We landed in Bogota, Colombia without high expectations.
Most travelers to Colombia only pass through Bogota: just landing at its airport and moving on quickly to the coast or to Medellin. There’s good reason for that. Colombia’s coastline is like a whole other culture and the countryside of Colombia is mesmerizing, truly.
But there’s reason to spend a few days in Bogota. We’ve met some of the kindest locals here. Americans are quick to exaggerate experiences, giving 5 stars to all Uber drivers and saying that restaurant was “the best food ever” – I get it and I am guilty of that, too. But people have genuinely surprised us with how kind and friendly they are. Sure, you find friendly and welcoming people in every country you visit, but Colombians take it an extra step. One of our tour guides was SO kind to our kids that we asked her to babysit. Multiple times. And my kids have never, ever taken to a babysitter like they took to her.
Also in Bogota, we learned about Colombia culture. Colombia food. Colombia’s vibrant and varied history. While it may not be the most beautiful or the most exciting Colombian destination, we think it’s a great place to orient yourself to Colombia and get ready for what’s to come. Bogota is a fantastic first stop.
Here in Bogota, we’ve played ball with new friends in countless parks. Little girls have shared sidewalk chalk with Eliza and even shared pretend ice cream (chocolate, of course). We’ve eaten way more than our fair share of street food: empanadas and a tasty and ubiquitous treat called obleas. Yum.
Keeping up with two kids has made travel much slower than it used to be for us, but the trade-off feels so worth it.
- Spend a late afternoon kicking a ball around Parque 93. Tons of local families out to play. Stop for lunch or dinner nearby at Central Cevicheria (the Tiradito al Tigre with coconut milk is AMAZING) or Restaurante El Canasto for a healthy spin on Colombian food.
- La Candelaria is the more bohemian, nightlife area BUT also home to the historic, colonial-style buildings (with amazing murals!). A great place to stop for (early! it gets crowded.) lunch is a tiny, hole-in-the-wall restaurant right next to Plaza de Bolivar called La Puerta Falsa (it opened in 1816!) serving delicious Ajiaco – a traditional chicken soup – and delicious, almost homemade tasting tamales!
We stayed for a few nights in Zona T near Parque 93 and found the area to be really fun and vibrant. Upscale shopping + delicious food nearby + family-friendly parks all around. A++ location!
Then we moved to the Grand Hyatt Bogota which is a bit out of town so you can’t really walk anywhere (lots of cheap Ubers!!) BUT a great view of the city + the most outstanding hotel staff (and very cheap room service)! And, if you get tired of delicious and cheap room service and want to walk to a restaurant, there’s another Central Cevicheria located just 5 minutes walk away. Yum.
- Free walking tour with Beyond Colombia: you’ll get a quick history lesson of Bogota and Colombia, in general. With COVID, less tourists mean less walking tours, so you’ll have to reserve your space at least 12 hours in advance. (roughly 3 hours, daily at 10am and 2pm)
- Usaquen Flea Market (Mercado de Las Pulgas en Usaquén) on Sunday mornings: one of Bogota’s more upper-class neighborhoods with beautiful artisan works for sale. They update their Facebook page regularly, so be sure to check to make sure they plan to be open on the Sunday you want to visit.
- Take a half-day tour to the salt church: Catedral de Sal de Zipaquira (an underground cathedral carved in salt mines) then stop for lunch at Andres Carnés de Res, a fun experience for the whole family with delicious food! We booked a full-day tour through Transfers and Tours Colombia and can’t recommend the guide, Cindy, highly enough!
- Climb (or take the cable car!) to Monserrate for great views of the town (as long as the sun is shining….we weren’t so lucky) and delicious food stalls serving chorizo y papas.
Questions about Bogota? Traveling to Colombia soon? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org