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    A Quick and Dirty Guide To Visiting Bogota Colombia

    A Quick and Dirty Guide To Visiting Bogota Colombia

    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

    When picturing Colombia, there are typically two themes that come to mind. The first is that of drug lords, dangerously ruling the land (though Colombia is a much safer destination than it was even just a few years ago.)

    The second is of the beautiful seaside town of Caratenga, one of Colombia’s most popular tourist destinations. But one place that doesn't often come to mind — at least as a place to spend a lot of time in — is the capital city of Bogota. Yet we believe this vibrant city warrants serious exploration.

    If you are headed anywhere in Colombia (or even to other destinations in South America) you may find yourself with some time to venture outside Bogota’s El Dorado International Airport — we certainly hope you do. If so, here is a quick and dirty guide to discovering the best of Bogota, Colombia.

    Getting Around

    Bogota nightlights

    Photo via Flickr/Tijis Zwinkels

    Bogota Is Big

    With a population of around 8.8 million people, Mexico City and New York City are the only North American cities larger than Bogota. It is a metropolis mixed with old and new due to rapid growth and modernization in recent years.

    bogota city view hdr

    Photo via Flickr/Mariusz Kluzniak

    The city is constructed in a sloppy sort of grid pattern. Carreras (streets) run parallel to the mountains from South to North. Carrera numbers increase from East to West, away from the mountains. Calles cross the Carreras and run from East to West.

    bogota at night

    Photo via Flickr/Mariusz Kluzniak 



    Photo via Flickr/Claudio

    Even though its smaller domestic rival, Medellin, has a highly efficient metro system, Bogota is all buses. The so-called Transmilenio, Bogota's rapid bus service, are red buses with their own lanes on the road which run to virtually every corner of the city. They are the most common means of transportation and are relatively affordable. The rapid bus service is typically jam-packed with students and laborers during rush hour, so plan your itinerary accordingly. It is not recommended to hail cabs from the street. Instead, call a registered cab to get around the city or use an app like EasyTaxi.

    What To See

    La Candelaria

    True Colors of La Candelaria

    Photo via Flickr/Diego F. Garcia P.

    The 'Hood'

    Photo via Flickr/Diego F. Garcia P.

    Officially the first neighborhood in Bogota, the capital city was founded here in 1538. The colorful neighborhood is full of cobblestone streets and buildings that are hundreds of years old.

    Bolivar Square




    Arguably the heart of Bogota, the massive square is a beautiful and very popular gathering place. Expect to see food vendors, street performers and even farmers offering llama rides for children.


    cable car

    Photo via Flickr/Liz 

    The mountain of Monserrate is not only a valuable landmark for getting around the city; a trip to the top via the cable car is also a perfect way to get a real feel for the scale of this urban center. The cable car is 14.000 pesos per ticket before 5:30 p.m., when it then becomes 17.000 pesos (or around $4.50 and $5.50 respectively).

    Salt Cathedral

    If you have some time and are looking for a unique day trip, we recommend checking out the Zipaquira Salt Cathedral. Accessible by bus from Bogota, this astonishing attraction takes you through a working church that is built 650 feet underground in a salt mine. Tours leave every 15 minutes and are offered in English and Spanish.

    Zipaquira Salt Cathedral Angel Statue

    Zipaquira Salt Cathedral

    Zipaquira Salt Cathedral The Creation of Adam

    Where to stay

    Bogota boasts every sort of accommodation from Airbnb rentals to elegant 5-star business hotels. We recommend staying somewhere close to Bolivar Square so you don’t have to worry about long commutes to the touristy section of town. Alternatively, La Candeleria is a lovely and safe place to base your stay.

    Do note that neighborhoods can quickly change from safe to “sketchy.” Ask your hotel or apartment rental where it is appropriate to walk, and when you should take public transportation

    Have you ever visited Bogota? What tips would you recommend for visitors?

More Colombia


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A Cruising Couple A Cruising Couple's Column

A Cruising Couple Dan and Casey are the two lovebirds, world travelers and adventurers extraordinaire behind the popular travel blog A Cruising Couple - adventure travel with a dash of class. Their stories and photographs feature that special place where experiential and stylish travel meet. Find out how you can spend less money, live more adventurously and travel more luxuriously on their blog,
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