Colombia is a treasure that is being rediscovered. Moving beyond a reputation of drug wars, kidnapping, and bad media coverage, this country is in full blossom and it doesn’t seem like it is going to stop any time soon. One of the most visited countries in 2016, this rainforest landscape has something more than their famous coffee to show you. With beautiful colonial cities like Cartagena, modern architecture jewels like Medellin, and impressive museums and restaurants like the ones in Bogota, you probably won’t want to leave. You will be amazed by how tasty the food is: they produce most of the products they use in their personal kitchens, so expect freshness and high-quality cuisine. Colombia is also incredibly fun: their lively nightlife will have you dancing until sunrise. Follow this city guide and I’ll make sure you have as much fun as I did!
Bogota is Colombia’s high altitude capital and is where the biggest gay scene of the country is centered. Like most Latin American capitals, Colombia is huge, so I recommend staying in any of the two main neighborhoods that host the gay scene, Chapinero and Zona Rosa. Although La Candelaria or the historic center features the beautiful colonial-era landmarks, the hot gay spots are not walkable from there.
If you’re in more of a touristy mode than a party mode then La Candelaria is your best option. It’s also where the best hostels are. You will also find two of the most popular museums: Museo Botero, showcasing Fernando Botero’s art, and Museo del Oro, displaying pre-Columbian gold pieces. Make sure not to miss them, they are truly remarkable.
Gay City Guide
Bogota Gay Parade June 27, 2017
I am posting the pride date because I’m sharing all the dates of each city I’ve visited, but Pride is not something huge in Colombia. Most of their homosexuals are not proud of being who they are. Call it the culture, or fear to their fathers, but sadly most Colombians carry the closet and shame all the way to the grave. From being one of the biggest cities in Latin America, with 6.7 million people, only two thousand make it to the Pride each year. But then, it makes sense that Bogota hosts the biggest gay club in Latin America and one of the biggest in the world. They don’t go out and fight for their rights but they sure smuggle in the darkness, between cocaine and cheap Vodka, calling themselves gay-friendly or curious. Well, the curiosity brings more than 3,000 people each weekend night to Theatron.
Good for cheap beers and drinks before heading to the big clubs. Most of the bars and clubs in Chapinero area are pretty cheap. Zona Rosa is expensive, so if you are thinking of spending a night at Zona Rosa my recommendation is to come to the bars in Chapinero for a pre-game and then head north. Open Monday to Saturday at 8:00 pm.
Location: Cl. 60 #9A-11, Chapinero
This cozy, vintage lounge will make you feel like you are back in 90’s New York. One of the oldest gay bars in the city, it is one of those places that hasn’t lost its charm with time. A great bar to share a cocktail, it’s one of the most beautiful gay spots in the city.
Location: Carrera. 8 No. 64 – 29, Chapinero
You can fly to Bogota for a weekend just to party at this mega club. It is incredibly fun and gigantic. With 13 rooms, each one of them with a specific concept, design, sound system, light show, and music genre, you for sure will have a great time. I was impressed how cheap the drinks and everything inside the club was, considering it is the most popular one. Bottle service starts at $15 USD (yes, crazy right!) Friday or Saturday night, either way you will have a blast.
Location: Carrera. 58 Bis #10-18, Chapinero
Zona Rosa posh, loungy, 2-floor club, this is where most of the muscle hot boys go. Amazing sound system and the place where most of the international DJs come to play. It is incredibly expensive compared to any other gay place in the city, but nothing around Zona Rosa is cheap. It is open from Wednesday to Saturday, Friday and Saturday being the busiest nights.
Location: Calle 85 #12-51, Zona Rosa
Sex Club. Where all the curious, gay-friendly come.
Location: Calle 64 # 13-35, Chapinero
City Travel Guide
Top 3 Hotels
Offering the best location in the city, right in the heart of Chapinero. This hotel is perfect if you are coming for just a weekend and mainly want to enjoy the nightlife and restaurant scene.
Each minimalist room at this hotel is air-conditioned and features a custom Four Seasons bed, private bar, and twice daily housekeeping. Every room boasts original art, marble bathroom, and custom-tinted wooden floors. For your comfort, bathrobes, plush slippers, and L’Occitane toiletries are provided. There is 24-hour in-room dining service.
There is a 24-hour front desk at the property with a multilingual concierge team. Business services and fitness center are also available 24 hours a day. Double rooms start at $450 USD a night and can go up to $600 USD.
This Luxury hotel is the kind of hotel that we will be seeing more in the near future after Airbnb affected the market forever. This is your apartment-hotel experience, located in a high-end residential neighborhood right in between Zona Rosa and Chapinero.
It’s a great option if you are visiting Bogota with your family or with a group of friends. They offer apartments up to three rooms and six guests per unit. Each apartment features a kitchen, a dining area, a seating area, and a TV.
Guests at Central Apartamentos can work out in the property’s 24 hour fitness centre. The facilities also offer a 24-hour front desk assistance. A night starts at $250 USD for a 1 bedroom and up to $500 USD for a two.
One of my favorite hotels in town, this classic hotel is housed in an old colonial building in the historic center of the city. It features bright and spacious public areas, and guests can also enjoy panoramic views over the rooftops and bell towers in El Mirador and La Scala. There is live music on Fridays and Saturdays and they are one of the few hotels in the city with an indoor pool.
Bolivar Square and the National Cathedral are only 2 blocks away. Several classic churches from the 16th century, Botero Museum, and the Gold Museum can be reached after a short walk. Night at the opera starts at $150 USD.
Top 3 restaurants
Colombia is so diverse in climate and culture that this allows for the cultivation of almost every fruit and vegetable. With a great marine life, high-quality coffee, and incredibly successful farm systems, Bogota is the perfect playground for a Chef. As the biggest city in Colombia and the third-largest in South America, Bogotá has some of the most creative and delicious restaurants I’ve experienced in Latin America. This was pretty hard, but here goes my top 3 picks:
If all the grandmothers from Colombia got together in a kitchen and created delicious, unique, homy, perfect dishes. This is Doña Elvira. Best place in Bogota to try their famous Ajiaco (grandma stew full of much deliciousness) In two-weekeek visit to Colombia I had the opportunity to eat in the most expensive and high-end restaurants of the city, and none of them compared to the heart of this city institution. Celebrating over 80 years of service, this family has kept the essence and flavor of their ancestors from generations. A must if you come to Bogota. Make sure to visit their website and see when they are open. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Location: Calle 50 #20-26, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia
Chef Eduardo Martinez’s restaurant is the cool, modern version of what you will find in Elvira’s. Using new approaches to the fabulous Colombian cuisine, he mixes traditional dishes with a contemporary twist. Try El Lomito Curry Verde, it literally melted in my mouth. Come with a group and order as many small dishes as you can, it is pure deliciousness!
Location: Tv. 4 Bis #57-52, Bogotá, Colombia
My Colombian friend will not like me for this, but I had to pick this restaurant for the unique experience that it brings. For locals, this place is considered a McDonald’s, but as a tourist I feel it is a one of a kind experience you should definitely have. Located just beyond Bogotá’s city limits, in the rural, charming Chía, the restaurant is a Bogotá institution. The restaurant seats 2,000 people. Insane, I know, but the craziest thing about this is that the service and the quality of the food is impeccable. The menu has over 40-pages and the decor of the restaurant is out of a Tim Burton movie.
Location: Cl. 3 #11A – 56, Chía, Cundinamarca, Colombia
Hostel dorm rooms cost between $8-$12 USD a night! No wonder so many Americans are moving here! Private rooms start around $16 USD per night. Free WiFi and free breakfast are usually included, and most hostels also have kitchens. Budget hotels will start around $20 USD per night for the most basic room. For a room with free WiFi, a double bed, and breakfast included, expect to pay closer to $30 USD per night. No need to do Airbnb here, hostels are your best and cheapest options.
Most sit down restaurants in the city will charge you $6-$10 for a full meal with a drink. Beer at the bar can be found for as little as $1 USD! You can get a whole week of groceries, including fruits, vegetables, and meats, for less than $40 USD or 100,000 COP. Street food can be as cheap as $2 USD for a famous empanada.
Local transportation is cheap. The metro is only 2,500 COP ($1 USD) for a one-way fare. If thinking of visiting other cities around the country, don’t use their buses, they can be very pricey. Like in Australia, it is cheaper to fly. Plan accordingly and use VivaColombia, the country’s cheap airline. A flight from Bogota to Medellin, for example, can be found for as little as $40 USD, or 100,000 COP. When going out in the city, Uber is cheaper than the taxis.
Things to do
Go to the museums
So many incredible museums, but if you have to pick, The Gold Museum and Botero’s museum are my two favorites. Both are located in the old town of La Candelaria. If you are a student bring your id. They have student discounts in most of the city’s attractions.
Get lost in La Candelaria
The old town of the city features the most enchanting colonial buildings, churches, and houses. Lots of markets and things to do over the weekends, with live music in almost every plaza.
Sunset in Monserrate
The most incredible scenic view of the city is from the top of Mount Monserrate, they have a fancy restaurant there at the top if you feel like having a full night experience and enjoying the view for longer. Restaurant is high end and supposed to be really good.
Be fancy at Zona Rosa
Shopping district and poshest area of the city with lots of restaurants and bars
Chill in the Park
Bigger than Central Park, Simon Bolivar Metropolitan Park is gorgeous and has free concerts and activities all year long.
Eat as much as you can
The restaurants…seriously. From the corner store to the fanciest one. Food in this city is out of control. Other restaurants beside the top 3 picks I mentioned that are as unique in their experiences is La Jugueteria, just enter their site and see the decor…creepy and brilliant, and the food is pretty outstanding, so don’t get fooled by their creepiness. Matiz restaurant is one of the most expensive in the city and is a 5 star experience, but with what you spend here you can eat in my top 3 together.
Dance Salsa with the locals
Although the best salsa in the world comes from my hometown of Puerto Rico (Sorry, Colombian brothers) here it is famous and celebrated as well. With lots of dance venues around the city, a night in Bogota will be a night you will not forget.