Atmospheric 300-year-old homes with corner fireplaces and old tile floors dot La Candelaria. Watering holes turn up the trend as you head north: especially in Chapinero Alto, Zona Rosa and Parque 93. Bohemian barrios west of Av Caracas, such as Parkway in La Soledad, have become stomping grounds for craft brewing and other hipster trends in the last few years.
Clubbing in Bogotá
Strap yourself in: Bogotá boogies. There's all sorts of ambience and musical rhythm on offer – from rock, techno and metal to salsa, vallenato and samba. If you don't know how to dance, be prepared to prove it. Strangers frequently ask each other to dance and everyone seems to know the words to every song played.
Bogotá's Coffee Evolution
Colombia may be muy famosa for coffee, but in reality it's just been remarkably astute at coffee marketing. Despite international renown and a loveable figurehead in the fictional Juan Valdez (created by the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia in 1958), Colombian coffee in Colombia was terrible for decades. The ubiquitous preparation, known as tinto, is a barely drinkable swill resulting from the fact that Colombians are accustomed to drinking what the rest of the world ain't got no time for – the best beans were always exported, and the dregs were roasted, ground, sweetened into oblivion and sold countrywide in colorful thermoses that definitely do not proclaim, 'Singular coffee experience!'.
Despite coffee's Third Wave (in which it's treated as a high-quality commodity and served in artisanal espresso bars by career baristas who make coffee art with your latte) dating back to the early Noughties in most countries, Colombia lagged woefully behind. And it faced a tourism dichotomy due to its reputation: once the world started visiting Colombia, it naturally expected amazing coffee. But while destination Colombia was a major hit, tinto failed to deliver.
Things started looking up in 2002, when the first Juan Valdez café opened in Bogotá. Although little more than a Colombian Starbucks, the Second Wave had arrived and Colombians began to get a taste for something other than tinto. Still, the evolution was slow – it would still take more than a decade before the Third Wave arrived.
As recently as 2012, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated that Colombia was importing 90% of the coffee it consumed (Colombia's statistics bureau pegged the number closer to 80%, but still, the numbers were considerable). Why? Essentially because it was cheaper, as even commodity-quality Colombian arabica beans traded for a premium on the international market. But the tide has begun to turn.
With Juan Valdez having laid the foundation (as few as 10% of Columbians drank coffee at cafes in 2007; today that figure is 50%), and growing disposable income among the country's middle class along with newfound national pride in consuming their world-renowned product, Colombian coffee is now amazing on both sides of the border.
By 2017 there were more than 50 specialty coffee cafes in Bogotá. With options such as Amor Perfecto and Azahar Café offering coffee every bit as good as anything in Seattle or Turin, caffeine fiends will never have to suffer at the hands of tinto again.
After all, as Azahar put it from the beginning: Porque Colombia Merece su Mejor Café (Because Colombia Deserves the Best Coffee).
La Candelaria's relatively laid-back club scene caters to local students but is seedy at night and isn't always a great option for drunken foreigner revelery. With hordes of student patrons, La Candelaria's cafes mostly focus on drinks after hours. It's a great spot to try a hot mug of canelazo (made with aguardiente, sugarcane, cinnamon and lime). Callejón del Embudo ('Funnel') – the tiny alley north of Plazoleta del Chorro de Quevedo – is lined with sit-and-chat cafes and bars selling chicha (an indigenous corn beer).
The Centro Internacional business district west of Carrera 7 tends to clear out after dark.
Chapinero, Chapinero Alto & Quinta Camacho
The edgy, sprawling, bohemian district of Chapinero, with many gay bars, sits south of its more sedate neighbor, Zona G. Start on Calle 60, between Carreras 8 and 9, and head south on Carrera 9. Further south, Calle 51 between Carreras 7 and 8 is something of a 'student street', with half-a-dozen flirt-all-day glassed-in bars and a couple of dance clubs. West of Av Caracas, around the Parkway (Diagonal 36), microbreweries and neighborhood bars characterize Bogotá's most up-and-coming district.
Between Calles 67 and 72 and from Carrera 7 to Av Caracas, Quinta Camacho is home to a fabulous concentration of bars, pubs and coffeehouses catering to an artsy crowd.
La Macarena draws a sophisticated thirtysomething crowd looking for a lounge experience rather than a club.
North of Calle 72 is the trendiest area for sophisticated mixology, jolts of excellent caffeine or pints of microbrew, especially around Calle 85, Zona Rosa and Parque 93. Zona Rosa's pedestrian mall (Zona T) offers Bogotá's highest concentration of nocturnal diversion and pub-crawl potential, though some might say it offers quantity over quality. The sparkling and vibrant (if somewhat pretentious) salsatecas (salsa clubs) and nightclubs in these areas may turn you away if you're not dressed suitably (no shorts, sandals or other beachwear).