«Colombia’s capital is a city that divides opinion. Its detractors cite poverty, gridlocked traffic and crime, as well as depressingly regular rain, and with over eight million tightly packed inhabitants and some decidedly drab neighbourhoods, Bogotá rarely elicits love at first sight. Given a day or two, however, most people do fall for this cosmopolitan city with its colonial architecture, numerous restaurants and raucous nightlife. In any case, love it or hate it, odds are you’ll have to pass through it at some stage during your travels in Colombia.\n Bogotá is bounded on its western side by the Río Bogotá, and to its east by the Cerro de Monserrate, a mountain ridge topped by a church that can be seen from pretty much anywhere in town, making it a very useful landmark. Thus constricted (although seeping out beyond its traditional boundary on the west side), the city’s expansion has largely been to the north and south. The southern end of town consists of down-at-heel barrios largely inhabited by people who’ve come in from the countryside seeking work. To the north by contrast, Bogotá has swallowed up former satellite towns that have now become pleasant uptown neighbourhoods such as Chapinero – fresh and hilly, full of trendy cafés, and home to the city’s epicentre of gourmet dining, the “Zona G”. At the far northern end of town, Usaquén, formerly a village and indigenous reserve, is now a posh suburb with a popular Sunday market. The city’s oldest neighbourhood, La Candelaria, lies at what was once the junction of two rivers, the Río San Agustín (which now runs under Calle 7), and the Río San Francisco, which still flows through the centre of town to this day, in a channel down Avenida Jiménez. La Candelaria is home to some of South America’s most impressive colonial buildings, and is the neighbourhood where most tourists – and certainly most backpackers – choose to stay. The downtown city centre, though more modern than La Candelaria, gives the impression of having gone slightly to seed, and is nowadays to a large extent upstaged as a commercial and business district by smarter uptown neighbourhoods such as the Zona Rosa. The city’s nightlife zone, Zona Rosa positively heaves with clubs and restaurants, which only really comes to life after nightfall. All over town, one thing you’ll notice is the vibrant and colourful graffiti and street art, a result of the city’s liberal attitude to graffiti, which has made it a mecca for street artists from around the world. Situated on the Sabana de Bogotá, Colombia’s highest plateau and 2600m up in the Andes, Bogotá can be cold and wet year-round. March to May and September to November are the wettest periods, while late December through January is the sunniest time of year. \n Galleries and museums galore, a historic centre that’s well worth a look, vibrant culture and a ton of good food – it must be Bogota, the high-altitude capital of Colombia. This is definitely a cool city that will keep you busy for longer than you’ve got there! Whilst it’s interesting and exciting, crime still is a problem here. Though Bogota has put its worst days of murder and violence behind it, the city still retains a lot of street crime, gangs, and drug trafficking. Luckily, you can avoid these issues by staying in the right area. And in this case, it’s Zona Rosa. Zona Rosa is the dedicated nightlife area with tons of bars, clubs, restaurants, and a heavy police presence. This makes it to one of the safest areas in Bogota. This is where you’ll find most Bogotanos hanging out on the weekends or congregating after work.

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