Bogotá is on the move. Once considered a place to avoid, the capital has cleaned up its act and is fast becoming one of Latin America’s urban highlights. Improved security, infrastructure projects and a clean-up campaign have helped bring a new face to the metropolis.
Home to more than seven million people, Colombians still flock to Bogotá in search of opportunities. Many find that the streets are not exactly paved with gold and end up eking out an existence in one of the vast shantytowns that line the southern portion of the city.
Graceful churches, excellent museums, cultural events and a thriving nightlife can keep you busy for several days. Bogotá is also the political, financial and service center for the country, and its geographic heart, making it a useful base from which to explore the country. Despite its massive sprawl, Bogotá is a dotted with parks and leisure spots. Cool air and almost daily rain sweep away residual pollution, and there are several high peaks to the east of town that help you to keep your perspective on the ground.
Most travelers spend their time in or around historic La Candelaria, a pleasant quarter of cafés, churches and museums. Northern Bogotá stands in great contrast to the south, turning up its nose to history and moving forward as a modern district of brash capitalist values. Bogotá doesn’t sweep you off your feet at first glance. But take some time to wander its historical areas, dine in its cafés, and you’ll find it offers much more than meets the eye.