Bogotá, a colonial-cosmopolitan city full of “pasión”

Bogotá is Colombia’s beating heart. Point of convergence of people from all over the country, is diverse and multicultural and it mix modern buildings as others that evoke its colonial past, steeped in sophisticated urban cool. It is green thanks to its parks and the eastern hills that dominate the sanctuaries of Monserrate and Guadalupe, but also have the color of the buildings and the newly developed Street Art (thanks to Justin Biber, believe me!).


Bogotá is the capital and largest city of the country. Also the main financial, cultural, administrative and urban center. The city’s cultural epicenter is La Candelaria, the historic downtown where most travelers are. Here, a combination of beautiful preserved colonial buildings, houses, museums, restaurants, hotels, bars, churches and convents.

The city’s “dangerous” sides sit south and southwest, where barrios continues to battle against drugs and crime. In the north (Usaquén, Chapinero, etc.), you’ll find boutique hotels, fancy restaurants, and well -heeled locals piling into chic entertainment districts such as the Zona Rosa, Zona T and Zona G. It has a wide cultural offer represented a lot of museums, theaters and libraries, which has been given the recognition of the “Athens of South America.”

What are the most popular attractions among the backpackers?

It seems that Bogotá is just getting touristic — for real, when compared to other capitals of South America (Buenos Aires, Santiago or even La Paz). You do not see many tourists walking around, despite of La Calendaria. But the city has everything to keep one entertained for weeks: beautiful landscapes, city tours, museums, shoppings, music, galleries, local market, GREAT AND CHEAP food and Buena Rumba (colombian way to say good party).

In the begging, get around can be tricky because the city is organized by numbered Calles and Carreras (streets and squares, kind of), but taking public transport (Transmilenio or the small buses called busetas) will help you get at the most popular places.

Furthermore, almost everyone explore the surroundings, Andrés Carne de Res at Chía, the Guatavita Lagoon and Salt Cathedral at Zipaquirá.

Bogotá Botanical Garden

What are the “must see/do” attractions?

  • Gold Museum (biggest museum in Colombia)
  • Botero Museum
  • Monteserrate Hill
  • Bolívar Square
  • Hippie Square
  • Bogotá Botanical Garden
  • Bogotá Cathedral
  • Colpatria Tower
  • Simon Bolivar Park
  • Colón Theather
  • La Calendaria, La Macarena, Usaquén (sunday) and Teusaquillo neighborhood
  • Zona Rosa, Zona G and Zona T
  • Centro Cultural Gabriel García Márquez
  • Andres Carne de Res for a unforgettable night (restaurant/bar/party)
Ajiaco (typical soup at Bogotá)

What are the best restaurants for backpackers? What those restaurants has to offer?

Colombia will make you very happy by satisfying your stomach for a good price. In Bogotá there are plenty of options to have a good meal, all types of cuisine, in such a way that you will see neighborhoods famous about that: Zona G (Gourmet), for example.

For me the best options are: Hotel Casa Galeria (breakfast), Crepes and Waffles (OMG, why they’ve invented this?! LOL), Empanadas, Pan de Yuca, Almojábanas, Arepas or Obleas at the street, Andrés Carne de Res (Colombian experience), Coffee Shop at Gold Museum for a real colombian coffee, El Mejor Ajiaco del Mundo or Gold Museum Restaurant (Colombian cuisine), La Puerta Falsa (for a typical chocolate drink with cheese), Sant Just (french cuisine with Colombian portions) and Pimiento Cucina Italiana.

What are the best nightclubs? What did you specially liked about them?

La Rumba (the party) at Bogotá is pretty good! Andres Carnes de Res is a must go. Its four floors divided by: hell, purgatory, earth and heaven will make all types of backpackers (and Colombians) dance and have lots of fun! Other good options are: Theatron (biggest gay club in Latin America, great music and huge place), Disco Jaguar (hipster place and people), Armando Records (International and latin music) and La Villa (and its famous Gringo Tuesday).

What are the best bars? What did you specially liked about them?

Bogotá has good bars everywhere, but the best ones are concentrated at Zona T and Chapinero neighborhood (Zona G). There you’ll find streets full of young people, foreigners, bars and clubs, is a must go in Bogotá. Some of them are: Seis Manos (hipster), Doña Anita, Doña Ceci, Estatua Rota (craft beer).

There are two franchises that are very good and got very popular among foreigners: Bogotá Beer Company (for a Happy Hour or night long) and The Pub.

Once you are in Colombia, you should try the Colombian most famous drinks: Agua ardiente, Chicha and Colombian beer.

What are the coolest places around the city you’ve visited?

There are two places that I reaaaally like: Monserrate Hill and La Candelaria. The first one shows the immensity of Bogotá from above and it is impressive. Moreover, you can try many delicious dishes up there. While the other teachs one about Colombian history, culture and politics.

But definitely, the coolest thing in Bogotá was not place I’ve visited, it is what I would call “The Food Crawl”. By eating exotic fruits, local dishes, street food, great restaurants you will understand more about Colombia’s magical realism. A mix of flavors, ingredients, prepared with love, happiness and “pasión. What I liked the most is because each place I was ordering some food, there were some kind person with a smile and that changes everything in your experience.

Where backpackers usually continue after the place you’ve been?

Bogotá is basically in the center of Colombia and with the low-cost Viva Colombia Airlines, is quite easy to south or north. Most likely destinations are: Medellin, Cali, Cartagena, Santa Marta and Barranquila.

From where they are usually coming?

We will see people from all over the world, but there are a bigger concentration of people from: Germany, Netherlands, US, Argentina, Mexico, France, UK and Brazil.

What did you feel was missing in the city? What could make your visit to a perfect one?

In general, Bogotá does not miss a thing: nice people, good food and great music. It has beautiful landscapes, city tours, museums, shopping, galleries, libraries, local market, great food and parties. The only thing that killed me was the traffic, it is terrible. Others options of transportation in the city are really needed.

If Selina will set a hostel there — how do you imagine it?

I imagine a party-cultural hostel in a colonial house at the hipster and trendy neighborhood of Chapinero. With a gorgeous garden, co-working space, a living room for movies and games and a bar/restaurant. Offering outdoors activities during the day, bike tours or rental for example (through an agency or the hostel itself) and parties, dinners, games, night tours during the night, for example: Colombian night (food, local artists, music and drinks).

Eventually, please write in your own words your opinion and describe your personal experience.

Colombia és pasión” (Colombia is passion) was a national campaign that aimed to position the country as a brand, and it describes exactly how I feel here. I felt in love with the city, the landscapes and its citizens. I felt in love with the food and music. I feel welcome and happy to be here. And this is everything I wished for during a trip. The city can be crazy and tough sometimes, but once you are connected with a place those things aren’t so important anymore.

Cheers,

Ariadne Nardeli (Brazilian Backpacker Researcher for Selina Hostel)

Additional Information:

Population: +7 millions (city) and +9 millions (metropolitan area). The fourth most populous city in South America

Official language: Spanish

Currency: Peso

Religion: Colombian constitution guarantees freedom and equality of religion, but the majority of Colombians are Roman Catholic.

Time-zone: UTC-5

HDI (2010): 0.965 (very high)

Official Website: www.bogota.gov.co / www.colombia.travel/