
I don't recommend partying in the bars and cantinas in the city center, as these can be a bit seedy, and inebriated foreigners may be targets of robbery and violence. I recommend going out in a group, so if you're traveling alone, try to meet people through your hostel or hotel. If you're headed to Vía de Las Palmas, be sure to dress appropriately: no flip-flops, sneakers, or ripped jeans. Using the foreigner excuse won't work -- and an English friend I was traveling with was denied entry into a relatively casual rock club because of his "inappropriate" footwear. Medellín is one of the few places in Colombia that abides by the "must be 18 to party" rule; if you look young, bring a copy of your passport.
No trip to Medellín is complete without a visit to Mangos, Carrera 42 no. 67A-151 (tel. 4/277-6123), Medellín's best-known nightspot (although it's technically located in the neighboring municipality of Itagüí). Mangos claims to be the largest dance club in Latin America; whether or not this is true, its crazy, over-the-top atmosphere, complete with costumed servers and frequent shows, are the reason why everyone flocks to Mangos. There is a strange American Old West theme (think lots of cowboy hats) as well as an "anything flies" attitude here -- the kind of place to expect the unexpected. On weekends, the club stays open until 5am and there's usually a cover of about COL$20,000.
Palmitas, Carrera 38 no. 26-41, Km 2 (tel. 4/232-7199), another glitzy crossover dance club, is located on Vía de Las Palmas and often puts on salsa, merengue, and even belly-dancing shows. Popular with foreigners out for a night of dancing and drinking, the club also doubles as a restaurant serving up international and traditional food, not to mention great views of Medellín. The cover charge varies here. Palmitas is open daily 11:30am to 3:30am (dance club opens at 8pm).
If you're a drinker but not a dancer, head to the Scottish-style and English-owned Pub Escocia, in Parque Lleras (tel. 4/311-5607). The bar is open 10am to midnight (until 2am on weekends). Though it functions mostly as a nightspot, the bar also offers international and British-inspired food. And if you haven't quite taken a liking to Colombian beers, the pub offers a variety of European and Irish beers. In fact, Pub Escocia claims to have the largest selection of beer and whiskey in the country.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.