Bogotá is a city with a population of over 10 million people; and in a city this big it can be hard to know the best places to be, the safe places to go and where to venture to experience the best that Bogotá has to offer. This article will identify the 10 best neighborhoods in Bogotá and what to do and see within them.
This neighborhood is the historic and colonial heart of Bogotá and is home to a number of Bogotá’s must-see sights. Walking around this area – which is often referred to as “Downtown” – presents an idea of what the city once was like: colorful, colonial streets, cobbled roads, a hilly landscape and a real sense of true Colombian culture. La Candelaria is home to Bogotá’s famous Gold Museum, which houses over 55,000 individual pieces of gold discovered in various locations throughout Colombia. Another museum not to be missed is the Botero Museum, an art gallery that has a number of Van Gogh paintings, as well as masterpieces by Colombia’s one of a kind artist, Botero. La Candelaria is also home to many of Bogotá’s ministry buildings and the President’s house, which are located around the Plaza Bolivar; this large open space is very popular with tourists and hosts many events throughout the year. This neighborhood is touristy and a great starting point for many walking and graffiti tours, but it’s not the safest place to stay in Bogotá overnight.
Usaquén is located in the north of the city and is an area well known for its Sunday market: a large outdoor market where people can buy food, arts and crafts, as well as indigenous Colombian products. This neighborhood has a small village feel because of its cobbled streets, beautiful colonial architecture, and unique and wonderful restaurants. This is a very fashionable area of Bogotá and many people visit from all over the city.
Zona Rosa is home to fashionable malls, such as Andino and Atlantis, and high end boutiques and fashion stores. This is a safe area to stay in and walk around even in the evening, and many of the restaurants and bars are popular with locals. One of these restaurants is the famous Andres Carne de Res DC; this restaurant turned club provides a unique Colombian party experience with great food and live music. Zona Rosa also contains Zona T, a pedestrian only, T-shaped area filled with restaurants, bars and nightclubs; this is a popular area for locals and foreigners to visit on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night.
This neighborhood is one of the more upmarket areas of the city. Within this area there are two parks, Park Virrey and Park 93. Park El Virrey is a large park popular for dog walking and exercise classes; Park 93 is a smaller park that is surrounded by popular restaurants and upmarket stores – although this park also hosts a number of events throughout the year including concerts, festivals and fairs. Chico is a safe area to stay within the city and there are a large number of chain and individual hotels in the area.
This neighborhood is a relatively safe area and is home to many large expat communities; due to its central location many expats choose to set up home here and as a result, it’s a lively neighborhood with a large number of restaurants and bars. Chapinero is also home to a number of Bogotá’s universities meaning it has a large student presence as well. This area includes Bogotá’s Gourmet zone of Zona G, which is an area well known for its large array of restaurants specializing in international foods. This area is very popular with locals eating out and is the perfect place to sample some unique cuisine and experience Colombia’s food culture.
The neighborhood of Teusaquillo is home to Bogotá’s biggest park: Simón Bolivar park. This park covers a large area and hosts a variety of events, including concerts and fairs. The park is also a great place to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city; there is even a lake that is perfect for kayaking and peddle boating. Teusaquillo is also home to Corferias (a large convention center), various Government buildings, the US Embassy, and Virgilio Barco Library – Bogotá’s largest public library.
This neighborhood is located next to Teusaquillo and contains parts of the Simón Bolivar Park area, including the sports and recreational facilities. There are many opportunities to take part in sporting activities within the Coliseum – a small arena for sporting activities; the Aquatic arena – an Olympic-sized swimming and diving pool; the Park Special Recreation El Salitre – football pitches and basketball courts; and the Park of the Lake – which has football pitches, and motor cross and BMX tracks. Barrios Unidos is also home to the Magic Salitre (an amusement park), Bogotá’s Childrens’ Museum and the Metrópolis shopping center.
San Victorino is located between the La Candelaria neighborhood and Santa Fe. San Victorino is a unique place and definitely somewhere you need to experience first hand. This neighborhood contains a huge market area which sells everything, from household goods to everything you need to throw a Colombian-style party, at very reasonable costs.
Engativa is located next to Barrios Unidos on the outskirts of the city. This neighborhood is predominantly residential, but is also home to one of Bogotá’s biggest shopping centers, Titan Plaza, as well as the Portal 80 shopping center. This neighborhood is also home to the San Andrés Park sports facilities, which include volleyball, basketball and tennis courts, soccer pitches, a coliseum and a skating rink.
Santa Fe is in a well-connected area and is home to a number of universities, parks (such as the Park of Independence), and museums (the National Museum, Museum of Modern Art and the National library). The International Center is a popular place to live as there are a large number of bars and restaurants located there. On Sundays this neighborhood is popular with individuals participating in ciclovía (when roads close to cars between 7AM and 2PM allowing cyclists to use the roads safely) as fitness classes take place in the parks, and there are stands and markets set up. From this neighborhood you can take a cable car or train up to the Monserrate; this is one of Bogota’s most iconic landmarks and the pure white cathedral can be seen from all over the city. It’s only from here – 3,250 meters (10,660 feet) above sea level – that you get a true sense of the immense scale and magnificence of Colombia’s capital.
Bogotá’s neighborhoods vary dramatically and each is unique with a variety of different things to do and places to visit.