24 Hours in Bogotá
When traveling in Colombia you will hear people say, “Colombia, the only risk is wanting to stay.” Well, there are many reasons behind this saying and from my experience this is certainly true. After you spending a few days in Colombia, don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting to learn more about this fascinating country.
When visiting Colombia, the first destination people typically visit is Bogotá. Bogotá is not only the capital of Colombia, but it is also one of the highest cities in South America sitting at 2,600 meters above sea level. Colombians are known for being outgoing and sociable. They love to share what they have with tourists and are extremely polite and hospitable. Below you will find the best advice for enjoying your time in Bogota – even if you only have 24 hours to spend in this magical city.
Getting Around Bogotá – Bogotá Travel Guide
Taxi – Once you find yourself in a new city the first thing you need to understand is 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 Bogota. The easiest way to get a Taxi is by requesting one through a mobile applications e.g Tapsi or Easy Taxi. In comparison to Europe or the U.S., taxis in Bogotá are pretty affordable.
Bus – Bogotá is quite an easy city to navigate, but keep in mind the traffic is terrible – always allow for extra travel time. There are plenty of public buses in the city, but I wouldn’t recommend the bus as a first choice for tourists because the bus 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 5am-9am and 5-8pm the TransMilenio is not as rapid.
Travel Tip – 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).
Where to Stay – Bogotá Travel Guide
Bogotá is one of the biggest metropolis 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 that I recommend for a hotel stay. The historical downtown neighborhood which is located South of the city or the modern North region with Chapinero Alto, Zona Rosa, Parque 93 neighborhoods. I personally recommend staying in the northern region. The North region is a little more safe 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).
While my vote goes to Bogotá Norte (North of Bogotá), I need to also mention that during weekdays it will take you 1 – 1.5 hours by taxi to get from the northern neighborhoods to the historical downtown La Candelaria.
Places to Visit – Bogotá Travel Guide
La Candelaria – 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.
Plaza de Chorro de Quevedo – This is one of the oldest plazas in Bogotá and this is where the city of Bogotá was founded.
Monserrate Mountain – 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.
Chapinero – 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.
Other neighborhoods worth visiting are the areas around Parque 93, Virrey Park and Usaquen.
Places to Eat & Hang Out – Bogotá Travel Guide
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).
- 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.
Places to Party – Bogotá Travel Guide
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 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 to feel the Colombian fiesta vibe are:
- Quiebra Canto – La Candelaria
- Galeria Café Libro – Salsa close to Parque 93
- La Villa – Zona Rosa
- Armando Records – Zona Rosa
Every Sunday, Bogotá has its Ciclovia event from 7am to 2pm. At this time most of the main streets in the city are closed to automobiles and you will see the locals out and about either running, biking or walking. This might be the best way to mingle with locals if you happen to be in Bogota on Sunday or a holiday day.
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