Bogotá. The city is a perfect place to visit for those looking for a spot packed with culture, cuisine, and cool people. Here’s a guide to getting the most out of a trip to Colombia’s city in the mountains.
What to Do…
From the moment you arrive in the city, it’s practically impossible to not see any graffiti. It’s EVERYWHERE, and that’s partly due to incredibly lax laws towards the form of art. Many artists come to Colombia for this very reason.
Although you’ll get a free tour of your own by just walking a block or two in any direction, there’s a tour that will give you an in-depth look at the street art, that’s actually run and guided by street artists and people directly involved in the Bogotá urban art scene.
The best part about it? It’s free (outside of any cash you’ll give the tour guide — and you should definitely tip). You’ll quickly learn that really dope things being free is commonplace in Bogotá.
Another free tour worth checking out is the Beyond Colombia walking tour. Meeting outside of the Gold Museum twice a day, the two-hour tour will cover some of the same ground as the graffiti tour, but also give you tips on where to find the best coffee, where to find some of the cultural spots such as the local museums and architecture of interest. You’ll also get a chance to experience Chicha, a drink locally made from fermented corn and sugar or honey, and sometimes pineapple as well. This is definitely one of the first activities you’ll want to do upon arriving to the city, as it’ll give you a blueprint for other things to do while you’re there.
Bogotá is full of cultural activities that are either free or pretty close to it. The Gold Museum has more than 30,000 pieces of gold artifacts and 20 thousand pieces of ceramics, textiles, etc… from pre-Columbian cultures—and it costs about $1 (USD) to enter.
TRAVEL HACK: The Gold Museum is closed on Mondays, but it’s free on Sundays.
Bank of the Republic’s museum complex is situated in Bogotá’s historic La Candelaria district. The complex features art from Colombian artists such as Fernando Botero, permanent and temporary installations that cover all types of art, and (in a complete shock to me) several pieces from Picasso, Chegall, and Salvador Dalí. You’ll probably never get as close to a Picasso painting as you would in Bogotá. Don’t forget that entry to these museums is free. You can spend a day hanging out with Picassos without spending a peso, courtesy of the Columbian government.
In addition to the art museums, you also have access to the Casa de la Moneda, which gives you a chance to learn the history of Colombian currency, and the Museo Nacional. There’s also a massive library and musical instrument museum directly across the street.
Book a driver and catch a ride to Zipaquirá to visit the Catedral de Sal. The fully functioning Roman Catholic church is 180 meters underground, built within the tunnels of a salt mine.
TRAVEL HACK: If you go on Sunday, prepare to be among the hundreds of others who attend service there.
Take cable cars or funicular trains to the top of Cerro de Monserrate for an unobstructed, gorgeous view of the entire city. The mountaintop is the perfect place for a panoramic photo of Bogotá.
Where to Eat…
Once you’ve finished satisfying your palate for culture, make some room on your plate for some actual food. Any place that is a favorite of Anthony Bourdain should be at the top of your list. Located in La Candelaria, this place is known for its humongous tamales and ajiaco, a traditional chicken soup. This is hands-down one of the best meals in Bogotá.
Where to Party…
No visit to Bogotá is complete without a night out at Andrés, the restaurant/night club that keeps the party going all night long. Do yourself a favor and order the famous grilled chicken and some of the strong drinks from the bar. It’s hard not to join in on the fun, as you’ll be surrounded by locals having a great time, no matter what day of the week you decide to visit.
TRAVEL HACK: If you have the time, make the 45 minute drive to the Andrés located in Chia, where the party is like no other. If not, the Andrés located in Bogotá’s Zona T (or Zona Rosa, depending upon who you ask) is just as great of a time.
Kent Johnson is the co-founder of Black & Abroad, a brand focused on international travel for the black community. Learn more about the brand at weareblackandabroad.com and on Instagram at @blackandabroad.