Experience Bogota Like A Local | Non-Touristy Things To Do In Bogota in 3 Days
If you’re like many of the many people passing through Bogota, you’ve only got a couple of days and are wondering what to do in Bogota that’s really worth it.
Sure, you can visit all the must-see tourist attractions. Monserrate, Museo del Oro, la Candelaria, etc. But if you’re like me, I like to experience new cities through my senses. I want the local experience. You know what I mean. I want more than sight-seeing tourist attractions.
As you probably know, Forbes selected Bogota as one of the Top 12 cities to visit in 2017. If you want to get a piece of the hype, there are other things to do in Bogota to make the most of your short stay.
I must admit, I also fell in the touristy Lonely Planet must-do’s of Bogota when I first came here. I went to Andres Carne de Res, I did everything in the city center, the Salt Mine Cathedral, Guatavita, you name it, I did it. And although all these activities are entertaining and strongly suggested, now that I live here in Bogota, I enjoy the city much more than when I came to visit. And it’s usually the opposite right?
So without further ado, let’s get right into my suggestions of things to do in Bogota to get a local feel of the city in just a few short days. These are interactive activities that will get you moving, eating and talking with locals so you can do more than just read about it in your guide book.
Have a specialty coffee experience
If you’re a coffee fan but don’t have the chance to travel to the Eje Cafetero, despair not. You can still get a wonderful and tasty coffee experience right in Bogota. Of course, if you have a local friend they can show you a few specialty coffee shops to get a taste of the delicious Colombian arabica bean.
But if you’re really curious, delve a little deeper and explore several specialty coffees from different regions and discover quaint local coffee shops through a Colombian coffee tour in Bogota. Whether you’re a real expert or just want to learn more, you can try a legit coffee cupping experience in a single coffee shop or coffee tour and exploration through Karen’s Bogota Coffee Tour in Zona G.
Get hands-on with Colombian cooking classes
Colombian food might not be as tasty as Thai or Indian but it’s worth exploring. Trying local flavors is part of the experience and should definitely be on your to-do list of things to do in Bogota. You can try going to a local restaurant. But it’s always a bit of a risk isn’t it? You might get a dish you don’t like or perhaps it’s not being the “best version” of the dish (although you won’t know and have nothing to compare it to if you haven’t tried it before).
A great alternative, fun interactive experience and neat souvenir to bring back to friends and family is a Colombian cooking class. I won’t lie, this is a personal endeavor of mine. Based on expat and local opinions, I’ve worked with a local chef to create several Colombian culinary experiences that engages all the senses to give you a taste and feel of the country’s variety. Located in Quinta Camacho in walking distance from Zona G and Zona T (Zona Rosa) it’s a great option to spend a few hours during lunch or in the evening. Check out Lulo’s Colombian Cooking Classes and the different options offered!
Explore through a Colombian food tour
OK, so food is a big thing when traveling. If cooking classes aren’t your cup of tea perhaps you’d prefer a Colombian food tour. La Mesa offers Colombian food tours throughout the city and other companies provide market tours. This is practical when you want to visit a specific area of the city. It basically kills 2 birds with one stone. You get to walk around and discover while trying local delicacies.
Shuffle your feet with Salsa classes
An essential part of Colombian culture is dancing and music. Salsa, Vallenato, Reggaeton, Cumbia, Mapale are all different style of music you might hear throughout your stay in Colombia. Dancing is socially engrained in society. At most family get-togethers everyone is expected to dance. From kids to grandparents it seems all Colombian were born to sway their hips like Shakira. Refusing to dance just doesn’t happen. I would dare to say it’s actually a bit rude! (As is refusing a shot of ‘guaro’ or aguardiente from a local stranger)
But not only in dancing socially ingrained, it’s a form of expression. Take a Salsa class or go out to a Salsa club if you’re a bit more adventurous and move your body to Colombian beats.
Stroll through the Usaquen Sunday Market
I’ve been here for a few years and it’s still one of my favorite spots in Bogota. The Usaquen Sunday Market is just so charming. Here you’ll find artisans selling their crafts, typical Colombian goods and tie it all up with a delicious Sunday brunch. This is the perfect place to get typical Colombian gifts and souvenirs and get a taste of classic Bogotano Sundays. I love it!
This is a fantastic opportunity for you to practice the art of negotiation in Colombia, taste Colombian street food, explore crafts and of course, practice your Spanish if you want to!
Party the Colombian way
I’ve seen the Colombian Lonely Planet. It strongly recommends Andres Carne de Res Chia. It’s a great experience where you get to eat great Colombian food and dance to popular Colombian music until the early early hours of the morning! But as it’s sooo damn far and not to mention pricey according to Colombian standards, most Bogotanos go once in a blue moon.
If you like to go out, you can get an equally great Colombian experience with less commitment in Gaira. Owned by Carlos Vives, a famous Colombian singer, here you’ll get a great Colombian music and food without traveling so far.
Another popular area to explore Colombian nightlife is Zona T. Filled with bars, discos and restaurants, you can hop from place to place and have a great time. Personal favorites are Fabuloso (bar/club) for Colombian jams and Armando Records (bar/club) for both Colombian jams and more electro beats.
Wow, I feel like I just gave away my favorite activities in Bogota. If you really want a local experience, I can guarantee these things to do in Bogota will give you a real feel of the city in no time! I hope you have a blast in this lovely city I now call home and I wish you a great stay!