Bogotá, Colombia Travel Guide
If Santa Fé de Bogotá (Bogotá’s full name) was painted in just one color, it would be green. Green for the many lovely parks and urban spaces; green for the wealth of things to do and see; and green for the millions of dollars worth of domestically produced emeralds that are bought and sold there daily.
The capital of Colombia, Bogotá contains all you would imagine: street peddlers, 5-star hotels, colonial churches, university campuses, bookstores, sidewalk cafes, drug addicts, stock exchange, theaters, a dose of Bohemia plus quite a bit more. Bogotanos – folks who live in Bogotá – are known to be sophisticated yet friendly and welcoming to foreigners.
Lying at approximately 2,620 meters (8,646 feet) above sea level and resting in the north-western plain area of the Andes Mountains, Bogotá is the second highest capital city in the world, following Quito, Ecuador (2,800 meters / 9,186 feet). Due to its high elevation, you will want to understand the risks of altitude sickness when traveling to Bogotá: Travel Health – Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment of Altitude Sickness
The city is laid out in a grid pattern with avenues spreading north to south and streets crossing from east to west and divided into seven separate ‘zones’ – but that may be all that is structured in this massive urban conglomerate.
Spend a week or more making yourself dizzy visiting city highlights such as:
- A trip to one of the largest urban parks in the world – Simón Bolívar Metropolitan Park and wander through nearby botanical garden José Celestino Mutis with greenhouse and flora specimens commonly seen in Colombia.
- Look up at the stars from the national observatory – “Bogotá Observatory” – and teleport to the skies via telescope.
- Attend a sporting event at Estadio Nemesio Camacho (commonly referred to as “El Campín“) and dose yourself with a bit of raucous fun Colombian-style.
- If visiting January through February and so inclined, watch a bullfighting match (now outlawed in most areas throughout the world as is considered inhumane) at Plaza de Toros la Santamaria.
- If traveling with children – the ‘can´t be missed’ experience is a trip to one of the amusement parks such as Salitre Magico or Mundo Aventura. A third option is Jaime Duque park that has rides and exhibits as well as a zoo.
- Spend an afternoon shopping at the largest shopping mall in Colombia – Centro Mayor – or the second largest - Centro Commercial Santafé.
A sight-seeing extravaganza would not be complete without a visit to La Candelaria – Bogotá’s historical district. Save the best for last and after visiting one of the many museums (Botero Museum, Gold Museum, Military Museum), the Colón Theater, Monserrate Mountain (has a church and restaurant) or the Luis Angel Arango Library that houses over 1.1 million books and is the ‘most visited library’ in South America, treat yourself to a dinner at one of the most popular restaurants in the area – Sants Estació (see ‘Where To Eat‘ below for details).
If you don´t like to get wet, avoid Spring and Fall in Bogotá. The months with the most rainfall in the city are March through May and September through November. April and October have the highest levels of precipitation with approximately 4.5 inches. Hailstorms commonly occur during these months as well covering the city with what looks like a blanket of snow.
The driest months (with the most hours of sunshine as would be expected) – and most popular time for a visit – are the summer months December through February. During this time temperatures hover around 70°F in the afternoon and evenings are pleasantly cool.
- Name: Bogotá Plaza Summit Hotel Book Now
Area: Upscale residential area near Barraquer Eye Clinic
Address: Calle 100 No. 18A-30
Website: http://www.summithotels.com Five star hotel with memory foam mattresses, hot tub, steam bath and solarium. Two onsite restaurants, one with Italian cusine.
- Name: Casa Dann Carlton Bogotá Hotel & Apartments Book Now
Area: Downtown Buisness District
Address: Calle 94 Nº 19-71
Website: http://www.casadann.com.co/ Rooms with kitchenettes and minibars, facility includes spa, Olympic-sized pool, fitness center and restaurant.
- Name: Posada del Sol
Area: La Candelaria
Address: Calle 9, No. 3-71
Website: http://www.hosteltrail.com/posadadelsol/ Newer hostal with bright, colorful spaces and lovely outside sitting area. Two kitchens, large screen LCD T.V. with movies in English.
- Name: Hotel Lourdes
Area: Near the Transmilenio
Address: Calle 63 No. 15-61
- Name: Anandamayi Hostel
Area: La Candelaria
Address: Calle 9 No. 2-81
Website: http://www.anandamayihostel.com/ Three patios for lounging or to enjoy your free continental breakfast; listening to the waterfall or admiring hummingbirds.
- Name: Bogota B&B hostel
Area: Teusaquillo near bus station profamilia
Address: Av. Calle 32 No. 15-63
Website: None. Reputation of being fun and friendly, with T.V. room, kitchen, laundry service and only a block away of a Transmilenio station.
- Name: El Son de los Grillos
Area: La Candelaria
Address: CLL 10 NO. 3 – 60
Website: http://www.elsondelosgrillos.com/ Older establishment with sophisticated antique/vintage interior and International cuisine plus traditional Santafereño ajiaco – potato soup with chicken and corn on the cob, served with side dishes of avocado, capers and cream. Don’t leave Colombia without having a taste!
- Name: Casa Medina (French cuisine)
Area: Commercial Center (30 minutes from airport)
Address: Cra. 7 Nº 69 A- 22
Website http://www.hotelcharlestoncasamedina.com/ Located in Hotel Charleston Casa Medina, international cusine plus extensive wine list.
- Name:Sants Estació (Mediterranean)
Area: La Candelaria
Address: Calle 9 # 2 – 18
Website: None. Salads, beef, chicken and seafood items with some outdoor seating. Spanish-influenced food with house specialties such as ‘fideua’ – thin vermicelli noodles with seafood such as fish, muscles and clams.
- Name: Donostia (Seafood)
Address: Calle 29 BIS No 5-84
Website: None. Tapas (small portions of yummy eats) galore such as octopus ceviche and lamb meatballs in red sauce.
- Name: Henry Comida Rapida (Fast-food)
Area: El Centro near University
Address: Carrera 1 and Calle 19
Website: None. Cheap eats such as huge empanadas (filled pastries) called ‘godzilla’ – order two and you will be stuffed for the afternoon, three is glutony.
- Name: PitaWok (Middle East & Thai Food)
Area: La Candelaria (El Centro)
Address: Carrera 4 #14-88
Website: None. Middle eastern specialties such as hawarmas, kebabs, pitas and Arabian pastries plus Thai cusine. Spicey but not too pricey.