Essential Packing Guide for an Unforgettable Trip to Medellin, Colombia

Contrary to your backpacker instincts, make sure to pack a few nice outfits when you travel to Medellín, Colombia. I moved to the City of Eternal Spring this past summer and immediately regretted not bringing some of my favorite pieces of clothing.

Everyone should at least bring these 5 essentials clothing items to Medellin Colombia :

  • A well-fitted pair of denim jeans
  • A pair of comfortable sneakers
  • Semi-formal jacket, cardigan or outerwear
  • Any vibrant, fun clothing
  • An umbrella

Now, when I say “nice” outfits, I mean bring whatever you know looks good on you, but don’t bring your expensive gear. I know being in vacation mode will tempt you into showing off the lesser-worn extravagant outfits in your closet, but to be frank, flaunting your overpriced clothes isn’t going to have the desired effect you want in Medellín.

The climate is some of the best in the world with perpetual sunny days and cooler evenings but remember to pack accordingly if you travel during the rainy seasons, which are April to May and September to November. Don’t be afraid to show off a little skin—men and women—and bring colorful, lightweight clothes that work well with layering to manage the warmth and wind.

Choose Comfort and Personal Style Over Extravagance

A night out in Medellín is quite unlike anything else I’ve experienced but in a great way. I mean, yes, it is true that everyone is beautiful here, but everyone is also super friendly. Although Colombians try not to judge others based on what you wear, you still want to want to put in a little effort on your day-to-day.

Colombian locals, or Paisas, love to look good without needing or wanting to spend a lot on their attire. And they prefer to dress suited for comfort and choose outfits that complement their bodies (especially the ladies), rather than wear clothes that seem overbearing or distracting. Don’t forget to prepare for a lot of movement—for walking and dancing.

The sun’s going to be out, so use it to your advantage; bring clothes that’ll shine. The more colors, the better. Ladies can parade their vibrant sundresses while men should invest in some colorfully patterned short-sleeve shirts. Although the days in Medellín can pack some heat, the evenings cool down.

That’s why a pair of your best jeans is going to work wonders for you. Denim jeans are honestly the best piece of clothing humanity invented because they can be worn anywhere with anything. Pair your jeans with a t-shirt during the day, then swap it out for a dressier top for the evening for an easy outfit switch (and to avoid wearing your sweat as an accessory). 

Remember, Medellín has a lot of hills, so make sure to bring a pair of athletic shoes or comfortable sneakers since you’re going to be walking a lot. Medellín is no stranger to elevated streetwear. The Paisas love top athletic brands like Adidas, Nike, New Balance, and Puma because they produce high-quality, aesthetically pleasing shoes built for style and comfort.

If you don’t care for sneakers, replace them with some comfortable boots instead. I personally bought a pair of high-quality leather boots that I wear nearly every day, whether it’s to work or to go out, and I’ve even actually gone on a short hike with them, too. It’s seriously the best purchase I’ve ever made.

Bring Layers

As previously mentioned, the evenings can often get chilly, especially during the rainy season, and can even be unpredictable. You can experience a cloudless sky, extreme wind, and a thunderstorm—all in one day—so make sure to pack a windbreaker, an umbrella, and a light jacket.

I’m a big fan of cardigans as well because they are great for layering outfits while acting as light outerwear. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about. There’s nothing more convenient than being able to stuff a nice cardigan into your bag and whipping it out to cover your day-outfit when the sun disappears into the horizon. Men too, don’t be shy—cardigans can dress up any casual outfit if you know how to pair your clothing. Still unsure? Ask a female friend.

The material of your clothing makes a big difference too. Bring clothes that breathe, allowing the Colombia-warmed air to seep through your clothes and reach your sun-deprived skin. There’s no need for cashmere or wool here. Try to pack light-weight items made of cotton, silk or polyester.

If you’re accustomed to all four seasons in the United States, the cooler evenings won’t bother you. If you’re not, you might be in the same boat as the locals and decide that you might need more reinforcement than a mere light jacket. But that’s okay. Again, bring clothes you can layer with! Scarves are a useful accessory as well.

How to Dress for a Night Out

Although Colombia is considered a developing country, they’ve made wide strides on technology, real estate, and overall lifestyle. They may be late to the game, but this was a blessing in the disguise because they were able to watch other countries grow and see what’s trending and not—including fashion.

Dress well, but leave your expensive, big-brand pieces of clothing at home. Although the popular U.S. brands are commonly-known here, not many locals wear them because, well, they’re priced in U.S. dollars. It’s possible to still look good without spending a ton of money on your wardrobe, and it’s more about how you wear your clothes, rather than letting the clothes wear you.

For a night out, ladies, bring a pair of heels that you can actually walk (and dance) in. Gentlemen, feel free to bring a nice pair of dress shoes. For both parties—leave your dusty shorts and sandals behind. If you want to elevate your experience in the City of Eternal Spring with gorgeous, fun people, putting in a little more effort into your attire will do you nothing but good.

Ladies, this is your chance to show off your well-fitted dresses, skirts, pants, and tops. I was always a fan of black for any type of event, but Medellín begs to be shown some color. Don’t be afraid to accessorize your outfits, but try to avoid overlarge earrings that could easily fall off or become heavy as the night goes on and don’t put on anything that you’ll be devasted to lose.

Gentleman, you can wear shorts pretty much anywhere, even in the nicer restaurants, but remember to bring long pants too because some of the nicer clubs do have dress codes that exclude shorts and sandals. Shorts are fine during the day, but do yourself a favor and switch them out for long pants because it does a little chillier at night anyways and shorts can be too casual for higher-end venues. A well-fitted pair of denim jeans has never done anyone harm and is the perfect versatile item for casual, business, or club attire.

Related Questions:

What’s Medellin nightlife dress code?

Dress smartly and elegantly—think L.A. without the flaunting of big-name brands. Men, don’t wear shorts or sandals. Ladies, choose a dress or well-fitted jeans and a nice top and avoid heels you can’t dance in.

What should I pack for a trip to Colombia?

Your favorite pair of denim jeans, sundresses for the ladies, button-downs for the men, a jacket for the chilly evenings, comfortable shoes, and any clothes you enjoy looking at in the sun.

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