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  • A Bite of Bogotá

    Compared to other South American metroplexes like Lima or São Paulo, Bogotá has traditionally lagged behind in gastronomic terms, but don’t think for a minute there isn’t plenty to sooth your inner foodie. Bogotá is generally chilly, so it’s no surprise that two of the most Bogotano contributions to Colombia’s culinary landscape are warm and soothing. In the city and the Andean region, ajiaco is a homey soup made of chicken, corn, many different types of potatoes, avocado and a local herb known as guasca. For onces (midafternoon tea), there is nothing more inviting than chocolate completo (hot chocolate with cheese, buttered bread and a biscuit) – you’ll fi nd dozens of quaint cafes offering their take on this cold-weather warm-up. On the street, Bogotá is sweet: obleas con arequipe are thin wafers doused in milk caramel; and coajada con melao is fresh cheese with melted jaggery. Traditions aside, Bogotá is an international city, with no shortage of excellent eats and fi ne dining, from coastal Caribbean cevicherias to life-changing Peruvian, Bogotá has it all.


    International and domestic flights arrive atBogotá’s Aeropuerto Internacional El Dorado, while buses call at La Terminal, the city’s extraordinarily efficient bus terminal.
  • La Candelaria

    Central Bogotá has four main parts: the partially preserved colonial sector La Candelaria (south of Av Jiménez and between Carreras 1 and 10), with lots of students, bars and hostels. Most attractions are in historic La Candelaria where Bogotá was born, and you’ll probably want more than couple of days to look around the area.
    Blissfully alive and chock full of key things to see, La Candelaria is Bogotá’s colonial barrio, with a mix of carefully restored 300-year-old houses, some rather dilapidated ones, and still more marking more modern eras.
    The usual place to start discovering Bogotá is Plaza de Bolívar marked by a bronze statue of Simón Bolívar (cast in 1846 by Italian artist, Pietro Tenerani). It was the first public monument in the city.
    Some of La Candelaria’s most popular sights, as well as the new Centro Cultural Gabriel García Márquez, are within a couple of blocks east of the plaza. The museums run by the Banco de la Republica, including Museo Botero and Casa de Moneda, is easily one of Bogotá’s top attractions.
  • Sights

    Cerro de Monserrate

    Bogotá’s proud symbol – and convenient point of reference – is the white-churchtopped 3152m Monserrate peak (Map p40) flanking the city’s east, about 1.5km from La Candelaria and visible from most parts across Sabana de Bogotá (Bogotá savannah; sometimes called the valley). The top has gorgeous views of the 1700-sq-km capital sprawl. On a clear day you can even spot the symmetrical cone of Nevado del Tolima, part of Los Nevados volcanic range in the Cordillera Central, 135km west. The church up top is a major mecca for pilgrims, due to its altar statue of the Señor Caído (Fallen Christ), dating from the 1650s, to which many miracles have been attributed. The church was erected after the original chapel was destroyed by an earthquake in 1917. At the time of writing the trail had been closed for maintenance for two years with plans to open soon. When it does, on Saturday or Sunday morning, consider following the hordes up a steep 1500-step hike – past snack stands – to the top (60 to 90 minutes’ walk up); on other days it can be dangerous, as thefts occur, so take the regular teleférico (cable car) or funicular, which alternate schedules up the mountain from Monserrate station (Map p40; www.cerromonserrate.com; round trip COP$14,400 7:45am- 5:30pm Mon-Fri, COP$17,000 5:30-11pm Mon-Fri, COP$8200 Sun; h7:45am-midnight Mon-Sat, 6:30am-6:30pm Sun). Generally the funicular goes before noon (3pm on Saturday), the cable car after. The funicular is a 20-minute walk up from the Iglesia de las Aguas (along the brick walkways with the fountains – up past the Universidad de los Andes), at the northeast edge of La Candelaria – but you’re best off doing it on weekends, particularly in the morning, when many pilgrims are about. During the week the trail and the short walk between Quinta de Bolívar and Monserrate occasionally see robberies. You’re best off taking a taxi or the bus that reads ‘Funicular’ up to the station.

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