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The city of Bogotá is divided into 20 distinct localities, or Districts, and every visit to this city should include touring at least three
of four of them, depending on the purpose and extent of one's travel. The must-see Districts are: |+|
The city of Bogotá is divided into 20 distinct localities, or Districts, and every visit to this city should include touring at least three four of them, depending on the purpose and extent of one's travel. The must-see Districts are:
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* '''Usaquén''' : The northernmost district, home to many sightseeing locations, modern business squares, and traditional architecture examples. It serves as a hub to connect with outer destinations north from the city, which include many attractions within nearby towns.
* '''Usaquén''' : The northernmost district, home to many sightseeing locations, modern business squares, and traditional architecture examples. It serves as a hub to connect with outer destinations north from the city, which include many attractions within nearby towns.
Revision as of 21:18, 24 August 2009
Bogota is the capital city of Colombia.
With a population of about 8.1 million people, Bogota sits approximately 8,660 feet (2640 meters) above sea level in the Andino region. Orientation is relatively easy, as the mountains to the east are generally visible from most parts of the city.
Bogotá is a city of contrasts, and as such it offers a unique experience to its visitors. Prepare to find a hectic balance between the new and the old; the peaceful and the frantic. Encounter century-old plazas and churches shadowed by towering skycrapers. Find peaceful treelined bicycle routes cut through by wild-traffic avenues. Bogota is a city with many layers. From internationally recognized universities to regional offices for multinational companies, Bogota is Colombia's capital for official business dealings. It is a city that caters to a population that has been exposed to European and North American influences, which ensures that anything from traditional dishes (Ajiaco) to sushi or fast food restaurants can be found. It's one of the most modern and metropolitan cities of South, Central America and the world. Bogota is divided by 4 sections: The South which is mainly the poorer section of the city; El Centro, which translates "Center", is the city's original Downtown and hosts most of its traditional heritage locations, city and public offices, and financial headquarters. El Occidente, which is home to Bogota's major sporting venues and outdoor parks, as well as residence areas for main middle and some upper class living; and The North which is where most modern development has taken place, and combines many upscale living spaces with affluent shopping centers, boutiques, cafes, nightclubs, and many new business neighborhoods offering headquarters to many multinational corporations.
During the last decades, due to the city's exponential growth, some of neighboring towns have been absorbed and are now considered within the metropolitan area of Greater Bogotá, like Suba, Soacha and Fontibón.
The city of Bogotá is divided into 20 distinct localities, or Districts, and every visit to this city should include touring at least three or four of them, depending on the purpose and extent of one's travel. The must-see Districts are:
- Usaquén : The northernmost district, home to many sightseeing locations, modern business squares, and traditional architecture examples. It serves as a hub to connect with outer destinations north from the city, which include many attractions within nearby towns.
- Chapinero : South from Usaquén, Chapinero comprises the new downtown areas of the city, combining office space, residential areas, and hundreds of alternatives for shopping, dining and sightseeing.
- La Candelaria and Santa Fe : Further south, home of the the original downtown includes the most traditional neighborhoods of the city and makes for wonderful sightseeing. Here you'll find most of the public buildings, both from the City and the Country's government. Historical squares, 400 year old churches, picturesque narrow streets are all here, mixing along modern development of financial business hightowers.
- Barrios Unidos makes for a unique sightseeing experience with its ample offerings in public venues for Sports and Outdoor activities. Here sports fans will find the Football (Soccer) Stadium, the Olympic Water Complex (biggest and most modern of South America), and the city's league venues for all sorts of disciplines like Tennis, Track and Field, Basketball, Volleyball, Bowling, etc., all within walking distance of each other. Outdoor fans will find the city's biggest Public Park, home to the most crowded open-air concerts and festivals year-round, and favorite destination for all sorts of activities such as jogging, biking, kite-flying, pedal-boating, etc. Culture fans will be at home with the district's offerings of Museums, including a Botanical Garden displaying the most amazing floral showcase of the continent.
Not for tourists but with some appeal for the hardcore traveler, other districts include :
- Los Mártires
- Antonio Nariño
- Puente Aranda
- Rafael Uribe Uribe
- Ciudad Bolívar
The city is served by El Dorado International Airport (IATA: BOG) (ICAO: SKBO) (~20 minutes from downtown in a taxi), that receives several flights daily from New York city, Atlanta, Houston, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Paris, São Paulo, Madrid, Mexico City, San José (Costa Rica), Lima, Buenos Aires, Panamá City, Quito, Guayaquil, Oranjestad (Aruba), Willemstad (Curaçao) and Toronto among others. Tourists can also take advantage of the convenient connections and direct flights from Los Angeles, Washington, Santo Domingo, San Juan, Punta Cana, Valencia (Venezuela), Manaos, Havana, Montego Bay, London, Frankfurt and Orlando. Many international airlines such as Continental,Delta Airlines, Air France, Air Canada, American Airlines, Iberia, LAN, Mexicana Airlines, Varig, Copa Airlines, Avianca, Aero República, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Spirit Airlines, TACA, Aerogal, Air Comet among others.
Domestic flights are served by many airlines including Avianca (main Colombian airline), Aero República (a Continental-owned domestic airline) and Aires. Domestic flights of Avianca are served from the Puente Aereo terminal, next to El Dorado terminal, and features WiFi access to the Internet from almost every location. There are more than 20 daily flights to the 2 airports located in Medellín, over 15 daily flights to Cali and more than 10 to Cartagena. Taxis are regulated, reasonably priced and safe from the airport. El Dorado Airport is under a complete makeup, which will end in 2012 and will make it bigger and more comfortable. El Dorado is also the third busiest airport in Latin America and the largest by cargo movement.
The safety of bus travel in Colombia has greatly improved in recent years. However, foreigners should be cautious not to travel to areas of unrest and travel only during the day. Do not carry large amounts of cash with you as robberies are known to occur along some routes. Service in the 'upscale' buses is very good and they are very comfortable. Pick the most expensive service (just a couple of dollars extra) as these buses tend to be newer and better mechanical condition. Bogotá is also building 2 new terminals, one located far south and one on the north corner to serve buses going on those directions.
Currently, buses run in and out of Bogota's main station, El Terminal de Transporte de Bogota . The station is clean and has standard amenities. Located at Calle 33 B, No 69-59, multiple bus companies have regular routes to destinations around the country. To get there from the airport, you can take a short taxi ride.
The Terminal is divided in several color-coded areas that indicate the destinations to which comapanies in that area travel to : Yellow = South, Blue = East and West, Red = North and International, Purple = Arrivals.
Search Engine by Destination  Destino=Destination Empresa=Bus Company. Simply enter destination and a list of companies serving that route will return along with average prices.
Some common bus companies in Colombia that are found in this Terminal are :
- Expreso Bolivariano  : This company has one of the most extensive networks. Some international destinations as well.
- Coomotor  : Mostly destinations in Southern Colombia.
The city of Bogota is built on a grid system. Carreras (streets) are abbreviated as Cr, K and Crs and run parallel to the mountains from South to North. Carreras are numbered by ordinal numbers, for example Cr.3 is read Carrera tercera and not Carrera tres.
The calles (also streets) cross the Carreras and run from East to West. Calles are abbreviated as C, Cll and Cl.
Avenidas, abbreviated as Av, are usually larger and main streets. The numerical system for the Avenidas is used but some have names that are more commonly used such as Avenida Jimenez. Each address consists of a series of numbers, for example: Calle 16 # 2-43 which indicates that the building is located on street 16 (Calle 16) 43 meters ahead from the intersection with street 2 (Carrera 2).
Taxi cabs are ubiquitous and affordable. They can be flagged down anywhere. They can also be reached by phone at 599-9999, 311-1111 or 411-1111. If calling for a taxi, the driver will want to confirm that it is you who called by asking for a "clave" (key), which is always the last two digits of the phone from which you called to request the taxi. Each taxi has a meter which should increment one tick every 1/10 kilometer or 30 seconds and starts at 25 ticks. The rate chart is printed on a card in the taxi. Nearly all taxi drivers will try to take advantage of you in one way or another; be sure the taxi meter is started when you begin your trip. Tipping is never necessary - be sure to count your change and be on the lookout for both counterfeit coins and notes. There are surcharges for the airport, holidays, and nights (after 8PM). Surcharge details are printed on the fare card. Surcharge for ordering a taxi arriving at your house is currently 600 pesos, surcharge after 8PM is 1.500 pesos, even if you are starting your trip before that time. Holidays and Sundays are also surcharged 1.500 pesos. Lock the doors of the taxi, especially after dark. If you experience a problem in a taxi or with the driver, dial 123 to report a complaint with the police. You should also call the company with which the taxi is registered.
Bogota's new Transmilenio rapid bus service is extremely affordable, clean and efficient. It carries commuters to numerous corners of the city; however, there are some main routes that are not yet reached by Transmilenio.
The vehicles used in that systems are articulated buses; they are fast and safe, but could be full in during the afternoon times. The system also uses different kinds of stations: the simples offers bus services at the right and left sides (north-south;east-west) and the intermediates are usually located in middle points and have complete services, such as elevators, station libraries, bikes parks, restrooms. Alimentadores services (buses that reach zones the articulated buses do not) and the portals, the 7 arrival and departure places of the buses, are located near the entrances to the city. Additionally, intercity buses from the metropolitan area also arrive at these stations.
Privately owned buses cruise all the main thorough fares and many side streets, and are the principal form of transport for the working class and student class. Though they do follow specific routes, they do not have bus "stops"; you merely call to them like taxis and they will stop for you where you are standing. Placards in the large front windows list destinations, either neighborhoods or main street names. Upon entering you will be asked for the fare; if you are not traveling alone you may be asked "Para ambos?", for example, meaning "For both?", to see if you are paying for just yourself or for your companion. Then you pass through a turnstile to the seating areas. The buses come in three sizes, usually, long (like a school bus), medium and small (called busetas). All have turnstiles. To exit these buses, you go to the back door and either push a button located usually on one of the hand rails or next to the exit, or simply call out "Aqui, por favor!" or "Pare!" (Stop!). Passengers are often expected to embark and disembark even from the middle of the street.
Sometimes vendors are allowed to enter the buses to sell candy or small gift items (occasionally donating one to the driver for the privilege). Or, you may find entertainers such as singers or guitar players, and even the more creative of the street beggars who will regale you with a long, poetic story of their sad situation before asking for donations. Even in the smallest buses, cramped full of people standing and sitting, it is a common sight. Interestingly, a recent Grammy-nominated singer named Ilona got her start performing on buses around Bogota.
The cost for riding on a private bus ranges from 1000 to 1200 Colombian pesos.
Colectivos cover practically every major route of the city, and can generally be flagged down at any point on a main road. Watch these small buses for lists of destinations displayed on their windshields, or ask the driver (in Spanish) if he passes the neighborhood or intersection you are going to. Not very comfortable, but they are faster than a common bus and it's also used as a shuttle for routes that don't have so much affluence, it can take you almost anywhere.
Bogotá has Latin America's largest network of bicycle routes, called 'Ciclorutas.' On Sunday's and public holidays, many main and secondary roads are closed to cars for the Ciclovia from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., a special feature of Bogota, where people can run, bicycle, inline skate or just watch from the side. There are refreshment stands along the way and most parks host some type of event such as yoga, dancing, stretching, spinning, etc. Renting a bike or going for a guided tour on Bogota's Ciclorutas or participating in the Ciclovia are fun and healthy ways to get to know the city, and to get closer to the people. Although they are not often enforced, there are numerous bicycle laws: a helmet and reflective vest must be worn and the bicycle must have reflective panels in the wheels and back.
Bogota Street in the old part of downtown: La Candelaria
- La Candelaria, the historical neighborhood in Bogota. There are a lot of interesting museums and old churches in what is the oldest Bogotá neighborhood. Some streets are reserved to pedestrians. The most important places are La Catedral, Plaza de Bolivar, Palacio de Nariño, Iglesia del Carmen, Biblioteca Luis A Arango (blaa), the Colonial Art Museum and the old architecture of the houses and buildings.
- Monserrate a true beautiful panoramic view of the city. It is only a funicular or transferico ride away which will cost 13,000 COP round trip (8,000 COP on Sundays). You can take the Funicular up and Transferico down, or vice versa. You have the option to buying one way tickets, too. You will have the most amazing views and also enjoy the very good Colombian food up there. There are two full-service restaurants at the top. There are also stalls and a self-service restaurant at the top. Remember to bring a warm coat, because it is chilly up there. On Sunday is a very crowded place, so be ready to get into a long line. It is very important to also wear sunscreen/hat. Being at such a high altitude, you will burn very easily even if it is "cloudy." This is especially true if you are going during the noon hour. You can also hike up the stone-set path up Monserrate like the locals do. It takes approximately 1-1.5 hours up and approximately 45 minutes down. Remember to allot more time if you are not accustomed to being 2 miles above sea level.
- Torre Colpatria, Carrera 7 # 24 - 89. Bogota's tallest building and one of South Americas tallest buildings is located in El Centro. You can visit the panoramic deck on the top of building on Saturdays and Sundays; make it a must see. 3,000 COP.
- Hacienda Santa Bárbara, Carrera 7 No. 116 - 05. A 19th century house that belonged to Pepe Sierra, one of the wealthiest Colombians in that time, that became a mall in late 80's. Famous for its cafés (some of them nationally renowned), is not as crowded as other malls.
- Usaquén a rather new "cool" section of Bogota. The main square is the meeting point of the area where you can find pretty nice restaurants and bars. But walk around and find more great places to eat and drink.
- La Macarena (Bullfight ring area) is a bohemian neighborhood full of artsy cafes, art galleries and great restaurants.
- Parque de la 93 which is a trendy section of Bogota with nightclubs, and cafes frequently visited by Bogotas "jet set". Highly recommended El Salto del Angel restaurant.
Museums and galleries
- Gold Museum - El Museo del Oro, Calle 16 No. 5-41 (On one side of the Parque Santander), ☎ ''+57 1'' 284-7450 (fax: ''+57 1'' 343-2222), . Tu-Sa : 9 to 6 / Su : 10 to 4. Impressive collection of gold and pre-Colombian artifacts. Don't miss this museum. The Gold Museum is unique and you won't find a better place to see the pre-Spanish artwork on gold. The museum was under renovation, up until October 2008 and as of then its open to the public once more so don't miss it out. 2,800 COP.
- Donación Botero, Calle 11 No. 4-41, ☎ ''+57 1'' 343-1331. W-Fr 10AM-8PM, Sa 10AM-7PM and Su 10AM-4PM. Collection of paintings donated by Botero to Bogota. Besides work of Botero the collection contains work from Picasso, Renoir, Monet, Dali and others. Free entrance.
- Casa de Moneda, Calle 11 No. 4-21 (Next to Museo Botero), ☎ 343-1223. M-F : 10 am to 8 pm , Tu : closed / Sa : 10 am to 7 pm / Su : 10 am to 4 pm. Has a collection of Colombian coins and the history of moneymaking. Free entrance.
- Museo Nacional, Carrera 7 No. 28-66, ☎ ''+57 1'' 334-8366 ([email protected]), . Tu 10AM-8PM; W,Sa 10AM-6PM; Su 10AM-4PM. The National Museum is the oldest in the country and one of the oldest in the continent, built in 1823. Its fortress architecture is built in stone and brick. The plant includes arches, domes and columns forming a sort of Greek cross over which 104 prison cells are distributed, with solid wall façade. The museum houses a collection of over 20,000 pieces including works of art and objects representing different national history periods. Permanent exhibitions present archeology and ethnography samples from most antique Colombian men vestiges, 10,000 years BC, up to XX century indigenous and afro- Colombian art and culture. Founders and New Kingdom of Granada room houses rich Liberators and other Spanish authorities iconography; the round room exhibits a series of oleos synthesizing Colombia painting history. Adult : 3,000 COP / Student : 2,000 COP.
- Museum of Modern Art of Bogota (MamBo), Calle 24 No. 6-00, ☎ (571) 286 0466 / (571) 293 3109, . Tue to Sa : 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. / Su 10a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Exhibits a complete collection of modern art work basically consisting of drawing, paintings, engraved work, sculpture and assembly. Houses work of Colombian masters Fernando Botero, Alejandro Obregón, Enrique Grau and Édgar Negret, among many other together with important Latin American artists pinacotheca. The moderns building, designed by architect Rogelio Salmona, achieves optimum space and natural light management. Adult : 4000 COP / Student : 2000 COP.
- Banco de la Republica Art Collection, Calle 11 No. 4-41. Tue to Sat:10AM-7PM, Sun and holidays 10AM-4PM Closed on Mon, including holiday Mondays. Exhibits Permanent Banco de la República Art Collection consisting of nearly 3,000 paintings, sculptures and assembly of Colombian and Latin American masters from the XVI century to our days. Visitors may appreciate a selection of Colombian painters works, for instance Gregorio Vázquez de Arce y Ceballos, the most important Colony painter, Alejandro Obregón, Enrique Grau, Latin American as Rufino Tamayo, David Alfaro Siqueiros and many other globally renowned.
- National Police Historical Museum, Calle 9 No. 9-27, ☎ 233 5911 – 281 3284. Mo-Fr : 8 am to 12pm and 1 pm to 5 pm / Sa : 8 am to 2 pm. Its main interest resides in the rooms dedicated to the hunt of Pablo Escobar. Guided tours in spanish and english. Free entrance.
- Museum of Colonial Art, Calle 24 No. 6-00. Tu-Sa 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. / Su from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.. Under Eduardo Santos administration on August 6, 1942 the Colonial Museum containing Viceroy-ship art, silver plates, the Virgin of the Light and the most characteristic Gregorio Vásquez de Arce y Ceballos collection, among other valuable Colombian culture treasures opened its doors. Declared National Monument National in 1975, Las Aulas Cloister is one of the oldest buildings in Bogotá.
- Maloka, Cra 68 D No. 24 A 51 (Neighborhood El Salitre), . Built in 1998, Maloka is one of the only science centers in South America. It houses interactive exhibitions about biodiversity, physics, telecommunications, conquest of space and environment protection as well as the only dome theater of the continent. Interactive exhibitions : 9,000 COP / Dome theater : 11,000 COP.
- Parque & Museo El Chiquo, Calle 93, Carrera 7, . Old hacienda located in a nice park with botanic information. Guided tour of the interior with its antique furniture. Adult : 2,500 COP / Student : 1,500 COP.
- Every Friday and Sunday night, Avenida Septima is closed and you can see all sorts of street performers, live music, magic shows, etc. and buy crafts and other good. If you don't mind crowds its worth a visit.
- Check out the Iberoamerican Theater Festival, the biggest theater festival in the world (occurs every two years in April).
- Downtown Day Tour : No visitor to Bogota skips the historic Downtown and La Candelaria neighborhood. In fact most affordable lodging and dining options can be found this side of town making it highly desirable by low-budget travelers and backpackers, given its close location to many of the city's attractions. Start your way on Avenida Septima and Calle 14, just arriving Parque Santander. Take the opportunity to visit the world famous Museo del Oro, or Gold Museum for its legendary El Dorado collections. Then continue south one block up to Avenida Jimenez and give your camera a workout at one of Bogota's most famous and historic intersections, where a couple of ancient churches and last century buildings collide. Turn east (towards the mountains) and walk up Avenida Jimenez alongside downtown's famous Eje Ambiental or Environmental Axis, which is a section of the avenue that has been closed off to vehicles except Transmilenio, to make way for a generous tree-lined pedestrian sidewalk and an enclosed water stream. Many historic and famous buildings are located alongside the Eje Ambiental, home to Bogota's most renowned and traditional companies like El Tiempo and the Bank of the Republic. A few blocks east just past the Parque de los Periodistas the Eje Ambiental starts bending northwise, so leave the axis and turn south instead via one of the small streets that branch into the neighborhood and make your way up to Calle 13 and Carrera 2, el Chorro de Quevedo, unofficial center of La Candelaria where bohemian life meets to enjoy arts, culture and music. On the way make sure to take in the whimsical coloring and architecture of the neighborhood's streets and colonial houses. Continue on Carrera 2 southward a couple of blocks up until Calle 11, and turn west once again just in front of La Salle University: You'll be glad you do since you've been climbing constantly eastward so enjoy your walk back down. Make sure to notice the eccentric street names found on picturesque signs at every corner. Make your way down west on Calle 11 and you will pass by the Museo Botero, museum showcasing some of famous Colombian painter Botero's private art collection and work. Another block down is the Centro Cultural Garcia Marquez, modern cultural center and venue that includes Library, Art Galleries, concert halls and lesson rooms, with year-round events and displays for all tastes and audiences interested in culture and the arts. Continue down west and reach the Plaza de Bolivar, the city's overwhelming main square surrounded by neoclasic government palaces and the Catedral Primada, largest church in the country. After taking in the many sights, you might want to leave the square southbound for a couple of blocks on Carrera Septima to check out the Presidential Palace and its Presidential Guard. Finally turn around back Carrera Septima northward until you find Transmilenio, just about where you started!
- Don't miss the pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods of El Nogal, La Cabrera and Chicó Reservado, in the heart of Chapinero District. In a city famous for its wild traffic, you'll really enjoy the walks that can be had around this part of town. Begin at Carrera 7a around streets 79 or 80, and zig-zag your way down and north until you find the Parque 93. Along the way, you will find tree-lined narrow streets, personality-ridden shops and boutiques, and eccentric dining alternatives. Don't hesitate in stopping for a world famous coffee in any location, and zip your way through all the bars and clubs surrounding the Zona Rosa. Make it through to the beautiful green park of Virrey and walk down its creek for a breath of fresh air. By the time you reach the 93 you'll be glad to take the opportunity to sit down, rest, and people-watch in one of its many terraces.
- Take a cab or Transmilenio to a working class neighborhood in the southside. Sit down in a 'panaderia' (bakery), order a "colombiana" brand soda and some good bread...sit down and breathe the environment of the regular Colombian...don't narrow yourself to the upscale Norte. Since picking out one of these neighborhoods can be dangerous, the best ones to do so: Santa Isabel, 20 de Julio, The Tunal area.
- In Usaquen, you can find a huge "mercado de las pulgas" on Sundays.
- Go to "Parque Simon Bolivar" and chill like rolos (Bogota citizens) do, walk around the cities biggest park or ride the train.
- If you want to see the real thing, go to "San Victorino." It's located in the center of the city just in front of TransMilenio's station, Av. Jimenez. There you will find a plaza surrounded by all kinds of cheap stores selling different types of goods, from clothes to food and pets. If you do go, do not take anything with you; gringos are not well received there and may get robbed.
- Visit nearby towns like Chia, La Calera, Cajica, Tabio, Zipaquira and La Vega. You can find cheap and fast transportation to any of this destinations from the Terminal de transportes and from most, you can return the same day. But it's a good idea to get out, Bogotá is a chaotic city surrounded by lots of relaxed and peaceful places.
- Ciclovía. Every Sunday and Monday holiday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. major avenues are closed to cars and thousands of people turn out to bicycle, skate, jog and walk. You can join up on foot, or by renting a bicycle in the Candelaria neighborhood.
- Monserrate. Visit Monserrate, the church-topped hill overlooking Bogotá. The hiking trail is closed during 2009, but you can still ride the gondola or funicular to the top, where you'll find not only a great view, but also lots of souvenirs and high-cholesterol foods.
- Bicycle Tour Bogota, Carrera Tercera No 13-86, ☎ 341-1027, . 8 a.m.-6 p.m.. Rent a bike or take a guided tour of the city from a bicycle rental service in the La Candelaria neighborhood. See lots of the city, see it up-close and at your own rhythm.
Bogota has numerous educational institutions. Some of the better known universities include: Universidad Nacional , Universidad de America , Universidad de los Andes , Pontificia Universidad Javeriana , Universidad Externado ,Universidad Santo Tomas , Universidad de la Sabana , Universidad de la Salle  and LCI Bogotà . However, there are many privately and publicly funded universities and Schools.
If you want to learn Spanish, universities are a good option since they have all inclusive plans. They not only offer Spanish courses but also Mandarin, Japanese, French, German, Italian, etc. Also, many embassies have institutions that teach languages, including Spanish, for foreign people, such as the Centro Colombo Americano, the British Council, The Italian Institute, The French Alliance and the Brazil-Colombia Cultural Institute (IBRACO).
The Spanish spoken in Bogotá is considered the most neutral and clear in the world. If you know the basics, you'll probably be fine. Bogotá is full of English academies and bilingual schools, so English is spoken by many young people. The most "touristy" areas are full of young students who go to bilingual schools, and generally, they will help you translate. Colombians love to show off the best of their country to reduce the negative image it has amongst foreigners.
Officially, it is not legal to work in Colombia without a proper working visa. Visas can be obtained by employers on your behalf.
There is also a significant market for English and other language teachers. English translation or editing jobs are possible to find under the table.
- Inexpensive handicrafts and jewelry from vendors
- Coffee-based products
- Leather handbags, shoes, and wallets.
- Uncut and cut emeralds brought in from the world's best emerald mines
- Inexpensive silver jewelry
- Dress suits and shoes
- Unicentro, a very modern mall with many western retail shops.
- Hacienda Santa Barbara, a shopping mall made out of an old "hacienda", in the bohemian/trendy neighbourhood of Usaquen.
- La Zona T which is another chic area of Bogota which is surrounded by the upscale malls of Centro Andino, Atlantis Plaza and El Retiro which holds various upscale boutiques such as Lacoste, Louis Vuitton, Versace, Bulgari, Cartier, Loewe and much more.
- More Affordable Shopping Malls
- Plaza de las Americas - outdoor, Ciudad Tunal, Tintal Plaza, Amazonas, Unicentro de Occidente
Camping and outdoors equipment
- Thundra Outdoors, Calle 82, No 12-62 (Close to Andino shopping mall and la Zona T.), ☎ 1-5300645 / 310 2578180, . 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.. Outdoors equipment : camping, trekking and climbing gear.
- MonoDedo, Cr.16 No 82-22, ☎ (+57-1) 616 3467 ([email protected]), . Outdoors equipment and climbing information.
- Home Center, (Portal Norte). Tents and sleeping bags at cheaper prices.
Arepas: Corn flour based pancakes, sometimes made with cheese or slightly salted.
Empanadas: The closest comparison would be pastries. These are popular all over South America, so generally each country/region has their own recipe. The filling usually consists of meat, potato, vegetables and rice wrapped in a corn flour crust.
Tamal: Usually eaten for breakfast. A mixture of meat, chicken, potato, vegetables and yellow corn wrapped in plantain leaves and then boiled. Should be accompanied by a large mug of hot chocolate.
Ajiaco: Traditional thick soup based on three kinds of potatoes, chicken, avocado, dairy cream, herbs, corn, among others. Typically from the altiplano region.
Plenty of options. These are only a few and are divided by areas. However, it is very difficult to find a decent Chinese/Japanese restaurant. Do not expect much even if you find any, since most of them are "fake" oriental restaurants.
Little pueblo in the big city. Colonial structures, some small shops and boutiques, flea market on Sundays, and a variety of restaurants.
- Thezera, Cra. 5 # 117-55 (East passed Usaquen's central park, on the last street go South, and it's 2 houses down), ☎ +57 1 215-5290 ([email protected]), . Lunch and Dinner. International cuisine including; Peppered New York Strip, Rosemary Chicken, Tuna Tartar, Lamp Chops, Coconut Breaded Grouper, and Ceviche. Live Jazz on Thursdays. Between 12,000 and 36,000 pesos.
- Cadaqués, Calle 119B # 5-43 (First street north of the northeast corner of the park, going east towards the large parking lot, right side), ☎ +57 1 6201199 ([email protected]), . Lunch and Dinner. Spanish/Catalonian Fusion cuisine, including Paella, tapas, fideuá, and seafood, along with eclecltic local ingredients. Molecular cooking is a feature. Between 15,000 and 35,000 pesos.
This zone has some of the finest eateries in Bogota. Within a few small blocks you will find plenty of options. The restaurants are more oriented toward fine dining more so than night club type activity. If you want elegant or romantic, this is a good choice. This are five star restaurants. By looking at the addresses below, you can tell that these restaurants are all neighbors.
- SUNA, Camino Natural, Calle 71 No. 4-47, ☎ +57 1 212-3721, . Organic Restaurant and Market. Suna serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This environmentally-friendly restaurant offers a menu consisting of organic, vegetarian, raw, and vegan dishes.
- Bagatelle, Calle 70 A No. 4-99, ☎ +57 1 321-3475. Once a bakery, this restaurant has the feel of a Parisian cafe. It serves crepes, sandwiches, and salads, as well as breakfast and brunch. The Bagatelle is famous for its pan de chocolate.
- H. Sasson Restaurante, Calle 83 No. 12-49, ☎ +57 1 616-4520, . Chef Harry Sasson creates delectable, international dishes with Asian influences. This restaurant also has a wide variety of wines from all over the world, including Argentina, France, and California.
- Gostinos 69, Carrera 5 No. 69A-30, ☎ +57 1 313-0612. Gostinos 69 offers its patrons seafood at reasonable prices.
- Tony Roma's, Carrera 6 No. 69 A-20, ☎ +57 1 249-5271. This American chain-restaurant serves traditional American bbq, including short ribs and seafood.
- La table de Michel, Calle 69A No. 4-15, ☎ +57 1 347-7939, 347-7939. La Table de Miguel offers excellent French dishes. They also have a wine list made up of mainly French wines, but also a few Chilean. The great thing about this restaurant is that the menu is translated into various languages for the convenience of the diner.
- Criterion, Calle 69A No. 5-75, ☎ +57 1 310-1377, . This contemporary restaurants offers its patrons French-influenced, gourmet dishes. The menu consists of a variety of starters and meats, and also offers its guests a tasting menu that changes weekly. Criterion was awarded the Five Star Diamond Award in 2008; the only restaurant in Colombia to receive the recognition.
- Astrid y Gaston, Carrera 7 No 67-64, ☎ +57 1 211-1400, . The restaurant offers the flavors of Peruvian cuisine in Bogota. Reservations are required, so do call ahead!
- La Hamburgueseria, Calle 70 No. 4-69, ☎ +57 1 321-3350, . La Hamburgueseria is not fast food restaurant, but does offers a great variety of hamburgers and sandwiches, made from the best ingredients. This restaurant has many other locations, so be sure to check out the website to find the one closest to you!
- Nazca, Calle 74 No 5-28, ☎ +57 1 321-3459. This Peruvian restaurant serves up to 96 people, and has a 'launch area,' where those waiting for tables can snack. The principle dish of Nazca is ceviche.
- Clowns Deli, Calle 70 A No. 4-45, ☎ +57 1 248-0254, . Clowns Deli offers sandwiches and salads for a reasonable price.
Zona T and Zona Rosa
This zone has a mix of good dining, discos, shopping malls and more. It gets crowded on the weekend, and is popular with foreigners.
- Crepes & Waffles, Carrera 12A No. 83-40, ☎ +57 1 256-4683, . This chain restaurant has great crepes, both sweet and savory, and waffles, as well as soups and salads, for a great price!
- Hard Rock Cafe Bogota, Calle 81 No. 13-05, ☎ +57 1 530-2200. The world-famous Hard Rock Cafe offers all of its favorites in a great atmosphere.
- Casa Mexicana, Calle 80 No. 14-08, ☎ +57 1 218-2874, 257-3407. As the name suggests, this restaurants offers traditional Mexican dishes, and includes a variety of beers, tequilas, and margaritas.
- Balzac, Calle 83 No. 12-19, ☎ +57 1 610-5210, 610-6206. French cuisine.
- Cafe Tostion, Carrera 125 No. 26-08, ☎ +57 1 610-5154. Names after the Colombian sportsman, this coffee shop offers a wide variety of traditional coffees. Coffee grains are also available for purchase.
- Club Colombia, Avenida 82 No 9-16, ☎ +57 1 249-5681, 321-0704. Colombian cuisine.
Calle 116 at Carrera 7
In Usaquen, next to Hacienda Santa Barbara (very attractive shopping center & hotel),
there are many excellent dining options just north of the shopping center. Just walk a couple blocks from the north entrance to the shopping center and you will find a traditional town square surrounded with excellent choices. Roughly Calle 120 / Carrera 5.
Note: The legal drinking age in Colombia is 18 years of age.
- Andres Carne de Res, . Andres Carne de Res is actually a little out of town in the town of Chia, but the trip is well worth the effort. Movers, shakers and the beautiful people descend on the sprawling bar, grill and restaurant nightly. The decor is unique, the vibe amazing, and once you are done eating the dancing goes on until the wee hours. Make sure you have someone to take you home again. Cover : 15,000 COP.
- Bogota Beer Company, . Bogota´s very own brewery! Some of the locations are : Parque de Usaquén, Park at 93rd Street, Zona T (In front of the Andino Mall) and 122 Street with 19th Avenue. Try the "Jirafa" (giraffe) which is a 1 yard long glass full of the Beer of your choice, or the "Campín Calamari" and the "Cedritos Chips" (All dishes are named after Bogota´s most famous neighborhoods).
- Kubiko bar, Carrera 12A No. 83-49, ☎ ''+57 1'' 236-1613. Located in the "Zona T", this bar offers imported beers and great cocktails, they also featured a live DJ that plays the latest electronic music. No cover.
- CHA-CHA, One of the most exclusive night clubs, located on 7th avenue and 33rd Street on the 41st floor of what once was The Hilton Hotel, today just and abandoned building. It is located in the "Ball Room" of the old hotel, and keeps the traditional elegant decoration. Crystal Chandeliers meet Electronic music. Has amzing views of the city at night and an amazing terrace to hang out. Frequently visited by world famous DJs. Cover:$15.000
- Escobar Rosas, Located in La Candalaria and mostly frequented by students, gringo hunters, and backpackers, this pharmacy converted discoteca features a bar and a packed dance floor downstairs.
- Gnoveva, Very cheap..lower prices, the music and the people are great, no cover and a bottle of aguardiente is $35.000 pesos.
- Lola, 15th Avenue and 92nd Street. Frequented mostly by students and people looking to have fun, on a well located spot for lower prices as those found on the "Zona T" or the Park on 93rd St. Cover : $10.000.
- Kukaramakara, Carrera 15 No. 93-57 (Near Lola), ☎ 642-3166, . The environment and decoration of this place has the perfect combination of modern club elements and traditional artesanal environment from Colombia´s ancestors. Also features a local band every Friday and Saturday night that performs Latinamerican singer´s songs. Cover : $15.000.
- Pravda, located in the "Zona T". Best Martinis in town, also a little pricey. Try the Lychee Martini.
- Salto del Angel, One of the coolest spots in Bogota, located in the Park at 93rd Street, it is the place to see all the futbol matches with your buddies, beers and really, really good food on Sundays, and on Saturdays, Fridays and Thursdays it is the place to see all the beautiful people dancing salsa and vallenato music on the tables. Great environment but get there early or make a reservation. Cover : $10.000
- Scirocco, Without doubt the most "chic" place in Bogota, at the moment. Serves its unique watermelon martinis, while listening to House music. Concurred by Bogota's elite. Cover is $15.000, and drinks are pricey.
- Gato Gris, Carrera 1A No 13-12 (Chorro de Quevedo). This place is just charming in many ways. It is right at the Chorro de Quevedo, the birthplace of Bogotá. It has many nooks and levels, perfect for little intimate gatherings. Great rooftop with fireplaces and views of downtown Bogotá.
Also visit other local nightclubs where most North residents go like Gavanna, Velvet, Amatista, Barbarosa, Salome Pagana (Salsa Dancing club) or Nabu (Most located in the "Zona Rosa" one of the trendiest parts of Bogotá.)
If you are going to stay in Bogota, keep in mind the location. You'll find several hotels in the "fashion" district(i.e. Zone "T", Park of 93rd Street, etc). Always keep in mind that those hotels would be always a little bit pricey. Nevertheless, you won't have any problem hailing a taxi at 6am in the morning because your hotel would be just around the corner from the nightclub. On the other hand, you can find low to medium price hotels around downtown or near universities (i.e. Chapinero Neighborhood).
A very special surrounding for low-budget visitors is La Candelaria, the colonial neighborhood in the center of the city. There are many cheap, nice hostels where you can meet travelers from all around the world. It is a great place for socializing, if you are traveling alone. The best known hostel is Platypus. Ironically, the area "La Candelaria" is the one of the most dangerous parts of Bogotá - there have been many reports about robberies with knives. Extreme caution is needed when walking at midnight, especially in front of hostels.
- Note that in 2008, two foreign travellers were found dead in La Candelaria area due to drugs. Recently, a Colombian broadcasting company CARACOL filmed about drug tourism in La Candelaria, and the program was a big sensation in Colombia.
- In 2009 the general security of the Candelaria area has become worse. CHECK THE LOCATION VERY CAREFULLY before you choose a place to stay.
- Posada del Sol, Calle 9, No. 3-71, La Candelaria, Bogota, ☎ (+57 1) 342 7105 ([email protected]), . Brand new hostel in La Candelaria. The owner Danny, a RTW traveler since 2003 and PADI professional dive master, is an excellent information source for traveling Colombia. The hostel has new facility and enough space to take a rest. HD-movie room, 2 fully equipped self-catering kitchens, video game, free use of internet(4Mb speed) & WIFI, innerspring mattress, 24 hours hot shower, BBQ party on Thursday night. . Also, the hostel offers private Spanish classes, by qualified teachers from Los Andes University. *The location is just 3 blocks away from the Presidential Palace and Plaza Bolivar. It guarantees better security in La Candelaria area. Room rates are COP$15,000~$45,000.
- The Cranky Croc, Calle 15 No. 3-46 La Candelaria, Bogota, ☎ +57 1 342-2438 ([email protected]), . In the heart of La Candelaria is the newest and cleanest hostel in Bogota. Run by Aussia ex-pat Andy and his crew, this historic building has been completely remodeled and features a wet bar, indoor barbecue and cafe serving breakfast and the Friday night all you can eat barbecue. The hostel also includes a huge kitchen, clean rooms and dorms with lots of hot water, 2 outdoor patios, free coffee, excellent WIFI and Internet terminals, laundry facilities, and motorcycle/car parking at a small additional fee. Prices from COP$20,000 for dorm to $30,000 for single with bath.
Centrally located in the historic district, it is an easy walk to all the major museums and churches in the area. While there are many reports of crime in the area, this is apparently an overblown issue now due to the heavy police presence (and they are friendly) and pressure from neighborhood groups to oust the remaining criminals - to be sure, guard your bags and take a taxi home after 11 p.m. Otherwise, the area has become much safer recently than has been reported in the past, and you will find no issues with sightseeing in the area. The Colombian people, as a rule, are probably the most friendly in the Americas, and are willing to go out of their way to help you. Taxis drivers are by and large honest.
- Hostal Sue, Calle 16 No. 2-55, La Candelaria, Tel: (+571) 3 34 88 94, This hostel is quickly catching up to Platypus's popularity. Great facilities including a chill out room and fully equipped kitchens make the Hostel the place everyone wants to stay. Right in the center of Bogotà, especially close to the many museums, including Botero and Gold Museum, and the great night life of Candelaria. Hot Water 24hrs. Free bed linen. Safe, clean hostel accommodation. Friendly, helpful staff. Fully Equipped kitchen. Laundry Service. Free Locker. Cable TV with many DVDs! Free Internet Access. Table Tennis. COP$17,000-$40,000.
- Anandamayi Hostel, Calle 9 No. 2 - 81, La Candelaria, Centro, Tel: 57 341-7208, [email protected] . Anandamayi is a very comfortable and inexpensive hostel in the most beautiful colonial house in la Candelaria old town. Hostel Prices 9-14 USD. Very nice vibe (the owner is a Buddhist lady), but it is quite a few blocks walk from the Transmilenio (calle 16 vs. calle 9). This area is known to be dangerous at night. Hostels like Fatima are better located.
- Platypus Hostel, C 16 No. 2 - 43, La Candelaria, . Located in the old Candelaria district, it is owned and run by a friendly and helpful Colombian named German (pronounced 'Herman'). The hostel is usually over-crowded by travelers and the facilities are too old, beds are not good and clean, hot water is not stable. Prices seem like overcharged as there are better hostels around. However, it's still the most famous place in La Candelaria. The hostel offers free coffee, internet facilities and hot showers. COP$18,000-$50,000. Included in the Platypus portfolio are Platypus 2 and 3, where those wishing to stay for longer can take advantage of having their own room at discounted rates. Make sure you book for Platypus in advance as they very seldom have availability on arrival. The two best reasons for staying here are German's knowledge and the guaranteed population of new friends. (*At the time of writing, in June 2009, travelers get robbed every night near Platypus. As the location is well-known for local robbers, usually they await victims in front of Platypus at night. Better to avoid staying at Platypus at the moment. Furthermore, there is rare chance to see German nowadays.)
- Hotel Aragon, Carrera 3 No. 14-13, tel.: 57 342-5239, 57 284-8325, fax: 57 342-6387. If the Platypus is full, you can try this hotel a few blocks down. A room costs COP$22,000 per person. It's actually a hotel, so there are no dormitories. The owner has a notorious reputation for fighting with guests. The place is basic and a little dated but the rooms are fairly clean and there's hot water all the time.
- Hospedaje Cacique Sugamuxi, Calle 15A No. 2-19, La Candelaria . Phone (571)3374326. Upstairs, very secure and a bit quieter as the other english-speakers hangouts. Dorms from COP$ 19.000-45.000.
- Hostal Fatima, Calle 14 No. 2-24, La Candelaria . Rates from COP$18000. Including breakfast costs a little more, free internet (but old hardware). The hostel probably has the most beautiful interior in La Candelaria, but mattresses are not solid enough. Hot water is limited by electric heating system.
- Hotel Dorantes, calle 13 No. 5-7, La Candelaria. (Huge) double room for 45000 COP. Hot water (not electric), beautiful building in need of attention. WiFi may be available. Clean and friendly. Unique charm and kitsch. Avoid Friday and Saturday night if you plan to fall asleep before 3:00 AM - perfect if you want to join the partying taking place outside.
- Hotel Internacional, Carrera 5 No. 14-45, La Candelaria. Phone 341 3151. email: [email protected] A safe, inexpensive alternative to hostels. Clean private rooms from 17,000 COP. Shared bathrooms down the hall with strong hot water. No TV in rooms. Internet computers available in lobby. Shared kitchen available to guests. Tourist information in several languages.
- Hotel Casa Real, Calle 93A No. 9A-53, ☎ ''57'' 530-4884 ([email protected]), . Only 2 blocks from the 93rd St Park and restaurants, this lovely hotel has very spacious suites, excellent service and great breakfasts. Rooms COP$230,000 plus tax.
- Hotel San Sebastian, Avenida Jimenez No. 3-97, ☎ ''57'' 337-5031. This comfortable and convenient hotel located in the pleasant area of La Candelaria offers 36 excellent accommodation, a stones throw from the top sights in Bogota.
Charleston Hotel, Hotel Casa Medina, Sofitel Victoria Regia, Habitel Hotel, Embassy Suites, La Fontana Hotel, Bogotá Royal, Andino Royal, Hacienda Royal, Casa Dann Carlton, Meliá Santa Fe, Radisson, La Boheme Royal, Pavilion, Bogotá Plaza, Cosmos 100 Hotel y Centro de Convenciones, Hotel Capital, Tequendama Crowne Plaza Hotel.
Bogota is not as dangerous as it is perceived to be. The crime rate per capita shows that it is safer than Washington D.C. and most other Latin American capitals, such as Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Caracas, Mexico City and Guatemala City. It is very difficult to find drugs or be forced to buy them unless you go looking for them. Do, however, be careful outside the city especially at night.
Bogota's major safety problems are the drugged, homeless people that are found all around the city and muggers with knives. Avoid walking alone, and also avoid taking cabs in the streets, call them by phone!
Common sense prevails and note that driving a Mercedes through a poor neighborhood may be unpleasant for both you and the locals (just like anywhere else in the world).
Bogotá's water is potable and of great quality. It actually is one of the finest waters in the world, but foreigners may want to mix bottled and tap water for the first few days. Bogotá has no tropical diseases like malaria because of its altitude. Altitude is, in fact, the largest health problem affecting foreigners. Generally, a few days without hard physical activity or time spent in a mid-altitude city like Medellín will do the trick. If you have heart disease or a respiratory condition, talk to your doctor, El Dorado Airport provides wheelchairs for travelers with special needs. Private hospitals offer excellent health care.
- Catedral de Sal de Zipaquirá is an impressive Cathedral hewn out of a salt mine in Zipaquira. A visit is by guided tour. English, German, French, and Spanish guides are available. The entrance fee is COP$15,000 or $10,000 that when you buy your ticket on Wednesdays. To get there take the Transmilenio to Portal del Norte, from there take a bus to Zipaquirá and ask the bus driver for directions to the cathedral. The total journey takes at least 4 hours. The current cathedral is the 2nd construction, as the first one was closed after many years.
- Laguna del Cachique Guatavita This spiritual lake is where the legend of El Dorado originated. English/Spanish guided tour is available. The entrance fee is COP $12,000 for foreigners or $8,000 for Colombian. The Muisca Indian King used to have religious ceremony in the middle of the lake, painted all his body with gold dust, and put gold things offered in sacrifice into the lake. To get there take the Transmilenio to Portal del Norte, from there take a bus to Guatavita and ask for another transportation to the lake. This is little bit complicated, but local police can help. The journey will take little more than Zipaquira. It's not open every Monday, or Tuesday if Monday is a holiday.
- Andrés Carne de Res (Restaurant and dance) Amazing steak and a great place to party. Do not miss it if you wanna see how important food and dancing is for Colombians!!!! Calle 3 # 11A -56 Phone: 863-7880 (Chía) Live music is one the best "rumbiaderos" (nightclubs). It is located about 15 mins north of Bogotá.
- Bogotá as a hub to visit other places in Colombia As the capital city is centrally located you can easily visit many distinct destinations as the Amazon Jungle (1.5 hrs by plane), Spanish colonial cities Cartagena or Popayán (1 hr flight), modern cities like Medellín located in an impressive Andean valley or Cali at the foothills of the Andes.
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