A local’s guide to Bogota, Colombia
- By Alexandra Correa
- Photos by Juan Cristóbal Cobo
Bogota will take your breath away — perhaps literally, given its perch as one of the highest-altitude world capitals, about 8,600 feet above sea level.
Up here is where Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez once studied, where locals start conversations with tourists just to practice their English, where the nightlife buzzes to the sounds of the Caribbean, techno music, rock, Mexican mariachis and the surrounding Andes. Colombia’s capital is elevated but not isolated: The food-and-drink culture, you will find, spans not only South American cuisine, but also Indian, Japanese, Lebanese and more.
The era of Pablo Escobar you might have seen watching “Narcos” has largely receded, and you are unlikely to have any trouble as a tourist, especially if you know where to go. You may have more trouble than you would expect trying to find good coffee, though. Unless, that is, you follow this advice.
Meet Alexandra Correa
Alexandra Correa is a journalist from Bogota. After university, she lived for a time in the United States, Spain and Germany before returning home to continue her career writing. In her spare time, she likes to explore all the regions of Colombia, especially the Caribbean coast, and try new restaurants. She loves cats, empanadas and coffee.
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Explore more of Bogota
- The bill includes tip, and the waiter will ask if you want to pay 10 percent. Nearly everyone does so unless service was truly dreadful.
- The Andes region is not like the Caribbean; don’t arrive at the airport in flip-flops. When it’s sunny, the weather here is perfect, like a spring day in New England. But it rains a lot and is cold at night.
- Young people try to speak English, but it’s uncommon in the older generation. Learning some Spanish before you come will help.