My Top 5 Latin American Cities / by Tony T'Kach

I'm kicking off my blog with a 5 part series counting down my favorite cities in Latin America.

5. Bogota

My first impression of Bogota (and Colombia) came from the 1994 film, “Clear and Present Danger” starring Harrison Ford as CIA Agent Jack Ryan. There is a scene that takes place in the streets of Bogota where the the FBI Director and others, including Ryan, are under attack by drug lords. In reality, this scene was filmed in Mexico, not Colombia so it looks nothing like Bogota.  

The movie was released less than a year after the death of Pablo Escobar, the most famous (and wealthiest) Drug Kingpin during the 80s and 90s. In the 20+ years since this movie was released, Colombia has seen a major transformation which includes foreign tourism which hardly existed in the 80s and 90s.

With 12 million people it is the most populous city in Colombia and the 5th biggest city in all of Latin America. It sure surprised me because I liked it so much. Colombians I met said it was cold (in both weather and the people), that it was just a big city.  Other travelers I met described it as a hub city for other places in Colombia. A starting off point.  No one really said I had to spend much time in Bogota as there were other great places in Colombia.

In some ways they were absolutely right. Bogota is much colder than the Caribbean Coast having an elevation of 8,600 feet (for reference Denver is about 5,000 feet).  It can be cloudy a lot. It’s noisy. Places can be crowded. Bogota is the major hub city for traveling anywhere in Colombia or for flying to other major cities in Latin America. And I agree with other travelers, there are a lot of other great places in Colombia. In fact, Bogota is not my favorite place in Colombia, but I still liked it a lot!

Originally thinking that only a few days was all one needed there after talking with other travelers, I thought that my 7 days there would be too many. Looking back, I could have stayed there longer.  As with any city with over 10 million people, there is a lot of energy and lots of things to do. I know I just touched the surface of what Bogota has to offer in the week I was there.

My Highlights:

  • The Salt Cathedral

  • Monserrate Mountain

  • Gold Museum

  • Street Art

  • La Candelaria

 The Salt Cathedral

The Salt Cathedral

 The view of Bogota from Monserrate Mountain. 

The view of Bogota from Monserrate Mountain. 

 The Gold Museum in Bogota has the largest collection of Pre-Hispanic gold in the world. 

The Gold Museum in Bogota has the largest collection of Pre-Hispanic gold in the world. 

 This type of street art is everywhere in La Candelaria neighborhood.

This type of street art is everywhere in La Candelaria neighborhood.

 The narrow streets of La Candelaria. 

The narrow streets of La Candelaria.