Colin and I loved Colombia! We spent 3 weeks in 4 different Colombian cities with the last being Bogotá. It's a huge city with a lot to do. There are of course tourist attractions, but also great people, great bars, and great restaurants.
We spent a week in Bogotá, but a couple of the days we were there were full time working days (researching the next location, booking things, blogging, etc.). It was nice to have a few extra days somewhere to catch up.
We stayed at a shared Airbnb in the Chapinero area, and it was great for us. We had a private room and bathroom in a Colombian woman’s apartment where she and her daughter live. Everything was clean; the water was hot; the bed was big and comfortable; the women were nice; they had 2 cute, playful cats; and best of all… it was only $10 per night. We were glad we stayed in Chapinero because it felt safe, and there were good restaurants and bars around. See the very bottom of this blog post for some useful links that I used to choose which neighborhood to stay in.
We spent a lot of time eating, drinking, and taking it easy in Bogotá. The first day we were there we did a free walking tour with Beyond Colombia, and we thought that our guide did an excellent job! It was one of the better walking tours we’ve been on during this trip, and I’d recommend them. The guide took us to try chicha (a fermented drink that reminded me of kombucha), and gave us a few other recommendations on typical Colombian food that we had to try.
Our guide also took us to the black market for trading emeralds. We arrived at Rosario Plaza, and she asked us if we noticed anything unusual. No one could figure out what she meant, so finally she pointed out that there were about 30 men in suits just standing around talking. As soon as you started paying closer attention, you could see that some of them were examining emeralds. Apparently, it isn’t technically legal, but if the police come by then the men just say they are there to chat with their friends.
The black market for emeralds is near the real emerald market which is 3 stories filled of different emerald shops. Bogotá is one of the best places to buy emeralds, and they are cheaper than a lot of other areas for the quality you’re getting. We didn’t buy anything (backpacker life), but it was interesting just to walk around and see the different jewels.
A lot of what we did in Bogotá was eat and drink. It’s a good city to just wonder around in and explore. There’s an interesting restaurant, Andres D.C., that has anything you’d want to order and VERY interesting decorations. It was a fun place to go to (a little pricier than we’ve been trying to go to, but worth it – food was very good). There is one in the city (Zona Rosa), and one far outside the city. We stuck to the easy one in Zona Rosa.
Another restaurant area that we went to near Zona Rosa was Container City. It’s a building made of large shipping containers with different small places to eat inside. It was a cute place to visit for lunch, but probably not somewhere to go specifically if you aren’t near it for something else. About a block away is a café with good wifi and great food, Tostoni's.
Zona Rosa has a lot of upscale shops, cafes, bars, etc. If you want to buy nice clothes, this would be a good place to go.
One of the Saturday nights we were in Bogotá, we went to a fun hostel in Candelaria, Fatima’s, to meet other backpackers. There are a lot of hostels in Candelaria. Fatima’s had karaoke on Saturday nights, and I won a bottle of liquor for “winning” that night’s karaoke. We ended up going out with them to a club / bar with some of them, and it was a lot of fun! However, I would say that Candelaria is not nearly as safe as Chapinero. Two of the guys we were with had just been mugged there the night before, and someone almost mugged us on our way to the club, but we all kept walking and we had a very large group.
There are a few Bogotá Beer Company bars scattered around the city, and while they aren’t super cheap, they do have good microbrew beers. We went a couple of times and liked the atmosphere.
A bit outside of Bogotá (in Cundinamarca, Colombia which is near the town of Zipaquirá, Colombia) is an underground cathedral in an old salt mine, Catedral de Sal. It was interesting to visit, but I personally thought it was a little underwhelming. Colin really enjoyed it and thought it was cool, but I thought it was too much work to get to for what it was. If you have time though, check it out. See my separate blog on getting there here.
We unfortunately did not make it up to Monserrate. It’s a hill near the city that has nice views of all of Bogotá. You can walk up or take a cable car up. It was grey and drizzly for a lot of the time we were there, and we were trying to wait for the perfect time to go which never aligned with when we actually had time. I heard it was worthwhile though.
One of the highlights of our time in Bogotá was breakfast with my dad! He’s a pilot and had a layover one of the mornings we were in town, so we met up with him at his hotel for a (very nice) breakfast buffet. It was nice to see some family even if only for a few hours :)
Overall, I’d suggest Bogotá as a fun place to visit. The people are nice, and there’s a lot to do.
See our Colombia photos here.
Useful Links for Choosing a Neighborhood in Bogotá to Stay In
Hi, I'm Sara Monica Patton. I love animals, traveling, and eating. Read more about me in my first blog post here.