Shopping at San Diego, Medellín’s Oldest Mall

San Diego mall
San Diego mall
San Diego mall
Centro Comerical San Diego

Centro Comercial San Diego is reportedly the first Western-style shopping mall that was built in all of Colombia.

The mall opened in November 1972 with 54 shops initially, which has grown over time with three expansions. The mall now has over 230 shops.

San Diego’s builders claim they helped start the mall shopping culture now found in Colombia. The success of the mall definitely helped stimulate the building of additional Western-style malls in Medellín and other cities throughout Colombia.

It is an open-air mall similar to some of the malls found in San Diego, California, which might be behind the name. San Diego mall also has 120 offices in towers where you can find doctors and other professionals.

Because the mall was the first in Medellín, many locals see it as a traditional Paisa landmark. The mall is located in La Candelaria along Avenida El Poblado just a couple of blocks north of Premium Plaza mall.

When the larger Premium Plaza opened nearby in 2010, it doesn’t appear to have impacted the San Diego mall much. San Diego remains popular and I didn’t see any store vacancies when I visited it recently.

San Diego - an open-air mall
An open-air section of Centro Comercial San Diego

The Shops in San Diego

The anchor tenants of San Diego are Exito and Falabella.

San Diego has over 230 shops, which include stores selling clothes, shoes, home furnishings, jewelry, mattresses, eye-care and several other categories.

Exito in San Diego mall
Exito in San Diego mall

Exito is a supermarket that also sells electronics, clothes, kitchen items and home furnishings similar to a Walmart in the United States.

Make sure to sign up for Exito Puntos (points). This is a frequent shopper program where you accumulate points that can be used to help purchase items on sale in the future. To sign up you just need an ID: cédula or passport.

Entrance to Falabella in San Diego mall
Entrance to Falabella in San Diego mall

Falabella is a large department store that sells a wide range of items including clothing, furniture, electronics and appliances, computers and sports equipment. Chile-based Falabella has over 70 department stores located in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru.

In Medellín, Falabella has two stores located in the San Diego and Santafé malls.

I was fortunate to purchase an iMac in the San Diego Falabella earlier this year for less than the cost listed on Apple’s website at the time. The iMac was on sale and I understand taxes and import duties don’t apply to computers in Colombia.

Alkomprar in San Diego mall – electronics
Alkomprar in San Diego mall, where you can find electronics

Alkomprar is like a small Best Buy selling televisions, computers, appliances and other electronics and they frequently have sales.

You can also find Alkomprar in several other malls in Medellín including Florida Parque, Los Molinos, Puerta del Norte and Mayorca.

Happy City in San Diego mall
Happy City in San Diego mall

For the kids, the mall has Happy City, which offers games and has bumper cars and a small Ferris wheel.

Leonisa, one of several lingerie stores in San Diego mall
Leonisa, one of several lingerie stores in San Diego mall

No larger mall in Medellín is complete without several lingerie stores and San Diego has several.

The reason why? Colombia is reportedly the third largest producer of lingerie globally.

The second floor food court in San Diego mall
The second floor food court in San Diego mall

Food Options

The main food court in San Diego is located on the second floor. The mall has over 25 fast food places and restaurants.

In San Diego you will find several of the typical fast food places in Medellín including Asia Wok, Dogger, Dunkin Donuts, El Corral, Frisby, J&C Delicias, Kokoriko, McDonalds, Presto, Qbano, Sr. Wok, Subway and Tacos&BarBQ.

You will also find a few restaurants in San Diego including Cazuelitas, Crepes & Waffles and Il Forno.


Pro’s – It’s the oldest mall in Medellín but it’s a nice open-air mall that remains popular and has kept up with the newer malls thanks to three expansions. It has an Exito for groceries, a large Falabella department store, a convenient food court and over 230 shops.

Con’s – Surprisingly San Diego has no movie theater. So if you want to see a movie, you would need to go to nearby Premium Plaza.

My Verdict – It’s a nice mall considered a Paisa landmark.  It is worth a visit, especially if you like open-air malls.

How to Get There – You can take the Metro to the Exposiciones station and the San Diego mall is located about four blocks away. Every taxi driver also knows where it is.

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  1. Thanks for covering one of my favorite malls in Medellin. This was the first mall I went to in Medellin. I especially like the open-air style of the mall on nice weather days.

  2. Hello, Jeff What about an article about family life in the city. Any groups of expats with children, the pros and cons of the city toward families. The best and worst neighborhoods for kids, fun things for children.

    • Gary,

      You raise a good topic for us to cover on the blog. I’ll make a note of it.

      On the topic of safety, a reader asked me about this earlier in the year, and I reached out to an expat friend with a child for his take on that topic in particular. Here’s what he had to say:

      “The short answer is if you live in Poblado/Envigado/Sabaneta and keep your kid within those boundaries I think it is as safe as anywhere. My kid sticks out which can be annoying with people wanting to interact and touch him. I am here 7 years and have never had a serious issue. (Knocking on wood) He lives a good life here with soccer, swimming lesson, pre-school. My kid is 3 1/2.”