Six things to do and see in brilliant Bogotá
As Avianca launches direct flights to Colombia from London Heathrow, now's the time to discover the country's buzzing capital. Here Irina Garcia Cotes, 27, a photographer and make-up artist, visits some favourite haunts of Bogotá's blossoming young creative class.
Monserrate is a mountain overlooking Bogotá from 3,150m above sea level. I love to look at the city from the mountains. It's like a green sanctuary above the chaos of Bogotá. You get up there by cable car, you can walk around and there's a small artisans' fair. You can enjoy the view from the excellent restaurant, Casa San Isidro, where you can try ajiaco, a traditional soup made with potatoes, chicken and corn on the cob. They also have French dishes and an extensive wine list.
Monday to Saturday 10am–12am
Sunday: 9.30am–4. 30am
Tel +57 1 284 5700
Casa San Isidro
Tuesday to Friday: 12pm–3pm | 6pm–12am
Saturday and Monday: 12pm–12am | Closed Sunday
Tel +57 1 281 9270
Valenzuela Klenner gallery
Housed in a 1937 art deco house, this contemporary art gallery focuses on social and political issues within Latin American art, with an emphasis on Colombian artists. Culturally, we're going through a search for a new collective identity, which is producing fantastic and innovative art and design. Recent highlights have included an exhibition by Carlos Bonil, who makes sculptures out of tech waste, and POV Female Bogotá, a showcase by five emerging young female photographers.
Carrera 5 No. 26B - 26
Monday to Friday 10am-1pm | 2pm-6pm
Saturday 11am-1pm | 2pm-5pm
Tel + 57 1 243 7752
We're a coffee-loving country. I would come here with my father when I was younger and he would tell me about the history this café must have witnessed in the 75 years it has been open. It has been a big part of the identity of Seventh Avenue, which is a really diverse street. I don't know what makes the hot chocolate so special. It's a secret recipe – they say it's a mix of different cacaos – but it's the best chocolate in Colombia, and that's saying something!
Carrera 7 No. 21-46
Monday to Sunday 6am-10pm
Tel + 57 1 341 0340
La Bolera San Francisco
This bowling alley, established in 1941, is part of a rediscovery of social and leisure spaces from the past. There aren't many renovated old places like this in Bogotá, but it's definitely a growing trend. There's also Billares Londres [billareslondres.com], a renovated old-school billiards hall. Bogotá youth like it because it mixes partying and playing. The music is really good, too, plus it's open until 3am – a bit later than we Bogotanos are accustomed to.
Avenida Jiménez No. 6-71
Monday to Sunday 9pm-3am
Tel + 57 1 343 0835
Little Indian Superstar Gin Club
I go here for the cocktails. Little Indian Superstar is special because of its romantic and friendly atmosphere. The owners have concocted a backstory about how the club was founded in 1870 as a secret society of Indian and British pacifists who met over gin and tonics. The restaurant has been around for a while but its Indian-inspired menu is an example of the developing food scene in the city.
Avenida 82 No. 12A-23
Tuesday to Thursday: 7pm-2.30am
Friday to Saturday: 5.30pm-2.30am
Tel +57 320 200 4820
Tabio Campesinos Market
This is a day trip out of Bogotá, but the beautiful little town of Tabio is worth the two-hour drive. Artisanal markets have always been part of our history, but now Bogotanos are really starting to appreciate the importance of organic produce. I love the colours of all the fruits and vegetables, as well as the campesinos — the people from the countryside. What makes this place special is the atmosphere, as well as knowing exactly where everything you buy comes from and seeing the love with which everything is made.
Market days and hours vary – confirm with your hotel concierge
Avianca flies direct from London Heathrow to Bogotá El Dorado International four times a week.