Sep 17, 2015|
Last updated on December 28th, 2020 at 10:23 am
Are you thinking about traveling to Colombia? Lucky for you, we’ve put together an expert rated Bogotá travel guide. When taking a Colombia tour, the first destination people typically visit is Bogotá. Bogotá is not only the bustling capital of Colombia, but it is also one of the highest cities in South America sitting at 2,600 meters above sea level. There are so many fun things to do and see in Bogotá. Even if you only have 24 hours in this magical city, in this Bogotá travel guide, you’ll find everything there is to know about exploring the city.
1. How to Get Around Bogotá
First on this Bogota travel guide is knowing how to get around Bogotá. Tourists can use taxis, the local bus, or if your tour is arranged with a travel company (like us!), then you can arrange for private transfers.
Once you find yourself in a new city the first thing you need to understand is the transportation and how not to get lost. I recommend taking a Taxi around Bogotá, especially if you only have 24 hours in the city. There are thousands of taxis in the city. The easiest way to get a Taxi is by requesting one through mobile applications e.g Tapsi or Easy Taxi. In comparison to Europe or the U.S., taxis in Bogotá are pretty affordable. You can also see if Uber or Lyft operates here.
It is quite easy to take a Bogota tour on your own, but keep in mind the traffic is terrible. Always allow for extra travel time. There are plenty of public buses in the city. However, I wouldn’t recommend the bus as the first choice for tourists because the system can be confusing. Bogotá doesn’t have a metro system (there are hopes for that in the future) but the equivalent of a metro would be their TransMilenio. This is supposed to be the ‘rapid transit’ system however during peak hours from 5 am-9 am and 5-8 pm the TransMilenio is not as rapid.
Walking tour of Bogota
For the most part, Bogotá’s streets do not have names – only a couple of the streets in the old city have names. The streets are all numbers. There are Carreras (mostly parallel to the mountains) and Calles (crossing Carreras). The higher the number of Calle, the further North you are. The lower the number of Carrera, the further East you are (mountains are on the east side of the city).
2. Where to Stay in Bogotá
Bogotá is one of the biggest metropolia in South America. It is home to nearly 8 million people. The priority during your visit should be to find a safe hotel near the best attractions. There are two neighborhoods in this Bogota travel guide that I recommend for a hotel stay.
The historical downtown neighborhood is located South of the city. This is where the famous La Candelaria district is with colonial houses, small squares, and monumental Plaza Bolivar. You can stay here if you enjoy walking along narrow, cobblestone streets, local cafes and handicraft shops. La Candelaria has some nice historical hotels and is relatively close to the airport.
North region is more modern and includes Chapinero Alto, Zona Rosa, Parque 93 neighborhoods. I personally recommend staying in the northern region. The North region is a little safer and has plenty of diverse entertainment.
There are some beautiful modern/boutique hotels in the northern part of the city close to the main touristic areas such as Virrey Park, Zora Rosa, Parque 93, Usaquen (Hacienda Santa Barbara). During weekdays it will take you 1 – 1.5 hours by taxi to get from the northern neighborhoods to the historical downtown La Candelaria.
3. Places to Visit in Bogotá
This is the colonial neighborhood located in the historical downtown region and stands as one of the most popular destinations to visit in Bogotá. Here you will find the famous Cathedral on Plaza Bolivar, Presidential Palace (Casa de Nariño), Gold Museum, the Botero Museum, old churches, colonial houses, Baroque art, and art deco architecture.
Also, in this Bogota travel guide, I recommend visiting Plaza de Chorro de Quevedo. This is one of the oldest plazas in Bogotá and this is where the city of Bogotá was founded.
This is a must-see attraction in Bogotá. This is a famous summit where you can enjoy panoramic views of the city. The mountain sits at 3,125 meters above sea level. You can access the mountain by cable car, train, or hiking. At the top, there is a cathedral that you can tour and along with restaurants.
North from downtown, you will find Chapinero, a popular student district filled with bars and shopping areas. Here you will find diverse architecture including English Tudor-style brick houses.
4. Places to Eat & Hang Out in Bogotá
Colombian cuisine is one of the most famous and unique cuisines in South America. The local chefs are as well recognized as the best chefs in Peru and Ecuador. When visiting Bogotá, you must enjoy the authentic delicacies. There are plenty of restaurants that offer the typical local dishes which include: ajiaco (potato-chicken soup), lechona (pork stuffed with rice), bandeja paisa (mix of meat, sausages, rice, plantains, beans, egg). In our Bogota travel guide I recommend the following places to eat:
Restaurants in Bogota
- Andres Carne de Res, Santo Pecado,
- Las Acacias
- La Fragata
- Santa Fe Café & Restaurant
- La Puerta Falsa – small place in downtown
Other food and beverages destinations:
- Paloquemao Market – One of the most famous Bogotá markets for fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and more.
- Juan Valdez – The Colombia equivalent of Starbucks Coffee.
- Bogotá Beer Company – A local chain that focuses on artisanal beers.
- Gaira Café – A Café owned by Carlos Vives, a famous Colombian singer.
5. Places to Party in Bogotá
Bogotá Nightlife is surprisingly good compared to what you can find in other South American cities like Buenos Aires or Santiago de Chile. There are entire regions dedicated to entertainment where you can eat, drink, and dance. Colombians love to dance.
Everywhere you go you will hear live musicians playing popular rhythms like salsa, merengue, reggeaton, vallenato. The most popular day to go out and the party is Friday night, although Bogotános love entertaining tourists so there are always a variety of clubs open throughout the week. The most popular places I would include in the Bogota travel guide are:
- Quiebra Canto – La Candelaria
- Galeria Café Libro – Salsa close to Parque 93
- La Villa – Zona Rosa
- Armando Records – Zona Rosa
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