Bogota, Colombia: One day, three ways

The writer was a guest of LAN Airlines and the South America Travel Centre.


Despite Colombia being the third largest exporter of coffee in the world, finding a decent cup is surprisingly tricky. Start your day with a warm palo de queso (cheese stick pastry) and expertly made latte ($6) at Arte y Pasion Cafe (, at the rear of a small colonial arcade in the heart of the city. Nearby Santander Park could easily be mistaken for the set of a 1950s movie with shoe shiners and men wearing suits and hats conversing beneath the statue of Francisco de Paula Santander. From there, stroll through the upper section of La Candelaria, a once crime-ridden area now gentrified with street art, murals and cafes. Try a traditional lunch of rice, chicken, pork, egg and vegetables wrapped in a palm leaf ($3) at La Puerta Falsa (, then check into Hotel Casa Galeria offering eight rooms facing an internal flower-filled courtyard (rooms from $56,

TOTAL: $65


Explore the city's art and culture starting at the Gold Museum (; entry $2) in Calle 16, which traces the history of the precious metal and how it shaped Colombia. Be sure to have a San Alberto coffee in the ground-floor cafe ($3.50). A 10-minute stroll will bring you to the Botero Museum (; free entry), on Calle 11 in the La Candelaria district. Set in a two-storey colonial mansion, it contains famed Colombian artist Fernando Botero's outrageous, Renaissance-inspired paintings and more than 80 works by other artists, including Matisse, Renoir, and Picasso. A short stroll uphill takes you to a charming traditional eatery, El Son de Los Grillos. Try the hearty ajiaco, a chicken soup (from $6). Afterwards turn right, head down hill and check into the elegant Hotel de Opera (rooms from $163 including breakfast;

TOTAL: $174.50


Head out of town with Metropolitan Touring to the town of Zipaquira, where the astonishing Salt Cathedral under the Halite Mountains is a monumental architectural masterpiece built by the miners' own hands (a full-day tour is $235 a person, southamericatravelcentre. The tour includes a lunch stop at Sanalejo in the Cajica region for arguably Colombia's best empanadas, served creole-style stuffed with potato and ground beef, coal-fire steak and a glass of South American red wine ( Back in Bogota, explore the salubrious La Cabrera neighbourhood with its mix of boutiques, art galleries, restaurants and bars. Spend the night at the chic B.O.G Hotel (rooms from $199 including breakfast, Order a martini ($16) in the bar, then stroll to the raucous, sprawling Andres Carne de Res ($50) for a fun-filled night of music and fine meat.

TOTAL: $500