After Cole and I relocated back to the US, we knew we wanted to take advantage of the few opportunities we had remaining before our baby girl arrived to travel a bit more with just the two of us. We didn’t get to see that much of South America before we moved abroad so it was high on our list, however, many of the destinations have a threat of Zika so we knew we had to be cautious. Fortunately, Bogota’s high altitude meant that it was free from Zika where the mosquitos can’t survive and only a short flight away from Atlanta.
Since we were traveling over the weekend it meant we only had 36 hours in Bogota, but we made the most of our first time in Colombia. The city is expansive so there are lots of different neighborhoods to choose from – we decided to stay in Chapinero, which is located in the northern part of Bogota in ‘Zona G’. It’s one of the more affluent districts and known for its gourmet restaurants. With limited options available in the city with my company, we chose The Artisan Hotel which is part of the Autograph Collection. It was a beautiful boutique hotel with only 60 rooms decorated with authentic local details and very charming. We absolutely loved the Chapinero neighborhood with its quaint restaurants and neighborhood vibe, which offered a different pace than most of Colombia. Highly recommend staying in this area if you find yourself in Bogota.
Unfortunately, due to bad weather in Atlanta, our flight was delayed so we got to our hotel very late Friday night. We decided to call it a night and wake up early to start our adventure. We left the hotel by 9am, ready to hit the ground running. Our first stop was an amazing coffee shop and café nearby, Libertario Coffee. We tasted our first delicious Colombian coffee and enjoyed some wonderful breakfast of granola and avocado toast.
We then walked around the neighborhood before heading south to Monserrate. The monastery dates back to the 1600s and the only way to access it is either hiking up the steep climb or taking the funicular or cable car. Given the altitude and the fact that I was 30 weeks pregnant, we decided to opt out of the climb and took the funicular up. We were glad we got there early to avoid the worst of the lines and were up in the clouds at 10k feet after only a short wait. The funicular ride up offered sweeping views overlooking all of Bogota, but it was very steep. I am glad despite it being in operation since the 1800s, it is still safe! I was surprised at how beautiful it was up at the top of Monserrate. There’s a couple of restaurants in this Spanish architecture surrounded by gardens with lots of flowers. There’s also the original chapel built in 1640 and a small market and some food stalls (which I would recommend quickly passing through to get to the other side of the path to see some gorgeous views of the mountains). We spent a good hour just walking around and enjoying the beautiful vista before making our way back down on the funicular.
We found a nice path to walk through to the historic city center of Bogota, La Candelaria. Our first stop was La Puerta Falsa, a restaurant that’s been around since the 1800s and was on Anthony Bourdain’s recommendations as well as a friend of ours who provided some tips for the city. We ordered their infamous hot chocolate along with bread and cheese plate (sounds strange, I know) and their tamales. While they were both good, I think the place is more of an institution and we weren’t head over heels with the food. We walked around Bolivar Square and explored the neighborhood. It was quite touristy so we didn’t stick around too long before heading back up North.
We headed to Parque de la 93 neighborhood, stopping first by the park for a quick recharge relaxing in the sun and sprawling on the grass amongst the locals. We then walked along the quaint streets of this neighborhood and stopped at Azahar Café 93, one of the places I researched that has some of the best coffee in the city. We enjoyed a delicious cup and ordered some tasty arepas from the menu. We spent some more time wandering around the area, before heading south. This neighborhood was one of our favorites as well and would highly recommend checking it out for a more authentic and local vibe of Bogota.
We made our way south through the commercial and shopping district of Zona Rosa before we arrived at our next stop, Club de Tejo La 76. For those who haven’t heard of tejo, it’s basically Colombian cornhole where the board is made of clay and has gunpowder targets you are trying to hit. It’s a very local place and we were definitely the only foreigners in the place. We figured out the rules using my broken Spanglish and played for an hour getting to experience the local tradition and even some of our neighbors playing in the nearby lanes cheering us on as we got the hang of it. Cole beat me 2 games to 1, but I held my own and gave him some tough competition 😊.
After our game of tejo, we continued our own Colombian food tour by stopping at Empanadas Donde Tono. While the exterior and ambiance of the place may fool you, my research told me they had some of the best empanadas in town, which we can hands down confirm. We ended up ordering two rounds they were so delicious. After refueling, we headed to the hotel to freshen up and figure out our plans for the night.
Since we only had a bit of time to spend in the Chapinero neighborhood where our hotel was, we knew we wanted to spend the evening around there. Our hotel helped us pick a great restaurant located right around the corner called Armadillo. We actually we happened to walk by earlier in the day and stopped to peruse the menu as it looked very charming. Before heading to dinner though, we decided to enjoy our desert first by getting a churro from Bagatelle since they closed by 9pm. It was probably one of the best churros I’ve ever had in my life – crispy yet fluffy – and we combined it with some Colombian hot chocolate. It was the perfect start to our evening. We then followed this up with a delicious dinner at El Armadillo, which had this wonderful ambience. It was the perfect end to our 36 hours in Colombia.
We can’t wait to go back and get a chance to explore more of this amazing country.