Markets, Museums, and New-Wave Cuisine: The 4-Day Weekend in Bogotá, Colombia

Bogotá, Colombia
Michaela Trimble


Cupped by an amphitheater of snowy Andean peaks and marked by impressive Spanish colonial architecture (not to mention English brick townhouses mashed side-by-side), Bogotá can be a complex city to crack. But there are plenty of top-notch eateries, shops, and bars to discover in Colombia’s enigmatic capital, from serene and luxurious Quinta Camacho in the north to buzzing La Candeleria in the city’s colonial southern center.

 

 

Whether you base yourself at the heart of the city’s ritzy culinary district or prefer to stay in boutique accommodations in the city’s hippest up-and-coming borough, if you follow this Thursday night through Sunday night itinerary, you’ll see why Bogotá is fast becoming South America’s capital of cool.

Here’s our ultimate four-day weekend guide.

Casa Lėlytė
Casa Lėlytė Michaela Trimble

Where to Stay

Though the city’s historic downtown is charming, it’s best to plant yourself in one of Bogotá’s northern neighborhoods for two reasons: to avoid traffic and gain easy access to mainstay eateries, cafes, and cocktail bars. At the center of Zona G, Bogotá’s gastronomic district, is Four Seasons Casa Medina, designed by beloved Colombian architect Santiago Medina Mejia. Opt for a spacious suite in this landmark 1946 building, where you can dine at Castanyoles, a breezy Mediterranean eatery that feels more like a greenhouse than a restaurant. A few blocks away in Quinto Camacho is the 1950’s-inspired Casa Legado, an elegant and intimate family-style property designed by local interior designer and owner Helena Dávila. With only seven rooms, you’ll feel right at home during evenings playing old-school board games in the living room. Nearby is the trendy Chapinero Alto district, home to chic boutique hotel Casa Lelyte. This vegetarian bed-and-breakfast feels like a private hilltop, art-filled oasis, as it offers only four private rooms set atop a ground-floor lobby and eatery. Rise early for a homemade breakfast by morning and get cozy at the bar for a nightcap by evening.

Thursday Evening

Even if you’re not staying in Chapinero Alto, begin your trip off right by dining at Villanos en Bermudas, an eatery topping Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants. Helmed by Argentine chef Nicolás López and Mexican chef Serge Meza, go for the seven-course tasting menu comprised of mainstay Colombian ingredients. Enjoy fresh starters, like green mango salad and lamb prosciutto over cantaloupe, that complement more decadent main courses, like black pudding tacos and braised beef tongue with beets. End the evening next door at their neighboring outpost, Insurgentes, a late-night taco bar with Mezcal- and tequila-based cocktails.

Friday

Morning: Begin your day with a healthy(ish) vegetarian start at De Raiz in the Chapinero Alto neighborhood. At this hip all-day café, order a spirulina latte, an organic tea with rosemary and orange, or a classic Americano. Move on to pitaya bowls topped with honeyed granola and fruit or decadent pancakes sprinkled with caramelized cape gooseberries.

Afternoon: Hail a cab to La Candeleria, Bogotá’s historic cobbled downtown. Begin your afternoon art crawl at Museo del Oro, one of South America’s most prolific museums. Browse more than 55,000 pieces of gold artifacts while learning how this metal created the base of shamanic rituals and ceremonies in Colombia’s Pre-Hispanic cultures. Next door is Espacio Odeon, a building constructed in the 1940s as the first cinema in the city. Today, it functions as a non-profit contemporary art space with regular performances and interactive workshops for next-generation creatives.

Take a break from museum-hopping to stroll atmospheric Plaza de Bolívar, the city’s central square, before dining at Prudencia, a downtown hot spot only open for lunch. Here, chefs Meghan Flanigan and Mario Rosero prepare a set four-course menu that changes daily based on fresh and local ingredients they source from purveyors in Colombia’s countryside. Begin with the house soda of the day—expect flavors like blueberry, apple, kiwi and golden berry—before savoring starters the likes of pickled watermelon salads with feta and mint and entrees like wood-fired eggplant and shitake pastrami. Continue the afternoon at Museo Botero, where you can view over 123 works by famed Colombian artist Fernando Botero (he’s known for his depictions of over-the-top, voluptuous figures), before stopping by Artesanías de Colombia, where you can browse heritage items—from hammocks and mochilas to sombreros and baskets—made by artisans based everywhere from La Guajira in the north to the Amazon in the south.

Evening: Before nightfall, make a quick stop at Casa Kanú, a café-gallery hybrid set in an opulent 19th-century colonial townhouse. Try Colombian coffees—sourced from regions like Huila to Tolima—before browsing El Amanuense, the café’s cozy bookstore. End your night downtown at Madre, a swanky late-night pizzeria and cocktail bar hidden beyond an unassuming emerald shop. This black-tiled, retro eatery hosts live music performances and DJ sets, which are best enjoyed over made-in-Bogotá craft beers and handmade pizzas like the María Antonia, a pie topped with mozzarella, arugula, and serrano ham.

Bogota, Colombia
Bogota, Colombia Michaela Trimble

Saturday

Morning: Begin your day with a boost at Masa, one of the city’s most popular brunch hangouts located across from the Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina in Zona G. Indulge in pastries—like crispy chocolate croissants and fluffy French tostadas with banana, honey, and maple—before moving onto savory eggs shakshuka. Enjoy a slow morning as you sip cappuccinos and macchiatos on the café’s outdoor terrace. It’s the perfect preparation before you conquer your first Bogotá market.

Afternoon: Hail a taxi and cruise down frenetic Calle 19 to Mercado Paloquemao. To do this immense labyrinth of a market justice, book an experience with Gyde & Seek, a bespoke travel company offering access to local tastemakers who seriously know their craft. With your foodie guide in tow, you’ll quickly learn the ropes of shopping in Paloquemao. A visit here is the only way to truly understand the country’s bounty of colorful fruits and vegetables, from citric lulo and rosy pitaya to sweet granadilla and heart-shaped cherimoya. After you sample delicacies from the endless vendor stalls, make a pit-stop for Colombian ceviche (fresh shrimp in a mayonnaise-ketchup sauce served with saltine crackers), then browse the flower market full of fragrant carnations, orchids, heliconias, and roses.

Bananas and fruits at Paloquemao Market in Bogota Colombia
Bananas and fruits at Paloquemao Market in Bogota, Colombia Richard Silver Photo / Getty Images

Evening: After a proper afternoon siesta, hit the streets of Chapinero Alto for Salvo Patria, one of Bogotá’s top restaurants (named after a popular Colombian children’s game akin to hide-and-seek) tucked within a converted brick townhouse. Go here to discover what new-wave Colombian cuisine is all about. Chef Alejandro Gutiérrez presents traditional recipes and native ingredients in small plates, like braised palm hearts with avocado and citrus jelly and charred octopus served alongside a creamy corn cake. Move on to heartier plates like rabbit ragout topped with juicy tomatoes, artichokes and cocoa or an aioli-smeared pastrami sandwich, which pairs well with the outpost’s house-made craft beer.

End your evening down the street at Salvo Patria’s sister outpost, Rin Rin. It’s arguably the hippest cocktail bar in the entire city, and run by an all-female team. Order the Chapi Tiki if only for the thrill of watching mixologists Paola Carrero and Diana Silva torch mandragora root, a fragrant hallucinogenic plant; the cocktail is a tangy mix of pineapple, lemon, ginger, and praline syrup mixed to perfection with a smoked cinnamon stick. Stay late into the evening as a cool-kid crowd gathers to imbibe during vinyl sessions and live DJ sets.

Bogotá, Colombia
Bogotá, Colombia Michaela Trimble

Sunday

Morning & Afternoon: After a proper night out in Bogotá, enjoy a lazy morning before hailing a cab to Usaquén Market, located in a leafy borough in the city’s northern bounds. If you prefer to begin your day with exercise, Sunday proves the perfect opportunity during the week’s regular Ciclovía, when many of the city’s roadways become car-free for Bogotá’s cyclists, joggers, and skaters to enjoy. No matter how you reach Usaquén, you’ll quickly discover the tented market stalls, where you can browse rows of handicrafts—from paintings and jewelry to stationary and flowers. After your shopping is complete, veer into Boho Food Market for lunch, a recently opened food hall and exhibition space with stalls showcasing works from the city’s emerging artists.

Evening: Spend your last evening in Bogotá during a jaunt up Cerro de Monseratte, a green sanctuary located in the eastern hills of Bogotá. Walk up a two-mile path or take a funicular rail cart to the top, which will land you over 10,000 feet above sea level, for an unmatched view of Bogotá from above. Visit the site’s Catholic basilica, devoted to El Señor Caído (The Fallen Lord), before having a sunset nightcap at colonial eatery, San Isidro House.

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