I recently returned from a short visit to Bogota, Colombia – I was there for less than 48 hours. My friends and family all asked: what could one possibly do with less than two days in a city of that size? You’d be surprised. Despite its reputation, Bogota has a lot to offer the traveler who is looking for a taste of culture, history and a little bit of Latin flavor. After exploring many different areas of the city, here’s how I would plan one perfect day in Bogota.
The Museo del Oro (“Gold Museum”) in downtown Bogota is home to the largest collection of pre-Hispanic gold in the world – more than 50,000 pieces. It’s a great spot to learn about the history of Colombia while ogling some stunning gold jewelry. There is information in Spanish and in English and it’s a great spot for kids as well. Closed on Mondays; admission is US $2.
From the museum, walk across the street to the market which sells a variety of Colombian souvenirs including colorful hammocks, textiles and emeralds. Colombia is the land of emeralds and there is every shape and size from which to choose. But you don’t have to be a millionaire to shop here; tiny emeralds can be purchased for as little as US $3.
Spend your afternoon seeing the more contemporary side of Bogota on foot. Sample arepas and fresh fruit juices at Chibchombia in La Macarena (entrees are $16-$25; No web site; Cra 4 A # 26D-90) and explore some of the nearby bars and restaurants that are attracting a crowd of hip, young professionals.
Then wander among the colorful Colonial houses in the neighborhood called La Candelaria, which is home to a number of artists. Look out for dramatic street art on Calle Embudo, and follow your nose into some of the many local markets.
Finish off your afternoon with an energy boost courtesy of E&D Cafe. They offer a wide selection of coffees or coffee tasting classes in English and Spanish where you can learn to identify the flavors of Colombia’s best blends. Coffee also makes a great souvenir.
A visit to Bogota isn’t complete without a visit to Andres Carne del Res. A popular spot for locals and tourists, this enormous restaurant morphs from steakhouse to dance party over the course of the night. The food is good but the quirky decor and the roving bands of musicians will end your one day in Bogota on an unforgettable note.
WHERE TO STAY AND GETTING AROUND
The Bogota Airport is pretty hectic, so make a quick trip to Hotel Avia 93 a chic, new hotel with only 40 rooms and a great restaurant. Special weekend rates start at $110 a night. Be sure to visit the rooftop deck, and walk through the local park (known as “Parque 93”), just a block away.
It’s worth noting that security is still an issue for Americans in Bogota and the US Department of State recently issued a Travel Warning for travel to Colombia. Review this notice and take extra precautions while you’re there: hire a car and driver through your hotel if you can, avoid walking alone at night, and stay in well-trafficked tourist areas. Do not carry cash or valuables in outside pockets and be mindful of your surroundings.
More information on travel to Bogota is available here.
This trip was sponsored by Proexport Colombia.