Bogotá is the vast, sprawling high altitude capital of Columbia. It lies at 2640 m above sea level making it the third highest capital in South America after Quito and Sucre. It is subdivided into 20 localities and is home to the central office of the president, Congress and judicial branches of the government. Bogotá also has the most business activity of any city in the country making it the heart of financial affairs in Columbia. The climate of Bogota alternates between the dry and rainy season with the driest months being December, January, July, August. I spent 2 days exploring this city before venturing further north
The main area to stay and with plenty of accommodation and hostel options is the Candelaria area. This is the colonial area of the town. As a place to stay, I’d recommend the Cranky Croc hostel.
It’s well located near the centre and has all amenities required as well as having helpful and staff. The Candelaria area can be unsafe at night so exercise caution if heading out.
Kutral is an amazing Argentinian and Italian restaurant. It is located on Cl 17 #260 in the Candelaria area. This restaurant offers great tasting food at good prices. There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options too. We had lunch here and would have loved to have the opportunity to try the dinner menu as everything was delicious. A must try is the quinoa burger as an especially good vegetarian option.
La Puerta Falsa is another gem in the Bogotá food scene. Located just off Plaza de Bolivar it is one of the oldest restaurants in the city said to have been opened in 1816. This is a good place to sample traditional Columbian food. They are particularly renowned for their tamales, a mixture of rice and meat wrapped in banana leaves. The address is 11th street no 6 -50 just off Bolivar square.
For on the go options you can’t beat street-food. A cup of mango/watermelon cost $2000 COP. Empanada a pastry snack filled with meat and vegetables is a good choice for lunch while plantain chips are another good option. They all cost between $2000 to $3000 COP. Empanadas are my new obsession you have to try!
A good afternoon option after you’ve slept off the jetlag is to visit Monserrate. Monserrate is elevated at 10,000 feet and gives a good viewpoint of the sprawling city. The area was built in 1640 as a site for pilgrim masses and still holds regular services there. The easiest way to reach the viewpoint is by funicular or cable car. The cost is $19,000 COP return. There are excellent views of the city and surrounding areas with a little market area making it a nice way to spend an afternoon. There is a walkway to the top also, but there are often reports of robberies so exercise caution if choosing this route. The route is supposedly manned by security until the afternoon but as I took the lazy funicular option I can’t vouch for this route.
Do a walking tour. We went on the one organised by our hostel and couldn’t recommend it enough. This tour brought us through the city with our guide explaining the history as we went. Bogotá has a diverse and interesting history like the rest of Columbia and a walking tour is a fun way to learn about it from a local person. We also sampled traditional Colombian coffee and chicha. Chicha is a fermented corn drink plentiful across South America.
If you do not make a walking tour make sure to check out Bolivar Square. This beautiful square is home to the houses of Congress, judicial houses and other government buildings. It also has a very interesting sculpture display in its centre. The square is named after Simon Bolivar, an important historical figure in Colombia’s history.
Play Tejo. This is a traditional Columbian game that involves throwing rocks at gunpowder. It can be found all over Columbia and is a fun activity to play with friends while drinking a local cerveza (beer). We played at Magda Buendia, which is an adorable cafe in the Candelaria area. They also serve amazing empanadas (winning!).
Graffiti walking tour. We didn’t partake in this but have heard good things about it. There are some magnificent graffiti murals all over the Candelaria area depicting different themes and expressions. This tour explains the murals in greater detail. We did see some of the beautiful graffiti while on the walking tour and would have liked to explore more if time had allowed.
Visit the gold museum or Museo del Oro. I, unfortunately, didn’t have time to fit this in but by all accounts, it is well worth a visit. There are 55,000 gold pieces in the museum with explanations about each piece in English that explain the history and culture of the people. The entrance is $4000 COP.
Overall, Bogatá is a nice city. It seems to get a harsh and undeserved reputation among other travellers but I found it to be an enjoyable and interesting city to spend a few days.
Thanks for reading and happy traveling 🙂