HotelsInColombia

Travel Guide Bogotá - City of Culture and Night Life

Bogotá - the capital of Colombia - located in the centre of the country at 2600 meters (8530 ft) above sea level, has a population of around eight million people from all corners of Colombia. It is famous for its culture and nightlife. This modern city boasts many parks, modern shopping malls, trendy bars and nightclubs, free-admission museums and theatres.

You may not miss La Candelaria, the old historic centre of Bogotá. It was in La Candelaria that the Colombian capital was founded at Plazoleta del Chorro de Quevedo in 1538. It has cobblestone streets and colonial balconies and patios and there are many museums and ancient churches to visit. While walking the streets, pick up an empanada or an oblea (caramel and jam wafers) from the street vendors.

Make sure to save some energy for an evening out. Food and dancing is important for the Bogotanos (or rolos as they are often known). You will find an unusual diversity of restaurants in this cosmopolitan city, as well as a vibrant nightlife scene. The most popular bars and nightclubs are situated in Bogota’s Zona Rosa region, in the north of the city.

Where To Stay

La Candelaria – colonial Candelaria (or Zona C) is a neighborhood full of bohemian atmosphere in the city center. It is the cultural heart of the city, close to Bogotá’s main attractions. There are a couple of good bars and restaurants, although it tends to be a little lonely at night.

Zona Rosa – this upscale northern region, located between Carreras 11 and 15 and Calles 79 and 85, is home to Bogota’s primary dining, shopping and nightlife scene. The pedestrian-only Zona T, packed with bars and restaurants, is the epicenter of the Zona Rosa. It is surrounded by the upscale malls of Centro Comercial Andino, Atlantis Plaza and El Retiro.

Zona G – a highly visited place by tourists and locals who are looking for Bogotá’s best international and Colombian run restaurants. This Gourmet zone is located at the north side of the exclusive Chapinero district, between Carreras 4 and 7 and Calles 69 and 74.

Chapinero - with the three major residential areas Chapinero, El Lago and Chicó this exclusive district is one of Bogotá’s largest neighborhoods and well known for its nightlife, shopping and financial districts. It is very central located in between La Candelaria and Usaquén.

Parque de la 93 – a trendy section of Bogotá with a great variety of restaurants surrounding a park. Colombian boutiques like OndadeMar can be found in its vicinity.

Usaquén - the most northern district. It used to be a village until it was absorbed by the city. It still has a quiet and relaxed atmosphere, with cobbled streets, traditional architecture and lovely squares. You will encounter good restaurants and bars, some with live music. The upscale mall Hacienda Santa Bárbara, situated in a 19th century mansion, is a short stroll away.

Getting there and around

Air - El Dorado International Airport is located about 15 kilometers (9.3 mi) west of the city center. It is best to use the regulated taxis at the airport to get to your hotel.

TransMilenio Bus - The TransMilenio bus is the city’s alternative for a metro. These buses have their own lanes and stations. It is a fast and efficient way to move around, since logjams are a daily reality in Bogotá. Be aware that at rush hour the buses can get very crowded.

Taxi - Taxis are plentiful and relative inexpensive. The fare is calculated by units which are converted into pesos. Every taxi has a schedule with the price of an unit in pesos. Taxis can be flagged down on the street, however it’s safer to call a taxi service. Ask your hotel to book a taxi on your behalf. If you want to explore the city, you may choose to book a taxi for around COP $50,000 ($26 / €19) a day.

Things to do and places to visit

Museo de Oro - the world’s most important collection of gold pieces from pre-Hispanic cultures. It is located on Parque Santander in the city centre close to La Candelaria.

Museo Botero - a museum with 123 of his own works – paintings and sculptures - donated by Colombia’s most famous artist Fernando Botero. There are also works from various international artists such as Picasso, Miró, Dali and Monet. Museo Botero is located in La Candelaria, a couple of blocks up from Plaza Bolivar at the intersection of Calle 11 and Carrera 4. Entrance is free.

La Candelaria – simply walk around in this neighborhood and enjoy the colonial-era architecture, ancient churches, artwork on the walls and tiny restaurants. Don’t miss Plaza de Bolivar with the Catedral Primada and the Presidential Palace, the gold-covered interior of Iglesia Museo de Santa Clara, Museo Botero and its immediate neighbor Casa de la Moneda, the bookstore of Centro Cultural Gabriel García Márquez, Plazoleta del Chorro de Quevedo where Bogotá was founded in1538 and Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Carmen. If you are tired from all the walking, head to La Puerta Falsa (Calle 11 No. 6-50; +5712865091) for a hot chocolate.

Cerro de Monserrate – on a clear day, take the cable car or tram up to Monserrate mountain. Located at 3,150 meters (10,340 feet) it offers magnificent views, giving a good impression of the enormous size of the city. At the top of the mountain there is a lovely white church, two restaurants and some souvenir stands.

Usaquén - stroll around in the picturesque neighborhood of Usaquén. Its plaza is surrounded by fine restaurants and courtyard cafes. On Sundays there is a lovely flea market with well-made handicrafts.

La Calera – make a Sunday day trip to the town of La Calera, about 20 minutes up the Andes from Bogotá. It is a popular weekend destination for Bogotanos enjoying the fresh mountain air. Sit outside in Piqueteadero El chorote or one of the other traditional Colombian barbeque restaurants along the road that leads to La Calera and enjoy the view and food. The grilled mazorca (corn-on-the-cob) with melted butter and salt is delicious here.

Bicycle tour – Is a great way to see Bogotá, especially when you are only in Bogotá for one day. It includes a lot of interesting places off the tourist track. We do recommend Bogotravel Tours located in the La Candelaria neighborhood, at Calle 12F No.2-52; reserve@bogotraveltours.com. Consider to do this tour during the Ciclovía, on Sundays from 7am to 2pm, when Bogotá closes its main roads and thousands of bicyclists, joggers and skateboarders take the streets.

Shopping – the high-end malls Centro Comercial Andino, Atlantis Plaza and El Retiro in the heart of Zona Rosa are the place to purchase the latest fashion of international brands, as well as creations by Colombian designers. Look for Wayuú mochilas and La Chamba cookware at Artesanías de Colombia (Calle 82 No. 12-15; C.C. El Retiro).

Salt Cathedral – the Salt Cathedral in Zipaquirá is a nice day trip from Bogotá. The trip through the Sabana to Zipaquirá, located 49 km north of the city, is beautiful. Descend to the 200 meters (600 feet) underground church carved within the tunnels of a still working salt mine, the town’s main attraction.

Food and Drink

Ajiaco – one of our favorites. It is a hearty soup with shredded chicken, three different types of potato, corn-on-the-cob and an herb called guasca. It is served with capers, cream, a side of avocado, as well as some rice.

Chocolate Santafereño - hot chocolate accompanied by a soft type of cheese and bread. Only in Bogotá you are supposed to put the cheese in the chocolate and eat it with a spoon when you finished the chocolate.

Restaurants

Bogotá as a cosmopolitan city has innumerable restaurants of superb quality that offer from international cuisine to traditional dishes from all over the country. There are restaurants for all tastes and budget.

Casa Vieja - the best Ajiaco in Bogotá. Casa Vieja, with four restaurants in the city, serves comida criolla (traditional Colombian food). Zona G: Calle 70 No. 6-23. La Candelaria: Avenida Jimenez No. 3-57. La Candelaria: Carrera 10 No. 26-60. Usaquén: Carrera 6a No. 117-35

80 Sillas – this restaurant with several dining areas on staggered levels, attracts a young audience. They offer a varied menu ranging from seafood to meat, with excellent ceviche. A good place to start the evening. Usaquén: Calle 118 No. 7-09; +5716192471.

Andres Carne de Res – part steakhouse, part nightclub, Andres Carne de Res is located about 45 minutes out of town in Chía (Via Chía-Cota, Calle 3A, No. 11A-56; +5718637880). This restaurant is decorated with Colombian ornaments and handicrafts. It is not only a restaurant, it is an event with parades of circus-like characters dancing around. It is an experience and nothing like any restaurants that you have ever visited in Europe or the US. Delicious Colombian food and drinks. At night it turns into one the best rumbiaderos (nightclubs). They now also opened a smaller version in Zona Rosa, located in shopping mall El Retiro.

Bars and Clubs

The nightclub scene changes almost on a daily basis. Ask around which clubs are hot on a given night. The main concentration of bars, clubs and live music venues is in Zona Rosa. Take a taxi here and find a bar or club that you like.

Gaira Café Cumbia House - Take in Colombian live music at Gaira Café Cumbia House, owned by Colombia’s most famous musician Carlos Vives. If you’re lucky you can see Carlos Vives live performing on stage. Parque de la 93: Carrera 13 No. 96-11; +5717462696.

Salto del Ángel – a restaurant which turns into a trendy bar at night. Enjoy the nice atmosphere with people dancing around your table. Parque de la 93: Cra 13 No. 93a-45; +5716545454.

Population

Estimated 8,500,000 inhabitants

Climate

Bogotá has an unpredictable mountain climate, it can be sunny in the morning and heavily raining in the afternoons. The average temperature is 14ºC (58ºF). On hotter, sunny days, temperatures can sometimes reach 25ºC (68ºF), whereas as it rains it can be much colder. The nights can be very cold, it can cool down to as low as 3ºC (37ºF).