Bogota, the capitol of Colombia, is an international and progressive city. Here you will find a vibrant vibe and something for every taste. You can transition from the historic cobble stone streets of La Candelaria to the hip districts in the north of the city known as Zona T and Zona G all in one day. Marvel at incredible views high above the city at Monserrate or even underground while visiting the world famous Salt Cathedral.
Where to Stay:
- In the Zone know as La Candelaria you can find multiple hostels that are suitably priced for a backpackers budget. In this area there are many resources where you can book tours and day trips. What we have found traveling as a couple is that in some cities it is sometimes more affordable to book hotels or a room in a private home since the hostels usually charge per person, and this was true of Bogota.
- We found a really good last minute deal at Hotel Real 97, a clean and well-situated hotel with a kitchen, living room and Wi-Fi for 107,500 COP per night/$34.29 (Aug., 2015). This came in really handy when opting to reheat leftovers. A complete and delicious breakfast was also provided from 6am-10am. The hotel was located within walking distance to la zona rosa near Parque 93, where we found great shops and eateries.
- The last couple of days we stayed at Hostal Inn Zona T, where we booked a private room with a bathroom for 98,833 COP per night/$31.55 (Aug., 2015) This place was also in a prime location that was surrounded by restaurants, shops and nightlife known as Zona Breakfast was included and served from 7am-9am by our gracious host Geraldo.
What to See/do:
- La Candelaria- Bohemian neighborhood that is the epicenter of art and culture. Here you will find gorgeous colonial architecture, museums and quaint cafes along cobble stone lined streets.
- Plaza de Bolivar– Historical square surrounded by government buildings where you can find an amazing sculpture of Simón Bolívar. Here you can also visit the city’s tourist information center which provides an informative free walking tour all around La Candelaria.
- Museo de Botero/ Banco de la Republica Art Collection- Amazing collection of Botero’s work including sculptures and paintings. Works by other artists such as Dali, Picasso and Miró are also displayed. Attached to the Botero Museum you will find the Banco de la Republica Art collection which houses rotating exhibits from modern artists. Both museums are free of charge!
- Zipaquira/ Salt Cathedral- Located just about an hour outside of Bogota this charming town is home to the “first wonder of Colombia”- the Salt Cathedral. This astonishing architectural feat is a church built inside a salt mine 200 meters underground. The tour of the cathedral cost 25,000 COP.
- Cerro de Monserrate- Just a short walk east of La Candelaria, this high peak sits at over 3,000 meters and provides incredible views of all of Bogota. To get here one can either take a cable car or funicular train for around 17,000 COP (Aug., 2015).
- Parque 93—A wonderful park for relaxing and people watching surrounded by numerous restaurants and shops. Great during the day or night!
Where to eat:
Bogota can be an expensive city for meals but one can find bargains and international fare for all tastes. Below you’ll find a few of the delicious eateries we tried.
- Wok- If you’re looking for a tiny break from eating traditional Colombian food and craving Asian delicacies head to this place. It is a chain restaurant with numerous locations but don’t let that fool you, the food is delicious! The place is always packed and this is usually a good indication of excellence. Plates were a tad pricier than typical foods we had tired so far but the mouthwatering flavors and fresh quality was well worth it (so much so that we ate there twice!).
- Il Peccato di Golla- We stumbled across this gem located right next to our hostel after having woken up late and ravenous. For 15,000 COP/ $4.79 (Aug., 2015) our meal included a delicious grilled salmon (Manu opted for the trout), salad/fruit, soup, rice, tostones, avocado and a juice. The food was incredibly fresh and the fruits super sweet and delicious. It was a great way to start our day… afternoon
- Central Cultural Gabriel Garcia Marquez (temporary food stand)- We were strolling along La Candelaria when we came across a temporary book fair centered on Mexican culture. Here we found a temporary food stand serving Mexican food. We ordered a combo that included 2 vegetarian tacos, a quesadilla, a tostada and a drink all for 16,000 COP/ $5.26 (Aug., 2015). The food was delicious and authentic but only available for a limited time as the festival ran through September 16th.
How to get there & Getting Around:
- We arrived at El Dorado International Airport and quickly hopped in a marked taxi across town. We found transportation in Bogota to be quite expensive but this was expected, as the capitol is among the 25 largest cities in the world. Congestion predominates most of the time but especially during peak hours. To combat this hop on the Transmilenio, a bus with its own lane that moves fairly easily throughout the city. Don’t expect a comfy ride, however, as this bus also gets packed. To visit Zipaquira we took the Transmilenio to Portal Norte where we hopped on another but that took us into the center of the pueblo. From here you can either take a taxi to the Salt Cathedral or take a short walk while getting to know the area.