While Bogota is a huge city with endless things to see and do, it’s the neighboring towns that make the list for bohemian traveler worthy destinations.
Most travelers passing through Bogota stay in the historic downtown district of La Candelaria. Partly due to a surplus of affordable hostels located here, it’s also the center for art galleries, museums and cultural centers. Museums worth checking out include Museo Botero, Museo del Oro (Gold Museum), Casa de Moneda and Museo Nacional. Bike tours are also offered through La Candelaria and other parts of the city. Bogota is the third most street-art heavy city in South America and this is best seen by foot.
Ask any local and they will tell you to make the trek to Monserrate, the highest peak in Bogota. The adventurous have the option of hiking up and down the mountain but the more common route is by cable railway. Once you reach the top, there is a chapel, a market and various restaurants and cafes. The market vendors sell traditional beverages with Aguardiente and typical street food. It rains quite frequently in Bogota so make sure plan your visit on a clear day for the best possible view.
Chia & La Calera
Both located north of Bogota, Chia and La Calera are two towns with endless personality. On the dirt roads leading you to La Calera you find traditional style restaurants and outdoor excursion activities until you find the main hub of Calera. Chia is home to Colombia’s most famous restaurant, Andres Carne de Res. The landscape alone is a vast difference from the city building that comprise Bogota.
Another small town outside of the city is Guatavita which has a very interesting story. The town was literally relocated to make room for a huge reservoir aimed at generating electricity. The town offers a slew of restaurants, market shops and a spectacular view of the reservoir and surrounding mountains. A short drive away is the Lake Guatavita which is definitely worth a visit to learn more about the lake’s legend of El Dorado.
Not far from Guatavita is an indigenous town called Guasca. Here you will find the typical Spanish-style main square, old-fashioned bars and restaurants and impressive ancient statues. There is not too much to do in Guasca but it’s an ideal example of local like outside of Bogota. Families gather here to listen to music, eat desserts from street vendors and enjoy the simpler things in life.
Home of the Salt Cathedral, Zipaquirá is not terribly far from Bogota. There are daily tour operators that take travelers to and from the salt mines providing information about the history of the town along the way. Although a heavily-visited tourist attraction and even a wedding location, it is worth fitting this half-day trip into your schedule. The Salt Cathedral is open daily for visitors and generally costs COP$17,000.
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