Go here if you like: big cities, buzz, history
TOURS IN BOGOTA:
Guided tours are well regarded in Colombia and I found them a great start to understanding the complex history and fascinating culture of the country.
Bogotá Cycle Tour – thanks to being on a bike, you travel further afield, stopping to hear interesting snippets about each place. Beyond visiting the main historical points, you also park your bike to try whacky tropical fruits, check out the graffiti scene and the zona de tolerancia (a few square blocks dedicated to drugs and prostitution – a concept preferred to having it all mixed together with ‘normal’ life). The tour is rounded off by playing tejo – a game that involves chucking iron disks at a clay target trying to hit (and blow up) the gunpowder in the middle. The tour is a fixed price, which includes bike rental.
I also did a ‘free walking tour’ by True Colombia Experience covers different territory, more focused on the centre of town near Candelaria. Freddy’s delivery of Colombia’s history was particularly powerful and helped in tying together all the bits and pieces I had heard in my Impact Marathon work and the Bogotá Bike Tour. On top of the history, the tour was particularly good for sampling all the typical Bogotano treats – see below.
Go out in Zona T/ Zona Rosa – up north of Chapinero is the going out area. I had a fun night out at a DJ battle in Armando Records (great pizza place there too). Andres DC is a multi-story club with themed floor for those looking for a more club-y dance.
Other places to visit: Botero Museum, Museo del Rey Jorge (for history), Salt Cathedral
BOGOTA EATING AND DRINKING:
La Puerta de la Tradición is good for typical Colombian fodder eg. Sancocho
Typical dishes to try:
- Sancocho de ajiaco (a chicken, potato, corn stew),
- Chocolate Santafereño (hot chocolate with cheese – you are meant to dip the cheese in your hot chocolate and let it melt, then eat it with bread…I prefer how the rest of the world does it, keeping hot chocolate and cheese separate…)
- Oblea (thin wafers that you can fill with jam, arequipe and/or coconut)
- Chicha (a fermented maize drink)
- All the deep fried treats (empanadas, pan de bono, buñuelo).
A FEW COSY CAFES I LIKED IN BOGOTA
- Café de la Reserva (Candelaria, Carrera 3 #12-58)
- Amor Perfecto (Chapinero, Cra. 4 #66-46)
- Tornamesa (Chapinero, Calle 70 n.º 5- 23)
- La Niña Hostel in Chapinero/ Zona G, a nice residential area in the middle of the city. Lots of nice restaurants and more central to the rest of the city (particularly if you are there for meetings).
- Fernweh Photography Hostel in Candelaria, downtown and a more buzzy neighbourhood. Fernweh is great – chilled and friendly with cool photography around the traditional layout.
TRAVELLING AROUND BOGOTA:
Taxis – if you have data, download Tappsi or use Uber (though uber is targeted by the traffic police), or get your hostel to call you a taxi. It’s not considered safe to hail down a taxi in the street.
Buses – There are several levels of formalities in the bus system. The one that has fixed routes and fixed stops is the TransMilenio system, which is worth getting to grips with if you’re there for a decent amount of time. You need a prepaid card that you can buy and recharge at any of the stops. Other buses are manageable, just ask your hostel to help you out with the routes.