Some time ago I posted a piece on Bogotá. The Amazing City of Bogotá through my Eyes has received quite some hits and great reviews from friends and family, who took the time to send me texts and emails. This Colombian city has seen an increase in visitors in recent years. Especially from Caribbean islands like St. Maarten, Curaçao and Aruba and mainly in the Medical Destination area. I too traveled with a patient twice now to Bogotá and have completely fallen for this city and its people. So if you are planning to visit Bogotá for pleasure or God forbid for medical reasons this blog is a must-read.
So without further ado here are the 10 MUST See Eat and Do in Bogotá according to yours truly:
This lively neighborhood is where we had the pleasure of staying on our last trip and I must say it has fast become one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city. Usaquén is in the north of Bogotá in the “business zone”. Some great hotels can be found in Usaquén and it is also the area where one will find some of the more known medical centers. But my favorite thing about this area by far are the restaurants. Restaurants with cuisine from anywhere in the world can be found here. If you’ve read some of my previous posts you know by now how much I enjoy good food. The little overeater in me was ecstatic. Some of my favorites included CAFE Amarti – the décor is amaze-balls and the truffle risotto makes you wonder if you’ve died and went to heaven, Prandium – super creative chef and menu is updated often, Taj Mahal – typical Indian menu on steroids with a nice atmosphere, Mediterranea de Andrei – Mediterranean cuisine and beautifully decorated with a wine list out of this world, Madame Tusan – Peruvian Chinese in nice setting with quite a menu, last but not least El Mercado – don’t quite know how to describe this restaurant but believe me it is worth the visit. Aside from restaurant hopping I urge you to visit the market on weekends and the Santa Barbara mall.
TWO: La Candelaria
No trip to Bogotá is complete without a visit to La Candelaria, the colonial district known as the first neighborhood of Bogotá. Walking the streets of La Candelaria is like taking a step back in time. From the presidential palace to Simon Bolivar’s “home” to the cobblestone streets, it’s like you’ve stepped right into a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel. It is a gorgeous place but can feel a bit unsafe at times. There is a deep contrast between our little familiar neighborhood in El Norte and the graffiti-clad buildings and small streets of La Candelaria. Nonetheless it is worth a visit or more.
THREE: Zona G
This area became one of our absolute favorites after we accidentally stumbled upon it when searching for a tattoo parlor we were referred to. It is a quaint little neighborhood with small boutique hotels, cafés, trendy restaurants and antique shops. We could not get enough of a tiny little place called El Deck. Open for breakfast and lunch, El Deck has ample choices on a menu filled with deliciousness. Healthy and hearty yet scrumptious is how I would describe it.
FOUR: Parque 93
Known amongst locals as the entertainment zone, Parque 93 is exactly that. Full most weekdays and packed on weekends this little area has so much to offer. Bars and restaurants surround a beautifully well kept park complete with a gazebo. It is also where our second most favorite restaurant is located. 100 Gramos is a trendy and hip restaurant inside the Click Clack Hotel, a beautiful boutique hotel in Parque 93. What makes this little restaurant special aside from the food of course? Every single dish served weighs no more than, yes you guessed it 100 grams. And wait till you see the bar. It looks like a scene out of the Nutty Professor. It is also called The Lab where the weirdest yet super delicious concoctions are mixed. And if that little tidbit didn’t make you book your ticket to Bogotá to experience this for yourself than take the elevator up to the top floor and have a drink at the Apache Bar. This bar should have been a rooftop bar but I guess due to the weather they closed it in. However, it is surrounded by glass and the view is spectacular. Grab a seat by the window and look out over Parque 93 drink in hand while swaying to lounge music played by the DJ.
FIVE: Los Andes Mall
Oh. My. GOD. Where to begin? The place is HUMONGOUS. If shopping is your thing you MUST, I repeat MUST visit the Andes mall. Floors of stores selling anything from shoes, accessories and home items to the latest fashion for men and women. It is a more upscale mall than my second favorite Titan Mall but what sets Andes apart is its location. It is situated smack in the middle of another entertainment and shopping area, Zona T. There is something for the foodie, the shopper and the alcoholic in you. You will not be disappointed. Try the Italian restaurant LUNA from the same owner as CAFE Amarti mentioned above. Another beautifully decorated restaurant where one can have a table for two inside a huge brick oven. Not to worry it looks like this oven may have baked its last meal some time ago. Take your time and explore Zona T before deciding where to eat, drink or party.
SIX: Andrés Carne de Res
This, by lack of other word, Restaurant deserves a post on its own. Located in Chia about an hour drive out of Bogotá, Andrés carne de Res is a one in a million restaurant/bar. There is seriously so much going on at the same time that you need more than one visit to experience it all. I advise you break bread into tiny little pieces and scatter them on the floor on your way to the bathroom because you can easily get lost in this mammoth of a restaurant. The Andrés in Chia is the first and largest of all of the other Andrés restaurants found in Bogotá and according to their website there is now one in New York City as well. It features about a dozen different open kitchens and prep areas each preparing their own specialty. It has a certain food court feel. Mix that with party atmosphere and funky décor and you have yourself a winner. The menu makes the bible laughable. Pages and pages of deliciousness. Then there is the general ambience. Super fun with great music and dancing and super sweet servers. Andrés in Chia is the most fun place I’ve been to in Bogotá. Don’t just go for the food. Go for the experience and reserve at least a day for this one and stay for lunch as well as dinner. Besides, it would be a pity to make that drive and only stay for an hour or two. Chia’s Andrés is happening on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only and locals party there until the wee hours of the morning. Other Andrés restaurants can be found in Los Andes Mall and Santa Barbara Mall as well as a few smaller versions scattered over Bogotá. Expect a line.
SEVEN: The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá
We all know latinos are very religious but in Zipaquirá, a little village 47 kilometers away from Bogotá they just took it a step further by creating a cathedral deep inside a salt mine. The Salt Cathedral has been declared Colombia’s first Wonder. It is truly amazing and has an almost magical feel to it. I’m a non practicing catholic but exploring this cathedral made me feel like that little chutch girl all over again. The respect you feel for those who made this wonder and the work it must have taken to build a cathedral 200 meters underground is awe-inspiring. The cathedral is fully functioning and you can attend mass while visiting but because it has no bishop it has no official status as cathedral in catholicism. Before reaching the cathedral itself you walk through the temple which contains three sections representing the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ. Wear comfortable hiking shoes, because of the salt the floor can get quite slippery. Also make sure you have a good flash on your camera. There are areas where you can hardly see what is in front of you.
EIGHT: Salto del Tequendama
I am always the one to explore and see more of whatever country we happen to be visiting, while my husband likes to stay in the safer and thus pretty areas filled with nice restaurants. It’s the snob in him but I still love him :-). I found out about the Tequendama falls one rainy day stuck in our hotel room, bored senseless and scrolling through my instagram account. Someone had posted a picture of this beautiful hotel and mentioned that the place was abandoned. I immediately looked it up and made a deal with my husband (I will spare you the details of said deal) to go to the falls. We called our driver Brayhan and the next day we were taking the hour and a half ride to the falls. I was not prepared for the foul stench. The river runs through the city of Bogotá and collects waste of its 9 million inhabitants on the way to the falls. Before reaching Bogotá this same river runs past a leather factory that utilizes the river as its personal dumping ground. The river is the most polluted in Colombia and its high levels of pollution earned it the 7th place on the most polluted rivers in the world chart. A huge improvement from number 2 where it was a few years ago. As if this was not awful enough the falls used to be the preferred site for suicides. A Virgin Mary statue has been erected just next to the fall to persuade would be jumpers not to jump.
Still the Tequendama falls and its surroundings remain breathtaking. The now abandoned hotel built in 1923 on the cliffs across from the 132 meter high falls is now a museum. Should you visit I recommend taking the tour to learn more about the Tequendama hotel, now a museum and the falls. The history is rich and very interesting.
There is nothing but some awful grill shacks next door offering dubious meats on not so clean grills so take some snacks with you. Don’t expect much in the winter months, the river practically dries up in December. As you can see in the pictures taken in February the waterfall was but a trickle. It still is a spectacular site, especially when the fog rolls in. I give it two thumbs up not only for its beauty but also for the work done by those restoring the Casa del Salto to it’s former glory. Much work is being done to clean the river as well. Hopefully one day soon it will get back to its pre-pollution state.
I learned of this phenomenon upon arriving to Bogotá for the first time. Traffic is always horrible in this city but our drive from the airport to the hotel, which should have taken half an hour took us a solid two. That’s a long time to make small talk with someone you just met. Our driver was awesome though and she explained to us that the traffic was worse than usual that day due to some of the main roads being closed off for ciclovía meaning cycleway. Apparently the government of Colombia takes pride in making sure the country’s people stay in shape and get a lot of fresh air exercise. Actually the origins of ciclovía are traced back to Bogotá, where the first event was set up back in 1974 in an effort to making the city more cycling safe. Since then other parts of the world have followed suit like Argentina, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Belgium and Australia. In Bogotá streets are closed off to automobiles for a few hours mostly in the weekends and on public holidays to allow the public to freely cycle, jog, walk, run or skate at their leisure. I instantly loved the idea and partook on a few occasions. I was walking and before I knew it I was jogging, something I have never felt the need to try before. Needless to say I spent the next day at the mall buying exercise gear and lots of spandex. The cyclovía left me super energized and wanting more. I am officially hooked.
TEN: Museo de Oro
Very touristy but worth a visit. The museum displays a beautiful selection of pre-Hispanic gold work. I must say it was less boring than I thought it would be and I was quite amazed by the way the indigenous cultures made jewelry back in their day. Very educational. I completely support a visit to the Museo de Oro. Take advantage of being in the city center while there and take a stroll through the streets of Candelaria.
For more information on Bogotá don’t think twice about contacting me: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m not yet an expert but I do love to help.
Until the next post. Thank you for reading. Don’t be selfish, share this with others by posting it on your facebook.
Remember to always Love, Laugh, Live and Travel,
Wow, Bogota like i’ve never seen it before, makes me wanna visit it 🙂
Mariana, it’s amazing. A must see.