Bogota, the capital of the Republic of Colombia, is located 2,460 meters above sea level in the center of the country. Known for spectacular cultural and natural places of interest, Bogota is an outstanding tourist destination filled with parks, museums, universities, galleries, churches, and countless recreational attractions. Colombia’s rich culture and long-standing customs are blended into everything within the city from their classic hearty cuisine to traditional artwork.
Though Bogota is not nearly as dangerous as some perceive it to be, there are certain sections that are better to visit than others. El Centro, which is in the middle of the city, is the financial district and has a downtown area that is very similar to those of North America. El Occident and The North are areas located in the north and northeastern part of Bogota. These are the most affluent areas and the best places for shopping, authentic restaurants and cafes, nightclubs, and many Colombian and multinational attractions.
Bogota offers everything from beautiful cathedrals and sprawling outdoor parks, to a vibrant nightlife filled with a wide variety of bars, clubs, and restaurants, many of which are open until the morning hours. Simon Bolivar Metropolitan Park is located in the center of Bogota and is a large urban park that hosts outdoor concerts (many of which are free). The Museo de Oro, or the Gold Museum, has an impressive collection of gold and pre-Colombian artifacts. This small museum presents the history of Colombia through handmade gold artwork and is a fascinating stop on your Bogota itinerary. Just outside Bogota in the town of Zipaquira stands the Salt Cathedral. This otherworldly attraction is made entirely of salt inside the cathedral walls, which depicts the crucifixion and other Christianity-inspired scenes. This beautiful building is not only an inspirational tribute to Colombia’s heritage and faith but also a true architectural feat.
Characterized by its fusion of Afro-European and Spanish influences, Colombian cuisine is a flavorful blend that highlights traditional dishes such as ajiaco (chicken soup with potatoes and herbs), fritanga (grilled meats) and tamales. For a superior five-star restaurant (the only one in the country) with a French-inspired menu, Criterion is located in Bogota’s Zona G. Astrid y Gaston is a Colombian and Peruvian fusion spot where reservations are required, and well worth it.
Located 20 minutes from downtown, Bogota is served by El Dorado International Airport (BOG). It receives many flights from major North and South American cities, including New York City, Washington, D.C., Miami, Mexico City, Sao Paolo, and Buenos Aires. Because the city was built on a grid system, Bogota is fairly easy to navigate around, but guided transportation is recommended. Transmilenio is a new rapid bus system that is both convenient and inexpensive, making stops in just about every zone in the city. There are also privately owned bus companies, as well as taxis —which is an efficient way to get around. Calling ahead is highly recommended for safety.
Bogota is characterized by a moderate highlands climate, with dry and rainy seasons alternating throughout the year. The city’s average temperatures for each month has little variation, as it remains near a mild 66° F (18.7° C) during every month due to its extreme elevation. Spring and early Fall are Bogota’s rainy season, remaining dry the rest of the year. There is no best time to visit Bogota, as it remains a year-round destination for travelers.