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Last week, Kamile Matl got in touch via our Facebook page about her upcoming trip to Bogotá in Colombia:
“Hey guys! I am travelling to Bogotá, can somebody recommend me a cool hostel in the centre where I could meet nice backpackers? I will be there in February, so I still have a bit of time to plan my stuff, but I am meeting there a few friends so we want to book a hostel in advance so that we can meet up without stressing out about finding a spot to stay.” Kamile Matl
We did some research and asked around for recommendations from fellow travellers, and we’ve come up with this short guide to choosing a Bogotá hostel…
Which Bogotá District to Stay in…
The Colombian capital is one of the largest cities in Latin America, and is made up of twenty districts, so choosing where to stay is vital if Kamile wants to be close to the major attractions, as well as to other backpackers.
La Candelaria is the Bogotá’s beautiful historic district, all peeling paint and poky side streets, but this is where many of the major tourist sites are located – as well as plenty of well-priced backpacker hostels. The seat of the national government, La Candelaria has a good claim as the original capital of South America, while the presence of libraries, museums and a university have turned the district into a bohemian hotspot for the arts, with lots of trendy little bars and a good live music scene. Notable tourist sights include the Plaza de Bolivar, the Museo del Oro (gold museum), and most of Bogotá’s other museums and galleries.
An ideal area for meeting other travellers and enjoying a relaxed, artsy atmosphere, La Candelaria is probably the most popular district with backpackers – but be aware that certain streets can be unsafe at night (always be careful with valuables) and there’s quite a strong drug scene here, too.
La Zona Rosa
The dedicated nightlife district, La Zona Rosa is heavily policed, so it’s much safer than La Candelaria, but is also a lot more upmarket. The area is filled with restaurants, pretty leafy streets, and expensive nightclubs, but it’s generally considered one of the trendier areas to stay. There are no real tourists sights here, but there is the incredibly fashionable Andres D.C nightclub/restaurant which is well worth a visit, among hundreds of other super trendy bars.
If Kamile is looking for a party scene with other travellers of the ‘flashpacker’ variety, a hostel in La Zona Rosa could be right up her street.
El Chapinero – Zona G
One of Bogotá’s coolest neighbourhoods, El Chapinero is an alternative district with a good nightlife. Filled with university students, bohemian cafes, bars, and restaurants, El Chapinero also contains Chapinero Alto (between Calle 65 and Calle 45), the city’s premier gay district nicknamed “Gay Hills”, as well as Zona G (G for Gourmet) where the most prestigious restaurants of Bogotá can be found. Worth visiting in this district is the Parque de los Hippies, a popular student area which is surrounded by fun bars, live music and cheap eats.
The accommodation in El Chapinero tends to be more mid-range to upscale hotels, so meeting other backpackers here maybe harder, but there are a few pricier hostels around.
Another popular area to stay in is Parque 93, another upscale nightlife and fine-dining district, although this one is considered the most laid-back. A lovely area for walking, this district is dominated by the park, which is lined with some fantastic restaurants and bars. The park is frequently host to festivals and art installations, too, making this a very nice area to spend some time chilling out before sampling the area’s best cocktail bars. Worth a look in this district is the Parque y Museo El Chico, an old hacienda (mansion) which is set in a pretty park.
Again, though, accommodation in Parque 93 tends to be of the more upscale variety with more hotels than hostels.
Usaquén in the north is another area people usually visit. There is a big market on Sundays that is supposed to be nice. Chapinero is where Zona G and Parque 93 are located and is considered the upscale neighborhood. In the west is Salitre were Simon Bolivar park is and the sports stadiums. The farther south you go typically the more poor it gets. I don’t know many tourists that would go south unless you were actually visiting someone or working with an company/organization that services that area.” Alicia Lauhon, Alicia Tastes Life
Hostel Recommendations in Bogotá
Since Kamile wants to stay in a hostel, rather than a hotel, and she wants to meet other backpackers on her trip, I’m recommending that she stay in La Candelaria or Zona Rosa. She can always venture into the other districts mentioned above in search of trendy bars, shopping malls, and a more upmarket nightlife if that’s her thing; public transport in Bogota is pretty good and taxis are generally fairly priced (especially when shared with other travellers).
Here are a few hostel recommendations from other travellers:
Swiss Hostel Martinik, La Candelaria
Recommended by Ally Gale of Ally Rambles (@allyrambles), who says that Swiss Hostel is set in a fantastic location at the heart of historic La Candelaria, very close to lots of cheap eateries and bars. “Kaffarte and Dona Ceci’s on the same road are worth a look”. Importantly for this district, the hostel is secure, plus the staff are “lovely”, the wifi is good, and the hostel offer lots of organised activities like a Friday Night Party Bus, Spanish school, and bike tours.
The building is a bit dated however; sound travels quite a long way and the water in the shower moved about as quickly as the infamous Bogotá traffic (i.e. very slowly), but we were told they’re better downstairs. Breakfast wasn’t great, but it”s free.” Ally Gale.
Ally says Swiss Hostel was more chilled than a party place, but there are plenty of bars nearby if Kamile is looking for more nightlife. There’s also plenty on offer for downtime and socialising, with lounges, boardgames, and a Nintendo Wii – plus I like the sound of the communal BBQ.
Colombian Dream Hostel, La Candelaria
This hostel was recommended by Alicia Lauhon, who wrote last week’s amazing destination guide on Bogotá for Every Budget.
With an on-site bar and plenty of organised activities, including tours and parties, this definitely seems like a good option for meeting other backpackers and socialising. The communal areas look fun and are filled with hammocks for chilling out, plus the staff are reportedly fantastic fun.
Lima Limon Hostel, La Candelaria
My recommendation for La Candelaria district is Lima Limon, a small but friendly hostel with a quiet, chilled out vibe. Very close to plenty of bars, as well as the Plazoleta del Chorro de Quevedo – a great little square with live music performances and lots of cool, tiny bars.
The hostel itself was cosy and colourful, but it definitely wasn’t a party hostel. Lots of backpackers there take advantage of an offer Lima Limon run, whereby they can stay for free if they spend a couple of nights a week manning the front desk and opening the door, which stays locked at night (great for security). This meant that in our dorm there were usually a couple of people sleeping all day – annoying when you want to get things out of your bag etc, but since the dorms are very small we spent most of our time in the communal area anyway. We were also disturbed a few times by people finishing their shift in the very early hours and coming in to bed, which did get annoying – but I think they only use the downstairs dorm for the volunteer staff so if Kamile requests another dorm she shouldn’t be disturbed.
82 Hostel, Zona Rosa
Very close to Zona Rosa, 83 Hostel is recommended by travellers as being great for the party scene. The location is safer than La Candelaria and the hostel is reportedly very secure.
Atmosphere actually in the hostel may be somewhat lacking according to various hostelworld reviews, but the rooms and common areas look well decorated and the rates, which start at around $12 USD for a dorm room, are very good for the location. No bar or social activities, but there are chilled-looking common areas and the hostel also organise tours.
12:12 Hostels, Zona G
The final recommendation, also from Alicia Lauhon, is a trendy looking hostel in Bogotá’s more upmarket district. The communal areas are very funky and the dorms have comfy looking beds with wooden dividers for privacy.
The hostel looks modern, chic, and very fun – but it’s also more of a flashpacker option, with rates starting at about $15 USD.
NB – all hostel images have been borrowed from the Hostelworld website.
What to do in Bogota!
Depending on what Kamile fancies getting up to, there’s a whole lot to see and do in Colombia’s awesome capital – from climbing Cerro Montserrate, to soaking up history and culture at the numerous museums and galleries, to simply chilling out with some canelazo (read more about this yummy hot cocktail here) at one of the hundreds of fab bars.
She should definitely check out Alicia Lauhon’s destination guide from last week, Bogotá for Every Budget, which has a lot of great information about what to see, do, and eat in this amazing, and enormous, city!
If you have a suggestion for Kamile’s trip, or a hostel recommendation, please leave us a comment. And if you have your own question about South America that you’d like us to answer, get in touch!