My first trip to Colombia was in 2009. I went on a whim and wound up in the heart of what remains one of my favorite cities in the world: Bogotá. It’s the largest city in Colombia, but despite its size, Bogotá makes you feel at home. The people are some of the most welcoming I’ve ever met, the neighborhoods are quaint and inviting, and the social scene is booming.
With direct flights to Bogotá from major U.S. cities like New York City, Los Angeles, and Miami, a vacation to this capital city is easy. But with so much to see and do, you might be a bit overwhelmed. Here are some highlights from my two trips to Bogotá, Colombia.
This is Bogotá’s oldest neighborhood, built in 1580. I could walk around its colorful cobblestoned streets for hours. As you meander along, make sure you find your way to two of La Candelaria’s most popular squares—Plaza del Chorro de Quevedo, where you will be treated to some of Bogotá’s many vibrant murals, and Plaza de Bolivar, where the cathedral of Bogotá is a must-see. Most of the shops and restaurants in La Candelaria are family-run and have been there for decades. For a traditional lunch, order “ajiaco” at any local restaurant. It’s a hearty chicken-and-vegetable soup that’s delicious and helps to keep you warm when the temperature drops, as it often does in this high-altitude city.
Fernando Botero is Colombia’s most famous artist and one of the most well-known artists in all of Latin America. His voluptuous sculptures can be found all over the world, but to experience his work in a more intimate setting, visit the Museo Botero. The large collection of his paintings and sculptures is housed in a beautifully restored colonial home that was once the office of the city’s archbishop. The best part? Admission to the museum is free!
Viewfinder Tip: There are many nonstop flights to Bogotá from major cities like NYC, LA, and Miami, making it an ideal place to start your Colombian adventure!
Take the cable car over 10,000 feet above sea level and you will reach Monserrate, Bogotá’s popular mountaintop pilgrimage. While you can see the church perched in the sky from many points in Bogotá, you can’t truly appreciate its beauty until you see it up close. This summit is also one of the most breathtaking views of Bogotá, where you can really appreciate the scale of the city.
Andrés Carne de Res
If you imagine Cirque du Soleil, a Halloween party, and a fine steakhouse all under one roof, that’s Andrés Carne de Res. It’s one of Colombia’s most famous eateries and hangouts, where people come every weekend to experience “la rumba,” or party. There are two locations—one in Bogotá and the original location in Chia, a small town about a 45-minute drive from Bogotá. I prefer Chia. You’ll be wowed by interactive performances exploding throughout the sprawling space and eccentric characters pulling you out of your seat for spontaneous dance parties while you dine on some of Colombia’s most succulent steak.
When I was first told that Bogotá is a bike-friendly city, I thought it was a joke. Some of the streets look like they could be in San Francisco! But, actually, Bogotá has one of the most elaborate networks of bike paths in all of Colombia, and one of the most impressive in the world. Sundays are the best day to cycle in Bogotá as they host the Ciclovia, a weekly cycling event in which miles of the city’s streets are closed off to cars so cyclists and joggers can take in the beauty of Bogotá.
What’s your favorite city in South America?