Bogotá, Colombia – Part 1 - Orlando / Florida Guide
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The Colombian capital has had a bad reputation but after cleaning up it’s actually a colonial gem as well as offering park life and people watching.
The city is located on a high plateau at the very centre of Colombia. Bogotá is the natural gateway to this wild but wonderful country. Dating back to 1538, when it was founded by Spaniard Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada. Bogotá has grown slowly but what started out as a collection of just 12 huts has transformed over the centuries into the sprawling capital of eight million inhabitants. Bogotá has become more accessible as there are now direct flights from Heathrow again. It’s good news for a city which has been often blighted by its past. Times have changed, though, and what awaits travellers today is a historic and thrilling capital.
Avianca will fly five times a week from London with a flight time of around 11 hours. Bogotá’s Eldorado International Airport is located 15km west of the city centre. This modern hub is Latin America’s third largest airport and provides an easy entry point into Colombia. Its Puente Aéreo terminal currently handles many local Avianca flights, though the airline is due to complete its move into T1 by the time you read this. All the facilities you’d expect are present: free Wi-Fi, ATMs and currency exchange booths, though rates tend to be better in the banks of Bogotá. There is also a tourist information office though it’s opening time is sketchy.
The best way to transfer to the city centre, particularly for those unfamiliar with Bogotá, is by taxi. In a bid to protect visitors from unscrupulous taxi drivers, there’s an official taxi counter in the baggage hall that will issue a printed estimate of the cost of your journey; this should be shown to the cabbie. Expect to pay around £8 for a ride to the city centre. Journey time to central Bogotá is 20-50 minutes depending on traffic. Late night arrivals offer the speediest transfer time. There are also Special Aeropuerto buses available. A one-way fare costs £1, however, the service stops running at around 9 pm.
If you are an explorer travelling by bus from elsewhere in Colombia or from further afield then you are likely to arrive at the busy central bus station. La Terminal is close to Avenida de La Constitución, and around 5km from downtown Bogotá. You’ll find a number of restaurants, luggage storage and even shower facilities here. As with the airport, there’s a tourist information stand and an official taxi office that can help determine fares. Taxis are available outside the station.
Around 8 million people live here with the main language being Spanish. Visas are not required by UK nationals. The best way to see the whole city is from the mountain top of Cerro de Monserrate at 3, 152m. You can climb the 1, 500 steps but a better option is to catch the cable car with return tickets costing around £5. The city sits at 2, 625m above sea level you may experience mild altitude sickness.
The free Bogototal app offers good recommendations for eating, drinking and shopping plus local events, activities and maps. Bogotá’s high elevation gives the city a cool but pleasant climate although evenings and winter can be chilly.
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