Welcome to Bogotá! You’re staying in one of Forbes’ Top Destinations of 2017 for 2 days in the Andes, elevation 8,700ft. Where do you start? I’ve compiled a 48 hour schedule for one of my favorite cities to date.
You’re staying in North Bogotá, just 6 miles outside of the city center, in a safe and lush area of the city. Your Air BnB or hotel is near Parque El Virrey for people (and dog) watching, and the optional workout with its mile-long running loop and multiple (free) outdoor gyms.
8am: Breakfast at Les Amis Bizcocheria. Ring the doorbell and be buzzed into a gate, then follow the stairs to the 2nd floor. Open the door to an apartment with mismatched comfy couches, funky chairs and antique tables. People will be happily perched around small tables, enjoying their pastries and exceptional Colombian coffee.
9am: Transmilenio Bus: You’re here to test out the city and live like a local. And while the easy thing to do would be to take an Uber into the central part of the city, you decide to take public transit. A typical 1 hour taxi ride is about 30 minutes or less with this bus’s private lane.
10am: One of my favorite tours in this city is the Bogotá Graffiti Tour. Started by a Canadian Graffiti writer and an Aussie street artist over beers, this 2.5 hour twice a day tour takes you through La Candelaria neighborhood. By the end of the tour, you’ll understand how Justin Bieber made a difference in legalizing the Street Art scene in this now colorfully painted city, how many artists highlight the destruction of Colombia’s indigenous culture, and how politically charged this society is.
1:30pm: Sant Just: The tour ends and it’s time to grab lunch. This favorite French/Colombian fusion restaurant is just 1 block from the end of the tour on Calle 16a #2-73. Avg cost: 45,000 pesos, $13USD for 3 delicious courses and a drink.
2:30: Museo del Oro: The Gold Museum is a must here in Bogotá. The largest collection of gold in the world, this metal plays a huge role in Colombia’s history, both with natives and the Spanish colonists. The museum is 4 stories high and gives you the history of gold, how it’s mined, how it’s molded, and how it influenced Colombia’s indigenous population and the Spanish invasion. Cost: 4,000 pesos = $1.30USD
4:30pm: Museo Botero: Across the street from the library and in the heart of La Candelaria is one of Latin America’s most important art collections. Fernando Botero, a native of Medellin and cherished in all of Colombia, is known for his unique ‘chubby’ art. The museum houses 123 pieces from Botero in addition to 85 other artists, including Picasso, Matisse, Dali and Monet. At Botero’s demand, the museum is free, and worth at least a peek.
6:00pm: Transmilenio back to Zona T. 6pm (rush hour) is a little tight on the T bus, so zip up your wallet and phone and expect to stand.
8:00pm: Andrés Carne de Res: Dinner tonight is at the hottest ticket in town: Andrés, a steakhouse in Chia. Sometimes described as a carnival, this 2-level restaurant is filled with dancers, bands, and entertainers. If you’re worried about having enough options for food, their menu is the size of a large book. A cherished Bogotá restaurant, ask any local and they will tell you this is not a place to miss.
8:00am: Today is reserved for a tour of the Salt Mines Cathedral and Lake Guatavita. Sit back while your tour company (recommendation: Uncover Colombia) does the work. You’ll be picked up at your door at 8am and dropped off at 5pm after seeing a unique tour of a salt-mine-turned-cathedral 100 ft below the surface and, separately, spectacular views from a lake that inspired a massive Spanish gold quest.
7pm: Dinner in Bogotá’s Usaquén neighborhood at 80 Sillas for ceviche and fresh cooked fish will cap off your spectacular time here in Bogotá and convince you to extend your trip.
Colombia is a country of unusual biodiversity and beautiful people. On your next visit, schedule the Amazon to walk amongst Toucans and monkeys, explore Cartagena’s Old Town and fort, dance in Barranquilla during Carnaval, or take in Medellin to experience eternal spring and the most beautiful view in the world. I’m convinced Colombia will capture your heart as it has mine.