Bogotá



Bogotá, officially Bogotá D.C, is the capital of Colombia. One of the world's mega-cities, Bogotá is a global center for finance, politics, culture, shopping, media, and entertainment. The city is a vibrant metropolis with thousands of things to do, see, and discover, including world-class museums and restaurants, glittering skyscrapers and vast financial centers, 500-year-old mansions, palaces, and historic churches. There are over 75 performing arts venues spread throughout the city, including the renowned Teatro Colon. For those who love outdoor activities, Bogotá is home to the Parque Metropolitano Simon Bolivar, the largest urban park in the Americas, and has over 500 km of urban bike paths. The city is always awake, always alive, and most of all, always full of energy.

Boroughs[edit]

One of the planet's most largest cities, Bogotá is divided into 20 localities or boroughs (localidades), and every visit to this city should include at least four or five of them, depending on the purpose and extent of your travel. The district division in this guide partly deviates from the official division.

The "must-sees" include La Candelaria, Chapinero-Zona T, the Zona Rosa, Teasaquillo-Ciudad Salitre, and Usaquen. A little extra time to explore La Macarena in Santa Fé, Parque 93, and Usaquén's colonial center would be time well spent.

  La Candelaria
La Candelaria is Bogota's majestic historic district, filled with Neoclasical and Neo-Gothic mansions and palaces, historical museums, 500-year old plazas and churches, and various government institutions. La Candelaria is also a hot spot for the performing arts, with various theaters and opera houses.
  Santa Fé-Los Mártires
Santa Fe is the seat to glittering skyscrapers, historic museums, and century-old churches. It includes the great restaurant area La Macarena and the famed Centro Internacional, one of Bogota's largest financial centers, built in the 1950s, which has wide avenues, high-rise glass skyscrapers, and the National Museum of Colombia, one of the largest in Latin America. The La Merced neighborhood is like a little enclave of London in Bogota, with Georgian and Tudor-style mansions that have been converted into museums and shops.
  Chapinero-Zona G
Chapinero is one of the most expensive and elegant districts in the city. It features high-rise residential buildings, historic mansions, extensive parks, financial centers, and the largest dining district in Bogota. Chapinero is also where the majority of foreign embassies are located.
  Zona Rosa
Every great South American city has a Zona Rosa, and Bogota's Zona Rosa is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in all of Latin America. An area of five-star hotels, luxury boutiques and Michelin-starred restaurants, the Zona Rosa is one of the largest shopping, entertainment, and dining districts in Latin America. It is the seat of luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Ferrari, and Rolex. As well as being the home of some of Bogota's most famous and prized hotels, including the distinguished Four Seasons Casa Medina.
  Parque 93
One of the city’s major fine-dining and shopping districts, along with the Zona Rosa and the Zona G, but more laid-back. The park is surrounded by high-rise buildings and is host to major festivals and events year-round, such as the Bogota Eats Festival and the Rock al Parque, Latin America's largest rock festival.
  Usaquén
Usaquén is a populous and affluent neighborhood with high-end shopping malls, luxury boutiques, vast financial centers, multiple golf and country clubs, and hundreds of fine dining restaurants — and a beautiful colonial area.
  Teusaquillo-Salitre
At the geographical center of the city, this neighborhood is home to the impressive campus of the National University of Colombia, the imposing fortress of the U.S. Embassy, and the tremendous Parque Metropolitano Simon Bolivar, as well as the majority of the city's Olympic sports venues and stadiums.
  Northwest
The massive northwestern borough of Suba is the most populous district in the capital district, posseing over 1 million and half inhabitants. Key destinations in Suba include the Suba hills; the Niza neighborhood, a planned residential district built in the 1950s with English architecture; the Lagartos neighborhood; the colonial center; the Parque La Colina; as well as the Modernist Julio Mario Santo Domingo theater.
  West
The West includes Engativa, Fontibon, Kennedy, and Usme. ​​It is largely inhabited by middle- and working-class families. Some renowned places to visit in the west are the Maloka Interactive Museum in Engativa, the famed Tunal Metropolitan Park, and the Gran Estacion Shopping Mall. There are many hotels from global chains close to the El Dorado International Airport, which is also in this part of town.
  South
The South is a large area where the majority of the city's low- and middle-income residents live. One of the main tourist attractions is the Paramo de Sumapaz, the largest moorland ecosystem in the world. Other key sights include the Metro Cable public transportation system, the Mayor shopping mall, and the Mundo Aventura theme park.

Understand[edit]

Bogotá
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With a population of 15 million people, Bogota DC sits approximately 2,640 m (8,660 feet) above sea level in the Colombian Andes region. Its climate is cool year-round. Orientation is relatively easy, as the mountains located in the eastern parts of the city, are generally visible from most parts of the city.

Asides from being one of Latin America's great capital cities, Bogota is also one of the most modern, multicultural, and cosmopolitan cities on Earth. To understand the sheer size of this vast metropolis, consider that Mexico City and New York City are the only North American cities larger than the capital district. Bogota is the second most populous Spanish speaking city in the World and the fifth largest metropolitan area in the Western hemisphere.

Bogota is a city of many layers, and as such it offers a one-of-a-kind experience to its visitors. Described by the New York Times as one of the world's “greatest cities”', prepare to find a hectic balance between the new and the old; the avant-garde, the modern, and the historic. Encounter 500-year-old plazas overshadowed by towering skyscrapers. Find peaceful tree-lined bicycle routes running through the center dividers of 8-lane avenues. From internationally recognized universities and educational institutions to being one of the globe's leading financial, political, and cultural capitals, Bogota houses an endless number of museums, public parks, and cultural activities. Being the global and regional seat of hundreds of multinational companies, Bogotá is one of the planet's official capitals for business dealings. The city's exposure to European, North American, Middle-Eastern, and Asian influences, brought about by immigrants who came to the city from various parts of the world, ensures that anything from traditional dishes to a renowned steak or sushi restaurant can be found.

The capital district isn't just a city, it's a world within a city. Its Festivals and public parks have earned Bogota international medals and prizes (Such as the UNESCO world city of culture), its museums and cultural institutions including the world's largest gold museum and one of the largest performing arts centers in the western hemisphere, have earned it the name  "The Athens of South America''. The city's ability to create and innovate, as well as to implement technological solutions to global problems have brought Bogota international renown, and its prowess in re-imagining mass-transportation systems on a global scale have placed it on the international stage for innovation and leadership. Many of Bogota's more than 200 public libraries, including the Virgilio Barco, designed by master architect Rogelio Salmona, are among the globe's largest and most renowned libraries, which earned Bogota the title of "world book capital". In addition to its vast network of public libraries and museums, the city also houses the largest business and events center in the continent, being the host to major events including the 2023 world business forum which be held in Bogota in October. The capital district also possesses the largest vertical garden in the planet as well as the globes's most extensive bus rapid-transit system, all of which earned Bogota the title of the Planet's "green capital" in 2016, and the planet's most eco-friendly city in 2018. Author and poet Gabriel Garcia Marquez rightfully described Bogota as "a beautiful and complex city, a world capital in its own right".

Bogota's Palacio de Narino seen from the Plaza de Armas.

Bogotá's 20 boroughs are divided into 6 geographical sections: The downtown hosts many of the city's most important historical zones including the Historic Center home to The national capitol, the presidential palace, the palace of justice, as well as multiple Government offices, many of Bogota's major museums and monuments, as well as the majority of foreign embassies and consulates. It is also the Capital’s district cultural hub home to hundreds of theaters, art galleries, and festivals year-wide. The Northeast: Traditionally where the wealthiest boroughs in the city are located and home to a population of 3 million people this area combines many of the city's most expensive shopping and entertainment districts including Zona Rosa, Zona T, and Parque del Virrey, as well as multiple high-rise residential and business buildings surrounded by vast parks and monuments. The Northwest is a highly innovative area, and it is also the place where many modern developments have taken place and combines many upscale residences with affluent shopping centers, boutiques, cafes, and nightclubs. The northwest is also a hub for tech and financial companies, as well as the seat of many new business neighborhoods offering headquarters to multinational corporations. Central Bogota-Teusaquillo  is a huge area located in the geographical center of Bogota, home to nearly a quarter of the capital district's 12 million inhabitants, this area houses multiple universities including the National University of Colombia, Bogotá's major sporting venues and outdoor parks, as well as the headquarters for various financial and tech companies. This is a melting pot for Bogotanos of all boroughs and social statuses. The Southwest has a mix of working-class and high-class neighborhoods, home to various office buildings, public parks, civic centers, libraries, and business zones, as well as some of the city's largest shopping malls and the hemisphere’s largest fair and event center; Agora and Corferias. The Southeast is where the city's largest working-class neighborhoods are found. Multiple industrial zones and businesses are located in this area. It was once referred to as the poorest section of the city, although recent administrations have investments millions of dollars in increasing the southeast’s infrastructure as well as its productivity and innovation levels. Now this borough is an increasingly creative district in the city, famous for its inventive artists and musicians.


Due to the city's exponential growth, many neighboring cities such as Chia, Soacha and Mosquera have been absorbed and are now considered within the metropolitan area of Greater Bogotá.

Bogotá has had some mayors who have become darlings of the international "urbanist" community with eminently quotable lines and pro-cycling pro-public transit and - arguably - anti-car policies. First and foremost was Enrique Peñalosa (Mayor 1998–2001 and 2016–2019) who is famous for saying "An advanced city is not one where even the poor move about in cars but one where even the rich use public transit". Under his mandate, the world's largest Bus-rapid transit system "TransMilenio" and the "TransMiCable" gondola lift system were inaugurated in Bogota. The current mayor, Claudia López Hernández, who assumed office January 1, 2020, is again of a leftish-green bent. She ran on a platform of "metro, metro and more metro," promising to bring the decades-long-planned Bogotá metro to fruition. She has continued Peñalosa's policies of shutting down major streets to car traffic on public holidays and Sundays or even week-round under a project called the "Ciclovía" ("cycle way"), which is a popular mode of recreation and transportation for millions of citizens of Bogotá. In the course of the 2019-2020 Coronavirus pandemic, López Hernández expanded the Ciclovía even further, to much public acclaim.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

The city is served by 1 El Dorado International Airport El Dorado International Airport on Wikipedia (BOG IATA) (~20 minutes from downtown in a taxi), that receives several flights daily from New York City, Washington D.C., Atlanta Airport, Houston, Miami Airport, Orlando Airport, Fort Lauderdale, Paris Charles de Gaulle, São Paulo, Madrid Barajas, Barcelona El Prat, Frankfurt airport, Mexico City Benito Juarez, San José (CR) / Alajuela, Lima, Buenos Aires, Panamá City Tocumen Airport, Quito, Guayaquil, Oranjestad (Aruba), Willemstad (Curaçao) and Toronto among others. Travelers can also take advantage of the convenient connections and direct flights from Los Angeles, Washington, Santo Domingo, San Juan, Punta Cana, Valencia (Venezuela), La Habana, Montego Bay, London, Frankfurt and Orlando. International airlines include JetBlue, United, Delta, Iberia, Air France, Lufthansa, Air Canada, American Airlines, LATAM, Avianca, Copa Airlines, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Spirit, Aeromexico, Air Europa, Albatros Airlines, JetSmart, LASER Airlines, Sky Airline, Turkish Airlines, Viva Air Peru, and Wingo.

Domestic flights are served by many airlines including Avianca (main Colombian airline), LATAM, Viva, Wingo, Satena and EasyFly. Domestic flights of Avianca are served from the Puente Aéreo terminal, next to El Dorado terminal, and features WiFi access to the Internet from almost every location. There are more than 20 daily flights from the 2 airports in Medellín, over 15 daily flights from Cali and more than 10 from Cartagena. Domestic flights to Bogotá are among the 50 busiest flight routes on earth and heavy competition can net you cheap fares. Taxis are regulated, reasonably priced and safe from the airport. El Dorado is also the third busiest airport in Latin America and the largest by cargo movement.

To get out from the airport into the city there are a couple of options:

  1. Regulated taxis. You first have to search for a stand where you will have to point out your destination and then they will print out a ticket indicating the price you will have pay. Then, pick up a taxi from the line and explain to the driver your destination. At the end of the journey you will have to pay only what is printed out in the ticket.
  2. Transmilenio. You can only use the bus system if you have small luggage - you might not be allowed into the stations if you are carrying big suitcases. To get out the airport without having the public transport card, take the bus line "16-14". It's a green bus that brings you for free to the bus station "Portal El Dorado". There buy the Tullave card before going through the turnstile. People with Transmilenio or blue SITP jackets are ready to help (although most of them do not speak English - bring your Spanish phrasebook or use Google Translate). The bus station has WiFi. A lot of bus lines depart from that bus station, you may be able to reach your destination in Bogota with a direct connection.

By bus[edit]

Monserrate Sanctuary overlooking the city

The safety of bus travel in Colombia has greatly improved. However, foreigners should be cautious not to travel to areas of unrest and travel only during the day. Do not carry large amounts of cash with you as robberies are known to occur along some routes. Service in the 'upscale' buses are very good and they are very comfortable. Pick the most expensive service (just a couple of dollars extra) as these buses tend to be newer and in better mechanical condition.

Buses run in and out of Bogotá's main station, 2 El Terminal de Transporte de Bogotá (Terminal Salitre). The station is clean and has standard amenities. Located at Dg 23, No 69-59, several bus companies have regular routes to destinations around the country. To get there from the airport, you can take a short taxi ride.

Take into consideration that most of the restaurants serving within the terminal can be expensive by Colombian standards, but well served. In case of need, it may be advisable to order a dish for 2 people or just to check places around the station.

The Terminal is divided in several color-coded areas that indicate the destinations to which companies in that area travel to: Yellow = South, Blue = East and West, Red = North and International, Purple = Arrivals.

In additional to the above, the same governmental agency that operates the main bus station (Terminal La Salitre) also operates satellite stations in the north part of town and another in the south part of town which may be closer to your point of origin or final destination in Bogota:

There are multiple bus lines serving El Terminal de Transporte de Bogotá (Terminal Salitre) and one or both of the other stations in the north or south part of town. The below are the major bus lines connecting Bogota to Medellin and to other cities north and east (Cartagena, Santa Marta, Monteria, Bucaramanga, etc) towards the Caribbean coast and the Venezuelan border:

  • Expreso Brasilia, toll-free: 01 8000 51 8001. From Tigo and Movistar phones call #501 or #502
  • Copetran, +57 7 644-81-67 (Bucaramanga), toll-free: 01 8000 114 164. #567 or #568 from Claro cell phones
  • Berlinas del Fonce. Travels between Bogotá, Bucaramanga, Cartagena, Cúcuta, Santa Marta and points in between
  • Rapido Ochoa, +57 4 444-88-88. Travels from Medellin and Bogotá to Arboletes, Barracajermeca, Monteria, Barranquilla, Santa Marta, Tolu and points in between in multiple route combinations

Other companies that go to multiple cities and towns in the southern part of the country, connecting Bogota to Medellin and to other cities west and south (Armenia, Cali, Manizales, Florence, Ipiales, Neiva, Palmira, etc.) towards the Ecuadorian border and the Pacific coast. Some may offer onward international service into Ecuador and Peru:

In addition to the above, there are also numerous other bus lines connecting Bogota to other cities at varying distances.

By car[edit]

The below is distance chart as to how far and how much time it is to travel between Bogota and other major cities by car or by bus on the main highways:

Distance and travel time from Bogotá :
Destination Distance (km) Time (h)
Armenia 296 8
Barranquilla 985 20
Bucaramanga 429 10
Cali 511 12
Cartagena 1090 23
Cúcuta 630 16
Ipiales 948 24
Manizales 278 8
Medellín 440 9
Neiva 309 6
Pasto 865 22
Pereira 360 9
Popayán 646 15
San Agustín 529 12
Santa Marta 952 19
Tunja 147 3

By train[edit]

There are no proper intercity trains in Colombia. However touristic steam trains, operated by Turistren, connects Bogotá with the city of Zipaquirá several times per week.

A regional railway system is expected to be launched by 2024.


Get around[edit]

By e-hailing[edit]

InDrive, Uber, Cabify and Didi cover the city. As of November 2015, Uber rides can take a while to reach you, particularly if you are in the La Candelaria area. You can also use Uber app to hail a taxi. Note that while rideshare apps are commonly used, they are officially illegal in Colombia, so drivers can be hesitant to drive to places where they may be hassled by police (e.g. bus stations). Drivers may ask you to sit in front so that you appear to be a "friend" of the driver instead of taking a passenger for profit through a ride-hailing app.

By taxi[edit]

While ubiquitous and affordable – the local yellow taxis are arguably the most visible representative to the world of Bogotá's worst side. Travelers used to being cheated by taxi drivers probably aren't yet acquainted with the paseo millionario, or "Millionaire Ride," where a taxi driver swings by to pick up well-armed accomplices who then rob you, possibly drug you, and almost certainly take you to multiple ATMs to forcibly withdraw a large sums of money. This rather extreme practice is actually pretty common. Taxis should not be hailed off the street—only called through dispatch. Nice restaurants and any place of lodging will be happy to do this for you, and will express genuine concern if they think you are going to try to hail one. Otherwise, call one yourself at 599-9999, 311-1111 or 411-1111. Sometimes it can take a while to get one, though, so it's good to have a back up. If public transit isn't your thing, consider keeping a private car service on hand. They are pretty good deal for the money, when all is considered, and your hotel or business should be able to recommend one.

If calling for a taxi, the driver will want to confirm that it is you who called by asking for a "clave" (key), which is always the last two digits of the phone from which you called to request the taxi. Each taxi has a meter which should increment one tick every 1/10 km or 30 seconds and starts at 25 ticks. The rate chart is printed on a card in the taxi. Nearly all taxi drivers will try to take advantage of you in one way or another; be sure the taxi meter is started when you begin your trip. Tipping is never necessary—be sure to count your change and be on the lookout for both counterfeit coins and notes. There are surcharges for the airport, holidays, and nights (after 8PM). Surcharge details are printed on the fare card. There is a surcharge for ordering a taxi arriving at your house and one for after 8PM, even if you are starting your trip before that time. Holidays and Sundays are also surcharged. Lock the doors of the taxi, especially after dark. If you experience a problem in a taxi or with the driver, dial 123 to report a complaint with the police. You should also call the company with which the taxi is registered.

In other hand If you are interested in a more private and professional option, you can hire a Shuttle Service. This kind of services often have wide range of vehicles and can be paid by credit card so you won't have to worry about carrying cash all the time.

By Transmilenio[edit]

Bogota's rapid bus service, the Transmilenio[dead link] is extremely affordable, clean and efficient. It carries commuters to numerous corners of the city in exclusive lanes, bypassing the notorious city traffic. Tickets cost COP$2,950 (Oct 2023) for Transmilenio buses & cable cars and COP$2,750 for SITP buses. You must buy a rechargeable card at any Transmilenio station beforehand for COP$7,000 (Oct 2023). Recharging the card must also be done at a Transmilenio station.

If you have WiFi or a data plan, the easiest way to find a connection is using an app like Google Maps, Moovit (also available in English) or Transmilenio y SITP (has a bit more info).

Riders should keep a close eye on their pockets and avoid flashing expensive items, as there is a moderate risk of pick-pocketing, particularly during peak hours or at night.

The vehicles used in that systems are articulated buses; they are fast and safe, but could be full during the afternoon times. The system also uses different kinds of stations: the simples offers bus services at the right and left sides (north-south;east-west) and the intermediates are usually located in middle points and have complete services, such as elevators, station libraries, bikes parks, restrooms. Alimentadores services (buses that reach zones the articulated buses do not) and the portals, the nine arrival and departure places of the buses, are located near the entrances to the city. Service ends 10–11PM, depending on the station. Intercity buses from the metropolitan area also arrive at these stations.

The sheer number of bus numbers is quite intimidating, but has a simple logic to it. There are actually only ten routes, demarcated by letters (and names, but don't worry about that). J and L routes will take you into the historic/political center, with J buses even stopping right at the Gold Museum. B buses will take you up through the North, with Calle 85 being the closest stop to the popular Zona Rosa, B buses take you to Portal del Norte, where you can catch inter-city buses up to Zipaquirá (for the Salt Cathedral). K buses head out towards the airport.

The system, being one of the world's leading examples of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), runs in dedicated lanes with stations containing offboard fare collection and level boarding, giving it a similar experience to rail without the high capital costs of rail.

By gondola lift[edit]

The TransMiCable inaugurated in 2018 is a 3,340 m (10,960 ft) gondola lift that takes passengers from the TransMilenio stop 5 Portal del Tunal. Portal del Tunal (Q9061859) on Wikidata Portal del Tunal (TransMilenio) on Wikipedia to 6 Mirador del Paraíso. Mirador del Paraíso (Q50939097) on Wikidata in the Ciudad Bolivar district.

Another cable-car of primarily touristic transportation value is the Teleférico de Monserrate.

By bus[edit]

Privately owned buses cruise all the main thorough fares and many side streets, and are the principal form of transport for the working class and student class. Though they do follow specific routes, they do not have bus "stops"; you merely call to them like taxis and they will stop for you where you are standing. Placards in the large front windows list destinations, either neighborhoods or main street names. Upon entering you will be asked for the fare; if you are not traveling alone you may be asked "Para ambos?", for example, meaning "For both?", to see if you are paying for just yourself or for your companion. Then you pass through a turnstile to the seating areas. The buses come in three sizes, usually, long (like a school bus), medium and small (called busetas). All have turnstiles. To exit these buses, you go to the back door and either push a button located usually on one of the hand rails or next to the exit, or simply call out "Aqui, por favor!" (Here, please!) or "Pare!" (Stop!). Passengers are often expected to embark and disembark even from the middle of the street.

Sometimes vendors are allowed to enter the buses to sell candy or small gift items (occasionally donating one to the driver for the privilege). Or, you may find entertainers such as singers or guitar players, and even the more creative of the street beggars who will regale you with a long, poetic story of their sad situation before asking for donations. Even in the smallest buses, cramped full of people standing and sitting, it is a common sight. A Grammy-nominated singer named Ilona got her start performing on buses around Bogotá.

You can plan which bus you need to take ahead of time using a combination of Google maps (which shows stops and bus lines) and the SITP website, though that works only for SITP buses.

By colectivo[edit]

Colectivos cover practically every major route of the city, and can generally be flagged down at any point on a main road. Watch these small buses for lists of destinations displayed on their windshields, or ask the driver (in Spanish) if he passes the neighborhood or intersection you are going to. Not very comfortable, but they are faster than a common bus and it's also used as a shuttle for routes that don't have so much affluence, it can take you almost anywhere.

By bicycle[edit]

Bogotá has Latin America's largest network of bicycle routes, called 'Ciclorutas.' On Sundays and public holidays, many main and secondary roads are closed to cars for the Ciclovia from 7AM-2PM, a special feature of Bogotá, where people can run, bicycle, inline skate or just watch from the side. There are refreshment stands along the way and most parks host some type of event such as yoga, dancing, stretching, spinning, etc. To get a bicycle you can rent a bike or going for a guided bike tour on Bogota's Ciclorutas or participating in the Ciclovia are fun and healthy ways to get to know the city, and to get closer to the people.

Orientation[edit]

Something that usually greatly surprise tourists and newcomers to Bogota DC is that the city's streets, boulevards, and avenues are rarely named; rather they are referred to as Carreras and calles counted from the geographical center of the city northwards and southwards, with few exeptions to this rule being the Avenida El Dorado (El dorado avenue), Avenida Jiminez de Quesada (Jiminez de Quesada avenue), and the Autospistas norte y sur (Northern and southern highways).


The capital district is built on a Cartesian coordinate grid system. Although the original city of Bogota in the 1500s (now the Historic Center of the metropolis) was designed as a perfect square, whose center would be the Plaza de Bolivar and would be crossed from north to south by the Calle real (now carrera septima), massive urban growth in the 18th 19th and 20th centuries due to immigrants coming from all over the world and the country, made the original shape of the city change. Now nearly 500 years after its founding, Bogota DC is a booming metropolis over 1,000 times its original size. The city has grown to such an extent that it has absorbed various neighboring cities such as Usaquen, Chapinero, Usme, and Suba, Chia, and Soacha into the Greater Bogota Metropolitan area that now houses a population of over 15 million people (one of the largest metro areas in the world). Bogota has been transformed from a small town of 100,000 people in the 1600s to a thriving and modern global city composed of millions of inhabitants from all over the country and the world. Although this change has been immensely positive, it has also resulted in the original layout of the city being changed. Now Bogota resembles more of a rectangle than a square, composed of the same Cartesian coordinate system, but with some irregular blocks, twisting streets, and diagonals cutting across what is supposed to be a perfect grid. The original Historic center of the city is now more to the south-east of the city, rather than at the geographical center of the city. The apparently straightforward street address system designed by the original founders of Bogota hundreds of years ago, has historically been more of a guideline as to where things are than a precise way to get to places. In the 1950s an update of the street addresses in much of the city was directed towards solving certain inconsistencies in getting around some areas of the city. Most places that tourists tend to visit, have been quite easy to find since that time.

Street arrangement of Bogotá based on the Cartesian coordinate system: north is to the right

Carreras (roads) are abbreviated as Cr., Kra., and Cra. and run parallel to the mountains from south to north. Carrera numbers increase from east to west, away from the mountains - so Carrera 7 is near the mountains and Carrera 100 is far from them - except for a very few carreras near the mountains that increase in reverse order and that have names like "Carrera 1 E" ('E' standing for east).

Calles (streets) cross the carreras and run from east to west. Calles are abbreviated as Cll. and Cl. For half of the city (the northern half tourists are most likely to visit) calle numbers increase from south to north - so Calle 13 is near the center of the city, whereas Calle 250 is one the last streets before exiting Bogota on the northern side. Calles in the southern half work similarly to 'east' carreras near the mountains: the southern calle numbers increase from north to south, mirroring streets in the northern half. These are called things like "Calle 85 S" ('S' standing for south).

Aside from calles and carreras, there are 'diagonales' and 'transversales'. As their names suggest, they are not perfectly parallel to calles and carreras. However, the same numbering system applies to them. Diagonales are supposed to be deviations from calles, whereas transversales are supposed to be deviations from carreras. So, for example, Diagonal 107 runs sort of east-west and is somewhere around Calle 106 or 108.

Avenidas, abbreviated as Av. or Ave., are usually larger, main streets. Geographically speaking, most avenidas somehow fit into one the four categories mentioned above, although some avenidas twist around. They usually have a classification and number as described above, but they also have a distinct name, like "Avenida Suba", "Avenida Boyacá" and whatnot. So, for example, Avenida Jiménez is a main street and, in the number system, is also called Calle 13.

Each address consists of a street and a series of numbers. For example, Calle 45 No. 24-15 (sometimes written as CL 45 # 24 - 15 or CL 45 24 15), means (1) the location is on Calle 45, (2) of the two intersecting carreras nearby, the one with the lower number is Carrera 24 (since in this case we are talking about carreras, it means the nearest carrera to the east of the location; if we were talking about calles, it would be the nearest calle to the south of the location), and (3) the location is roughly 15 meters from the intersection of Calle 45 and Carrera 24. Furthermore, since the last number, 15, is odd, the location is on the southern side of Calle 24 (if the location were on a carrera, it would be on the west side of it). Even numbers at the end have the opposite meaning.

See[edit]

Many landmark events in the history of Colombian and South American independence took place in La Candelaria, the historic mid-16th-century colonial neighborhood that hosts the national government, including the near killing and escape of Simon Bolivar, the execution of revolutionary heroine Policarpa Salavarrieta, known as 'La Pola,' and the Grito de Libertad, known as the beginning of the region's revolution. The district is teeming with history, and there are a lot of interesting museums (arguably the best being the Gold Museum and the Botero Museum) and old churches. Some of its lovely streets are pedestrian-only. The most important places are Catedral Primada and Palacio de Nariño on Plaza de Bolívar, Iglesia del Carmen, Biblioteca Luis A Arango, the Colonial Art Museum, and the colonial architecture of the houses and buildings. Almost all the museums are free. La Candelaria also contains numerous Catholic churches, many of them centuries-old. The Colombian-American and Colombian-French cultural centers are located in La Candelaria, and a Colombian-Spanish cultural center is under construction.

Outside La Candelaria, the most famous site is up the mountains over Santa Fé at the Sanctuary of Monserrate, which you can see from virtually any place in the city. Take the funicular up, or if you are feeling brave and athletic, hike it. Santa Fé also is home to the National Museum and the Modern Art Museum.

The northern neighborhoods that are so popular for dining and nightlife really don't have all that much to see, in terms of traditional sightseeing, aside from the small colonial center in Usaquén. The park known as Parque 93 is rather pretty, though.

There are a couple interesting sights in Ciudad Salitre, for those either staying out there or those with plenty of time, including the Botanical Gardens and the Maloka Science Center.

Itineraries[edit]

Bogota's National Capitol buildings seen from plaza Nunez.

Downtown Day Tour[edit]

Popular among visitors are the historic Downtown and La Candelaria neighborhood. In fact most affordable lodging and dining options can be found this side of town making it highly desirable by low-budget travelers and backpackers, given its close location to many of the city's attractions. Start your way on Carrera Septima (7) and Calle 16, just arriving Parque Santander. Take the opportunity to visit the world famous Museo del Oro, or Gold Museum for its legendary El Dorado collections. Then continue south one block up to Avenida Jimenez and give your camera a workout at one of Bogota's most famous and historic intersections, where a couple of ancient churches and 19th century buildings collide. Turn east (towards the mountains) and walk up Avenida Jimenez alongside downtown's famous Eje Ambiental or Environmental Axis, which is a section of the avenue that has been closed off to vehicles except Transmilenio, to make way for a generous tree-lined pedestrian sidewalk and an enclosed water stream. Many historic and famous buildings are located alongside the Eje Ambiental, home to Bogota's most renowned and traditional companies like El Tiempo and the Bank of the Republic. A few blocks east just past the Parque de los Periodistas the Eje Ambiental starts bending northwise, so leave the axis and turn south instead via one of the small streets that branch into the neighborhood and make your way up to Calle 12b and Carrera 2, el Chorro de Quevedo, unofficial center of La Candelaria, where it is argued that the City of Bogota was founded back in 1538. Today, bohemian life meets to enjoy arts, culture and music at this spot. On the way make sure to take in the whimsical coloring and architecture of the neighborhood's streets and colonial houses. Continue on Carrera 2 southward a couple of blocks up until Calle 11, and turn west once again just in front of La Salle University: You'll be glad you do since you've been climbing constantly eastward so enjoy your walk back down. Make sure to notice the eccentric street names found on picturesque signs at every corner. Make your way down west on Calle 11 and you will pass by the Museo Botero, museum showcasing some of famous Colombian painter Botero's private art collection and work. Another block down is the Centro Cultural Garcia Marquez, modern cultural center and venue that includes Library, Art Galleries, concert halls and lesson rooms, with year-round events and displays for all tastes and audiences interested in culture and the arts. Continue down west and reach the Plaza de Bolivar, the city's overwhelming main square surrounded by neoclasic government palaces and the Catedral Primada, largest church in the country. After taking in the many sights, you might want to leave the square southbound for a couple of blocks on Carrera Septima to check out the Presidential Palace and its Presidential Guard. Finally turn around back Carrera Septima northward until you find Transmilenio, just about where you started!

Do[edit]

Performances and festivals[edit]

  • On some Friday nights, parts of Avenida Septima are closed in the Centro and you can see all sorts of street performers, live music, magic shows, buy crafts and street food. If you don't mind crowds its worth a visit.
  • Check out the Iberoamerican Theater Festival, the biggest theater festival in the world (occurs every two years during Easter Week).

Other activities[edit]

Agora and Corferias convention center located in the largest event and business district in Latin America. A landmark of Bogota's modernist architecture built by the renowned Bermudez architects.
  • Catch a football (soccer) game at El Campin Stadium. Easily accessible by Transmillenio and with a capacity of 48,000 spectators, it hosts games for the Colombian international squad as well as for professional league home teams Millionarios and Santa Fe. Avoid the north and south section for these home games which are populated by rival supporter groups; instead get a ticket for the eastern or western wings.
  • Take a cab or Transmilenio to a working-class neighborhood in the southside. Sit down in a 'panaderia' (bakery), order a "colombiana" brand soda and some good bread. Sit down and breathe the environment of the regular Colombian. Don't narrow yourself to the upscale Norte. Since picking out one of these neighborhoods can be dangerous, the best ones to do so: Santa Isabel, 20 de Julio, The Tunal area.
  • Go to Parque Simon Bolivar and chill like rolos (Bogota citizens) do, walk around the city's biggest park or ride the train.
  • Ciclovía. Every Sunday and national holiday from 7AM-2PM, major avenues are closed to cars and thousands of people turn out to bike, skate, jog and walk. You can join on foot or by renting a bicycle in the Candelaria neighborhood with Bogotravel tours.
  • Sabana de Bogotá. Who would have imagined that there exists a fascinating natural wonder right in the heart of Bogotá? The wetlands of the Sabana (savannah) de Bogotá is where the rivers slow down a bit to rest on the plateau and “clean up” after flowing down from mountains. The water then continues to flow into the valleys to rejoin with the rivers below, including the Bogotá and Magdalena rivers.

Outside of Bogotá[edit]

Consider an excursion to Zipaquirá with its impressive Catedral de Sal. Shared or private guided tours can be booked in hotels/hostels or you can go there by bus or train.

Learn[edit]

Bogotá has numerous educational institutions. Some of the top universities include the National University[dead link], Universidad de los Andes, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Universidad del Rosario, Universidad Externado, Universidad Santo Tomas, Universidad de la Sabana and Universidad de la Salle. However, there are many privately and publicly funded universities and schools.

If you want to learn Spanish, universities are a good option since they have all inclusive plans. They not only offer Spanish courses but also Mandarin, Japanese, French, German, Italian, etc. Also, many embassies have institutions that teach languages, such as the Centro Colombo Americano, the British Council, The Italian Institute, Goethe Institut, The French Alliance and the Brazil-Colombia Cultural Institute (IBRACO).

If you are looking for a more personalized education you can look for some of the Spanish schools in Bogota. Some of them are: Relato, Whee Institute (non-profit)[dead link] and Spanish World Institute Bogotá.

Talk[edit]

The Spanish spoken in Bogotá is considered among the most neutral and clear in the world. If you know the basics, you'll probably be fine. Bogotá is full of English academies and bilingual schools, so English is spoken by many people. The most "touristy" areas are full of young students who go to bilingual schools, and generally, they will help you translate. Colombians love to show off the best of their country to reduce the negative image it has among foreigners.

Work[edit]

It is illegal to work in Colombia without a proper working visa. Visas can be obtained by employers on your behalf.

There is also a significant market for English and other language teachers.

Buy[edit]

Local products worth bringing home include :

  • Inexpensive handicrafts and silver jewelry from vendors. One of the cheapest and picturesque places to buy handicrafts is Pasaje Rivas (Calle 9 no. 9). You can access the narrow hall filled with small stores crossing Plaza de Bolívar, where de Major's and president's office is located.
  • Coffee-based products
  • Leather handbags, shoes, and wallets.
  • Uncut and cut emeralds brought in from the world's best emerald mines

In Usaquen you can find a huge flea market on Sundays.

Malls[edit]

The nicest malls in town are generally in the North, in Usaquén and the east of Suba: Unicentro, Hacienda Santa Barbara, Santa Ana, Palatino, Cedritos, Santafé and Parque la Colina, Iserra 100, Bulevar Niza.

The chicest area of Bogota, Zona T in the district of Chapinero, is surrounded by the upscale malls of Andino, Atlantis Plaza and El Retiro which holds various upscale boutiques such as Lacoste, Louis Vuitton, Versace, Gucci, Loewe and many more.

More Affordable Shopping Malls : Downtown: San Martín, Calima. West and Northwest: Gran Estación, Salitre Plaza, Hayuelos, Metrópolis, Plaza Imperial, Unicentro de Occidente, Titán Plaza. South: Plaza de las Américas, Centro Mayor.

Eat[edit]

Bogotá's varied gastronomy includes Michelin-starred restaurants serving traditional and innovative Colombian dishes and other cuisines from all corners of the globe.

Local food[edit]

Arepas: Corn flour based pancakes, sometimes made with cheese or slightly salted.

Bogota's Tropicario Bio-Dome in the Botanical Gardens

Empanadas: The closest comparison would be pastries. These are popular all over South America, so generally each country/region has their own recipe. The filling usually consists of meat, potato, vegetables and rice wrapped in a corn flour crust.

Tamal: Usually eaten for breakfast. A mixture of meat, chicken, potato, vegetables and yellow corn wrapped in plantain leaves and then boiled. Should be accompanied by a large mug of hot chocolate.

Ajiaco: Traditional thick soup based on three kinds of potatoes, chicken, avocado, dairy cream, herbs, corn, among others, usually eaten for Christmas and other important festivals. Typically from the altiplano region, and considered the city's official dish.

Pizza and burgers. OK, can we really call these traditional Bogotá meals? One could surmise they're from here, seeing their omnipresence. The city does both quite well, and you just need to do a 360° turn to find some.

Casual dining[edit]

Options are many for casual dining, unsurprisingly for a Latin American city of seven million people. Bogotanos love food from all over, so you'll find a good mix of Colombian food, as well as cheap food from North America (especially pizza and burgers!) and Asia. Note that the Chinese food is almost always Colombianized, which can be pretty good anyway, but is almost never the real deal. Sushi is likewise easy to find, but usually of below-average quality. The clear exception is (upscale) Wok, which has several locations, and for a North American-price will serve you top-notch sushi and other authentic East and Southeast Asian dishes.

For lunch, definitely try a corrientazo—a small eatery that is only open for lunch, serving people on their lunch break a delicious full meal, with soup, fresh squeezed fruit juice, a meat dish, several starch offerings, and usually additional fruit on the side. You'll know corrientazos by their well-advertised and extremely limited menu, which often consists of only one available main course! Best options are usually traditional ajiaco, bandeja paisa, or fish. Sometimes the advertisement is just "almuerzo" (lunch) on a cardboard sign. Prices are astoundingly low. You can ask a local, where a corrientazo nearby is.

Rotisserie chicken is usually not far away, often called chicken "broaster," and is just fabulous. They'll pass you plastic gloves to wear while you eat it to keep your fingers clean.

If constant meat and starch isn't your thing, the more popular neighborhoods have lots of places just selling fruit and fruit juice/smoothies, often selling ice cream too. The fruit in Colombia is outstanding, and the juice bars are unbelievably cheap.

And there's always Crepes & Waffles, a ubiquitous Bogotá chain that—with such a focus—can't help but be great.

Restaurants[edit]

There are a few dedicated gourmet zones, the most impressive of which is Zona G (G for Gourmet). It's a quiet, residential-looking neighborhood jam packed with absolutely incredible, world-class restaurants. Other places to look for high-end dining are (naturally) the Zona Rosa, as well as Parque 93, the La Macarena neighborhood of Santa Fé, and a little further afield in Usaquén.

For dining with a view, there are two restaurants up at Monserrate that are not at all tourist traps—they are excellent, modern, high-end restaurants. Just outside the city on the road to La Calera is Tramonti, another mountaintop restaurant less-known to tourists, but done up like a Swiss mountain chalet and perfect for watching the sunset and the lights come on.

For specific suggestions regarding restaurants have a look into the dedicated district articles of Bogota.

Drink[edit]

Nightlife in Bogotá is very diverse, and you can almost certainly find whatever experience it is you are looking for. There are English pubs, Latin dance halls, electronic music clubs, quiet storefront bars, wacky themed clubs, salsa clubs, a huge indie-rock scene (if Cali is salsa, Bogotá is rock n' roll), megaclubs, cocktail lounges, etc.

The cosmopolitan side of Bogotá nightlife is overwhelmingly to be found in Zona Rosa and Bogotá/Parque 93. It's a little more spread out and sparse, but you'll find similar places in Chapinero Central, Usaquén, and even Santa Fé and La Candelaria. Chapinero Central and La Candelaria tend to be more bohemian/hipster/artsy/young. Chapinero is also the center of gay nightlife.

Sleep[edit]

Because of the low temperatures at night you don't need air conditioning. If you are going to stay in Bogota, keep in mind the location; Most low-budget visitors choose to stay in La Candelaria, the colonial neighborhood in the center of the city. There are many cheap, nice hostels where you can meet travelers from all around the world. The historic district as well as all the major museums and some nightlife options are within walking distance. The deserted neighborhood streets are unsafe after dark on weeknights, though. Pressure from neighborhood groups to oust the remaining criminals has caused police presence to increase but you must always remain cautious. Check the location very carefully before you choose a place to stay, security is worse in the tiny deserted streets uphill and closer to Egypto neighborhood.

You'll find several hotels in the upscale northern districts like the Zona Rosa, Parque 93, as well as in Ciudad Salitre on the airport highway. Security won't be such an issue but prices are much higher. Nevertheless, you won't have any problem hailing a taxi at 6AM in the morning in the northern districts, because your hotel would be just around the corner from nightclub, or on the way to the airport. On the other hand, you can find low to medium priced hotels and hostels more expensive than La Candelaria's around downtown or near universities, especially in Chapinero Central.

Note than most hostels carry a strict no drugs due to the negative effects that these activities have on Colombians and their way of life. Cocaine use not only supports the violent conflict that has ravaged this country and this city, but also promotes the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest both through its production and subsequent eradication efforts. Child prostitution is also a current issue for many hostels and hotels who are fighting to prevent this from becoming a way of earning an income for young Colombians.

Stay safe[edit]

Bogotá is not at all as dangerous as it once was and as it may occasionally have been portrayed in certain movies. Its once high murder rate has dropped to an exceedingly low levels. Bombings and kidnappings are a thing of the past, and should not be a concern to visitors at all.

The principal safety concerns for travelers are pickpockets and the occasional taxi crime. Occasional pickpocketing is still present in the city. Mugging rates have gone down by tremendous levels, due to recent governments' new policies, but while they are not frequent they still occur occasionally. In the eventuality that they do happen (not very common) muggers are usually armed with knives or guns, and you should simply give them what they ask for without a fight—it's never anything worth risking your personal safety for. Most districts and neighborhoods that are frequented by travelers have no problems like this whatsoever. But there are certain areas in neighborhoods, that have a certain problem with pickpocketers and the occasional mugging, these include some areas of La Candelaria (after dark on weeknights—daytime walks and F-Sa nights are perfectly fine, no matter where you are), some very small parts of Santa Fé, and to a much lesser extent the more southern parts of Chapinero close to Avenida Caracas. Visitors need to be just a bit more careful in the South. Trust the locals if they tell you an area is unsafe or dangerous.

Taxi crime is a weird problem here (see "Million Dollar Ride" below). While longer-term visitors will find themselves lazily hailing cabs now and then, it is best to call cabs or order through an app, and not hail them off the street. Any cab dispatched will be safe, while hailed cabs are infrequently, (though once a while), a little bit unsafe. It may take a bit longer, but your safety is worth an extra wait. Hotels and nicer restaurants will always be happy to call one for you, and often offer to unprompted.

The Million Dollar Ride (Spanish: Paseo Millonario). Although this infamous event is mostly a thing of the past, separate incidents still occur. It occurs when you hail a taxi on the street, the taxi stops, you get in, then someone else gets in with you, and they take you for a ride until you have taken an important sum out of your bank accounts. This is usually accomplished with threats of violence.

ATM muggings. Pay attention when using cash machines that nobody follows you after you have withdrawn the money. It's a precaution foreign visitors aren't always used to taking, but it's not hard—look around as you step up to the machine to see if anyone's paying too much attention, then do the same afterwards. If someone is, abort and/or go into a store or eatery and stay put. Try to use ATMs that are inside (the supermarket Éxito always has them).

Stay healthy[edit]

Bogotá's tap water is safe to drink and of high quality. Beware of street foods that may cause an upset stomach. Bogotá has no tropical diseases like malaria because of its altitude.

Altitude sickness is, in fact, the largest health problem affecting foreigners—expect to be panting while going uphill or up stairs at first! Generally, a few days without hard physical activity or time spent in a mid-altitude city like Medellín or Fusagasugá (1½ hr) will do the trick. The nearest cities with a low altitude are Girardot (2½ hr) and Villavicencio (2½ hr). The travel time increases in the rush hour. To decrease the elevation, booking a last-minute flight for example to Cali or Medellin is also a possibility.

If you have heart disease or a respiratory condition, talk to your doctor. El Dorado Airport provides wheelchairs for travelers with special needs. Private hospitals offer excellent health care.

Doctor's offices with English speaking doctors:

  • First Aid International, Dr. Peter Jasinski (private), Cell/Whatsapp: +573163008340

Cope[edit]

Embassies[edit]

News outlets[edit]

The most important media for Bogotá are:

  • El Tiempo is the country's largest daily with a heavy focus on the capital.
  • El Espectador has a liberal point of view and also a heavy focus on Bogotá.

For news and travel information on Bogotá in English:

Go next[edit]

  • Visit nearby towns like Chia (for Andrés Carne de Res restaurant), La Calera, Cajica, Tabio, Zipaquira and La Vega. You can find cheap and fast transportation to any of this destinations either from the Terminal de transportes or the Transmilenio North Portal. From most, you can return the same day. But it's a good idea to get out, Bogotá is a chaotic city surrounded by lots of relaxed and peaceful places.
  • Choachí is the best kept secret in town. This small village, 50 min by car east of Bogotá, is reached after climbing up and down a tall mountain, so tall you can see Monserrate at your feet. Local cooking, hot springs and a great Swiss restaurant await for you at your destination.
  • Parque Nacional Sumapaz to the south of Bogota to see the Paramo. It is closed due to improvements of guides and infrastructure. (August 2016)
  • Parque Nacional Chingaza to the east of the town Calera is a different place to see the Paramo. You'll need a 4x4 vehicle or go by a tour. Entrance fee is COP$13,500 for Colombians, COP$39,500 for foreigners and includes an obligatory guide. There are trails up to around 4 hours. Better to start early as you have to leave the parque at 3PM. Apart from the vegetation it's possible to see bears, deers and other animals.
  • Laguna del Cacique Guatavita, +57 1 2826313. Closed every Monday if Monday is a holiday. This spiritual lake is where the legend of El Dorado originated. The Muisca Indian King used to have religious ceremony in the middle of the lake, painted all his body with gold dust, and threw gold things offered in sacrifice into the lake. English/Spanish guided tour is available. The journey will take little more time than to Zipaquirá. Go to Transmilenio's North Portal and find the intermunicipal route to Sesquilé/Guatavita. Let the driver know that you intend to go to the Lagoon and he'll drop you off at a point where you have to walk - it's quite a hike on a steep hill, but people going by car will often pick you up and take you to the entrance if you ask. Foreigners COP$15,000, Colombians COP$10,000.
  • Bogotá as a hub to visit other places in Colombia As the capital city is centrally located you can easily visit many distinct destinations as the Amazon Jungle (1½ hr by plane), Spanish colonial cities Cartagena or Popayán (1-hr flight), modern cities like Medellín located in an impressive Andean valley or Cali at the foothills of the Andes.

To get to the airport from the city, you may use a taxi or a TransMilenio bus.


This city travel guide to Bogotá is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.