Travelling to Bogota for the first time? You may feel overwhelmed and apprehensive about making all the right decisions. Choosing a place to stay can often make or break your trip. In this post, I’ll not only tell you where to stay in Bogota for the first time. I’ll also give you recommendations for accommodation and tips on what to do and how to stay safe!
I stayed in Bogota twice during my travel around Colombia – at the beginning and at the end of my trip. Both times couldn’t have been more different.
Bogota was my first stop when I landed in Colombia, and at the time I was a little nervous. The combination of the political situation in Colombia at the time and my loved ones’ opinions about my decision made me tread very carefully when I first arrived in the city.
When I returned 4 months later (after exploring this beautiful country), it was a completely different experience. By this time I was utterly in love with Colombia and given my slightly extended time spent there, I felt a little bit, hmmm, at home.
I understand it can be overwhelming to arrive in a foreign city in a country with a controversial reputation. The decisions made there, might make or break your experience. It is important to choose wisely where to stay and how to explore the city so I decided to write this post hoping it will help you do that. Choose well and you will have a blast.
Please note: I stayed in Bogota for a total of nearly 3 weeks and I kept moving from district to district in order to actually stay there and experience it. All below are my personal experiences and opinions.
Bogota Know Before You Go: Bogota is sitting at 2,625 m/ 8,612 feet above sea level and with that, you need to keep a few things in mind. First of all the weather is cooler and rainier all year round. But when the sun is out, it’s pretty hot, don’t be deceased, wear sunscreen. And a raincoat.
You will also feel the altitude so take some time to acclimatise. I forgot about it and the next day after I arrived I took a bike tour. And I was wondering why was I so out of breath hahaha
Most likely you will be landing in Bogota to move on and see the rest of the country like its stunning Caribbean coast or lush coffee region.
But give Bogota a chance.
There is plenty of amazing things to do in Bogota and spending time in Bogota made my Colombia travels that much more incredible.
Controversially I liked Bogota more than Medellin. For real. But I am a strange traveller like that. Medellin was too full of foreign tourists (some with very questionable travel motives) and digital nomads, too polished at times.
Bogota on the other hand, was everything I love about Colombia. Minus the weather haha.
Table of Contents
Best areas to stay in Bogota for the first time
So what is the best area to stay in Bogota for the first time?
There is no one best area to stay in Bogota for the first time. There are 4 that you should consider but which one will you choose will depend on your personal preferences.
As a rule of thumb – the more north you go in Bogota the safer it is. This is because the northern districts are more affluent and more wealthy Bogotanos choose to live there. There will be more police presence on the streets and more people out and about even during evening hours. Therefore northern districts like Chapinero or Usaquin are generally the safest areas in Bogota.
So let’s discuss the 4 best areas to stay in Bogota for first-time travellers, or any travellers in fact.
Although it is not the safest neighbourhood on this list, it is definitely an area in Bogota that you should consider.
In theory, La Candelaria, often considered one of the most dangerous areas in Bogota, shouldn’t even be on this list. Oddly enough, though, it’s also one of the most popular areas for backpackers.
But maybe that’s not so strange, because La Candelaria is beautiful, historic, and packed with stunning architecture and some of the best hostels in all of Colombia.
La Candelaria is a beautiful historic district where the city was founded by the Spanish Conquistadors in 1538. In this area, you will find stunning colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, awesome street art and some of the best museums.
La Candelaria is also one of the most affordable areas to stay in Bogota. But it doesn’t skimp on beauty and packs a punch when it comes to things to do, history and culture.
No wonder travellers want to stay in La Candelaria, even if its reputation is not the best.
If you are a solo traveller and want to stay in a social hostel, hoping to meet some travel companions, you should stay in one of the hostels in La Candelaria.
So is La Candelaria Bogota safe?
It is if you stay mindful.
Robberies at gunpoint or knifepoint do happen in the area, but mostly to those who are not careful. Stay vigilant and avoid unnecessary displays of wealth. If you are waving your phone around or wearing an expensive camera around your neck, you will be asking for it. No dar papaya, my friend!
When considering accommodation in La Candelaria, stay in the historic centre. This is where the best hotels and hostels are located and where it is safest. If you want to venture outside the historic centre and are in doubt, ask at the front desk of your hostel. I have done this every time I have arrived in a new city in Colombia or any other Latin American country.
I would say that I was planning to take a walk and ask if it was safe to do so. They will always give you some tips on where to go and where not to go. They want you safe.
Dont miss my ultimate guide to Solo Female Travel in Colombia – in fact, any solo travel in Colombia!
La Candelaria isn’t the area where I recommend wandering after dark. Especially alone.
During my first stay in La Candelaria, whenever I wasn’t sure where to go, I checked Google Maps before leaving my hostel. If I needed to check my phone again, I went inside if the shop. I did not walk around on my own after dark. I didn’t even think about getting drunk.
Having said that, on my second visit, I walked up Monserate and on the way back I walked around Candelaria and had dinner in the evening by myself near Plaza de Bolivar before taking an Uber back to Chapinero. But after a few months in Colombia, I’ve become a bit complacent. I also believe I have blended in much better after that time and often wasn’t even taken for a tourist. But when you first arrive, please be mindful but there is no need to be paranoid.
If you’re travelling alone, you should stay in a hostel. This is where you can meet other travellers and join great group tours, like this bike tour, which was a highlight of my stay in Bogota. You can also book it with Bogota Bike Tours.
Are you Digital Nomad or Long Term Traveller looking for the best Travel Insurance? Or are you just someone that is looking for flexible and reliable insurance that can be purchased and cancelled at any time?
As a slow-travelling nomad, I use and recommend SafetyWing Insurance.
I love the nomad-friendly features they offer. There is no need to specify the destination or the duration of travel. I personally love this feature as I never know how long I’m going to stay in a given country.
From your chosen start date, your insurance automatically extends every 28 days until you pick an end date. Just like a subscription. And you can cancel at any time.
Things to do in La Candelaria:
- Plaza Bolivar
- Museo Botero
- Museo de Oro
- Journalists’ Park Gabriel García Márquez
- La Monserrate Hill – must climb for the best views (you can also take a cable car)
- Plazoleta Chorro de Quevedo
- Calle del Embudo – a street you cannot miss
Where to stay in La Candelaria Bogota:
Best (most legendary) hostels:
Keep in mind that all of those hostels offer affordable private rooms too!
The Cranky Croc – all backpacker’s favourite. For real! The best vibe, great tours, very social. A heart of Bogota hostel scene.
Viajero Bogota – Viajero hardly ever disappoints but the one in Bogota comes very highly recommended! And this one has a spa!
Masaya Bogota – Another legend among the best hostels and the one in La Candelaria lives up to its standard.
Granada Hostel – this one came very highly recommended to me by many travellers. The staff is super friendly, dorm beds are very comfy and they even have a separate massive hammock room!
Botanico – One that came to my attention only recently and I am gutted I didn’t have a chance to check it out. It has a great atmosphere without being a full-blown party hostel, a lovely sunny rooftop area and a good bar on the downstairs patio. Sounds super cool!
Dont like hostels and prefer to stay in a private room? No problem!
Check out this gorgeous Candelaria House Boutique offering 4-star accommodation and a garden! The vice of it definitely fits the surrounding area!
If you prefer something a bit more colonial yet affordable? Hotel Casa de la Vega offers really notice rooms for a price that won’t break the bank.
One of my favourite ways to discover a town on a budget is by joining a free walking tour whenever I first arrive. I can learn the history of the town, discover places that maybe I wouldn’t be able to find on my own and often meet other travellers in the process. If I have any burning questions about the location or safety – I always ask those questions to the tour guide. I highly recommend it!
Please note that those tours are free to join but given the tour often offers extreme value it is customary to leave a tip at the end of the tour. I always research what is the typical tip for a free walking tour in my current location.
Chapinero and Teusaquillo
I put Chapinero and Teusaquillo together because they’re right next to each other and have a very similar feel. Both are equally safe and both are some of the best areas to stay in Bogota.
Both Chapinero and Teusaquillo are among my favourite neighbourhoods in Bogota. When I came back from my trip around the Coffe Region, walking the streets of Chapinero felt a bit like being back in Santa Marta, only with different weather, but the vibe was the same, at least for me. The street vendors selling avocados, sim cards and other ‘necessities’, the street food and menu del dia places, and ever-present music.
Oh, I miss you, Colombia!
However, this area has many faces. As it is a widespread district you will feel the difference between the south and north.
There are quiet residential streets like the one where my hostel was located (Republica Bogota), busy streets with shops and street vendors, parks, and in the very north – Zona G, where some of Bogota’s best restaurants are located. If I were to choose to live in Bogota, this is where I’d most like to be.
I didn’t stay in Teusaquillo but I walked there. In Teusaquillo you will also find the best green space in Bogota – Parque Metropolitano Simón Bolívar. Beautiful to walk around and seek some shade on a sunny day. My hostel was located in Chapinero and I could walk up and down both districts with no issues. I really liked the vibe of this area.
Both Chapinero and Teusaquillo are also pretty affordable and some really good hostels and boujee hotels are located here.
What to do in Chapinero and Teusaquillo:
- Parque de los Hippies
- Parque Metropolitano Simón Bolívar
- Maloka Museo Interactivo and planetarium
- Dance salsa in Sandunguera
- Hike Quebrada La Vieja
Where to stay in Chapinero and Teusaquillo:
I highly recommend Republica Hostel in Chapinero mostly for its unbeatable location. I walked to Zona G and Parque Tuesaquillo from there and never had to use Uber. It’s also located in a very quiet and safe area. There is no kitchen and the hostel is pretty small but the beds are uber comfortable and the staff is super friendly.
Another highly recommended hostel is Hostal Macondo Bogota. It’s in a great safe location, close to restaurants and has funky colourful deco with comfy and well-equipped dorm beds.
Trip Monkey has 2 hostels in this area – one in Zone G and one in Chapinero. Both are cool hostels and come highly recommended. Both offer nicely decorated common areas and the type of bunk beds I like the most.
Looking for something more comfortable?
Lucitania Hotel Boutique has moderately priced rooms, a terrace with beautiful views as well a garden and a bar. it’s very conveniently located too.
If you are looking for a very nice and modern room that is very well-priced Urban Heights Bogota should be your choice!
For a truly boujee stay with a grand rooftop pool, gym and all those bells and whistles you have to check out Grand Hyatt Bogota.
For a slightly more intimate yet still classy stay, I recommend you take a look at HAB Hotel Bogotá.
Zona Rosa to Parque 93 (Chico)
This is a cluster of touristy districts which I purposely put into one category as those have loads in common. Safe, a bit upmarket and packed full of bars, restaurants and nightclubs – it’s one of the most popular areas to stay in Bogota, especially for first-timers.
I will be honest – this is my least favourite yet it is the safest and most popular area to stay in Bogota. It wasn’t my cup of tea the same way wasn’t the El Poblado in Medellin. But this is purely my personal preference.
Being quite safe and full of bars and restaurants, it is one of the best areas to stay in Bogota for solo travellers and partygoers.
Parque 93 is a bit more upscale with a lush shopping centre (I can confirm!) and some very good restaurants lined around Parque 93 square. You will see a different kind of Bogotanos here, and different tourists too.
I stayed here for a couple of nights out of curiosity and have to admit that this is not my vibe. But if you appreciate clean, modern and western-looking areas with quality restaurants and really good shopping, this could be your place. Also, if you feel very overwhelmed at the thought of arriving in a city like Bogota, this might be the best area to stay in Bogota for the first time.
Zona Rosa is Bogota’s most famous party district. It comes alive at night, but the whole area is not too shabby when it comes to entertainment.
In Parque 93 for example you’ll find the famous Gaira Café, a nightclub owned by famous Colombian singer Carlos Vives.
Photo Credit / Guide Your Travel
Where to stay around Zona Rosa, Chico and Parque 93:
I stayed in Selina Parque 93. I am not a big fan of Selinas mostly for their lack of a backpacker vibe and it was the same this time around. It’s a lovely hostel though, with great (expensive) restaurants, great service and plenty of coworking space. If you are a digital nomad, this might be a great choice.
Zona Rosa and Parque 93 offer an incredible amount of luxury and mid-range hotels, you will be spoiled for choice.
But if you are looking for more affordable accommodation you can rent an incredibly priced apartment at Apartamentos Percales or a great room with a terrace at Hotel Madisson Inn.
GHL Collection 93 has great, modern rooms at a midrange price and includes breakfast and access to the fitness centre.
She's Birdie is The Original Personal Safety Alarm for Women made by Women! Easy to use and activate, it adds an additional layer of safety and will give this extra peace of mind. I love this product! A personal safety alarm once activated, produces a sound and flashing strobe that should scare the majority of attackers!
Usaquen / Where to stay in Bogota
Usaquén was my last stop in Colombia. After this stay, I headed to the airport to begin my adventure in Guatemala. I was excited, but also very sad to be leaving my favourite country in the world.
I really liked Usaquén, it is green, clean, peaceful and very safe. It’s a bit more sophisticated, yet not pretentious. I liked the vibe, and the local flavour, and I really enjoyed my walks in this neighbourhood.
Usaquen is actually a separate town that has been absorbed by Bogota. This lovely colonial neighbourhood feels like a separate town yet somehow you still know you are in Bogota. It’s very residential, but anything but boring.
Usaquen is one of the wealthiest and safest districts in Bogota, but somehow it does not brag about it. It’s a bit like the rich friend who wears sweatshirts, picks you up in a Porsche, but takes you to Burger King. You feel so comfortable around them that you often forget how rich they are. I hope you understand my strange comparison.
Although there isn’t much sightseeing to be done in Usaquen, there are a few pastimes you could entertain yourself with. Be sure to go to Parque de Usaquén, the central square of the city. It still retains some of the old colonial charm of the area and is a nice place to relax. Also explore the surrounding attractions such as the old Town Hall and the Hacienda Santa Barbara, which has been converted into a shopping mall.
In Usaquen you will also find a popular tourist train that runs on weekends and takes you to Zipaquira. It’s a fun ride with live music and a popular attraction in Bogota.
Not far away, you’ll find charming streets with many restaurants and bars, as well as some very decent shopping areas.
If you are in the area on Sunday, and I recommend you are, do not miss a shopping experience and visit the famous Sunday flea market of Usaquin – Mercado de Las Pulgas.
If you are looking for the safest area to stay in Bogota – Usaquén is it.
People walk around day and night and there is regular police presence. It’s funny that I started my Bogota journey in La Candelaria and ended up in Usaquén. They could not be more different, and yet I recommend both equally – for a complete picture of Bogota.
Where to stay in Usaquén:
Usaquen is very residential so you will not find too many backpacker hostels. But clearly, this is not why you go to Usaquén. It was my last stop before I left Colombia, and I was so glad I made it so.
If you are looking for an ultra-budget private room in a hostel I stayed at Hostal Usaquen la Parada del Tren and it was quite alright. It wasn’t mindblowing but the price was unbeatable, there was a shared kitchen, I had a space to write and the room was spacious with a private bathroom and smart tv. Yes, I stay in private rooms as well from time to time.
For a totally luxurious stay how about a wonderful quinn room at W Bogota?
Helpful information and safety tips for staying in Bogota
- No matter how independent you are, in big cities like Bogota it’s always a good idea to join others for some adventure or sightseeing. Stay at a social hostel where you can meet other travellers and participate in activities. If you do not meet other travellers at a hostel, join a free walking tour or other organised activity.
- If you go out, be extra vigilant. Drinks do get spiked. Only order drinks that have been poured or opened in front of you and never leave them unattended. Avoid going out alone, and if you do go out with friends, make sure you keep an eye on each other and return together. Don’t look like a potential victim. If it is visible that someone is watching over you, you are less likely to become a victim.
- Take Uber instead of a cab. Although Uber is technically illegal in Bogota, it is actually available. Just do not be surprised if the driver asks you to sit at the front so it looks like you are riding with a friend. Uber is the best option – you have the driver’s name and registration before you get in the car, and you know exactly how much the ride will cost you. I’ve used Uber many times in Bogota without any problems.
- Some travellers enjoyed using public transportation in Bogota, but I never took a bus in Bogota. Although I used buses and colectivos everywhere else in Colombia, In Bogota it just didnt feel safe to me. I would probably change my mind if I did, as I often do. Instead, I made sure I stayed in an area where I could walk to many of the places I wanted to see, and if it was not safe, I took Uber.
- Learn a little Spanish. You’re less likely to get scammed if you can negotiate in Spanish. Your efforts will be greatly appreciated, no matter how small. I noticed that every time I spoke Spanish, I was served much better.
- If you get robbed, don’t fight. Please don’t do it Your life is more valuable than any wallet or iPhone.
- A word of warning for guys: if a very attractive girl approaches you in a bar, as much as it might be genuine, it may also be the opposite. It’s common for attractive girls to spike men’s drinks and the guy wakes up the next day with nothing to remember and all his valuables gone. Don’t be that guy!
- Please don’t be discouraged from visiting Bogota. It’s an incredible city with rich culture and history and wonderful people.
Stay safe, make wise decisions and be mindful and you will leave with the best memories. I promise!
This post may contain affiliate links which means that if you purchase the product or make a booking via one of my links, I will receive a small commission. Please know that I will never recommend or promote a product I don’t believe in or haven’t used. This way, you are supporting this blog at no extra cost to you. Thank you!
Heading to Tayrona Park next? Be sure to read my complete guide to visiting Tayrona Park as a solo traveller. You should also consider taking a Cabo de la Vela and Punta Gallinas trip! Read here why!
Staying in Cartagena for the first time? Also, read this guide on where to stay in Cartagena as a first-time traveller.
My favourite Travel Resources
- For most of my accommodation management, I use Bookings.com and Hostel World. With both booking platforms, you will often get free cancellations and access to tons of reviews. Read them! You will also get the most extensive selection of all types of accommodation. I hardly ever look elsewhere. If you are travelling in Asia – Agoda is definitely worth checking out!
- Make sure you download Google Maps and, on the first day, download an offline map of your location. This way, even without the internet or Wi-Fi, you will be able to get to your destination.
Moovit is also an excellent and very underrated travel and journey-planning app. It works great in many countries and will show you all possible routes by public transport, including the timetables.
123Go — Great for tickets for trains, buses, ferries and charters in Southeast Asia! The best way to buy your ticket for the overnight Bangkok train! Rome2rio – Another great journey-planning app. If your way of travel is mainly public transport – you will use this app for sure!
The travel insurance I use is Heymondo, and their plan suits me perfectly. They have clear policies with no deductibles, the price is excellent for what they offer and the price doesn’t go up when you are over 30 years old. They have a dedicated, easy-to-use app and free assistance calls.
I can get a cover for a month or three months and I know I can travel with peace of mind and get the best product for my money. And it also covers COVID-19.
- I carry two debit cards with me. Given I don’t have a permanent country of residence, Revolut and Wise work fantastically. In case one gets frozen, stolen or simply lost, I have a backup. The great thing about both cards is that you can freeze them straight from your phone and transfer money between them in case you need to. You will also get a great exchange rate and create separate foreign currency accounts.
- I booked most of my tours via either Get Your Guide or Viator. You can also book locally, but I advise you to ask around and follow the local recommendations.
For more travel tips and recourses, visit Pati’s Travel Tips page!