If you’re traveling to Bogotá, try to refrain from the urge to binge-watch the latest Netflix original series, Narcos. Here is more useful and relevant information on how to make the most of your trip.
1. Yes, the equator crosses through Colombia.
No, Bogotá is not a tropical destination. At more than 8,500 feet above sea level, nestled amid the beautiful Andes Mountains, the city’s climate is quite chilly and overcast. Pack a few sweaters, a jacket for the evenings and an umbrella for the occasional shower.
2. While a walking or biking tour may sound like a great idea…
Keep in mind the change in altitude may affect your body. Give yourself time to adjust and plan physically challenging activities a few days after you’ve arrived so you can keep up. Check out Bogotá Bike Tours or Walking Graffiti Tours.
Every Sunday, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., miles of streets across the city shut down to motorists and open up to cyclists, walkers, joggers and skaters to freely move around. Ciclovía is a long-held tradition and a great way to get out and feel positive vibes in the city.
4. Traffic in Bogotá is nightmarish.
While local government officials try to find ways to accommodate the city’s growth (read about “Pico y Placa”), Bogotanos rely on an impressive system of red, extra-long buses called TransMilenio. The buses operate in dedicated lanes and are a fast, cheap way to move around the city. That being said, during rush hour prepare to become one with your inner sardine and beware of pickpockets.
5. If you prefer to catch a cab, you have two options – but one is only sort of legal.
Hailing a cab in the street can be dangerous, especially for foreigners. Safer to request a cab via the mobile app, Tappsi, which gives you information about the driver and a secure code for the transaction. Uber has run into some legal trouble in Colombia, but remains fully operational. They even offer extra options including Uber Angel, Uber English and UberBici. Their growing popularity has solicited the ire of taxi drivers, and police are selectively cracking down. Ride at your own risk.
6. Lunch is traditionally the biggest meal of the day for Colombians, so get out there and try something new!
Check out Zona Rosa for an array of bar and restaurant options. It’s also home to the Food Truck Park. Depending on where you’re staying, you could also try ordering in through the popular app, Domicilios. Most people don’t know, Colombia is big on soups—my personal recommendation is the ajiaco.
7. Not all coffee is created equal.
Around the world, “Colombian coffee” is recognized as some of the best, but it’s not all the same. Stop by one of many cafes and ask a barista about the differences in strength and flavor. Much of it depends on where in Colombia it was cultivated and how it was processed. Then add on how it’s prepared: café con leche is delicious with breakfast, and un tinto is great on a chilly afternoon.
8. Colombia offers other interesting drinks.
Stop by Café Devoción for a delicious Honey Berry infusion, or if you’re getting a party started, you’re your local Carulla grocery story and get some aguardiente.
9. One way Colombians like to have fun is playing Tejo.
Atraditional sport that involves throwing a metal disk at a board filled with explosives. Check out some videos on YouTube to get a sense of the game and give it a try at Club de Tejo de la 77, Carrera 24 #77-40.
10. Drug trafficking and guerrilla violence should still not be your go-to conversation starter.
Colombians are proud of a history and culture that encompasses so much more. Just ask.
Photos: Danielle Douez
What do you think of these travel tips for Colombia? Let us know in the comments.