It used to be, everyone wanted a mariachi band at their funeral. Now, we’re lucky to get customers.
Why do you think that is? The economy?
Yes, maybe. Also the culture. Things have changed.
—Bogotá, Colombia on September 26, 2014
Just got back from a reporting trip in Colombia. In no particular order, here’s my recommendation for the best time in Bogotá. Big thanks to my oh-so fabulous friend Claudia for showing me around!
Candelaria: It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
It was supposed to rain. Every day my weather app forecast gray gloom with cheery, little cloud icons, but buena suerte was on my side. Sun prevailed. I toured around La Candelaria for several days. The harsh equatorial light (wear sunscreen, gringos!) spotlit the neighborhood’s brilliantly colored houses. The effect was stunning. It quickly became my favorite place in Bogotá. Relax in a cafe and sip some of Colombia’s absolutelyridiculouslydelicious coffee.
Museo del Oro: It’s Not About the Money, Money
In Peru, I’m not much of a museum person. The exhibits here have a very scrapbook-like quality to them, and I’m never quite sure whether I can trust the “facts” they tout. But Bogotá’s gold museum is stunning. Get to the museum first thing in the morning and leave a few hours to explore its four floors. There’s a restaurant connected to the ground floor that’s a great place for lunch. Save room for dessert, and make sure to order jugo!
Museo de Botero: Go Big or Go Home
No trip to Bogotá is complete without seeing Fernando Botero‘s work in person. Don’t forget to snap the required Instagram photo with the huge, iconic hand just outside the courtyard.
Monserrate: High on a Mountaintop
Take the tram to the top of Bogotá’s towering landmark. The altitude up there is drastically different so go slow. Monserrate comes complete with a market, souvenir shops, quaint church and, of course, gorgeous view. There’s also a little, rather romantic restaurant at the top of the mountain, but be cautious. If you’re going to eat there, don’t take any valuables. Thieves know police cannot respond quickly to thefts at that location, and according to a friend, robberies are common.
Torre Colpatria: I’m on Top of the World, Yeah
This tower is the tallest building in Bogotá. Take the elevator up right before sunset for some great city pics.
Catedral de Sal, Zipaquirá: Workin’ for a Livin’
The Zipaquirá salt cathedral is a day trip outside the city, but you should definitely go and take the tour. They also let you mine your own salt!
Andres Carne De Res: Shake Yo Moneymaker
Andres Carne De Res is a magnificent restaurant that turns into a dance party come nightfall! Don’t miss it. Make a reservation, and go with friends.
La Puerta Falsa: Chocolate is a Girl’s Best Friend
I suggest the restaurant La Puerta Falsa, which has a very impressive list of historical patrons and is also loved by locals! They have a version of hot chocolate with melted cheese inside. Do it.
Plaza de Bolivar: Why is there a llama?
Buy a bag of seeds from the local and be a bird lady for the afternoon.
Mercado de Pulgas: Shop Till You Drop
Crafts and jewelry and food! The mercado is a great place to stroll around and shop for family.