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An Insider's Guide to Bogota, Colombia

24th May 2017

Quick Facts:

Population: 8 million

Language: Spanish

Time: GMT -5

Flight: 11.5 hours

When to visit: All year round

Visa: Not required for British nationals

Why go to Bogota?

Bogota has an amazing urban graffiti street scene, a buzzing nightlife for all tastes, and is a great starting spot to discover the long list of Colombian fruits and local foods before heading off and exploring other spots of the country!

Things to See...

Must sees in Bogota

La Candelaria: The historic neighborhood of La Candelaria is where Bogota first started. As Bogota expanded, it swallowed other nearby towns and made it its own. La Candelaria is full of charming architecture, bohemian restaurants and shops where you can browse and explore all day long. If you want a structured tour through La Candelaria, I couldn’t recommend Bogota’s Graffiti Tour more!

Museo de Oro: Check out the beautiful collection of gold made by the indigenous people of Colombia. There’s some pretty neat full body pieces and sculptures that you could only dream of wearing and using!

Museo Botero: You’ve probably seen Botero’s work in other countries around the world. Fat everything are his signature mark. Admire a complete collection of his statues and paintings and delight in other artists’ work such a Dali and Picasso. All at the Botero Museum.

Nemocón: Everyone talks about the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira. But for a more authentic and less crowded experience, I definitely recommend doing Nemocón (pictured above) instead. You’ll still get that dramatic lighting and sculpted salt sculptures, but without the crowds and at a lower price.

Plaza de Mercado: Doing a local market in Bogota is a great way to discover all the Colombian fruits and try some authentic local grub at the same time. You’ve never been to a country with so much variety! Try Paloquemao Market or 7 de Agosto Market. If you don’t speak Spanish or feel a bit intimidated with all the selection, discover a plaza de mercado with a tour!

Where to shop?

Bogota Markets

You’ll find a local handicraft market right next to the Gold Museum, full of all kind of local handmade crafts. But if you’re in Bogota on Sunday, I’d definitely recommend checking out the Usaquen Market open from 9am-4pm (Calle 114 #7). Located a little further up north in the city, you’ll find colourful Wayuu mochila bags, gold jewellery, and much, much more! It’s a great spot to relax, brunch and spend a lovely Sunday morning.

Where to eat?

Eating in Bogota

Image courtesy of

El Kiosko $(Cl. 145 #9-73) If you’re up north, this is a great down-to-earth and cheap local breakfast and snack place that’s very popular amongst locals. As far as I know, this is not in any guidebook so you won’t find a single tourist here. Try the empanada horneada de carne, caldo de costilla, pan de yuca or arepas de huevo!

Gaira $$(Cra. 13 #96-11) A great alternative to Andres Carne de Res. Gaira is owned by Carlos Vives and has well-presented, local food and tasty cocktails made with local fruit. They also have a live music show every night! You can go for dinner and/or drinks. Be ready to pull out your best salsa moves after 9pm. Try the patacon pisao, butifarra de pacho, huesitos de marrano, and arepa de choclo!

Salvo Patria $$(Cl. 54a #4-13) Colombian fusion food at its finest. If you haven’t been impressed by Colombian food, then you need to try Salvo Patria. They use Colombian ingredients to bring a flavorful twist to international dishes. An absolute must! Try the trucha humada, longaniza de la casa and croquetas de queso feta.

Any hidden gems?

Visit Bogota's hidden gems

If you have a few extra days to spare, I strongly suggest escaping to Villa de Leyva, a small colonial town 3 hours away from Bogota. It’s a charming place to wander, eat and even do some extreme sports if that’s your thing!

A tip before you go

Download a taxi app such as Tappsi or Uber beforehand and never get a taxi in the street.

Also, be ready to negotiate with a smile and don’t be pushy! If you need more tips about how to bargain and walk away without getting ripped off, check out my article on the do’s and don’ts of bargaining in Colombia!

This article was kindly contributed to Wild Frontiers by Jade is a world citizen who has moved to Bogotá, Colombia to live indefinitely and has yet to learn how to shake her hips like Shakira and drink ‘guaro’ like the locals. Check out her Colombian adventures on her blog: Bogotastic

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