We flew to Bogotá in July and had a great week in Bogotá, Medellin and Cali.
While we stayed for a full week, Bogotá is the sort of city which can be done in a weekend, with flight times and a time zone that work well for US travellers.
We stayed at the fantastic Sofitel Bogota Victoria Regia hotel which is close to some great restaurants. The hotel didn’t feel particularly close to many attractions, but Ubers were very cheap.
We flew in on a Delta flight arriving early evening. After getting a local taxi to the hotel, we went for dinner at Central Cevichería Cll 85. The restaurant offered excellent cocktails and fantastic seafood. We’d highly recommend the local cocktail, Aguardiente and the ceviche.
We woke up early the next morning and grabbed a few bakery items from Les Amis Bizcocheria. If you’re staying nearby, we’d highly recommend a visit. The cafe can be a little hard to find – you have to use the buzzer, walk through the gates and then up a flight of stairs – but it’s worth it. We ended up going every day for breakfast. Try the Arepas!
Bike Tour of Bogotá
Next up was a bike tour of Bogotá – we used the excellent Bogotá Bike Tours. This was the best way to see the city and meet people. We enjoyed the 5 hour tour and saw sites across the city, including some food tasting.
After the tour, we stayed for a few drinks with people who’d also been on the tour.
Fine dining at Leo in Bogotá
We managed to get a last minute reservation at the restaurant Leo. The restaurant is run by local chef Leonar Espinosa and focused on showcasing Colombian ingredients. The restaurant is placed at number 46 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and we loved the eight course tasking menu.
I’m a picky eater and usually skeptical of tasting menus, however they managed to accommodate my requirements and loved the dinner.
Don’t be put off by the $$$$ rating on Google – the food was delicious and reasonable compared to US prices. Worth visiting if you’re celebrating something special.
Zipaquirá Salt Cathedral and Mines
Next up was a trip to the Zipaquirá Salt Cathedral and Mines which was about an hour and half drive from the hotel. The hotel arranged a driver for the day who was very friendly and helpful. Feel free to get in touch if you would like his phone number.
The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá is an underground church built in the tunnels of a salt mine. Apparently, in addition to being a tourist attraction it is also a place of pilgrimage in the country. Though based on our experience, there are far more tourists than there are pilgrims.
The salt cathedral has a number of different rooms/areas which have various religious symbols highlighted with LED lights. The effect is interesting at first but we found that it became a bit repetitive and was aiming to attract the Instagram crowd more than anything else.
Interesting to look around, but I’m not sure I’d repeat the journey. I suspect I’d have found the local town far more interesting to look around.
Regardless, here are some of the shots we took.
Andrés Carne de Res
While driving back to Bogotá, our driver suggested we grabbed lunch at Andrés Carne de Res. As we were hungry we agreed to go – and what a great surprise it was.
The restaurant is a wacky building full of lights, trinkets and fun staff. We had a blast here and wish we’d been able to stay longer. Eater have a great review which summarizes better than I ever could. If we’re ever back in Bogota, we’d go back in the evening to maximize the experience. Must do experience – especially if you’re returning from the Salt Catherdal.
Museums and Monserrate
Our last day in Bogotá was a bit chaotic as there was some pretty severe storms that we definitely weren’t prepared for. We grabbed a cheap Uber to Monserrate from the hotel early in the morning to arrive just as monsoon style rain was falling. Not wanting to hike up Monserrate in the storm, we got an Uber to the Botero Museum. This museum features some classic Latin American art, including works by Fernando Botero. It’s more of an art gallery than a museum. You’ll instantly recognize art by Fernando Botero and we enjoyed the museum – we’d recommend.
We also visited the Gold Museum of Bogotá which we were very underwhelmed by – too many tourists and not enough information about the exhibits.
After the storms passed, we Uber’d to the base of Monserrate where we joined the line for tickets on the tramway. The line was long and took about 30 minutes. The line split early on for people who had tickets and those who did not. A good tip is to split your party, one join the line to buy tickets and one join the line for the tram.
There were great views at the top and the hike down wasn’t too painful – though walking down is always painful on the knees.
At the bottom of the hill we encountered another big storm which meant a long wait for an Uber back to the hotel. We got to bed early as we had a morning flight on to Medellin…