Several people warned me: Be prepared for Bogota. It’s big. It’s crowded. It’s noisy. It’s dangerous.
I loved it.
It’s funny, how your experiences are colored by little things – where you stay, who you meet, etc.
So many had told me I would love Medellin and while I did see some nice things there, I did not love it. I felt it was crowded, noisy, and slightly dangerous. Sound familiar? But that is because the area I stayed in (albeit a great hotel) was in the heart of the city – a city swelling with people. It turns out I liked Bogota more.
Colombia’s capital city sits at about 8500 feet (2600 meters) high giving it a crisp feel underneath the Andean peaks that surround it. Some of Bogota’s progressiveness may surprise you. Three hundred kilometers (186 miles) of bike lanes criss-cross the city and, even more unique than that is what’s called Cyclovia. Every Sunday 122km (76 miles) of roads around the city are closed to cars to allow cyclists and pedestrians free reign.
La Candelaria is the lovely cobblestoned old town in the center of the city. It features colonial-era landmarks like Teatro Colón and the 17th-century Iglesia de San Francisco.
In Bogota, I stayed with my friend Jeff in the cute and quiet neighborhood of Chapinero. On my first day there, I set out to the northern neighborhoods of Zona Rosa and Parque 93, which I’d heard were nice. I figured it would be a good way to ease into the city. And I found nothing of what I was warned. What I saw: big green parks, cute residential hoods, strollers, hip eateries, business people in suits, a lot of bike lanes and medians with trees.