After spending roughly two weeks in Bogotá, I’ve picked up on a few tips and tricks. I did a ton of research prior to our trip and planned accordingly, but there were definitely some things that I learned after we arrived.
Bogotá sits at an altitude of 2,640 meters (8,660 ft) above sea level. Depending on where you’re coming from, that is a drastic change in altitude. For us, coming from NYC, where the elevation is 10 meters (33 feet) above sea level, it was definitely an adjustment. To prevent altitude sickness, I planned for us to have a fairly laid back first few days. We did some shopping and fine dining, and left all the hiking for later in the week. Remember to drink tons of water, avoid long periods of time in the sun, and don’t drink any alcohol for the first few days.
If you need any kind of COVID testing, there are a ton of very efficient test sites that offer PCR or antigen testing. We used Colcan Labs and got our results in four hours. We also used a service called Vitălea, where you can book PCR or antigen tests that show up at your door. We used Vitălea twice during our time in Bogotá and they came straight to our hotel room and we got our results via email within four hours. They cost roughly 60,000 COP for an antigen test, so only about $20 USD.
Be careful walking around specific areas in Bogotá. For us, areas like Parque 93 and Usaquén were super safe areas to walk around in. But our drivers were very hesitant for us to walk around in La Candelaria area by ourselves. Do not wear flashing jewelry or walk around with your expensive electronics in plain sight. In addition, Uber and Tappsi are excellent apps to use to get from place to place.
The Rappi App was an absolute Godsend when we were in Bogotá. After coming back from a long day outside – and also during our COVID quarantine – the Rappi app allowed us to order delivery from restaurants, pharmacies, grocery stores, and even the Mini So! The app tracks when your delivery person arrives, picks up, and is close to your location. At delivery, you have a code to give them to ensure delivery is to the right person. No more dropping off my order at an apartment two houses down and calling it delivered (I’m looking at you Doordash!).
Bring a cute tote bag with you when you go to Bogotá. All the stores do not have bags unless you pay for them. It’s not a huge cost, but if you can save some money – and save the environment – why not? I always keep a little foldable tote bag in my handbag and this was super helpful whenever we wanted to pick up some water bottles or snacks at the grocery store or drugstore.
Almost every single restaurant or café we visited during our time in Bogotá had QR code menus. I think we saw two paper menus during our two weeks in the city. It’ll be super helpful if you have some type of data plan – either via a sim card (the most popular cell companies in Colombia are Claro and Tigo). You can pick up a sim card at the airport or from a street vendor in the city. We used a pocket WIFI rental, as we like to keep our numbers while traveling and that worked great for our needs.
Colombia uses the Colombian Peso (COP), which is roughly 3,800 COP to $1 USD. Contactless payment is widely available in restaurants, shopping malls, and grocery stores. We made the vast majority of our purchases using our credit cards, but we did have to use cash for tips, purchasing souvenirs, and entry fees. There are ATMs from various companies just outside luggage claim, but banks are readily available throughout the city.