Bogota, Colombia: Top Things to Do, Best Restaurants, Cheap Livability

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Bogota Colombia, Top Things to Do, Restaurants, Livability, Costs

Bogota: Top 10 Things to Do
      1. La Candelaria (map)::  La Candelaria is the center of Bogota for culture lovers.  This is the historical center of colonial era Bogota established in 1554 with many of the buildings centuries old.  Much of the area is preserved in its original state with cobblestone streets and original facades.  Because of its picturesque nature and early architectural examples, La Candelaria also includes many of the other top things to do such as Bolivar Plaza, Museo Botero, Cathedral of Colombia, and some great graffiti north of Plazuela del Chorro de Quevedo.  You could easily spend a few days taking in sights and sounds of La Candelaria.  We didn’t experience any trouble when we were there but many people say to avoid the area after dark unless you are traveling in a group.  Start your day early with a traditional Colombian breakfast at La Puerta Falsa.  Make sure to wander aimlessly and absorb the flavor of the architecture.  Then start clicking the below links and see some specific highlights here in the area.  

    1. Plazuela del Chorro de Quevedo:  If you enjoy the political and cultural nature of graffiti street art, then don’t miss the street heading north of this plaza.  Free.  Once you are in La Candelaria, just click the link to Plazuela del Chorro de Quevedo and let Google Maps point the way.  Most of the Graffiti pictures in this post are from the immediate streets dumping onto this plaza.  But there are also restaurants, coffee house and bars where you will see the locales and tourist enjoying their beautiful city.  Have a cup of Chicha while there.  $2.00 (USD) per cup.  It is traditional fermented drink of Colombia.  All the prices in here are USD.        
    2. Museo Botero:  Museo Botero is a must see if you enjoy modern art.  Free.  They have works there by Fernando Botero, which are a must see, but they were also displaying Miro, Picasso, Monet and others.  Once in La Candelaria, just click the link to the left and it will be close by.  
    3. Bolivar Plaza:  The pictures in the video where Qiang Hui has pigeons eating out of her hands, are from the middle of Bolivar Plaza.  Bolivar Plaza is also in La Candelaria.  Bolivar Plaza has the high court of Colombia where Pablo Escobar, is rumored to have financed the execution of 11 of the high court justices.  Make sure to go inside the Cathedral of Colombia when you are in the this plaza.  
    4. Cathedral of Colombia:  This is a must see while in La Candelaria.  Walk into the Cathedral from Bolivar Plaza.  Free.  While we were there, they just happened to have a free concert by the Colombia National Symphony. Also free.  Buy a handful of corn and take some pictures o f pigeon’s eating the corn out of your hands with the cathedral behind you.  25 cents.  
    5. Santuario Nacional de Nuestra Senora del Carmen:  This is a beautiful church in La Candelaria that is worth a short walk (1 km) away from the center of Bolivar Plaza.  Free entry.  It has nuances of Moorish influences you see in southern Spain.  It is the church in the video with horizontal tan and red striped columns.  While walking the short distance to or from this church, stop in the courtyard of Hotel De Oro and have lunch.    
    6. Museo de Oro:  The museum of gold is has an amazing display of gold works from Colombia dating back more than 500 years before Spanish colonization.  $2 per person.  The gold pieces in the video are taken from the museum.   
    7. Jardin de Botanico:  On a beautiful day, throw on some sunblock and head over to the Bogota Botanical Garden.  $1.50 person.  You’ll be in and out of the in under an hour including a cup of the best coffee you have ever had.   
    8. Monserrate: Bogota is already 2650 meters above sea level.  Take take the Monserrate cable car (Teleférico) to the top, 3152 meters, to see the most spectacular views of Bogota.  $6 per person.  Go around 4pm so you can see the view in the light and then have dinner at Casa San Isidro Restaurant at the top of Monserrate.  Enjoy a nice 2 hour dinner while you listen to live piano in fireplace light, and once your meal is complete it will be dark.  No walk out and see what Bogota looks like from the top of Monserrate at night.  About $20 per person without alcohol.  Wine is about $25 per bottle and beer is about $3 bottle.  Your support will help us share information how to travel the world and how to make money online.  If you purchase anything we suggest below, we will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  => For a listing of Apartments, Hotels, and Hostels in Bogota, please visit click this link <=  If you book using this link, it will cost you nothing, but we will get a small commission that will help us continue creating travel information. 
Bogota Favourite Restaurants:
  1. Il Tinello: This restaurant cooked my favorite dish while I was in Bogota.  It is a favorite so just ask.  I couldn’t find the menu online.  You can show them the picture of Qian Hui watching them make the meal, or just describe the dish to them.  They cook the pasta first and then throw it into a huge cheese wheel.  While they stir the pasta inside a parmesan cheese wheel at your table, flakes of the cheese are scraped into the dish by the spoon.  It was delicious.  With salad and shared pasta, the meal was about $15 per person not including alcohol.  Wine is $8 a glass and beer was $4 per bottle.   
  2. Abasto: This place was so good we went back.  We had a portobello burger the first time with a vegetable soup and a creamy squash risotto dish with carrot soup the second visit.  Dishes were about $10, soups were about $6.  Wine was $7 and beer was $3.
  3. Wok:  This place was two blocks from our Airbnb.com apartment in Chapinero.  They had some nice Asian dishes which included vegetarian and vegan.  The meals were about $10 without alcohol.  Wine was $8 glass and beer was $3.  
  4. La Puerta Falsa: Have a traditional Colombian breakfast at this national Colombian treasure serving breakfast since 1816.  It is a natural first stop before beginning your walk around La Candelaria.  Order Chanqua which is a soup of warm milk, cheese, and two soft boiled eggs.  Also, if there are two of you, order the Hot Chocolate that comes with cheese and bread.  Two people will be unable to finish this breakfast.  Cost: About $4 per person.  From here you are just steps from the start of your day, see Bolivar Plaza above in top things to do.  
  5. Casa San Isidro Restaurant:  This was a lovely evening.  See the Things to Do discussion of “Monserrate” above to learn more about this restaurant at the top of Monserrate.  Enjoy the last light upon arrival at the top of Monserrate.  Then have a nice 2 hour dinner in this resturant while you listen to live piano in fireplace light.  Once your meal is complete it will be dark.  Now walk out and see what Bogota looks like from the top of Monserrate at night.  About $20-$30 per person without alcohol.  Wine is about $25 per bottle and beer is about $3 bottle.    
  6. Andres DC:  We never made it here but everyone raves about it.  They were closed in the night we tried to go.  
Bogota Livability Factors:
  1. Walkability:  La Candelaria must be walked to be appreciated.  There rest of the city is fairly spread out so walking may not be practical unless it is within a neighborhood.  But when you find yourself in a beautiful place like La Candelaria or Chapinero feel free to walk around during the day.  
  2. Internet:  We stayed in an Airbnb.com condo and the Internet wasn’t what I need.  For digital nomads, and people working online, try to find a coworking space if you need guaranteed speeds.
  3. Exercise:  We stayed in the Chapinero area of Bogota and ran around the neighborhood for exercise.
  4. Safety: After dark, it can be dangerous to walk around.  We were fine walking in the day, but at night we used Uber.  It never hurts to visit the US State Department’s Travel Warnings, and check any country you are visiting.
  5. Nightlife:  We didn’t check out the nightlife while in Bogota.  I was swamped with work.  But here is a digital nomad talking about it.  
  6. Food Costs (Grocery):  You can save money in Bogota by cooking at home, no doubt.  I would say that food costs from the grocery store are only about 20-30% cheaper than the USA.  But that is high quality food from a high end grocery like Carulla.  We didn’t have time to check out more budget friendly neighborhood groceries.
  7. Weather:  Colombia is near the equator.  So the temperatures don’t fluctuate much byseason.  However, at 2650 meters above sea level, Bogota’s temperature is cool year round varying only slightly by season.  During our November visit, days were 12C to 19C and nights were 8C to 12C.
  8. Health Risks:  Yellow Fever shots are required to visit many parts of Colombia, but not Bogota apparently.  The CDC and other web pages talk about more dangerous areas.  If you are traveling to any of those locations, get your free Yellow Fever shot when you land at the Bogota airport.  Just have the information desk point you to the Vaccinations clinic on the second floor of the airport.  But if you need any of the other shots recommended for Bogota by the CDC, get those before coming to Colombia.
Bogota Money Saving Tricks:
  1. SIM Card: Unlock your smartphone before arrival.  Upon arrival at the airport get a SIM card that for about $25 for 4G speeds for a month and Internet.  
  2. Taxi and Airport Transfers: In a word, Uber.  Load Uber onto your smartphone before you arrive.  Uber is illegal in Colombia, so the driver will ask you to sit in the front seat so they don’t look like an Uber driver.  I read that you should only get in a taxi that you have called first by telephone.  Don’t ask a random taxi to stop.  There is no record of you being with them, because you didn’t call and register, there is a very small chance you’ll get mugged or killed.  It has happened to people.  I decided to use Uber since it is so easy and there is an international record of the transaction that the driver can’t erase.  Super Important Tip:  Pick a well known landmark and select that for your Uber pick-up location.  The drivers can’t seem to find addresses here.  We stayed next to the Indonesian Embassy so we gave that as a pick up and drop off location and they found it every time.     
  3. Accommodations:  We stayed in the Chapinero area in an Airbnb condo for about $40 per night.  It was a gorgeous condo in an amazing area, but the Internet sucked so I won’t recommend it.  Life is too short.  But I can tell you how to save money in general with Airbnb.  Just email 5 to 10 hosts making them an offer of whatever you want to pay.  One of them is likely to accept.  I do this every time.  One always accepts if you stay within 25% of what they are asking for.  
  4. Public Transportation:  There was no subway and Uber was cheap so we stayed away from the buses.   
  5. Onward Flights:  We were flying from Mexico to Bogota on a one way ticket and Interjet wouldn’t let us board the flight because we didn’t have a return ticket or an onward ticket.  Tip:  Book on Orbitz and they will let you cancel the ticket if you do it within 24 hours.  Book right before jumping on your plan and cancel when you land.    
Closing Thoughts

Honestly, we only went to Bogota because all the cheap flights to Colombia seemed to stop in Bogota first anyway.  So why not check it out.  But I am happy with that decision.  The people of Bogota should stand proud and smile.  It is a lovely place.  Like many parts of the world, the people shine even while their government, influential citizens, pay far too little attention to creating an environment that fosters a middle class.  Colombia is the 63rd country I have visited since leaving the United States in 2007.  

Colombia is rising from the ashes of corruption caused by the influence of US demand for cocaine.  All while the USA, seems less and less interested in protecting the path from poverty to middle class, educating the young, taking care of the old, and building an economic system that works for everyone.   While much of the world rises, the USA seems be falling for failed political strategies, like concentration of wealth, that has ruined much of the world for centuries.  

Thank you for reading this post about Bogota Colombia.  Please leave a comment below, subscribe to our youtube channel, or share this video with your friends.  Please visit Vagabondbuddha.com if you would like to learn how to wander the planet being healthy wealthy and wise.  The world is your home.  What time will you be home for dinner?  This is Dan Bell from VagabondBuddha.com.

Have an amazing day!  Below are example costs of living in Bogota.  

Cost of Living, Bogota, Colombia
Cost of Living, Bogota, Colombia: Monthly Multiplier ($USD)
Expense Cost Low Medium High
Airbnb (1 Bedroom Apt) $40.00 0 14 30
Moderate Hotel $30.00 0 12 0
Backpacker Hostel $12.00 30 4 0
High End Restaurant $15.00 1 4 8
Local Restaurant $4.00 30 44 48
Food Cart $2.00 30 12 4
Subway/Train/Metro $1.00 20 26 8
Bus $1.00 20 10 0
Taxi $4.00 6 10 20
Total Per Month $559 $736 $1608
Total Per Day $19 $25 $53

For information about how the above “Cost of Living Monthly Multiplier” works, please visit the bottom of this page at Vagabond Buddha.  It does not include alcohol, excursions, or extras, and it is for one person.  For two people you would double food but not transportation or accommodations unless it is a hostel dorm.      

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