There are countless reasons to move to or visit a new city – experience cultures, see incredible scenery, learn a new language – but people often don’t talk about how travel can be lonely. You’re miles away from home and the culture shock can hit hard. What do you miss most in these moments? Friends! Luckily, Medellín is by no means short of sociable expats and locals always looking to extend their friendship group. Whether you’ve just arrived to the city or have recently seen a mass exodus of your mates going to other countries (something most nomads are more than familiar with), we’ve rounded up a few tips and tricks to meet new people.
Forget language barriers and overcome your reservations — here’s how to make friends in Medellín!
Learn to salsa
What better way to get up close and personal with people than by strutting around a dancefloor firmly pressed against their body? Salsa dancing is extremely common in Medellín, and there are plenty of bars, clubs and schools dedicated to it. If you’re a beginner, sign up for group classes – it’s a fun way to stay in shape as well as meet new people. Some of the best schools include Dancefree, Academia Santo Baile and Salsa Classes Medellín. It’s worth noting that some of these schools ask that you have a pre-organized group of people to take private classes, so try posting in some of the Medellín Facebook groups to find fellow budding salsa enthusiasts.
If you’re on a tight budget, there are a few places across Medellín that offer free salsa classes, led by professionals. In Laureles, the Wandering Paisa has group lessons for beginners every Tuesday at 8.30 pm, while Son Havana also has a free salsa workshop every Wednesday and Thursday at 7.30 pm. The Wandering Paisa Hostel equally has salsa with no cover charge on Wednesdays at 7 pm. Elsewhere, in El Centro, El Eslabón Prendido has live music and salsa on Tuesdays at 7 pm – this option has a real Paisa feel, so head here if you want to make some local friends.
Go to a language exchange
Want to improve your Spanish and broaden your social circle at the same? Language exchanges are ideal to learn another language in a relaxed setting and really bond with the people around you. There’s usually a mixture of speaking abilities at these events, so don’t worry if you’re not fluent yet! It’s also an opportunity to enjoy a beer while chatting to locals and other foreigners, plus get some insider recommendations for what to do in Medellín. Not to mention, it’s common for people to find potential dates at language exchanges, so if you’re in the market for love, dress well before arriving!
Here are a few of the most popular language exchanges:
Hostel Ondas – Wednesdays at 6.30 pm
The Wandering Paisa – Thursdays at 8 pm
Toucan Café – Tuesdays & Thursdays at 6 pm
Colombia Immersion – Fridays at 6.30 pm
Attend or organize a meet-up
More and more extranjeros in Medellín are adopting the digital nomad lifestyle and working online for companies in other countries. Unfortunately, a remote job can make it harder to meet people, as most of the time you’re plugged into your laptop by yourself. However, as the nomad community begins to expand, meet-ups are now a frequent occurrence in Medellín. These events are perfect to network, co-collaborate on future projects and create a few new friendships!
A handful of organizations and locations host meet-ups in Medellín, typically focusing on a particular element of work (user feedback, design, marketing, communication etc.) or simply an excuse to socialize with like-minded people. Selina, Naturalia Café, Barrio Central, Café Cliché and 20Mission Cerveza are all favorite spots for meet-ups – check their social media for upcoming events, or Meetup Medellín has a full agenda across the city. Medellín Living hosts meet-ups too, where readers are invited to share drinks, stories and ideas in person.
If you can’t find a meet-up that suits your interests, why not create your own? These Facebook groups are awesome to connect with other organizers:
Medellín Expats (be sure to never spell ‘Colombia’ incorrectly in this group…)
Digital Nomads Medellín
Medellín Entrepreneurs Society
Join hiking groups
Medellín’s location in the Aburrá Valley means it’s incredibly picturesque and surrounded by lush greenery. There are a whole host of hiking routes, waterfalls, lookout points and picnic areas in and around the city – perfect for spending sunny days exploring the outdoors. Even if you’re not the most active person, it’s well worth embarking on an adventure in the Antioquian wildness. The Medellín Hiking group on Facebook is where anyone can join organized hiking trips. The length and intensity of the hikes are always different, and there are normally a few active regulars that attend each one. Alternatively, Kinkaju Hikes & Adventures works with local organizations to plan group hikes that aim to “connect visitors and residents alike that love to be outside”.
Hiking is a fantastic way to see more of Medellín than the urbanized areas, plus be introduced to a range of people from all over the world – there’s nothing quite like finding a new friend while taking in the panoramic views!
Become a volunteer
Medellín has undoubtedly undergone a transformation over the past decade, yet there are still plenty of problems in the city that require the help of volunteers. Giving back to local communities and supporting independent organizations – while finding great friends along the way – costs nothing! Offering your time to a good cause is arguably the best way to integrate within Medellín’s society, as it provides the chance to speak with locals, visit unfamiliar areas of the city and work alongside other expats hoping to make a difference.
Tons of incredible volunteer groups in Medellín need assistance on a daily basis, with responsibilities ranging from leading arts workshops to fundraising, teaching English and building homes. Nomads Giving Back is an especially great option for expats who want to make a collective positive impact. Past activities the group has put on include soccer matches with the children of Communa 13 and an ethical coffee workshop.
Do you have suggestions for how to make friends in Medellín? Let us and the community know in the comments!