Bogotá, the infamous capital of Colombia. And mainly because most travelers don’t like this city. A tour of Colombia often begins and/or ends in Bogotá, and for many that is the only reason to visit this metropolis. A kind of a must. A shame, because Bogotá has much more to offer than you might think. What exactly, of course, I’m going to tell you now.
My life in Bogotá
For the newcomers here’s a quick recap: I emigrated to Colombia at the end of 2014 and lived in Bogotá for about 3 years. Then I left for nearby Sopó to return to my beloved metropolis in early 2022.
And no, Bogotá is certainly not sacred. Life here is fantastic, though. But Bogotá also has downsides. Think of the heavy traffic, the insecurity in certain places, the air pollution, roads like potholes and poverty. However, these cons fit just as well with other major Colombian cities, such as Medellín and Cali.
The climate is also labeled by many as negative, but I personally find that to be a plus of Bogotá. And even though I got rained all sopping wet exactly today, on the day I publish this article, after the weather turned from warm and sunny to completely unexpected, I love the Bogotan climate.
Still, Bogotá is a great city. One to really not skip. And where best to look a little beyond the historic center La Cadelaria to really get to know and understand the city. A complex city that you only understand and learn to appreciate when you’ve been there longer.
So feel free to stay a few days longer in Bogotá.
If you have the time of course (in the case of a round trip Colombia of 2 or 3 weeks after all, you probably want to see as much of the country as possible). But if you like city trips, have more time or do slow travel, be sure to stay a few more days in this interesting city.
Tip: The place you stay contributes immensely to the experience you have in Bogotá. Staying in La Candelaria will give you a totally different view of the city than staying in, say, Chapinero or Usaquén. Think about exactly what you want before you book your hotel.
7 Reasons to stay more days in Bogotá
1. Discover the contrasts of Colombia’s capital city
And there is much more to do:
Many travelers seem to think this reflects Bogotá well, but that is really not the case at all. Yes, it is beautiful and yes, you should definitely not skip La Candelaria. But Bogotá is more than that. Check out these 10 sights in Bogotá.
Indeed, Bogotá is a huge hodgepodge of different neighborhoods that are so different that within half an hour you seem to find yourself in another world. Even I marvel at it after all these years.
The luxurious El Chicó district is in no way comparable to La Candelaria, in Park Way you will find yourself in a hippie neighborhood, or visit the bohemian La Macarena. The northern Usaquén does not even resemble the Bogotá you know from La Candelaria. There are enormous parks in the city, in Chapinero you will find yourself in a trendy district full of unique stores and restaurants. And then there are the busy neighborhoods such as ‘San Andresito’ and areas with lots of commerce where you seems to be on another planet.
The differences are in all sorts of things. Architecture, space in the city, greenery and the huge differences between rich and poor and everything in between. The streets, the people, the cars, the clothing style, the food, the stores, the houses…. everything is different. Even the weather in Bogotá can be different; have rain in the south and sunshine in the north.
2. In Bogotá, you can shop like the best
Colombia’s capital is an unespected shopping city. But really. Bogotá is full of huge shopping malls where you can eat your heart out. You can make it as expensive or cheap as you want and combine a day of shopping with a visit to the cinema and good food. Read all about shopping in Bogotá.
3. The food in Bogotá is spectacular
Again, many travelers totally disagree. The food in Bogotá or in Colombia in general many tourists don’t like. Or at least find it to be nothing special. And I get that, because if you only stay in La Candelaria and go to the typical restaurants for tourists, you will miss out on the best.
In fact, Bogotá is a gastronomic highlight, you’ll be amazed when you take a few steps out off that beaten path. The point is to look it up. The best restaurants are simply not in the top tourist districts.
Do you think food is important? Then stay in the neighborhoods of El Chicó (near Parque 93), Usaquén or Chapinero. Culinary delights guaranteed. Here are some restaurants in Bogotá and soon there will be a new blog with more. Because I also discover new places all the time and these articles are a bit old. On my Instagram and Facebook stories, by the way, I very regularly share information about eating out in Bogotá. In fact, I do that quite often…. so tasty!
The best restaurants can be found around Parque 93, Zona G, Usaquén and Zona T, all in the north of the city.
4. Are you already familiar with the Transmilenio?
In fact, you haven’t been to Bogotá if you haven’t at least once crammed yourself into the Transmilenio. Bogotá’s bus system. The long Transmilenio buses take you all over the city for a few cents and are quite an experience.
5. Green in the city
Don’t forget to visit the famous and largest park Simón Bolívar. And while you’re there: the nearby botanical gardens in Bogotá are particularly spectacular. And my favorite park: the nearby Parque Virgilio Barco. These are the most famous parks in Bogotá, but to Simón Bolívar you also have Parque Virgilio Barco. A beautiful park with a lovely public library. This is my favorite park in the city that I frequently visit.
In addition to these outings, there is more greenery in the city. From Chapinero, you walk directly from the city into the Quebrada la Vieja . From the chaos right into nature and you also get an insane view in return. Besides Quebrada la Vieja, you have another hike a little further south: Quebrada las Delicias. So you can even do two hikes just from town. Quebrada la Vieja, by the way, you do from Zona G, so after that you can eat right away.
6. Activities for young and old
There is plenty to do in Bogotá. Consider:
- Taking a Zumba class (Zumba comes from Colombia)
- For children, there is also plenty of things, such as Salitre Mágico and the Maloka Museum. Also, the planetarium is fun with kids in Bogotá
- Go to theater
- Do a chocolate workshop
- Beer tour and tasting
- Visit Museo De El Chicó
- Go to the Sunday market in Usaquén
- Stroll along the Ciclovía on Sunday
7. There is very much to discover in the area
Near Bogotá you will find Zipaquirá, the famous underground salt cathedral. And that’s about the only thing travelers know about as a day trip from Bogotá. Strange really, because in a couple of seconds I can list 22 day trips to do from Colombia’s capital. And there are many more that are not on that list. Bogotá is a perfect base from which to explore the surroundings. Or the department of Cundinamarca. Hardly any tourists does that, but it is very worthwhile. Do you want something a little different? Take a day trip!
For example, did you know that:
- Just an hour from Bogotá you can go paragliding in one of the most beautiful places in Colombia?
- An hour driving in the other direction from the capital, you can go rafting, abseiling and canyoping? You don’t have to ride with the bus all the way to San Gil for 8 hours if you don’t have the time.
- The highest waterfall in Colombia is only a 1.5-hour drive from Bogotá?
- If you’re cold, which I can imagine, you end up in 25 to 30 degrees just an hour away, so you can spend a day by the pool?
- There are other extreme sports to do just around the corner? Rock climbing in Suesca example.
- You can go from Bogotá to hike in páramo, a very unique natural phenomenon found almost nowhere in the world.
- The village Sopó is full of unusual graffity? Can be combined perfectly with paragliding.
And so I could go on and on. These are already 7 days that you can fill from Bogotá, getting to know Colombia off the beaten path.
Bogotá is cool! No reason to spend only a day there. Traveling to Colombia without seeing this part of the country, you are missing something. Heard many negative stories about Bogotá? Open up yourself to new experiences in Colombia’s capital, which is actually quite undiscovered.
Is that all safe, you might think. Yes, that’s it! However, Bogotá (and all other major cities in Colombia) do still struggle with security issues. Therefore, always observe these safety tips for in Bogotá. All neighborhoods mentioned in this article are safe to go to. Only for San Andresito I would recommend bringing a Colombian. In addition, you should hike the Quebrada la Vieja and Quebrada las Delicias only if there is security on the route. This is usually only early in the morning or only on weekends.
Have you visited Bogotá? Tell me: what was your experience in Colombia’s capital city?
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