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Things to do in Bogotá: go off the beaten path and visit Usaquén

by Sabine
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Bogotá is a delightful city that has much to offer. Unfortunately, most travelers stay in La Candelaria. Of course, that’s the beautiful historic center with many museumsbut there is much more to see and do in Bogotá. If you want to get a good view of this city, you will have to leave La Candelaria. One of the neighborhoods very worth visiting is the also colonial Usaquén, in the north of the city. A cozy old part, with many restaurants, the famous Sunday market and much more. The neighborhood in which I lived for a while and also my favorite. A must see during your visit!

Usaquén: a village in the city

Although Usaquén is now a vibrant neighborhood in the metropolis of Bogotá, this part was a separate village in Cundinamarca until 1954. At 71 square kilometers, Usaquén was a popular spot for the Bogotan elite, who visited their mansions in this area. Usaquén is still a separate part of the city, and although today this neighborhood has as many as 550,000 inhabitants, the center (see map) still seems like a separate village. Usaquén, especially the old part, is my favorite neighborhood in Bogotá. And although most tourists do not come here, it’s well worth visiting as a traveler!


Sightseeing and activities

Usaquén is a versatile neighborhood in Bogotá, where you can easily enjoy yourself for a while. In the old part you can still clearly see the history. The old houses and stone streets make the atmosphere in this neighborhood that was once a village. I love coming here for a reason – there is so much beauty to see and do!

The central square: Parque de Usaquén

You don’t have to be in La Candelaria to admire the beautiful Spanish colonial architecture, in fact, that’s what Usaquén looks like. Around the green square you will find the Santa Barbara Church (1665), the Congress and many good restaurants in beautiful buildings. Simply wander the streets and enjoy this unknown colonial part of Bogotá. Some old buildings hide beautiful stores or restaurants. Fun to explore! | Location: carrera 6A # 119B – 05.


Dining out in Usaquén

Usaquén is without a doubt one of the hot spots for eating out in Bogotá. The many restaurants and variety: there is something for everyone. Moreover, you will find cute cafes and restaurants in this neighborhood, which you won’t find anywhere else in Bogotá. Especially on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings (and at lunch time), it is very pleasant with Bogotans enjoying their free time with the whole family. My favorite restaurants? El Altillo, Julia, Oliveto and Caballete & Berenjena, to name a few. For information on these and more restaurants check out hereand here. Remember that in Usaquén you are in a more expensive neighborhood and thus pay more for your food (still much cheaper than in the US).


The famous market in Usaquén

The Mercado de Las Pulgas, or flea market, is a weekly event and fun to go. My parents were huge fans after the first time and I too go there regularly. The market is perfect if you want to buy souvenirs or gifts for home, as you will find typical Colombian handicrafts. And how about the tastiest Colombian snacks and music and dancing in the streets? Great for wandering around on Sunday mornings. Ideal to combine with lunch at one of the many cozy restaurants. And especially if you still need souvenirs, this is a stop not to be missed!


Hacienda Santa Barbara

Renamed a shopping center on Dec. 16, 1989, Hacienda Santa Barbara was once a large mansion. The mall is built ín the mansion, with some new sections added. Although I personally find it a rather indistinct center, you can clearly see the old mansion in it. For that reason alone, this mall is definitely worth visiting. Don’t expect to find cheap stuff here: you’re still in an expensive neighborhood. | Location: carrera 7 # 115 – 60.


The cemetery

Whenever possible, I like to visit a cemetery, to admire the often special graves that are so different from those in the Netherlands. Also in Usaquén you will find such a typical Colombian cemetery, which you can immediately give a look while you are here. The small Cementerio Parroquial Santa Barbara de Usaquén dates back to the year 1665, making it one of Bogotá’s oldest cemeteries. | Location: carrera 6 # 120A – 22.


Class differences

Especially if you stay in La Candelaria and travel by bus to Usaquén, you will naturally begin to notice a difference. Because although this too is a colonial part of Bogotá, the type of people who come here is completely different from the tourist historical center. Here you will find little to no homeless people and the visitors tend to be neatly dressed wealthier Bogotans. There is very much economic inequality in Colombia and traveling from the south to the north (or vice versa) of Bogotá is the way to see this for yourself.


Christmas in Usaquén

What can I say? Christmas in Usaquén is simply spectacular. Not only does the mall turn into a festival of lights, you can also marvel at the colorful splendor in the park in the central plaza. It is always very busy at Christmas and for good reason. Go from December 8, after Las Velitas, after 7 p.m., head to Usaquén and enjoy the Christmas atmosphere and Christmas decorations like you’ve never seen before!


Practical information

Where to stay in Bogotá Usaquén?

Although La Candelaria is the tourist district of Bogotá, in my opinion it is actually much nicer to choose a ho(s)tel more to the north. That way you’ll see the real Bogotá, get to know the wealthier neighborhoods and the diversity of people, and it’s much easier to go off the beaten path in Bogotá. You can stay in Usaquén itself, or in between Usaquén and La Candelaria, such as El Chicó or El Retiro. In this article you will find information about all these neighborhoods, what to do and how to get there. If you really want to stay in Usaquén, check out here the options. Personally, I wouldn’t look for your hotel north of calle 127: the further north you go, the longer it takes to get to the south.


How to get there.

Also in this article you will find detailed information on how to get to this section by bus. Of course, you can also take the Uber or order a Tappsi or Easytaxi. See here how to do that.


Usaquén is one of the safest neighborhoods in the city and certainly compared to La Candelaria a safer area to stay. Arriving at your hotel after sunset (until 8 or 9 a.m.) by bus or walking down the street should not cause much trouble. Unlike La Candelaria, where you really do have to be more careful after dark. Learn more about safety in Bogotá here.


Discovering Bogotá? Don’t skip Usaquén!

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