A capital city of contrasts and diversity, Bogotá

Michelle Jiménez | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Bogotá is located in the Andean region of Colombia, 2.600 meters 'closer to the stars'. It is the biggest city in Colombia and the country's capital, with around seven million inhabitants. Lots of people from all over the country and some from outside Colombia move to Bogotá to either study in one of the universities located there or to work. Therefore a good part of its population is actually not locals, and as a result, very diverse. 

As you could expect from a big city, Bogotá has a lot to offer.  Although it is modern and cosmopolitan, it still manages to maintain some of its colonial charms. 

© iStock/ Tiago_Fernandez

Located in the center of the city, we find 'La Candelaria', the place where Bogotá was founded in 1538. This is definitely an area that you should visit during your stay in Bogotá. Walk around the streets and admire the beautiful traces left of the colonial architecture. Visit "la Calle del Embudo," which is called like that as it is so narrow that it seems like a funnel. Find impressive graffitis around and stop in one of the places on that street that offer 'Chicha,' a traditional drink that all locals love, made out of fermented maize. You can get the basic one or add some extra fruity flavor to it. 

There are also some interesting museums that you can visit in the area: Museo Casa de la Moneda, Museo de Botero, and Museo del Oro. The first one offers some historical exhibitions. The second one, which is named after one of the greatest Colombian artists, Fernando Botero, exhibits interesting pieces of art, and the last one is also full of historical pieces. In the middle of it all, you will find the central square Plaza Simón Bolivar, named after our liberator. In there, you will find the main church, the Palace of Justice, and the Casa de Nariño, which is the Presidential house, named after Colombia's first president Antonio Nariño. You can go online and sign up for a guided tour of the place, where they show you around and tell you a bit about the history as well. Tours are available in Spanish and English.

Right there in the center, you can also find the road to go up to Cerro de Monserrate, a hill located on the Andes eastern mountain range, 3152 meters above sea level. The views that you can get from up there are astounding; it is like a tiny town, so you do not only go up to enjoy the great views of the city but can also walk around exploring the nice and beautiful setting. You can find some food stalls, crafts shops, and a chapel. Sunset watching is a nice activity to do up there, and in December, there is a beautiful Christmas decoration. There are three different ways of going up: The first one is walking, many people do that as a way of exercising and others as a religious deed, especially on Sundays. It takes about 50 minutes, and it is open only at specific hours, so take this into account when planning on visiting. The other two options are funicular and the cable car, also with set operating hours and a fee to ride in them. 

Bogotá is so big that it is divided into North, Center, and South. The north goes from around the 200th street to the zero one, where the south side starts and then goes up to the 80th south street. 

Mercado de las Pulgas de Usaquén

A place to visit on this side of town is Parque de la 93, a beautiful square that makes the perfect spot just to sit and chill while reading or watching people walk by. Bring your kids to the lovely playground, or have a picnic. The area is also surrounded by popular and excellent restaurants, coffee shops, and bars.  Another place, a bit further north, is the flea market that operates on Sundays in a part of town called Usaquén; this is the Mercado de las Pulgas de Usaquén. This is an adorable way of spending a Sunday morning, doing some shopping, or just looking around the many stalls where you can find typical crafts, handmade clothes, and jewelry, coffee from the region, and different types of art amongst other local products. There are also food offers and mouthwatering desserts that you can get while there. 

Bogotá also has its own craft beer, and you can find it at the Bogotá Beer Company (BBC)  bars. Other than beer, they offer also delicious finger food and have sort of a pub vibe. Each beer has different characteristics and is named after some of the main neighborhoods in the city.

© Markpittimages / iStock

Plaza Paloquemao

Two other places that you should visit to get more of a taste and feel of the city are a marketplace and an urban park. Plaza Paloquemao is an emblematic and traditional marketplace created in 1946; it is one of the most popular and important ones because of the variety of products. It offers al the typical products like fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, and fish, and it is also the biggest flower center, with around 800 sellers offering a variety of about 1600 flowers' types. A popular activity is to take an 'exotic fruits tour' where they show tourists around, talking about the different products in this place. They also give them the chance to taste some of the most typical and exotic fruits from the region.  There are also places to buy and eat typical Colombian dishes. 

 Parque Simón Bolivar

If you like outdoor activities, you will enjoy Parque Simón Bolivar, a 113 hectares urban park where locals go to walk or run, to fly kites, to have picnics, just to sit and relax, practice yoga, etc. It has an 11 hectares lake, where you can ride some of the pedal boats. There are 16 kilometers of connected roads for pedestrians or bikes, also toilets and food stalls. It also has a place for events, and some of the biggest concerts take place there—races and activities on the weekends such as aerobics or smaller concerts are also often held here. 

Trying to tell you all about the history, places, and activities you can enjoy while in Bogotá in only one-piece, is just not fair. But after reading this, you should have a very good idea of the main stuff that you should not miss out and a huge motivation to come and explore. Have the best of times in the capital city of contrasts and diversity,  Bogotá!

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