Exploring Colombia's Capital City

Bogotá Is Ready to Embrace the World Stage

From Issue Two of the Gear Patrol Magazine. Subscribe today for 15% off the GP Store.

At more than 8,500 feet above sea level, you feel Bogotá’s elevation. The air is thin, stairs become obstacles and the looming Andes seem a preposterous proposition — only fauna should climb that high. But with the elevation, the city basks in year-round temperate weather and, in the past decade, Bogotá has grown into a cosmopolitan city with everything an urbane traveler craves — all you need to know is where to look.

Where to Eat

High Altitude Cuisine, Elevated

Cantina y Punto
A Mexican place on par with the best in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Skip the line, eat at the bar and pay proper homage to this Colombian shrine to tacos and margaritas.

Location: Cl. 66 #4A-33 | Learn More: cantinaypunto.co

La Puerta Falsa
Authentic cuisine right off of the main plaza, Plaza de Bolivar (which is worth seeing, if only briefly). Come for a lunch of Colombian-style tamales — moist, packed with chicken, wrapped in plantain leaves. One per person is a full meal.

Location: Cl. 11 #6-50

Restaurante Tábula
For traditional Colombian cuisine, this is the spot. Chef Tomás Rueda serves simple, home-style cooking, elevated to satisfy the nostalgic pangs of Bogotá’s nouveau riche.

Location: San Martin | Learn More: elorigendelacomida.co

Restaurante Black Bear
Owned by a Brit-turned-Colombian, Black Bear has the best raw bar in the city, along with some of the best craft cocktails.

Location: A, Ak. 11 #896 | Learn More: blackbear.com.co

Andrés D.C.
It seems outlandish and overblown, but Andrés Carnes de Res (which every person you meet will recommend) is actually worth it. The best experience is to take a 45-minute cab to nearby Chia (not pictured) and go to the original, which is 2.76 square miles and features eleven dining areas, five kitchens, and multiple dance floors. Every weekend, the party is bustling.

Location: Calle 82 Interior Centro Comercial El Retiro #12-21 | Learn More: andrescarnederes.com

Quinta Camacho
The spot to start your day, with a fresh jugo and an arepa. Also visit the Abasto Bodega in the neighborhood of Usaquén for proper culinary souvenirs.

Location: Calle 69A # 9-09 | Learn More: abasto.com.co

Orso Heladería
Great ice cream and coffee — the necessary fuel of any urban explorer.

Location: #4A-, Cl. 66 #105f8 | Learn More: orsoheladeria.com

Juan Valdez Café
A step above Starbucks yet just as ubiquitous, Juan Valdez was created by the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia and sells exclusively Colombian-grown coffee (most good Colombian beans get exported, so this is a bit of a novelty). This location, on Parque 93, offers a view of the best park in Bogotá, and — frugal traveler tip — every Juan Valdez has brilliantly fast wi-fi.

Location: Cl. 93a #11-60 | Learn More: juanvaldezcafe.com

What to Do

Toss Stones or Hike a Mountain

Gaira Café Cumbia House
Colombia’s biggest pop music superstar, Carlos Vives, runs this house. The two-story space rocks live music late into the night, so come Friday and Saturday, and prepare to dance with abandon.

Location: Cra. 13 #96-11 | Learn More: gairacafe.co

Museo Botero
Fernando Botero is the king of art in Colombia, and he’s a jovial ruler. A collection of his lighthearted yet poignant paintings and sculptures are housed here in a beautiful building that encourages wandering and lingering.

Location: Calle 11 No 4-41 | Learn More: banrepcultural.org.mx

Everyone does it, but you have to do it. The fit can take the stairs and hike up to the top (open weekends); for the fast route, take the aerial tramway and funicular (open daily). Go at sunset, grab some street corn at the mercado at the peak and enjoy the sprawling metropolis view.

Location: Carrera 2 E No. 21-48 | Learn More: cerromonserrate.com

Campo De Tejo La 77
Tejo is Colombia’s national sport, and if you come to Bogota, this is where you find working-class locals playing it. The game is free, with the caveat that you have to buy (lots of) beer. Start with 10 Club Colombia’s per player, and you’ll have enough cerveza to make a few friends.

Location: Ak. 24 #77

Where to Stay

Where Luxury Abounds

Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina Bogotá
The premiere hotel in Bogotá, Casa Medina mixes old-world charm (the floors creak) with all the luxuries of a proper Four Seasons. The only catch is that leaving the grounds is made more difficult by the spacious suites, lush beds and the great Spanish-inspired offerings at Castanyoles (go for breakfast and dinner.)

Location: Ak. 7 #6922 | Learn More: fourseasons.com

The Click Clack Hotel
A design-centric hotel that offers small rooms at good rates. Also visit the bar downstairs, Ciengramos, for one of the more robust sensory experiences you’ll have with a cocktail (read: lots of smoke).

Location: Cra. 11 #93-77 | Learn More: clickclackhotel.com

B.O.G. Hotel
A posh dig in the most desirable neighborhood in Bogotá. Who said traveling in South America meant compromises for the urbanite? (Also, don’t miss the rooftop pool.)

Location: Cra. 11 #86-74 | Learn More: boghotel.com
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A version of this story appears in Issue Two of the Gear Patrol Magazine, 286 pages of stories, reports, interviews and original photography from five distinct locations around the world. Subscribe Now: $35