The capital city of this beautiful country is filled with art, culture, and traffic. Bogotá is turning into a prime tourist stop in South America as tourist discover the natural history, incredible landscapes, and the modern lifestyle of the Bogotanos.
Let me fill you in with the areas that are MUST SEE to get an essence of how incredible this city is there is so much ground to cover in Bogotá and my time was very limited. I only had 24 free hours in the city.
Let me warn you now. The traffic in this city is horrible and saying ‘horrible’ means that I’m just being nice. Every large city in the world has problems when it comes to traffic, but I’ve never seen anything like this. The Bogotanos that I spoke to told me that there is no underground subway system and it’s been largely debated for about 60 years about how to correctly implement one. Yes. 60. Years. That’s a long time. In 2000, the bus system called Transmilenio has helped some, but this city has a long way before it gets better. I would plan an hour to two hours to get anywhere in the city during peak hours.
I was invited to take a city tour, which started in the historic La Candelaria area. around 10:30 AM (yes, I started my day with 2 1/2 hours of traffic. My hotel was far from this area) Most of the buildings in the neighborhood are from the colonial era and have been preserved to its original state. This area is filled with history, small cobblestone streets, and beautiful graffiti art.
My favorite thing to do in a new city is walk through the streets and capture its history. I like to imagine the types of people who walked through the same area 5, 10, 50, 250 years before me. The Plaza of Bolivar is incredibly large and was overflowing with pigeons. I am indifferent to them, but I would definitely steer clear of their path as they leave little presents on anything and on anyone.
We made it right in time before the rain started to pound through the city and visited two museums. La Candelaria is also home to the some of the most important museums of Bogotá. I was able to visit The Gold Museum and The Botero Museum. I’m never one to go directly to a museum on my first day of getting to know a city, but they were both really interesting. I learned a lot about how Gold and Fransico Botero played an important role to Colombia.
We also visited the Quinta de Bolivar, resident of Simon Bolivar, Colombia’s first president during 1820-1830. The house has been changed several times and was used for diverse purposes throughout the years. The Colombian Historic Society and the Embellishment Society of Bogotá began a national fund-raising campaign in order to buy it to transform it into a museum with artifacts from the independence times including objects belonging to Simon Bolivar. It is also used as a venue for diplomatic and cultural events.
For the last stop of our tour, we went up Cerro Monserrate. This beautiful green mountain dominates the skyline of Bogota. It rises a little over 10,000 feet and let me tell you the view is AMAZING. I completely forgot that I was hungry; I didn’t care anymore about the traffic, this view made everything worth it. There are two ways to get to the top; funicular (an elevator that hugs the mountain) or by teleferico (two cable car that takes under 4 minutes to ride). You used to be able to climb to the top but they have closed it until further notice due to safety concerns.
The tour was over and it was time to take a break at my hotel to recharge phone batteries and rest a bit. I was getting hungry and decided to go out with some friends that I made at my hotel
We took a cab to the Zona Rosa, or “The Bogotá Pink Zone”. This neighborhood is filled with pubs, malls, restaurants, and clubs until all hours of the night. I would say the most popular place in the area is the restaurant Andres D.C. The original Andres Carnes de Res is just outside the city, but this one was closer to our hotel. It’s a place like nothing I’ve seen before and is a MUST SEE. They say that if you didn’t experience Andres, then you didn’t come to Bogotá.
It’s pure chaos but in a good way. There are 5 floors, each with a different atmosphere and of course a full-service bar while you wait. We missed our reservation due to the traffic and thought that waiting wouldn’t be so bad. While we had an amazing time, after waiting two hours, we decided that our hungry bellies couldn’t wait anymore and we left. I definitely need to come back and try the food.
We ate at a restaurant nearby and walked around the area to check out some of the salsas bars. Let me warn you now, Colombian men and woman are so charming and they all have excellent dance moves. It’s easy to get swept off your feet.
Arrived back to my room and dove right into bed! It wasn’t a complete 24 hours out, but almost!
Things to Note:
While I got a lot done, I would suggest to anyone visiting to stay for at least another 24 hours. The traffic in this city eats up so much of your time. I would also recommend you stay in the historic center area such as La Macarena or between Calle 68-70 and Carrera 7-8-9-10 close to Zona G.
What would have I done with an extra 24 hours? I would have definitely done a graffiti tour because I love that kind of stuff and visit the Salt Cathedral just outside of Bogotá.
The other thing I would have done is hang out with the team from 5bogota.com This travel startup offers unique tours with a local point of view. And ya’ll know that I’m all about this, showing the best of the city from the eyes of a local. The next time I swing by Bogotá, I’m definitely going to do the Food by foot Tour and Salsa like a local tour. I loved everything about them.
I promise Bogotá, I will come back and explore the city with the time it deserves. My Colombian Bucket list has started thanks to this 24 hour stunt in Bogota. Get ready Colombia; I’m coming for you.
Remember, when you give good you get good