December is the month to dote on your loved ones and splash out on a few presents. No matter how far away in the world you are – or perhaps you’re planning on spending the holidays at home – bringing something back from your travels is a welcome and exotic treat. Whether you live in Medellín or are passing through for a few days, the city has a wide selection of places to buy unique bits for family and friends. From local Colombian goods, to delicious coffee, alcohol, and art, here’s where to find the best Christmas gifts in Medellín.
Crafts from Museo de Arte Moderno
Carrera 44 #19A-100
For gift-givers who like a little culture in their purchases, Museo de Arte Moderno (MAMM) is a museum in Ciudad del Río with a range of cool trinkets in the gift shop. Here, visitors can buy film or exhibition posters, jewelry, stationery, clothes, and plenty of Medellín memorabilia created by independent designers. Think of MAMM as an upscale souvenir store – the prices are certainly higher than in El Centro but the products are originals and reflect Colombia’s growing arts scene. MAMM is probably best suited to presents for parents or older relatives, or your slightly hipster friend.
Botero souvenirs from Museo de Antioquia
Calle 52 #43
One of the top tourist attractions in Medellín, Museo de Antioquia is a solid option for Christmas goodies. Shoppers can’t go wrong with lots of Fernando Botero merchandise, books about Medellín’s history and culture, ornaments, and cute artifacts. Like MAMM, the prices can be higher here but the quality is good and your money goes towards supporting the museum. It’d also be nice if, before your gift to the person, you show them photos of Plaza Botero and the sculptures just outside the shop.
Coffee from Pergamino
Carrera 37 #8A-37 or Calle 10B #36-38
As the second-largest exporter of coffee in the world, Colombia is famous for its beans. While there are plenty of places to buy coffee, Pergamino is a Medellín-based café that works closely with farmers around Colombia to ensure freshness and fairness in their coffee. Even better, the brand sells special present packages which include a bag of their traditional Lomaverde roast with a Pergamino mug and a special Navidad blend. The set comes in a box and is ideal for people who don’t have time to wrap something. There are also individual packs of coffee ranging in strength, as well as posters of Colombia; plus, the baristas can grind the coffee to your preference.
Added bonus: Pergamino now deliver their coffee overseas. Check out their website for FedEx options straight to the lucky person!
Boutique bits from Vía Primavera
This picturesque street in El Poblado (coincidentally where one of the Pergamino cafés can be found) is home to rows of boutique stores. If you need to buy for a fashionista, there are loads of independent label designers here, with items of clothing that can only be found in Medellín. There are stores dedicated to underwear, swimwear, jewelry, and shoes too. The shops cover a range of styles and price tags, so you’re bound to find a gift to suit. Primavera, Caduto, and OnA are a few of our favorites for clothes, while The Tea House and The Wine Collection stock loose tea, pottery, and imported wines.
Shoes & clothes from Palacio Nacional
Carrera 52 #48-45
El Centro, in general, is a fantastic area to go Christmas shopping. The streets full of vendors, markets, and malls mean the selection here is huge. From clothes, shoes, bags, electronics, food, decorations, accessories, souvenirs, and textiles, El Centro really has everything. Plus, El Centro is far cheaper than El Poblado or the Viva malls.
Located a block away from Parque Berrio metro station, Palacio Nacional is a grand building spread across multiple storeys. From the outside, it literally looks like a palace. On the inside, however, it’s full of sneakers and clothes – most of which are expensive brands at a fraction of the retail price. If you have to buy a gift for someone with expensive taste, Palacio Nacional is a saving grace. Just remember to always haggle the price and to bring cash.
Artwork from Comuna 13
Comuna 13 was once one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Medellín. Although still facing troubles, it has made a significant transformation and is now a favorite spot for travelers to the city. The colorful graffiti splashed over the walls, stairs, and houses of Comuna 13 tell the story of the area’s struggle and mirror how the residents are taking its narrative into their own hands. All the artwork is done by locals, who have since set up galleries or sell their work on the street.
Art from Comuna 13 is a creative gift, and it helps the people living there to have their voices heard around the world. If you do choose to get gifts from Comuna 13, we recommend buying directly from the artist or small galleries, to ensure the money goes to a good cause.
Drinks & food from the local tienda
With the huge surge of spending that takes place over Christmas, it can be easy to forget about smaller businesses that can’t compete with malls. Why not invest in the community and pick up some gifts from the local tienda? It’s where some of the best and most authentically-Colombian items are.
A bottle of Aguardiente is cheap and always fun – you could take it home, crack it open, and play Colombian drinking games together. Ron Medellín is another good choice, particularly if you like giving things that have the name of the places you’ve visited on them. Or, if your recipients aren’t drinkers, arequipe is a caramel-like spread that Colombians put in desserts or eat by itself.
Failing all that, a pack of trusty arepas makes a light-hearted gift.