Hotels in Bogotá, Colombia
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Experience Bogota, Colombia’s energetic capital in the Andes
Bogota is not only the capital and largest city in fascinating Colombia, but is also the third largest metropolis in northern America after only Mexico City and New York City. The city holds a population of almost nine million people, who hail from all parts of the country and therefore create a cultural melting pot that helps make the Bogota interesting, energising place to visit that it is.
A world-class city of contrasts
Colombia may not have had a reputation as the safest place to visit until recent years, but Bogota is now considered of the same class as cities like San Francisco, Dubai or Berlin when it comes to economic, political and cultural development.
The multiculturalism evident throughout Bogota means it enjoys great diversity, not only differing between areas of the city, but also offering a mix of architecture with skyscrapers and modern hotels casting shadows over plazas and churches that date back hundreds of years, leafy landscapes with parks and bicycle trails beside hectic roads jostling with traffic, and immense variety when it comes to food, activities and culture.
Eating like a local: Ajiaco, Arepa and Bandeja Paisa
Food in Bogota has many influences, with North American and European cuisines to be found along with fusion and familiar takeaway options. Traditional dishes to try include Ajiaco, a soup made of chicken, different kinds of potato, corn, capers, avocado, sour cream and last but far from least, South American herb guasca; Arepa, a bread made of cornmeal often served with butter or corn; and Bandeja Paisa, which is considered to be a national dish in Colombia, and presents a platter of steak, pork crackling and sausages on rice and red beans.
There are also snacks that might sound a touch more familiar, like Empanadas – which are normally fried rather than baked in Colombia, and breakfast dishes such as churros and Changua, a rich soup made of milk, water, egg, spring onions and coriander served with stale bread.
The final challenge on your to-eat list should be Hormigas Culonas, which are ants that have been soaked in salt water, roasted and are thereafter believed to act as an aphrodisiac.
Views of Bogota and beyond
Bogota’s geographical position at 2,600 metres above sea level makes for unpredictable, indecisive weather – which matches perfectly with the city’s character of contrasts. The city is situated on a plateau in the Andes Mountains, across which flows the Bogota River, bounding the metropolis to the west. The Eastern Cordillera borders Bogota to the east and in the middle of the city, near where most major hotels are situated, lies the striking centrepiece of Montserrate, rising over 3,000 metres above the sea level.
On top of Montserrate is a church, along with restaurants, a café and some facilities for tourists including souvenir stores. The site is a destination for pilgrims, who prefer the method of climbing to reach the peak, though aerial tramway and funicular are also available. The views from the top are spectacular, and the peak of Montserrate is therefore a popular place for tour and hotel groups to watch the sunset.
Architecture and La Candelaria
Bogota has achieved an appealing mix of colonial and modern architecture that combine with the spectacular backdrop provided by the Andes and the drama of Montserrate to create a stunning cityscape. Views from the top of Monteserrate are superb, but visitors will find just as much charm at street level strolling through neighbourhoods like La Candelaria, where the best of the city’s Colonial architecture and history can be found.
La Candelaria is essentially Bogota’s version of an ‘old town’, as it was the first neighbourhood in the city and is therefore home to a mixture of well-preserved historical buildings in Spanish Colonial, Baroque and art deco styles. It is easy to spend a few hours wandering the cobble-stoned streets of La Candelaria, where there are museums to explore, cafes in which to sip a coffee, universities and libraries that add an upscale edge, and boutique shops and hotels that complete the eclectic neighbourhood.
Colombia’s popularity as a destination for travellers has increased dramatically over recent years, after decades of alarming news on kidnappings and warring drug barons made the country a touch less welcoming for foreigners.
They key now is to stay in locations already identified as ‘safe’ by your government (most offer some sort of online travel advisories or warnings to protect their citizens abroad) and stick to major areas where other tourists can be found. You should also ask locals and staff at your hotel in Bogota for any areas to avoid.
Crime and incidents along major routes in Bogota, including on public transport, are now all but unheard of, though it is recommended that visitors carry as little cash as possible and avoid travelling through remote areas at night.