Tips for visiting Bogotá:
- You HAVE to try the Colombian Coffee. Within my 36hour stay in Bogotá I tried 2 coffee spots and the cappuccinos were amazing: Juan Valdez coffee and Café Devoción. There are many more places I would like to try Azahar Coffee, Amor Perfecto, Café Cultor, Bourbon Coffee Co, Catación Publica and El Atillo Del Sol Café and many many more. National Geographic also recommends Arte y Pasion Café.
- I stayed at the JW Marriott of course because I was on a business trip. It was fantastic. The staff was wonderful and accommodating, the gym was an okay size and equipment was clean, the lounge food spread was impressive and the rooms were clean and big. It also houses a few restaurants which looked great.
- According to National Geographic, the city’s most distinctive property may be the Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina Bogotá, set in a 1946 edifice that’s a registered national landmark. If your budget allows for nights at $450, go for it!
- Use Uber to get around- drivers were very friendly and it’s very cheap. Driving yourself looks like it could be very scary!
- Stop at a Gastronomy market for a cute market with a good selection of food including a meat & cheese counter as well as Gelato bar.
- Suna restaurant/market for fresh pressed juices/shots, delicious sandwiches, salads, açaí Bowls and much more in a beautiful decor.
- Check out The Bolívar Square. It is the main square of the Colombian capital and offers a beautiful 360 view of the plaza which includes la Capilla Del Sagrario, la Catedral Primada de Colombia, e Palacio de Justicia Alfonso Reyes Echandia, e Palacio de lievano and el Capitolio Nacional.
- If you like gold and want to see the biggest collection in the world, make sure you stop by the Gold museum. Fun tip: museums are free on Sundays.
- Stop by the Bogota beer company and try their selection- I brought back a 4 pack of their IPA & Porter.
- Walk around! During the day it seemed very safe. We walked down main streets and amongst the crowds. We were warned to be careful about pickpockets and to be careful in the evening.
- Open your eyes and appreciate the abundant street art in Bogotá. It’s probably some of the most beautiful and diversified I’ve seen! I also read there is a Graffiti tour that would totally be worth doing in my opinion! There are colorful creations along the lanes of downtown neighborhood La Candelaria.
- I didn’t have time to explore the Monserrate Sanctuary but I hear it offers stunning views of Bogotá. You need to take a car to a wobbly tram that brings you to the top of the mountain. You can also hike it!
- You should also walk around Enrique Olaya Herrera National Park, according to my friend. It’s a nice outdoor space in the city.
Impressions of Bogotá:
I really wish I could have spent more time in Bogotá! Below you will read about my amazing day exploring the city, but I must say I was so impressed with the kindness of people, the architecture, the food and, of course, the coffee.
My day started with a fabulous breakfast spread at the lounge. I’ve never been a fan of papaya but the one here was delicious.
First stop outside the hotel, a cappuccino at Café Devoción. The coffee bar was very beautiful and the cappuccino perfect. I hear they also have fabulous empanadas.
The streets were closed for Ciclovía, an event that apparently happens every Sunday from 7 am to 2 pm, in many Colombian cities, to promote a healthy lifestyle. This event has been taken place since December 1974 (according to Wikipedia) and the streets are closed for people to run, walk or bike through town.
So I walked to the market, to check out the food options for my flight the next day and I was quite impressed. This place had definitely everything I needed (or almost).
Sitting in the uber, heading towards the Bolívar Square, I admired the beauty of this city. The diverse architecture styles, the street art, the restaurants, the people, the mountains in the backdrop… I was like a little kid in a candy shop, unable to stop pointing at things and snapping pictures.
The Bolívar Square reminded me a lot of the European plazas: wide, open, old, full of people and beautiful. I walked into the cathedral and around the square, admiring the architecture but also soaking up the smells, the music, the people’s smiles…
One thing I was very drawn to during my time walking the streets of Bogotá is the energy this population radiates. Granted it was a Sunday and everyone was out, but I felt so immersed in the culture and the lifestyle, just by walking in the crowd, watching the people, listening to their conversations, trying to make conversations (!), tasting the food (including a Chontoduras, which I thought would be sweet but turned out to be starchy like a yam) and the coffee.
I wandered into indoor and outdoor markets and could have bought everything from the beautiful jewelry to the colorful backpacks and the alpaca sweaters. I noticed the prices weren’t cheap but they wanted to negotiate with me.
Another thing I loved about Bogotá was the street art. IT IS EVERYWHERE (over 5000 murals) and each piece is beautiful. Gustavo Petro, the mayor of the city, issued a decree to decriminalize graffiti and street art painting to help promote what was seen as a new form of artistic and cultural expression, but with the agreement that certain areas should remain free from graffiti, such as public buildings and monuments -which obviously wasn’t respected due to the nature of graffiti/street art-.(from widewalls website.)
I ended up walking down Carrera 7 until we got blocked off because of filming and the Ciclovía. I stopped for lunch at Suna restaurant/market and opted for an immunity boost juice shot and a scrumptious build your own açaí bowl! Colleagues of mine greatly enjoyed the salad from the farm as well as the From The Woods sandwich (It was very good). I must say everything on the menu looked fresh and tasty. The decor was also very beautiful- a mix of wood, red brick, steel and many more materials that gave it a very fresh and lively feel.
I had to stop at the Bogota Beer Company on my way back for some beer tasting & purchasing. I chose the IPA and the Chapinero Porter.
Last stop before heading back to the hotel was at Juan Valdez coffee to purchase some coffee for friends & myself. They have a wide variety of coffee beans and they can grind them for you if need be. The staff did not speak much English and my Spanish is very basic so luckily a friendly Colombian waiting in line came to my rescue!
The rest of the evening was spent in the gym, struggling from the effects of the 8,000ft altitude on my cardio, and some more delicious food from the lounge (so much seafood!).
The next morning I bought, for my flight back home, a multitude of fruit including pitahaya, Tomate de Arbol, Lulo, a ‘Colombian Kiwi’ (I was told), and another fruit I’m not sure what it was but it looked so colorful!
Side note on safety: I did notice a lot of police & police dogs around the streets but I felt very safe walking around Bogotá on a Sunday. I did not venture out at night.
As I mentioned at the start of this post, I ABSOLUTELY LOVED Bogotá and would love to come back and explore more of the city.