GREAT THINGS TO DO IN BOGOTA
If you find yourself travelling around South America, or you have plans to visit this continent, you can’t leave Colombia out of your list of “Countries to Visit”! Located in the northwest of South America, there is absolutely no doubt that you will be left amazed by the huge cultural and natural diversity of this country.
The capital of Colombia is Bogota and it is also the largest city in the country with nearly 9 million inhabitants. These people would also be known as Bogotanos. However, there are so many people from all different regions of the country living in Bogota, they come from the coast, the coffee region (who are known as paisas), the countryside, from Boyaca etc, all with plans to build a life for themselves in the capital. There are some people who would claim that the strangest thing you could come across in Bogota is a bogotano! In this great city, due to the wide spectrum of people, we are a mix of accents, dialects, traditions, ways of dressing and acting. This city of 1.578 kilometers is made up of all of the cultures and people of all regions of Colombia.
When I’m in Bogota, what type of things I can do?
When you are travelling as a true traveller, it’s the norm to be looking at what to do within a budget, but don’t worry, in Bogota there are plenty of wallet safe plans for you to get involved with! Here, I will mention some great free activities but also some that cost very little and will definitely be worth it!
CULTURAL, ACADEMIC AND ARTISTIC PLANS
Bogota is a city with a very prominent cultural and artistic scene. Everyday of the week you can find schedules of expositions or features in different museums, cultural and academic spaces, lecture halls, expositions, art installations, concerts, informative talks, dances, theatre, cinema, and also activities such as cultural and language exchanges, that could be not only interesting but useful for a traveller, whom I’m pretty sure would need to be able to communicate with a local every now and then. The objective of a traveller is obviously to explore and get to know the culture of a country and its different artistic expressions.
1 – CINEMATECA DISTRITAL:
This space is located in Carrera 7 No. 22-79 in which it presents different expositions from Colombian artists. They also organise workshops for children and adults, have investigation groups, and there is also a cinema room that’s is open everyday of the week, the movies they present could be Colombian or from others foreign countries, with different genres and including both shorts and feature length movies. (This is subject to the monthly programming).
2 – CENTRO CULTURAL GABRIEL GARCÍA MARQUEZ
Located in Calle 11 No. 5 – 60, this is an open recreational, cultural and historical space where you can find the FCE, one of the most important Mexican bookstores, a gallery, a music store, an auditorium that can fit 324 people for concerts and lectures, a restaurant and a Juan Valdez Coffee Shop. The majority of activities that take place in this space are completely free!
Bogota is full of theatres and foundations that perform plays, dances and concerts. Some of these cost, although it is better to look at the schedule for each theatre as there are many plays performed by students undertaking theatrical training and these ones are either free or very cheap.
This is a list of the top 5 most famous theatres, but the list is gigantic!
- Teatro Cristobal Colón
- Teatro Jorge Eliécer Gaitán: http://www.teatrojorgeeliecer.gov.co
- Fundación Gilberto Alzate
- Teatro Libre Centro:http://www.teatrolibre.com/
- Teatro Nacional Fanny Mikey http://www.teatronacional.com.co/sitio/index.php
- Casa Ensamble www.casaensamble.com
4 – CULTURAL AND LANGUAGE EXCHANGE
In Bogotá you can find different places where you can find language exchange. A good way to find them is through the social webside www.couchsurfing.com or www.meetup.com. This is an event that I can highly recommend, because is a great opportunity for you if you want to get to know locals, practice spanish and help others to practice your native language. https://www.couchsurfing.com/events/cultural-and-language-exchange-bogota. The event takes place every thursday at 5-8pm at Whee Institute, which is a Cultural Centre, where apart from the language cultural exchange, they have other activities like spanish and dance lessons, and tours . Here is the website if you want to take a look: www.wheeinstitute.org
Additionally in Bogota, every month there is an extensive cultural schedule of activities. There are all types of festivals including ones of theatre, music, art, cinema, gastronomy etc, with something for all tastes and ages. Here is a webpage in which you can find current information in regards to all these types of activities http://www.bogota.gov.co/agenda-cultural-bogota
In Bogotá you can find several parks well equipped, where you can run and workout. Also Bogotá has different main roads with bike paths, so you will be able to ride a bicycle in a safe way. These are other sport plans you can do in Bogotá
5 – Ciclovía: Cycleway:
In Bogotá on every sunday and holiday, some main roads are blocked off for cars, in order to let bicyclists, runners, skaters, and walkers roam free over the roads from 7:00am to 2:00pm. In different parks connected by those streets, you can find aerobics, yoga teachers and different activities, so you can stop for a while and do more than one thing during your time in the cycleway. This is completely free of charge.
6 – Parque Simón bolívar:
This is the biggest park in Colombia, which has an entertainment and sports complex. This is a good place to go for a walk, play sports, and also you can drive a boat in a big lake inside of the park. In this park also several concerts and festivals take place during the whole year. The entrance is for free and it is open everyday from 6:00am to 6:00pm
7 – YOGA:
Jose Celestino Mutis Botanical Garden is a place where you can realise how biodiverse is Colombia, in this place you will find an exhibition of different plants that grow in different ecosystem, like orchids, palm trees and roses, with all the necessary information. Also, every Sunday in this place they offer yoga lessons at 9:00am for free, you just have to pay the entrance to the Botanical Garden which is $2.700COP
8 – GASTRONOMIC AND PLANS
On the other hand, Bogota has an incredibly delicious gastronomic variety. You can find things such as fruits which you have never tasted before, to different ways in preparing some typical Colombian dishes. Also, you could find yourself eating an arepa with chorizo in the street or enjoying a Chuleta Valluna or an Ajiaco Santafereño in a gourmet restaurant. You can come across great restaurants all over the city but there are 3 main areas to go to eat: La Candelaria which is the historic centre of Bogotá, Chapinero Alto which is known as Zona G where you can find different national or international style restaurants, or also Usaquen which is in the north of the city and is the area which still has its traditional Bogotano architecture beautifully preserved. Whichever area you choose would depend on your budget and the type of experience you would want to have; all the options are very highly recommended.
These are some recommended restaurants:
- Panadería la Florida Cra. 7 #21-46: This is one of the oldest bakeries in Bogota being more than 78 years old. It is located in La Candelaria and there you will be able to enjoy the best hot chocolate as it is responsible for making this bakery so famous. I would advise you to go during the morning for a true Santaferño breakfast experience.
- Restaurante Las Margaritas Cl. 62 #7-77: This restaurant has typical dishes from Bogota, located in Chapinero, and conserving the typical recipes from more than 110 years ago. If you want to experience true bogotano gastronomy, this is the perfect place. Don’t forget to ask for their famous empanadas; nobody can go to this restaurant without trying them, they are delicious.
- Restaurante el Kutral Calle 17 # 2 – 60 : This is an argentinian Restaurant, located in Candelaria, the food is delicious, and for a very good price you can enjoy a complete lunch or dinner.
- Wok: This is a restaurant of Asiatic food. If you love sushi, this is for sure the best place to go to eat in Bogotá.
9 – SOME OTHER PLANS FOR FREE THAT WE RECOMMEND
As I have already said there are many plans to do in Bogotá. These are some others that you can do for free: Graffiti tour, “Mercado de las pulgas” Usaquen and Downtown , Casa De Nariño (Presidential House), walking around Historical Center (Candelaria).