Budget Travel Ideas in Bogota

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Bogota is a cosmopolitan city with a vibrant nightlife scene, good shopping opportunities, and plenty of upscale restaurants and hotels. While there´s plenty of opportunity to splash the cash, the Colombian capital is also well-equipped to meet the needs of travelers with an eye on their budget. Well established on the backpacker circuit, the city has several good hostels as well as low-cost hotels, and there are plenty of places to enjoy a filling meal for a minimal cost. Taxis and public transport in the city are relatively cheap, so don´t attempt to cut costs by walking - particularly after dark. This is Bogota, after all, so take the necessary safety precautions.

Where to Stay

La Candelaria, the historic center of Bogota, is home to a number of good backpacker hostels, the most established of which is Platypus. Many rate this hostel as the best in Colombia, and the helpful German owner Hermann certainly goes out of his way to help guests out with any inquiries. There's free coffee round-the-clock and decent kitchen facilities. If Platypus is full, Hostel Sue, next door, is another decent and low cost option. Couples traveling together may find it makes sound financial sense to stay in a budget hotel rather than hostel, and again, there are several budget-friendly choices in La Candalaria, including Dorantes, at Calle 13, which is a refurbished 19th Century mansion. Opt for shared rather than private bath and you´ll save on the price of your room.

Where to Eat

No matter how tight the budget, there´s no need to go hungry in Bogota. Most budgets will stretch to the very good value set lunches that can be found across the city, which generally include three courses and a coffee or juice. While the cheapest of these meals generally include soup followed by meat, chicken or fish with yucca or fries, salad and rice; but there are some good vegetarian places too, such as Lotus Azul at Carrera 5 and Calle 14. There are plenty of bargain snacks to be found on the street too, such as empanadas (pies filled with meat or cheese) and arepas (maize pancakes filled with cheese). Peanuts, corn on the cob, and bread rolls filled with everything from sweet preserves to salty cheese are other items available on the street for very little money.

Nightlife on a Budget

Budget visitors to Bogota should give the city´s plush Zona Rosa a miss, as this well-to-do neighborhood is home to some of the priciest bars and clubs in the city. Save on taxi fares and stick to spots close to the hostels and budget hotels of La Candelaria - there are plenty of options, and most will try to tempt customers in with the promise of a free drink, or two-for-one offers.

Sightseeing

Candelaria and downtown Bogota can be navigated on foot, during daylight hours at least, and many of the attractive churches and historic buildings here are free to enter. For example, check out the Casa de la Moneda at Calle 11, and the next door Donacion Museum, which feature impressive antique coin and art collections respectively, and are free of charge.

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