Bogota… The Capital City. A world class city filled with culture, history, and night life! I spent my summers visiting my grandparents in Bogota, coming to age in a bustling metropolitan city one summer break at a time. This one-summer-at-a-time exploration allowed me to get to know the city and with each visit see things differently. So, here is your just “barely scratch the surface and city highlights” travel guide to Bogota.
Bogota Travel Guide
We already did a post on the city’s historic Candelaria neighborhood (which you can find here) but here are some other really amazing places to check out!
Museo de Arte Moderno (MAMBO!): Calle 24 # 6 – 00
I was never really a big fan of modern art, but one Friday afternoon in 2009 I went into MAMBO and that changed. As I walked through the exhibit halls I saw an old chalkboard, covered in white dusk. But as I got closer I noticed it wasn’t an old chalkboard but a perfectly captivating painting. I wish I had taken a picture, because it was so perfect you could even see the hand prints in the chalk-dust. Art and museum lovers will appreciate the extensive collection.
Teatro Colón: Calle 10 # 5-32
The theatre is one of the most beautiful theatres in Colombia. It is ornate with a neoclasic architecture and was built by the Italian architect Pietro Cantini. Founded in 1892, the theatre is in a horseshape and has seen some amazing performances come across the stage. If you are able to catch a performance, DO IT!
Cerro de Monserrate
From downtown Bogota, hiding behind the financial buildings and historic houses you will see el Cerro de Monserrate. What has become a symbol for the city sitting at 3,152 meters above sea level can be accessed by aerial tramway, a funicular or by climbing, the preferred way of pilgrims. Visit the church atop the mountain that is visited by pilgrims every year. The most spectacular views of the city are from Monserrate and with a restaurant atop the mountain, grabbing lunch there is a no-brainier. And if you aren’t feeling that there are so many great places in the downtown area you can pick from.
Photo by Leah Jones, All CC
Plaza de Bolivar
The heart of the city’s Candelaria district is without a doubt Plaza de Bolivar (Bolivar Square). Like any Latin American city, the square is an ode to its Spanish Colonial history and the epicenter of life there. The square is surrounded by historical buildings; the Palace of Justice is located on the northern edge and the National Capitol borders the square in the south. The Primary Cathedral of Bogotá and the Liévano Palace (seat of the mayor of Bogotá), are situated on the eastern and western side respectively. Its location makes it the chosen spot for markets, festivals, and cultural events through out the year.
Luis Angel Arango Library
Luis Angel Arango Library is the most important library of Colombia, has more than 1.1 million books and is the most visited public library in Latin America, has facilities of parking, cafeteria, museums, concert hall, and exposition areas! As a book lover, this is where I go to fall into bibliophile lust.
Fruit Market in Paloquemao Square
On the west end of Bogotá you will find a traditional part of the city that everyone needs to experience! Fresh vegetables and other farm products fill an abandoned railroad warehouse where color overwhelms your senses and flavors are about to take you for a ride. The square is more than a marketplace. Over the years its popularity has attracted Colombian and foreign visitors alike. Even Anthony Bourdain fell in love with the colors when he visited.
Malls and Shopping
The U.S. maybe mall obsessed, but nothing is quite like a shopping mall in South America! And Bogota has them E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E. Seriously, everywhere. They are full of clothing retailers, book stores, restaurants, and even bars. Many are even located in the prime restaurant and shopping districts so keep an eye out for: Atlantis, Unicentro, Andino, Hacienda Santa Barbara, and a few others. And if you are looking to catch a movie, head over to the centro commercial.
Wine and Dine
Bogota is known for a lot of things and amazing food is high up on the list. The city even has a whole neighborhood district dedicated to gourmet food know as the Zone G (G for gourmet you pervs!) Here you will find amazing restaurants that specialize in brunch, meats, crepes, breakfast, and a great selection of international favorites like Chinese, Spanish, French, Italian, and Peruvian food.
Parque de la 93 (93rd Street Park) in the north of Bogotá is also another nightlife wine-dine go to! Close to the financial district and filled with a variety of good restaurants, international hotels, bars, and cafés Colombians and foreigners alike enjoy the great nightlife here.
Cafés, bars, haute cuisine restaurants, and clubs can all be found in the Zona Rosa. Passers-by will notice many hotels, shopping malls, and designer shops dotted around this area in the northern part of the city, where the nightlife is the main attraction. People often meet up here at the end of the workday, especially on Fridays.
Usaquen is an adorable once colonial neighborhood that has been transformed into one of the best shopping and dining districts in Bogota. Full of old colonial houses with beautiful center courtyards. Usaquen is a go-to for weekend flea marketing where you can find artisan crafts, food, and antiques. The neighborhood is also a hub for cafes and restaurants with amazing ambiance!
If you are planning a trip to Bogota, check out our other travel guide here. There is so much to do in the city and so much to see that we just barely scratched the with our Bogota coverage. So, keep an eye out for more!
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