A Weekend in Bogota, Colombia

by | May 18, 2017

To be honest, spending a weekend in Bogota, a city of 8 million, was not at the top of my to do list when I moved to Colombia. However, the VivaColombia flights were only $45 each for a round trip, so Daniel and I decided we should see the capital city for a weekend. I’m so glad we did! Bogota has a lot to offer, like an amazing nightlife, gorgeous parks, beautiful architecture and a phenomenal food scene. We walked over 30 miles through the city during the course of the weekend, save yourself some blisters and explore it here with me 🙂

 

FRIDAY

 

Our weekend in Bogota began on Friday evening and as we settled into the Hobu Hostel in Chapinero. When we searched for the best neighborhood to stay in in Bogota, La Candelaria, the historical center, was mentioned a lot. however, while beautiful during the day, the barrio isn’t safe to stay in at night. That’s why we chose the Chapinero neighborhood, a hipster up and coming area to the North of Candelaira. Our hostel was situated in a perfect location, so we could walk to Candelaria to explore in the day, and walk to Zona Rosa to hit the bars and clubs at night.

Be warned: A weekend in Bogota is much more expensive than Medellin. It was normal to see beer prices doubled from what we usually pay, and most bars and clubs had $8 or even $10 covers to enter. Because of this, we limited our night out to Friday only, and met up with some locals to experience the craft beer scene, and dance the night away in Bogota’s famous bars!

 

SATURDAY

 

After a late start to our day and breakfast at the hostel, Daniel and I set out to explore Bogota. With one taxi ride, we hit three destinations at once. Universidad de Los Andes, a pretty campus with a bustling student life, Simon Bolivar’s house turned museum, and the cable car up to the Monserrate view point. Simon Bolivar’s old home is now a museum with a lush walled in garden, and for the $1 entrance fee it was certainly worth the visit. Afterwards, the weather was gray and cloudy (the usual in Bogota) so we decided to give the cable car a miss and wait for clearer skies.

 

 

We walked from the museum down through Candelaria. grabbing a sandwich at the quaint Quatro Mesas restaurant and exploring the winding streets and colorful graffiti of the city. Eventually, we made our way to Libreria Merlin, a must see during your weekend in Bogota. The book store is in a four story house thats full of winding rooms and mazes of books. It featured walls of books in English that we spent hours pouring over, as well as hundreds of choices for any language you may be searching for. It is beautiful, and the perfect cozy respite from the cold, rainy weather outside.

 

 

That afternoon, we got lucky and the sun came out just in time to take the cable car up to Monserrate. The cost was $14 for two round trips, but if you have the whole weekend in Bogota, go on a Sunday and you can get tickets for half price (but will have to deal with the crowds!) The view point sits atop the mountains that form the eastern boundary of Bogota, and it showcases a church, market, and a couple restaurants and gardens. We spent hours up there, enjoying the sun, the view, and finally the sunset while all the lights slowly flickered on across the city. It was unforgettable, and my favorite part of our three day trip.

 

 

SUNDAY

 

On Sunday we woke up refreshed, ready to join the masses at Ciclovia. Whats that? Ciclovia is an amazing Colombian tradition, where every Sunday they shut down the main street in many cities (In Bogota, it’s Carrera 7, called Septima) from 7am to 2pm for bikers and joggers to enjoy. We walked the entire stretch from Chapinero to Candelaria, enjoying the vendors, flea markets, and street performers that saturated the streets. Our walk ended in Plaza Simon Bolivar, a massive square full of families (and pigeons, ew!). One side features the dominating Cathedral of Bogota, but there is history on all sides in the surrounding Capitol building and Palace of Justice.

 

 

Right around the corner from the church is a classic Bogota establishment, La Puearta Falsa. The tiny restaurant has been in business since 1816, and is officially known as the oldest restaurant in the country! We went for lunch and enjoyed Bogota’s famous dish: Ajiaco. The hearty soup was full of potatoes, chicken and even an ear of corn, and was the perfect filling comfort food for the weather. After lunch we visited the Gold Museum (also free on Sundays!) to see the amazing carvings from the indigenous tribes of the country. Not only is it full of priceless, and beautifully carved gold pieces, all of the exhibits are also in English, a rarity for the country. Definitely worth stopping in for an hour or two on your weekend in Bogota!

 

 

 

Unfortunately, we stepped out of the museum just as a MASSIVE storm hit the city. We jumped in a cab to head back to the hostel, and in all of the confusion trying to get my backpack together, keep my camera safe, and open my umbrella in the downpour, my phone fell out of my pocket and I left it in the taxi. I realized almost immediately and was calling it and tracking it within five minutes, but the driver must be an old pro, and had already snatched it and turned it off so it couldn’t be traced. It was such a shame that he chose to be dishonest, but luckily I only lost 24 hours worth of photos, and my family can bring me a new one from the States when they come to visit next month, so I wont need to deal with hunting down an iPhone in a foreign language here!

While we’re on the subject of taxis, good luck figuring out your fare while you’re here. In Bogota, the number on the meter is not what you pay. Instead, that number corresponds to a price on a chart. Once you have that price, you need to look at the “special occasions” list on the bottom, like if it’s late at night or early in the morning, if it’s raining, etc, and then add on to the price for those as well. However, most taxi drivers either don’t have those charts or refuse to let you see them, and will instead just tell you a random number they think they can get you to pay. Only one actually gave us the chart, but then conveniently had no change for our bills… Maybe I’m biased because of my phone, but I found the taxi drivers and system I experienced during our weekend in Bogota to be more dishonest and less straightforward than those here in Medellin.

 

 

The storm we were caught in was so powerful it knocked out our hostel’s power for the night, but we built a fire in the old fireplace and gathered around to order pizzas and share a few beers with the other guests. That’s the beauty of traveling, a tough day can end with one of the most memorable nights.

 

MONDAY

 

 

Our final day in Bogota began with a trip to Simon Bolivar park (yes, everything in the country, actually the whole continent, is named after him!) The park has a lake with kayaks for rent, walking trails, an amusement park, and so much more. It’s even bigger than Central Park in NYC! While nice to see, I think it would have been more enjoyable if it had been sunny and dry (does that ever happen in Bogota??) After a quick lunch at Taco Bell – yes you heard that right, expats, there are multiple Taco Bells in Bogota! – our homesickness was satiated with a frito burrito and crunch wrap supreme, and we were ready to end our weekend in Bogota and head back to Medellin.

The flight home was a short 50 minutes, and before we knew it it was back to work for another week (minus one cell phone of course) Ah well, we’re off to San Andres next Tuesday, so it’s not too bad!

 

All my love,

Di

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15 Comments

  1. Luis I Gonzalez

    guuuaaaauuuu

    Reply
    • Slight North by Dianne Minardi

      Haha thank you 🙂

      Reply
  2. Ana Morales

    Very kind words for my city, thanks! Next time you are here I recommend a mexican food trailer named El Chango Chilango, there are two, one in Universidad de Los Andes, and the other one in Usaquen.

    Reply
    • Slight North by Dianne Minardi

      You’re welcome, it’s beautiful please! And I love Mexican, so I’ll make sure to check that out next time I visit!

      Reply
  3. Diego Morales

    Fantastic! I’m from Bogota and i study in Candelaria. 😀 Good Luck, one day i hpe to visit other countries like you.

    Reply
    • Slight North by Dianne Minardi

      Thanks, I had an amazing time in your city 🙂 Check out my working abroad series to see how I travel and work, maybe you can do something like that too in the future!

      Reply
  4. María Eugenia Reyes Lacalle

    Maravillosa Bogotá , he ido dos veces y volveré muchas más si Dios me lo permite . Esta hermosa ciudad me ha regalado mucha felicidad .

    Reply
  5. Luis

    Hey, Im glad you have enjoyd my city, sorry for the taxy driver, that its so comun here so for the next time be careful with all your things, and come back soon, so yo can know the rest of the city, don be afraid for the people, here we are more kind then dangereous.If tou wanna contact me and i will your guide here. Take care and i hope good vibrations on your life.

    Reply
    • Slight North by Dianne Minardi

      Thank you for the kind words. And I agree, Colombians are some of the most welcoming people I have ever met!

      Reply
  6. Lucía

    I love the words and the PHOTOS! They are really beautiful, I’m glad that a foraign see all those positive things in my city. Now I’m living abroad and enjoy very much this kind of stories.
    Sorry about your cellphone… but now you can say that you viewed all perspectives of Bogota. 😅. Regards!

    Reply
    • Slight North by Dianne Minardi

      Thank you! 🙂

      Reply
  7. Milena Moreno

    Thank you for come and write about Bogota, it is a great city, you should come back in another time. I am so sorry about your phone, unfortunately things like this happen but there is much to live and enjoy

    Reply
    • Slight North by Dianne Minardi

      Haha it’s ok, losing things is a part of travel. I still enjoyed Bogota and hope to come back again soon!

      Reply
  8. Hermann Galvez

    thank you for the beautiful blog ….I was born in Bogota and I feel very happy when people for other places in the world visit my Bogota and found out that we have a lot to offer. thank you again.

    Reply
    • Slight North by Dianne Minardi

      You’re welcome. Bogota is great and I will definitely need to head back soon!

      Reply

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