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27 Things I Learned From Living In Bogotá, Colombia, For A Month

A city worth visiting.

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Hi, there! I'm Arielle, and I'm currently doing a program called Remote Year — which means I'm working remotely and living in a different city in Latin America each month until the end of the year. My third stop was Bogotá, Colombia, and I learned a lot. Here are my key takeaways for anyone planning to visit.

P.S. If you want to ask me questions about Remote Year, email me at info@ariellesays.com or DM me on Instagram.
Arielle Calderon

P.S. If you want to ask me questions about Remote Year, email me at info@ariellesays.com or DM me on Instagram.

1. First things first: It's COLOMBIA, not COLUMBIA.

Can't drill this enough.
Fox / Via Facebook: colombiaNOespablo

Can't drill this enough.

2. Bogotá is NOT an episode of Narcos, so please tell your mom it's safe to visit!

Yes, Colombia faced a very difficult, violent past — but the people have worked so hard to rebuild. Treat Bogotá like any other major city!
Dc_colombia / Getty Images

Yes, Colombia faced a very difficult, violent past — but the people have worked so hard to rebuild. Treat Bogotá like any other major city!

3. And speaking of, locals REALLY hate when you talk about Pablo Escobar and cocaine. Don't be the stereotype tourist.

The only time you'll hear about him is on a guided tour.
Netflix

The only time you'll hear about him is on a guided tour.

4. One thing that Colombia + Bogotá is known for though, is its emeralds. If you're in the market for one, buy it here!

Colombia accounts for 70% — 90% of the world's emerald market. There are several places to buy one in downtown! Make sure they give you a certificate to prove it's legit.
Arielle Calderon

Colombia accounts for 70% — 90% of the world's emerald market. There are several places to buy one in downtown! Make sure they give you a certificate to prove it's legit.

5. And a common game here is Tejo. It's like cornhole, but stones instead of bean bags and...explosives. You can play at Club de Tejo La 76.

Arielle Calderon

I know, it doesn't sound safe lol. Play with extreme caution!

6. If you're in Bogotá, you should make a half-day trip to the Salt Cathedral! It's an underground church built in a salt mine.

Arielle Calderon

7. And on the way there, walk around Zipaquirá and visit the church completely made out of stone.

Arielle Calderon

8. Whether it's your birthday or you just want a fun night out, head to Andres Carne de Res in Chia.

Arielle Calderon

This is the top recommendation I got over and over. I actually didn't have time to go to the Chia location as it's about a 45-minute drive from my area, but I went to the location in D.C. and it was cool. The drinks are HUGE but expensive (about $20 USD).

9. And when you need to cure that hangover, go to the W hotel on Sunday morning for an all-you-can-eat (and drink) brunch.

Arielle Calderon

It's just a giant buffet with amazing food! It was about $30 USD.

10. To get the best 360 view of Bogotá, you can hike or take the cable car to Monserrate.

It's basically just endless stairs. It took me about 1.5 hours but I took my time.
Arielle Calderon

It's basically just endless stairs. It took me about 1.5 hours but I took my time.

11. And if you see people walking barefoot on the way up, it's a pilgrimage in which they make a sacrifice and proclaim their faith in exchange for good graces.

Arielle Calderon

12. If you're in town and want to learn about the history of Bogotá, you can do the free walking tour.

It's a great way to explore the downtown area.
Beyond Colombia

It's a great way to explore the downtown area.

13. And if you skip out, make sure to at least visit the historic neighborhood, La Candelaria.

There's tons of unique murals and cool museums. I didn't get a chance to go to these, but the top two recommendations I got were the Museo del Oro (Gold Museum) and the Museo Botero.
Streetflash / Getty Images

There's tons of unique murals and cool museums. I didn't get a chance to go to these, but the top two recommendations I got were the Museo del Oro (Gold Museum) and the Museo Botero.

14. If you're craving a soup and sandwich on colder days, get your fix at Canasto Picnic in Chico.

Arielle Calderon

15. Oh, and if you love dogs, stop by Virrey Park in the morning. You will see SO MANY AMAZING PUPS.

It's my main reason for getting up in the morning.
Arielle Calderon

It's my main reason for getting up in the morning.

16. Every Sunday (and holidays), the city closes some streets for Ciclovía — which means you have an open road to walk, run, bike, etc.

Arielle Calderon

17. But if you're more of a spin enthusiast like me, head to Cyglo. It's the closest thing you'll get to Soul Cycle.

Arielle Calderon

Bonus: There are ALWAYS dogs there, too.

18. Go to the Usaquen market on Sunday and have food at Boho.

Arielle Calderon, Jessica Sturdy

Boho is like Eataly in New York.

19. Rappi is the delivery system in Bogotá, and you can get food, cash, groceries, liquor, beds, headphones, and even a doctor delivered to your door.

My roommate even got a hairdryer delivered.
Rappi

My roommate even got a hairdryer delivered.

20. Ubers are technically illegal here, but you can still order them. Though your driver might ask you to sit in the front seat so it's less suspicious.

Asiseeit / Getty Images

21. If you need a quick coffee fix, Juan Valdez is the Colombia version of Starbucks. Make sure to add some panela, which is cane sugar (it's very good).

Arielle Calderon

22. And if you want a sit down, try one of the many trendy cafes! Azahar is cute and they have good food too.

AND DOGS!!!
Arielle Calderon

AND DOGS!!!

23. You are likely to experience a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions in one day — always bring a rain jacket to be prepared.

24. Pickpocketing is INSANE here. Keep an eye on your belongings at all times, hold onto your bags, keep your phones in a zipped pocket, etc.

I was on a tour and while we were taking a snack break, someone stole this guy's backpack from underneath his chair by the stairs. We had to watch surveillance video to catch the moment.
Arielle Calderon

I was on a tour and while we were taking a snack break, someone stole this guy's backpack from underneath his chair by the stairs. We had to watch surveillance video to catch the moment.

25. Some people speak English here, but it's best to brush up on some basic Spanish and put in the effort.

Really this should be a rule of thumb to learn the basics of the native language of the country you're traveling to.
Arielle Calderon

Really this should be a rule of thumb to learn the basics of the native language of the country you're traveling to.

26. You must do at least ONE Chiva bus if you can.

Arielle Calderon

It's a party bus that plays music and drives you around Bogotá.

27. And finally, Colombia's slogan is, "The only risk is wanting to stay," and that's 100% true. Go visit Bogotá!

Ostill / Getty Images

Arielle Calderon is a writer temporarily based in Latin America participating in Remote Year. If you have any tips on cool places, events, or things to eat in Mexico City, email her at arielle.calderon@buzzfeed.com or DM her on Instagram.

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