Although I recently traveled to Colombia and posted about our days in Cartagena and Medellìn, I’d been holding off posting about Bogotá for one very important reason. The first thing any tourist does in Bogota is to head directly to the famous and historic Candelaria district. Home to the Plaza Bolívar, the Museo del Oro (the gold museum), and some of the most vibrant street art in the world, the district is bold, colorful and always filled with people. Although it’s a popular place to stay for backpackers and hostelers, it’s lacking in nicer accommodations. This doesn’t prevent the tourists from flocking here and the streets are always filled with strolling people at any hour of the day. Anne and I had read about an off-the-beaten path hair salon-cum-bar-cum-boutique where no one is formally trained and you can’t specify what you want done with your style. Of course it piqued our interest. After taking an uber down to the neighborhood, it was one of the first places we happened upon randomly. Anne had just settled into the chair to get her haircut when Nancy Trejos walked in and struck up a conversation with us. Nancy, a travel writer for USA Today, was doing a story on Bogotá for the paper and interviewed us about why we were there. This past week, my photos (and a quote from me) were featured in her story for the newspaper. You can see the full article via this link.
Here’s some of my favorite images from our stay and my recommendations on what to do with a day or two in this vibrant South American city.
STAY: There are airbnb’s all over Bogota and you can’t really go wrong. For the foodies, you’ll want to be in Chapinero. In addition to an airbnb, we also found ourselves at the Hotel Rosales Plaza, which was quite delightful, reasonably priced, had a huge bathroom (bonus for us after weeks in airbnb apartments) and wonderfully located in the Rosales sector.
EAT: Bogotá is going through a culinary gourmet explosion and the city is filled with incredible options around every corner.
- Abasto was one of our favorite brunches during our entire Colombian trip. The menu is creative, laden with egg dishes, and the coffee is exceptional.
- Our tasting menu meal at Matiz was the first of our trip and one of the most memorable. It was a veritable bargain compared to similar meals in the states and we both left incredibly full. The chef came out afterwards and thanked us for coming, in addition to asking for our feedback. From start to finish, this was a stand out experience and is not to be missed.
- Salvo Patria is a perfect stop for lunch or dinner. The inventive menu offers a rotating list of changing specials based on local ingredients creating a hip spot the locals frequent to linger over long lunches.
- Our meal at Rafael Osterling was one of our other stand out favorites in Colombia. The setting itself is incredible. Be sure to make reservations ahead of time and if you’re lucky, you can get seated on the outdoor patio. The Tiradito (a Peruvian way of preparing fish) is outstanding and the burrata and ravioles are not to be missed.
- By the end of our trip, we were desperate for some comfort food and both of us always gravitate towards Italian for this. Our meal at Julia Pizzeria was exceptional. Seated at the bar, we met an awesome young man from Los Angeles who had recently moved to Bogota for work. We shared salads, pasta and pizza over a lingering wine filled meal with him.
- The Bogota Beer Company is a well known favorite here with locations in 12 different Bogota neighborhoods. You are certainly never far from one of their outposts, no matter where you are.
- The Irish Pub in Candelaria may seem like a strange place to make a stop while you’re in Colombia, but the patio is incredibly inviting and always filled with locals after they get off work.
- Bogota has become world renown for it’s street art thanks to the decriminalization of the art. When graffiti artist Diego Felipe Becerra was shot and killed in 2011 by a police officer, the current mayor took charge and helped turn the culture of the art around by offering up public walls and creating safe spaces. Today, businesses and artists work together to create vibrant murals on the outside of businesses. The Bogota Graffiti Tour was started by local graffiti artist CRISP as a way to help tourists and locals alike understand and appreciate the growing art. The tour itself is free but the docents work off tips, so make sure to bring some cash.
- Feeling brave? Let one of the self-described “hair assassins” at La Peluqueria bring out your essence.
- Every Sunday, the majority of major thoroughfares are shut down to become bikeways for the locals to get out and spend the day with their families. You’ll see walkers, cyclists, skateboarders and rollerbladers parade past for most of the day! Referred to as Ciclovia, you can learn more about where it takes place and how to participate here.
- If you are feeling energetic, you can hike up the 1.5 km steep steps to Monserrate, which overlooks the city from 10,000 feet up. If you’re feeling lazy, catch the cable car out of the Candelaria.