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Monserrate and its iconic 17th-century church dominates the city center of Bogotá. (Photograph by Eduardo Blanco, Alamy)

Karen’s Bogotá

Freelance writer Karen Attman moved to Venezuela from the United States nearly two decades ago to embrace the ex-pat life and hasn’t looked back. She moved her home base to Bogotá in 2012 and thrives on the enthusiasm and creativity of Colombia’s capital city, including that of the Bogotano she now calls her husband. “It’s a flourishing city that has an amazing energy,” she says, “but the main reason is all about the people. They are innovative, creative, loving, open, and generous.”

Here are a few of Karen’s favorite things about her adopted hometown.

Follow Karen’s story on her Flavors of Bogota blog and on @kpAttman.

Bogotá Is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them to is La Candelaria neighborhood to see the birthplace of Bogotá and to check out the museums.

January is the best time to visit my city because the skies are blue, the mountains are green, and the days are warm and sunny.

You can see my city best from Cerro Monserrate, at about 10,000 feet above sea level.

Centro Artesanal Plaza Bolivar is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs. 

In the past, notable people like Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Marquez and figurative artist Fernando Botero have called my city home.

My city’s best museum is Museo del Oro because of the amazing gold objects that tell the story of pre-Colombian life—simply amazing.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that traffic is heavy, taxi drivers are wild, and bus drivers seem to think they’re driving race cars through the congested city streets.

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is Parque Central Simon Bolivar because of its beautiful lake, bike routes, picnic areas, and outdoor concerts.

My city really knows how to celebrate music—Colombians love a rumba (party)—and creativity. UNESCO recognized Bogotá as a City of Music in 2012.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they use the polite term “su merced” to address others.

For a fancy night out, I head over to Harry Sasson’s renovated English-style mansion for some drinks in the upstairs lounge before having dinner in the backyard atrium.

Just outside my city, you can visit Lake Guatavita, where the El Dorado legend was born.

My city is known for being dangerous, but it’s really home to loving, kind, generous people who welcome visitors.

The best outdoor market in my city is Usaquen’s Sunday flea market, where you can buy handmade leather goods, jewelry, and even tea made from coca leaves.

Abasto is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and Andrés Carne de Res is the spot for late-night eats (and plenty of Colombian energy).

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Plan B.

To escape the crowds, I go to the secluded little park at the Museo del Chicó.

The dish that represents my city best is ajiaco because it’s like the people: varied (ajiaco has ten different ingredients), warm, and comforting. Aromática (fruit) tea is my city’s signature drink.

Gaira Café is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out Zona T, where nearly every little bar has a dance floor.

Experiencing the four seasons in just one hour could only happen in my city.

In the summer you should take advantage of the Ciclovia, the city’s extensive bike route.

In the winter you should go to a Juan Valdez Café or to the Café Oma coffeehouse to get dry and warm.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss Divercity.

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