Forget everything you think you know about Colombia. While the capital city of Bogotá (population 8 million) was one of the most violent cities in the world in the ’90s, today’s Bogotá is a vastly different, happier place, with an emphasis on art. We asked locals—including Andrés Quintero, a local journalist and photographer who focuses on street art and culture in the city—for their perfect day in the city, from appreciating vibrant street art to exploring the great outdoors.
Unpack & Snack
Check in at The Click Clack Hotel, where urban boutique lodging meets art gallery-slash-music venue. Once settled, head to breakfast at the greenhouse-inspired Canasto Picnic Bistro, bathed in natural light and just a 10-minute walk from the hotel. It’s also across from the popular Virrey Park if you need to stretch your legs.
Explore Real Art
Now that you’re full of fresh, local food, take a car (be prepared for traffic) out to explore the art district that is the Puente Aranda neighborhood. There you’ll find murals and graffiti by Colombians and international artists alike, according to Quintero. “In Bogotá you can find many places of alternative culture,” he says.
Take in an Event
From there, it’s a short drive to the Centro Creativo Textura for local exhibitions and special events covering everything from visual and performing arts to music and fashion. “Textura gave new life to an old textile factory, giving way to a new creative center,” says Iván García, director of marketing and events. “This is a project that seeks to reactivate a sector of the city traditionally destined for heavy industry.”
Break for Food
Just a 15-minute drive from Textura (depending on traffic), Céntrico has the finest in Colombian cuisine, day or night, and also offers up rooftop views. Call ahead for reservations, and put on your dancing shoes if you decide to check it out on a weekend night instead.
Meet the Neighbors
If you’re up for more driving, the Los Puentes neighborhood is an authentic juxtaposition of art and life in the city, where a recent program transformed hundreds of homes to make the largest mural in the city. “There you will see large-scale murals and appreciate how the real people of Bogotá live,” Andrés says.
DIY Art Crawl
Travel back up to the north central art district of Barrio San Felipe for art galleries, workshops, and bars playing alternative music. “Once a month this place organizes an event called Night of Galleries, involving thousands of people who go to know the galleries and enjoy a beer,” Andrés says. “In general, the San Felipe neighborhood is a good place to visit.” There you’ll also find KB, another contemporary art venue and place to grab a beer.
Nearby, you can also check out Quebrada la Vieja, a quiet hiking area in the mountains with a waterfall, should you want to get away from the buzz of traffic, bikes, and pedestrians for a spell. “It’s a good place to breathe some fresh air in the city,” Andrés says.
No trip to Bogotá would be complete without a trek to Monserrate—just be prepared for tons of tourists. Buy tickets in advance, and carve out enough time to explore this centerpiece of Colombia. On your way, stop at Café Origami for a taste of some of the best Colombian coffee against a backdrop of Japanese art and Iranian food.