A Weekend in Bogota

After living in the region of Antioquia for several months, a weekend in Bogota was refreshing, showing off a different side of life in Colombia. As our first venture to the capital, we took in a variety of experiences while understanding we would be returning for a more in-depth visit. Highlights included restaurants in La Macarena, a bike tour through the old city, and the unique Usaquen market.

The Basics
We flew direct from Medellin to Bogota on Avianca, and then Latam on the return flight.  In October 2016, the flights were about $280,000 COP round trip each. Both flights were delayed a bit, which seemed common. We were able to move to a different flight on Avianca since we didn’t check baggage (important travel tip here: carry only what you need most!

Arriving in Bogota was a simple process. We hopped in a cab outside the airport, and agreed on a price before departing. A one-way fare was around $27,000 COP.

Wanting to be near la Candelaria within a reasonable price range, we chose to stay at Ole Mi Casa Hostal, which had more of an apartment feel than a hostel. We appreciated the quiet, upstairs room which had all the basics we needed. The best part was staying in La Macarena, just walkably north of La Candelaria. This neighborhood carried its own vibe hosting some of the best restaurants.

Get Your Adventure On
One of our first stops was a walk through Carrera 7, a pedestrian street with vendors, performers, etc. We headed straight towards the Gold Museum (free on Sundays or $3,000 COP) to learn about influence of metals throughout the history of Latin America. Check their website for current exhibits.

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Produce market stop during our bike tour

Our afternoon was set into motion when we joined the group at Bogota Bike Tours (daily 10:30am and 1:30pm $35,000 COP). Our guide took us on a gentle ride through the old city area of La Candeleria and beyond. The tour included a stop at a local market to try typical fruits, a quick lesson in Tejo (like firecracker horseshoe, check out Tejo in Medellin), graffiti stops, passing through quirky museums, and a back tour of coffee production. We pulled back into town around sunset, right when bars and restaurants were beginning to wake up.

In Bogota, we had our choices of markets to wander through on a Sunday morning. We stopped in for a quick browse through the San Alejo Mercado de las Pulgas, located off the main Carrera 7. At this flea market, we noticed a variety of shops with antiques, used clothing, jewelry, and tools.

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Mercado de la Pulgas de Usaquen

Outside of the downtown area is the large market in Usaquen. While it contains some flea market items, we mostly enjoyed the local artwork, crafts, and specialty food. We spent the rest of the day wandering through aisles and aisles of unique stalls. Highly recommended!

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Another activity near the city is taking the funicular (tram) or teleferico (cable car) up to top of Monserrat. We went the morning before our flight left, which provided a great daytime view. I imagine the sunset would be beautiful from up here as well. Although we took the tram, there is also an option to walk up instead. You may see locals doing this as a type of pilgrimage hike.

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Eats and Drinks
As I mentioned, we stuck around La Macarena for most of our meals, unable to stray away from the reliably creative cuisine. At La Taperia, we enjoyed quality sangria with reasonably priced tapas influenced by various regions of Spain. Down the street at Elmat, we sampled tastes of Indian, Mediterranean, and Turkish cuisine. We were surprised at the prices despite the quality of fresh ingredients and original dishes.

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Turkish appetizer at Elmat

Another favorite was Lamonferrina. This unassuming restaurant, with barely a sign in front, could be easily missed. A interesting layout drew us in, as we noticed the kitchen took up the downstairs. We guided ourselves upstairs to the seating area and chose from the menu on the wall. Their homemade Italian food is satisfying and nothing but quality.

If you’re looking to go out, La Candelaria is good for grabbing a cheap local drink and hanging out in a crowd within the plazas. We noticed groups of locals, expats, and tourists around these areas, such as Plaza de Bolivar. We wandered through the popular Chorro de Queveda for a sample of chicha, a fermented corn drink.

We also wandered through the neighborhood Nueva Granada. On Sunday it was quiet, but we found several nice hotels and quiet spots to grab drinks and desert.

What Next?
For a future trip to Bogota, we would look into doing a day hike with Bogota Bike Tours. We would also check out the recommended Andres Carne de Res, which is supposed to be wild for a night of food, drinking, and dancing. We loved the Usaquen neighborhood and would consider getting a hostel there next time as well.

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