As of June 2020 we turned 2 years old, working every day to give the best advice and guidance to travelers coming to Colombia in search of a cultural experience and / or an unforgettable adventure. Each one of our tailor-made itineraries is created according to the interests, busget and time available of our clients, who often stay in Bogota just enough time to visit the essentials. We asked Atenea, one of our travel advisors, what would be her alternative for an extra, out of the ordinary day in the city. Here is her recommendation:
I was born and raised in Bogota, and I'm constantly impressed with how little each person who lives in the city knows about it. It's so big that everyone just has a few areas they know deeply and the rest is unknown territory. If I ever had the chance to add a more laid-back day in a traveler's itinerary, I would show them my side of Bogota: A city connected to the mountains through what we call Cerros Orientales (Eastern mountains), a vibrant coffee culture, nice and calm residential areas where you can have the best empanadas ever, excellent food, beer and salsa dancing to end the day.
This is a very alternative itinerary, and few tourists get to see this side of the city, a much calmer and welcoming Bogota, I would only suggest it for someone who has already visited the history and culture essential landmarks of the rushed city center.
First, I would do a morning hike in La Aguadora, it starts in a popular neighborhood in the North of the city called Usaquen. You need to wake up early for the hike because the trail is only open until 8.30am in weekdays and until 10 am on weekends, and, although it is a safe trail, it is much safer to walk in the moments where other people are sharing the trail to avoid any inconvenience. This trail is free but you need to register beforehand.
Pay attention to the birds you can spot on your way up. Colombia is the most biodiverse country in the world for birds, and even this close to the city you will find hummingbirds and other flying companions. The hike up takes about one hour, and it takes you to a viewpoint where you can see the North of the city if the day is clear.
After the hike, I would stay in Usaquen to have breakfast in one of my favorite cafes, and the a coffee tasting in Catación Pública. As you might have heard, Colombia produces some really good coffee. Although there is one especific region in Colombia famous for its coffee, what many people don't know is that there are coffee farms in many other areas, and their coffee is just as good. The different regions of Colombia provide coffee with different characteristics, so if you are a coffee lover as I am, I do recommend you have a short coffee experience learning more on the subject. If you don't speak Spanish I always recommend having an offline translator in your phone, since many baristas don't speak English.
Then, I would just walk in a residential neighborhood like Cedritos (where I grew up) or Santa Bárbara. These neighborhoods sprouted between the 70s and the 90s, when the city was expanding quickly and the mid and high class population were looking for new proposals of inhabiting a neighborhood, with more trees and green areas than the traditional neighborhoods of the city. I would definitely have one (or several) of the best empanadas ever at El Kiosco (they have one location in each of the areas I mentioned). This place brings me a lot of memories (I mean, I even won a contest for nicest story on their 30th anniversary and won a year supply of empanadas!), but it is also popular among other people who didn't necessarily grew up right next to their store. My recommendation is the meat, fried empanadas.
If you have never eaten an empanada, to have it as you must you have to bite one of the corners of your empanada and put some ají (chili pepper sauce) and lime, then bite and repeat the process before bitting again. If you are not so much into the empanada, everything they do is very local and delicious so take a look and choose what seems right for you.
After all of this, I would go home (so, your hotel or homestay) and probably take a shower and a nap before going for a late lunch. I would go to a nice restaurant in one of the many places in Quinta Camacho, and then spend the rest of the afternoon pub crawling in Chapinero before ending the night at a club (in Colombia you will find mostly crossover clubs that play a lot of regueton, merengue and salsa).
Although I've never had a traveler with a full day to do all of this, I do try to sneak in some of them to have a nice mix of local and tourity activities, and get to know some f the different sides of Bogota before heading to their next destination. If you want me to create an itinerary for you, learm more about our services here :)