Bogota, Colombia

Santa Fe de Bogotá (Bogota) is the capital city of Colombia and with a population of about 8 million residents Bogota has a definite big city feel. As Colombia quickly emerges as the new hot spot of South America it’s not surprising that many people are choosing to learn Spanish in Bogota.

So why should you study Spanish in Bogota?

As a city Bogota is a mix of contrasts from the historic La Candelaria through to the newer northern suburbs where modern apartments buildings are popping up quicker than you can say “Colombia: the only risk is wanting to stay”. There is easily enough things to do and explore in Bogota to keep you busy for days, weeks or months. One place you really don’t want to miss is Andres Carne de Res, the most famous restaurant in Colombia, located in Chia just outside of Bogota.

If you’re a big city person then Bogota is the natural choice. Bogota has an array of  world class cafes and restaurants and a variety of international cuisine that is difficult to come across in other cities of Colombia.  It also has a thriving nightlife scene with something for lovers of all musical genres from the obvious Latin music (salsa, tango, reggeaton etc) through to rock and electronica and all variations in between.

Although Bogota receives the highest majority of overseas visitors to Colombia, the city itself doesn’t really have a touristy feel to it. Sure you might come across other English speakers whilst walking around La Candelaria or when partying in the Zona T, but if you’re living and studying Spanish in Bogota you will have a good opportunity to mix with the locals and put your new Spanish speaking skills into practice.

Bogota Tourism:

In addition to Wikipedia, there are plenty of good travel guides to Bogota out there so let me quickly run through the main tourist attractions of Bogota:

La Candalaria:  This is the historic quarter of Bogota, perfect for lovers of history and culture.  It is also a photographer’s delight.  Start off at the Plaza Bolivar which is surrounded by the National Palace and Catedral Primada and just walk around taking in the sites and sounds of the historic area.  You could walk around and think you’ve seen everything in an afternoon but that would be just scanning the surface of what there is to do.  The Museum of Bogota is a definite must visit and not only for the extensive work of Fernando Botero and his works of over sized people and objects.  Scattered throughout La Candalaria are several other museums,  galleries and a variety of quaint restaurants serving both traditional and modern cuisine.

Museo del Oro Bogota

Museo del Oro Bogota

Museo del Oro: The gold museum is a national treasure housing the country’s largest collection of pre-Hispanic gold artifacts as well as a items of pottery, wood and textiles. The museum gives a fascinating overview of how the indigenous communities extracted and manufactured these gold treasures and the importance of these artifacts in political and religious contexts. The 6,000 items on display are just 10% of the museums entire collection and is a miracle they still exist with the early Spanish having plundering the tombs of ancient civilizations to trade the gold in Europe.

Cerro Monserrate:  Located high about Bogota, Monserrate is not only destination for religious pilgrims but also for many tourists keen to see Bogota from the best vantage point in town. You can reach the top by cable car or funicular or try both and once at the top you are presented with the best view of Bogota, a cathedral, to the rear there are some souvenir shops and traditional style restaurants. Or if you prefer there are two fancy  restaurants perfect for a romantic lunch or dinner.  Make sure you take your camera and if possible try to go on a clear day.

Bogota Nightlife:

Bogota is a city full of life. I loved living there because of the historical architecture and the diverse range of people I met.Shruti Pandya (Australia)

Bogota has several entertainment and nightlife zones. Zona T, Zona G, Parque 93, Usaquen are the most well known and recommended. In all these zones you will find great restaurants, cool bars and maybe even some nightclubs. Usually the night starts earlier than other South American cities with locals choosing to go out directly from their offices to avoid peak hour traffic. Being a large and cosmopolitan city you can find all options ranging from a local beer bars through to cocktail lounges that would rival any European contender. The same goes for food. Traditional Colombian food is great but sometimes you have a craving for international food so restaurants such as Wok that serve excellent Asian cuisine are a godsend. If you’re not on a backpacker budget and looking for a great guide to Bogota’s nightlife scene then I highly recommend Hg2’s – Guide to Bogota. If you’re serious about learning Spanish in Bogota and really want to progress you’ll need to meet some locals to practice with; Gringo Tuesdays is a weekly language exchange event held at La Villa bar.

The Festivals:

Bogota hosts many large festivals throughout the year ranging from art, cinema, dance, classical music through to international DJ events. The best way to see what’s happening is through the local booking website Tu Boleta.

Bogota Factfile:

  • Bogota Population = 8.5 million
  • Bogota altitude =  2,625 meters (8,612 ft) above sea level
  • Bogota pronunciation = Bogo-ta, where the “ta” is sharp and emphasized.
  • Bogota time = to work out the time in Bogota take UTC/GMT -5 hours
  • Bogota climate = the average temperature in Bogota is 14.5 °C (58 °F) although it varies from 4 to 19 °C (39 to 66 °F). The driest months are December, January, July and August and the warmest month is March.
  • Bogota Postal Code = postal codes are not used in Colombia
  • Bogota Area Code = from overseas dial +57 4 or just +57 for mobile numbers
  • Bogota to Cartagena = 1hour 25 mins by plane or way too long in bus
  • Medellin to Bogota = 30 mins in plane or 10 hours in bus
  • Most offensive thing to do = apart from politics, Pablo Escobar, the Farc and drugs please never write Bogota, Columbia. Columbia is in North America. It’s Colombia not Columbia.
  • Bogota newspaper = El Tiempo
  • Best restaurants in Bogota = Matiz, El Cielo, Andres Carne de Res, Crepes and Waffles
  • Most visited tourist atractions in Bogota = The Museo de Oro, Monseratte

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