6 Artsy, creative & cool things to do in Bogota
As the capital and largest city in Colombia, Bogota is known by many travelers as a business destination, or a connecting point for exploring other places in the nation — such as the ever-popular Cartagena, on the Caribbean coast.
1. Take a Graffiti Tour of Bogota
Bogota has, in recent years, become one of the best places in the world, apparently, to view street art and graffiti. I loved taking the Bogota Graffiti Tour,which focuses mostly on work in the historic Candelaria district (read my full review of the Bogota Graffiti Tour here). At the end of the Bogota Graffiti tour, be sure to follow the guide back to Dibs by Culture Shock Colombia, an “urban and contemporary art gallery” that sells the work of many of the city’s most legendary street artists, in the form of posters, T-shirts and home decor items.
2. Go Cycling in Bogota
Bogota is also a rather bicycle-friendly city; it was, in fact, the first major city in Latin America to begin the tradition of closing off main thoroughfares every weekend for cyclists, joggers and pedestrians to enjoy. You can join guided bicycle tours of Bogota with companies like Bogota Bike Tours — and that company also offers cooking classes, which will teach you the inside secrets of Colombian cuisine.
3. Explore Art Galleries & Art Shows in Bogota
The peaceful neighborhood called La Macarena is a rewarding place to explore the local art scene; stop by Galería Mü for contemporary and modern art, and NC Arte, which features site-specific works by an ever-changing array of artists. Or for a great overview of Colombia’s artistic scene, consider a visit during ArtBo, Bogota’s international festival of art, which takes place in October.
4. See a Show
To enjoy the performing arts in Bogota, consider a visit to the lovely Teatro Colón, located in the historic La Candelaria district, which stages performance of dance, music and theater throughout the year.
5. Go Shopping for Cool Fashion & Decor in Bogota
Yes, you can find tons of international name brands in Bogota’s upscale shopping malls and stores. But to appreciate the creativity of actual Colombian designers, head to smaller shops in neighborhoods like Chapinero. Here’s where to pick up the work of hot Bogota-based designers:
Céfiro Tejido: This collective stocks colorful designs from a variety of creators — including sweaters, dresses, men’s clothing and hats.
Ciudad Freak: Among the finds are backpacks and bags, clothing for men and women, wallets and other accessories.
Cubo: Home decor, artwork and casual clothing are the focus at this small shop.
Evolta: Men’s and women’s clothing, as well as handmade jewelry and “lifestyle” items like skateboards and home remedies are among the finds here. I especially liked the home decor — including black ceramic animal figurines and black ceramic deer head vase.
Hippo: Women’s clothing and accessories are the specialty here.
La Rock N Rola: Some 36 Colombian designers are featured in the collections here, with a relatively large selection of clothing and shoes for men and women.
TheCloset.co: This mostly virtual store has one physical shop in Chapinero, with hats, men’s and woman’s clothing from a variety of lesser-known designers.
6. Stay in a Bogota Hotel with a Creative Vibe
Yep, you can choose any of an ever-growing number of big, brand-name hotels in Bogota (you can also stay at a small independent property or rent a nice apartment on Airbnb — I’ve done both). But for a creative touch, consider these accommodations:
Bogotales: This hostal in Teusaquillo is for budget-minded travelers, of course (bunk beds are an option), but also features a restaurant/bar and has space to exhibit the works of local artists. Hostal activities include art workshops, bike tours, handicraft workshops and Spanish lessons.
The Book Hotel: This small property, centrally located in the Chapinero Alto neighborhood, is home to The Rabbit Hole (La Madriguera del Conejo), a small independent bookstore. Literature, photo books and magazines (mostly in Spanish) line the lobby and part of the on-site restaurant, and vintage travel posters add to the ambiance. On Sundays, the book store hosts readings of children’s books at 11:30am, and book launches, workshops and readings happen regularly.
104 Arts Suites: Every suite at this small hotel, located in the neighborhood called Chicó Navarra, was decorated by a Colombian artist.
Latinflyer |by Mark Chesnut