A collective groan of despair is uttered when your travel agent suggests a layover in Bogota in order to facilitate onward travel. But, despair not as the Athens of South America is actually pretty accommodating and far from being the cartel-ridden capital of kidnapping that is so often erroneously portrayed in contemporary cinema.
Myth buster No.1 – You are not going to be kidnapped from the gangway as you step from the plane in Bogota’s El Dorado airport.
Myth buster No.2 – Contrary to the images delivered in the opening sequence of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Bogota is not permanently suffering the aftershocks of continual Guerrilla attacks.
Myth buster No.3 – Bogota is high, 2600m above sea level, or 8530ft if you prefer. This is not the jungle and neither is it tropical, so dress accordingly.
What to do in a Layover in Bogota?
Central Bogota is only a 20 minute taxi ride from the El Dorado airport, traffic permitting, and so you should throw caution into the wind during any break between flights that is greater than 4 hours and head on in to whet your appetite to make a return visit here.
Located at either end of the airport are official taxi ranks which will give you a print out for the value of your taxi fare. These airport taxis represent the best and safest form of making a journey into Bogota for the first time visitor.
Bogota is for Foodies!
Why bother with bland international airport fodder when for under US$10 you can grab a taxi, head into the center of town and dine out on hearty Colombian cuisine. If you are going in for lunch then look no further than the colonial Candelaria which has also been described as the Zona Culinaria. Given the proximity of many offices and indeed the Colombian Government buildings, you are spoilt for choice since there are almost too many high quality restaurants to choose from that cater to this demanding clientele. Try an ajiaco soup.
Bogota is for Culture lovers!
You’ll find hours of entertainment in the Candelaria, from world class museums such as the Museo de Oro, the Donacion Botero and more off-beat attractions such as the Police Museum with its room dedicated to the capture of Pablo Escobar. Should you just want to wander the colonial streets found here, by all means do so as during daylight hours you’ll feel surprisingly and refreshingly safe.
For an Overnight Layover
El Dorado is not awful but by no means is it at luxurious as some other international airports where you find yourself watching that budget and sleeping on the floor. If you are on a tight budget, why not opt for a hostel for the night, private rooms are in the US$15 mark in most places and again as aforementioned they are all located in the Candelaria, merely 20 minutes away.
You could also choose to go uptown to the Zona Rosa for a night out on the tiles to enjoy some real Colombian flavor. There are plenty of mid-range and upscale options here for you to choose from if you decide upon a hotel.
Our strong recommendation unless you are truly paranoid about missing your flight on the following day, is to be adventurous and move beyond the bland airport hotels beginning to spring up around El Dorado. You will spend you evening in a taxi visiting other places when instead you could already be staying in the vicinity of the Candelaria, the Zona Rosa or Usaquen.