When people hear about Bogotá, the last thing that comes to their mind is romance and culture this city, located in one of the most underrated countries of Latin America: Colombia, has a lot to offer to any seasoned traveller.
Bogotá, a city with 6,7 millions habitants, it’s the capital of Colombia and finance center of the north part of the hemisphere. It’s weather it’s similar to London, with long rain seasons and cold nights, it’s the perfect place to cuddle in front of a fireplace.
La Candelaria is the historical center of the city, with buildings that haven’t been changed in over 200 years; its streets yell magic and nostalgia. In the middle of La Candelaria, you can find la Plaza de Bolivar, a beautiful square with the House of Nariño on one side and the Congress Palace on the other. This square is home to tons of mango or oblea sellers (delicious!), photographers, tourist guides, thousands of pigeons, and even a friendly alpaca.
Walking down the streets of La Candelaria is a romantic and beautiful activity, with thousands of small, family-owned, restaurants to sit and eat a typical bogotan food, you’ll feel like in the 19th century.
Near the Plaza de Bolivar you can find El Museo De Botero, one of Colombia’s biggest artists, almost everyone has seen a Botero painting, maybe you just don’t know it was his yet. On this museum you won’t only find Botero’s paintings but also his personal collection featuring artists as important as Picasso.
If you’re looking for history, then there’s a special route for you, besides the Botero museum you can also explore El Museo del Oro (Gold’s museum). An amazing trip in to the prehistoric population of Latin America, when civilization as we know it didn’t existed, and people wondered the earth as nomads. Thousands of art pieces will show you how they lived and died, their rituals, social hierarchy and more.
After the Museo del Oro, I strongly recommend going to La Plaza del Chorro de Quevedo, (Chorro de Quevedo’s Square), the place where Bogotá was founded. This square it’s a bohemian amazing place, where you can have some drinks and enjoy the amazing music. Graffiti, street artists, sculptures and small shops, this place has it all for a nice bohemian evening.
Please do notice that Bogotá is 2,600m over the sea level, so if you’re not used to high pressure the best way to enjoy it is to drink tons of water even if you’re not thirsty, this will keep you hydrated and pretty!
After exploring the little streets of El Chorro de Quevedo you can go down again, and visit the National Museum, and the National Park, two amazing attractions, the first with culture and history and the second with beautiful green spaces to relax and finish the evening.
Now, what to do after the sun is gone?
Bogotá has several amazing places after dark, depending on what you’d like to do. If you’re a party animal, then La Zona T or Zona Rosa is the right place for you, crowded with disco after disco you’ll be in your zone. You can choose from several different styles, but I recommend latin discos, you’re already here, enjoy the culture! Champeta, Salsa Choque and Cumbia are my favorite Colombian’s music genders.
Do not drink whisky, it’s overly expensive and Colombians don’t do it, the main drink here is Aguardiente, which is a liqueur that comes from the sugar cane distillation! It’s a strong drink, so take it easy! If you’re in to something more regular, you can always have a beer, Club Colombia and Bogotá Beer Company are great brands, and you’ll be delighted, there’s a cool beer culture in Bogotá.
What about drugs? I know, Colombia has a reputation. But there’s nothing to worry about, here the cannabis consumption is legal, but it doesn’t mean that you’re obligated to use it. Usually you won’t even notice this world if you’re not interested on it, so don’t let that stop you.
And insecurity? Listen, Latin America is different than other regions, we do have insecurity here, but if you’re in group, and aware there’s absolutely nothing to worry about, I’ve walked at 3 am to my house more than you imagine and I’ve never had ANY issues. Just stay in a secure area (Chapinero or Usaquen are perfect) and that’s it!
In the Zona T there are also three exclusive malls to shop, the biggest world brands are in this area, and usually the prices are lower than in other cities, which is great for shop-a-holics! The malls are: El Andino, El Retiro and El Atlantis.
Now, if you’re more of a quiet person, we strongly recommend La Zona G, it’s a beautiful area with several coffee shops and restaurants where you can have a nice, cozy time.
My favorite places in La Zona G are the Juan Valdez Orígenes coffee shop, a quiet and lovely place where you can enjoy a nice cup of coffee and have a long chat with your friends, Hocus Pocus, a gin bar with amazing music and a very relaxed environment to chill with your friends or by yourself, and Teriyaki, an amazing Asian place with the most delicious food! They’re all one block away from each other.
And that’s another amazing thing about Bogotá: you can walk. Bogotá is mostly flat, so walking between close places ends up being an amazing experience, of course, if you’re destination is over 40 blocks away I would recommend taking a taxi!
About taxis, they have taximeters, and they’re cheap. Usually if you’re not going more than 40 blocks away and you’re with another person, taking a cab will be cheaper than taking a bus! Crazy, I know. You have to be patient, since Bogotans are not the best drivers in the world. The first times I hopped in to cabs I literally thought I was going to die, but I didn’t, there’s some kind of organization within their chaos!
Bogotá is a beautiful, underrated city, with lovely locals and everything you’re looking for in a city vacation: culture, party, gastronomy, it has it all. So leave your prejudices home, and come enjoy all the amazing things the capital of Colombia has to offer!