Living In Bogotá, Colombia: The Expat’s Essential Guide

Thinking of living in Bogotá? Our guide is tailored specifically for expats, to help make your move to Colombia's capital as straightforward as possible.

Are you thinking about living in Bogotá, Colombia’s captivating Capital city? 

If the answer is yes, you’re in the right place.

Our resourceful guide is tailored specifically for expats like you, aiming to make your move to this cosmopolitan city as straightforward as possible.

A city scape of Bogota city with mountains in the background

We’re inviting you to embark on this exciting journey as we explore the ins and outs of life in Bogotá. 

Let’s jump straight into the heart of the matter. Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll find in our guide: 

  • Understanding Bogotá: A brief introduction to the city’s history, geography, and culture.
  • Living in Bogotá: The lifestyle, cost of living, and quality of life in the city.
  • Housing and accommodation: Tips on finding the perfect place to live.
  • Working in Bogotá: Job market, work culture, and opportunities for expats.
  • Healthcare and education: An overview of Bogotá’s healthcare and education system.
  • Moving to Bogotá: Essential tips and advice to help you plan your move.

Ready to start your Colombian adventure?

Vamos! (Let’s go!)

Introduction to Bogotá

Nestled high in the Andes, Colombia’s bustling capital city presents an enchanting blend of old and new, a place where modern skyscrapers coexist with historic landmarks.

As an expat, Bogotá offers an experience that is as diverse and rich as the city itself.

Let’s dive into what makes this city an appealing destination for expatriates like you. 

Location and climate 

Bogotá is perched approximately 2,640 meters above sea level in the central region of Colombia, giving it a unique and pleasant climate.

It has no tropical heat associated with other South American countries and cities popular with expats.

Instead, you’ll enjoy a mild and healthy climate with an average temperature of around 14°C (57°F).

The city experiences two main seasons—dry and rainy. However, the weather can change rather quickly, so don’t forget to pack an adaptable wardrobe! 

Culture and lifestyle 

The city’s culture is a passionate tapestry woven from its rich past and spirited present.

Musicians on the street of Bogota playing Colombian Cumbia, a musical rhythm and traditional folk dance from Colombia.
Colombian Cumbia, a musical rhythm and traditional folk dance from Colombia.

Bogotá is a cultural hub boasting numerous museums, theaters, and festivals celebrating its diverse heritage.

One of the highlights is the famed Gold Museum, home to a spectacular collection of pre-Hispanic goldwork.

Living here, you’ll be part of a lifestyle that values arts and music. 

Economy and job opportunities 

The strength of Bogotá’s economy cannot be overstated. It’s not only the economic heart of Colombia but also one of the most robust economies in Latin America.

The city is particularly recognized for its information technology and telecommunications sectors.

Expats with skills in these areas, as well as in teaching English, can find ample opportunities. 

Cost of living 

While Bogotá is the most expensive city in Colombia, it’s relatively affordable compared to cities in the US and UK.

Housing, food, and transportation costs are generally lower. However, as with any city, your cost of living will depend on your lifestyle and the choices you make. 

Expat community 

Don’t worry too much about being alone in an unfamiliar land.

Bogotá has a growing expat community, and you’re sure to find networks and associations that will help you settle in. It’s a city that welcomes everyone with open arms. 

So, ready to make Bogotá your new home?

Remember, every city has its challenges, but with an open mind and a sense of adventure, Bogotá promises an enriching and rewarding experience. 

Moving to Bogotá

Are you ready to venture on your journey to Bogotá? 

Let’s delve into the nitty-gritty of relocating to Bogotá. 

The essentials 

First things first, make a checklist of essential tasks you’ll need to take care of. These include: 

  • Obtaining a visa, unless you’re a citizen of a visa-exempt country;
  • Finding accommodation that suits your lifestyle and budget;
  • Setting up your utilities, including internet, gas, and electricity;
  • Registering for healthcare services;
  • Opening a local bank account.

These are the basics that will set the groundwork for your new life in Bogotá. You can find detailed information about them in our Living In Colombia guide.

Shipping your belongings 

What about your belongings?

Should you sell everything and start fresh, or is it worth the cost and effort to ship your possessions? 

This is a personal decision, dependent on factors such as the cost of shipping, the emotional value of your belongings, and how much time you plan to spend in Bogotá. 

Finding a neighborhood 

Choosing the right neighborhood is key to a successful relocation; after all, it’s not just about a roof over your head—it’s about your community, your safety, and your quality of life.

La Candelaria street - a hostorical street in Bogota with colorful terraced houses on both sides of a narrow paved street
La Candelaria Street

Learning the language 

Do you speak Spanish? While English is widely spoken in Bogotá, particularly amongst professionals and young people, getting by with only English may prove to be a challenge.

Learning Spanish will not only ease your day-to-day communication but will also help you to truly immerse yourself in the local culture.

Consider investing in Spanish lessons before you move, or take advantage of the numerous language schools once you’ve settled in. 

Preparing for the climate 

Living in the ‘city of eternal spring’ means you’ll enjoy a mild climate year-round, with average temperatures hovering around 14-20°C (57-68°F).

However, don’t be deceived by the constant spring-like weather; Bogotá’s high altitude (2,640 meters or 8,660 feet above sea level) means it can get quite chilly, especially at night.

So, don’t forget to pack layers! 

Cost of living in Bogotá

Let’s get into the cost of living and break down the typical expenses for you. 


Like any major city, Bogotá’s housing prices can greatly vary depending on the location and type of accommodation.

A one-bedroom apartment in Bogotá’s city center will generally cost between $500 and $900 per month, while outside the city center, you might pay between $400 and $650. 


While utilities are usually not included in the rent, they are relatively affordable.

For a standard apartment, expect to pay around $70 to $120 per month for basic utilities such as electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage.

The Internet can add approximately $20 to $40 to your monthly bills. 


Food costs in Bogotá can also vary, but in general, they’re quite affordable.

Eating out at an inexpensive restaurant might cost you around $5, while a three-course meal for two in a mid-range restaurant will be about $30.

Groceries for a single person might run you about $170 to $220 per month. 


Public transportation is quite affordable in Bogotá.

A one-way ticket on the bus or TransMilenio (the city’s rapid transit bus system) costs around $1. Monthly passes are available for about $35. 

Keep in mind that your lifestyle, spending habits, and the exchange rate can significantly impact your cost of living in Bogotá.

Finding accommodation in Bogotá

So you’ve decided to make the move to Bogotá. Fantastic!

Now, let’s talk about perhaps one of the most important first steps: finding accommodation.

Bogotá offers a myriad of housing options, from high-end apartments in trendy neighborhoods to more traditional houses in quieter suburbs. 

But where do you start? 

Understanding the neighborhoods 

Like any city, Bogotá is divided into several distinct neighborhoods, or ‘barrios’.

Some popular areas for expats include Chapinero, Usaquén, and Teusaquillo.

Explore each area’s unique atmosphere and consider factors such as proximity to work, safety, and the availability of amenities. 

Renting versus buying 

As a newcomer, you might find renting a more flexible option.

It allows you to familiarize yourself with the city and its neighborhoods before making a long-term commitment.

However, if you’re planning to stay for several years, buying might be a sound investment. 

Working with a real estate agent 

A reputable real estate agent can be invaluable in navigating Bogotá’s housing market.

They can help you understand the local laws, negotiate a fair price, and ensure that the property’s legal documentation is in order. 

Online platforms 

There are numerous online platforms and forums where landlords list their properties for rent or sale.

Some popular sites include Metrocuadrado, Finca Raiz, and Airbnb for short-term rentals. 

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s delve a little deeper into the specifics of the neighborhoods, rental prices, and the buying process. 

Understanding Bogotá’s neighborhoods 

Let’s dive into Bogotá’s varied neighborhoods, shall we?

Understanding the city’s layout and the characteristics of each neighborhood is a crucial step in planning to move to Bogotá. 

A view of Bogota center square and the cathedral
Plaza de Bolivar in the Center of Bogotá, Colombia

At the heart of the city is the Historical Center, also known as La Candelaria.

This area is punctuated by cobblestone streets, colonial-era architecture, and numerous museums. It’s the cultural heart of Bogotá and an area brimming with history. 

Moving slightly north, you’ll find Chapinero, a hub for the city’s youthful, dynamic energy.

It’s home to numerous universities, a thriving LGBTQ+ community, and a variety of bars, clubs, and restaurants.

It’s also the district with the most expats. 

Continue your journey north, and you’ll arrive at Zona Rosa and Parque 93.

These areas are known for their upscale dining, shopping, and nightlife. They’re perfect if you’re looking for a more glamorous and cosmopolitan lifestyle. 

For a taste of Bogotá’s affluent side, head to Usaquén.

This district features a mix of charming colonial houses and sleek modern buildings. It’s also known for its Sunday flea market, gourmet restaurants, and the popular Santa Barbara shopping mall. 

Remember, each neighborhood in Bogotá has its own unique vibe and characteristics. It’s essential to visit and explore these areas to understand which one suits your lifestyle and preferences the most.

Lastly, for those who prefer tranquility and proximity to nature, the suburbs to the north of Bogotá are a good choice.

Here, you’ll find modern, gated communities surrounded by the rugged beauty of the Andean mountains. 

Each neighborhood in Bogotá offers a unique lifestyle and experience. It’s about finding the one that resonates with your personal style, needs, and aspirations. 

Rental prices in Bogotá 

In Bogotá, rental prices can vary significantly, depending on a number of factors, including the neighborhood, the size of the property, and its amenities.

But fear not, Bogotá offers a range of options to suit almost any budget. 

Neighborhoods are a key factor in rental prices.

Upscale areas like Rosales, Zona G, and Parque 93 are known for their high-end apartments with higher rental rates.

On the other hand, areas such as Chapinero, Teusaquillo, and Santa Fé offer more affordable options while still providing easy access to city amenities. 

Size and amenities also play a role. A modern, 2-bedroom apartment in a building with amenities like a gym or pool will have a higher rental rate compared to a similar-sized apartment in an older building without these extras. 

Pro tip: While searching for your ideal home, consider your commuting needs. Bogotá is a large city, and traffic can be heavy. Living close to your work or a main public transportation line can make a big difference in your daily routine.

For a clearer picture, here’s a general guide to what you can expect to pay per month for different types of housing in Bogotá: 

Type of HousingAverage Rental Price (USD)
Studio Apartment$350 – $600
1-Bedroom Apartment (City Center)$500 – $900
1-Bedroom Apartment (Outside City Center)$400 – $600
3-Bedroom Apartment (City Center)$1250 – $2000
3-Bedroom Apartment (Outside City Center)$850 – $1250

Remember, these are average prices, and actual costs may vary.

It’s always wise to do your own research and consult with local real estate agents or other expats living in Bogotá for the most accurate, up-to-date information.

Buying property in Bogotá 

Thinking about buying property in Bogotá?

It’s a big step, but one that can be extremely rewarding.

A hilly street framed by traditional terraced houses in various colors
Bogotà’s traditional houses

Whether you want to settle permanently or invest in a holiday home, the city’s real estate market offers many options to suit your needs. 

Firstly, let’s clear one common misconception. Yes, foreigners can buy property in Colombia.

In fact, the process is relatively straightforward, and the government encourages foreign investments.

But how do you navigate the process?

Here’s a step-by-step guide. 

  1. Research: Research the market thoroughly. Consider factors like location, property size, amenities, and proximity to schools or workplaces. Online property portals and real estate agents can provide valuable insights.
  2. Legal advice: Seek advice from a reputable lawyer who specializes in Colombian real estate. They can guide you through the legalities and ensure everything is on board.
  3. Property inspection: Always conduct a thorough property inspection. Look for any structural defects or necessary repairs before finalizing the deal.
  4. Closing the deal: Once everything checks out, your lawyer and the seller’s lawyer will draft a ‘Promise of Sale’ contract. After signing, you’ll pay the agreed deposit.

Remember, while the process might seem straightforward, it’s essential to do your due diligence.

There are laws and regulations you need to be aware of, and the market can be volatile. Having trusted professionals on your side can mitigate these risks. 

Navigating Bogotá’s public transportation

Are you ready to explore Bogotá’s lively streets?

Let’s dive into the city’s public transportation system. 

First and foremost, Bogotá’s main public transportation system is the TransMilenio.

This is an extensive, speedy, bus-based mass transit system that services most parts of the city.

The TransMilenio operates from 4 a.m. to midnight, giving you the flexibility to traverse the city virtually at just about any time you need. 

The TransMilenio 

  1. Routes: Multiple routes crisscross the city, making it easy to reach your destination. The TransMilenio website provides a comprehensive route map.
  2. Payment: Fares are paid via a rechargeable card known as the “Tu Llave” card. These can be purchased and recharged at any TransMilenio station.
  3. Rush hour: Be prepared for crowds during rush hours, typically between 6-9 a.m. and 4-7 p.m.

But what about those hard-to-reach places where the TransMilenio doesn’t venture?

No worries, Bogotá has you covered with its secondary public transportation system, the SITP buses. 

The SITP buses 

  • Routes: The SITP buses cover areas that the TransMilenio does not reach, extending your accessibility across the city.
  • Payment: The same “Tu Llave” card used for the TransMilenio can also be used for the SITP buses.
  • Frequency: The buses run less frequently than the TransMilenio, so it’s advisable to check the schedule ahead of time.

For shorter distances, consider the city’s bike-sharing system, ‘Bici Bogotá’. No “Tu Llave” card is needed here. Register online and hop on. 

Healthcare in Bogotá

Bogotá boasts an impressive healthcare system, often lauded as one of the best in Latin America.

A city park with fountains in Bogotá
A city park in Bogotá

The city is home to numerous top-rated hospitals and clinics, ensuring you have access to world-class medical care. 

Colombia’s healthcare system 

Colombia operates a dual public-private healthcare system. Interestingly, Colombia’s healthcare system ranks 22nd globally, according to the World Health Organization.

The public system, the General System of Social Security in Health (Sistema General de Seguridad Social en Salud or SGSSS), offers coverage to all citizens and residents, including expats.

However, the private system tends to offer a higher standard of care and shorter waiting times. 

Health insurance 

As an expat, you might find it beneficial to invest in private health insurance.

Several international and local insurance companies offer comprehensive plans. While the cost varies, it’s generally affordable compared to US rates.

Do your research and choose a plan that best suits your needs.  

To ensure you get the best value for money, compare international health insurance options from various providers to find the best deal. 


Pharmacies in Bogotá are plentiful and well-stocked. Many are open 24/7 and offer delivery services.

Medication costs are typically lower than in the US. 

The top hospitals in Bogotá 

  1. Fundación Santa Fe de Bogotá
  2. Hospital Universitario San Ignacio
  3. Clínica del Country
  4. Clínica Marly
  5. Mederi Hospital Universitario Mayor

These hospitals are renowned for their high standards of care, state-of-the-art facilities, and skilled medical professionals.

Most have English-speaking staff, making communication easier for expats. 

Education in Bogotá

In Bogotá, the range and depth of educational options will leave you spoilt for choice.

With a multitude of international schools catering to different curricula and languages, you will find the school that best resonates with your educational philosophy. 

Choosing a school: the important questions 

When it comes to education, we all want the best for our children. But what does ‘the best’ entail?

Is it an academically rigorous school or one that nurtures creativity?

Does it promote sports and extracurricular activities or concentrate solely on scholarly pursuits? These are questions you will often find yourself pondering over. 

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” – W.B. Yeats, Irish poet and Nobel laureate.

And how true is Yeats’ sentiment, especially when it comes to a cosmopolitan city like Bogotá where the educational landscape is as diverse as its people.

So, let’s delve into the city’s educational options a little deeper. 

Curriculum options 

Bogotá is home to many international schools, offering programs such as the International Baccalaureate (IB), US curriculum, and British curriculum, among others.

The city also boasts a number of bilingual schools where instruction is in both Spanish and English.

Here’s a snapshot: 

CurriculumExamples of Schools
International Baccalaureate (IB)Colegio Anglo Colombiano, Colegio Los Nogales
US CurriculumEscuela Campo Alegre, The English School
British CurriculumThe British School, The English School
Bilingual (Spanish/English)Montessori British School, Colegio Rochester

Embracing diversity 

One of the greatest strengths of Bogotá’s education system lies in its ethos of diversity and inclusivity.

It’s not just about academics; it’s about developing international citizens, right?

Equipping children with the tools they need to navigate this interconnected world is a crucial part of the Bogotá educational experience. 

So there you have it: a glimpse into the world of education in Bogotá. With high-quality schools and global curriculums, Bogotá offers an enriching educational space for your children. 

Working and doing business in Bogotá

Bogotá is the economic heart of Colombia and offers a landscape ripe with opportunities for the tenacious expat. 

Why Bogotá, you might ask?

Picture this: a city that is not only the financial center of the country but also one of the fastest-growing in Latin America.

With a GDP that has consistently grown faster than the national average, Bogotá is a magnet for businesses, both homegrown and international. 

Bogotá’s business climate 

A thriving hub of commerce, Bogotá is a dynamic marketplace. But what makes it stand out?

The answer lies in its strategic location, diverse economy, and well-educated workforce. 

  • Strategic location: Bogotá is situated in the heart of Colombia, making it an ideal logistics hub. Its proximity to North America and Central America, as well as its modern infrastructure, gives it an edge in the global market.
  • Diverse economy: From manufacturing and construction to technology and services, the city’s economy is diverse and robust. 
  • Well-educated workforce: With numerous universities and technical institutes, Bogotá boasts a highly educated and bilingual workforce.

Finding work in Bogotá 

Perhaps you’re not an entrepreneur but rather a professional seeking employment.

Bogotá has much to offer.

The city is home to many multinational corporations, and its growing tech sector is always on the lookout for skilled professionals. However, remember that competition can be fierce, so standing out is key. 

“Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Take these steps to increase your chances of landing a job: 

  1. Improve your Spanish: While many businesses operate in English, being able to converse in Spanish will make you more attractive to employers.
  2. Understand the market: Research the industry you’re interested in. Understand the major players, trends, and challenges.
  3. Network: Build relationships with professionals in your field. Attend industry events and join relevant groups on social networks.

Whether you’re planning to set up a new business, invest in an existing one, or find a job, Bogotá offers a promising landscape.

Yes, it will come with challenges, but remember that every great city does. 

Social etiquette in Bogotá

Living in Bogotá, Colombia, you will soon discover that Bogotanos take their social etiquette seriously.

As with any new city, it’s crucial to understand the local customs and norms to integrate smoothly and genuinely connect with the locals.

Now, what will Bogotá be like, you ask? Let’s dive into it! 

The greetings 

When you meet someone for the first time, a firm handshake, direct eye contact, and a smile are standard.

However, as you grow closer, don’t be surprised if greetings evolve into a hug or a kiss on the cheek — it’s a sign that you’re becoming part of their circle. 

Respectful conversations 

It’s always polite to use formal titles like “Señor” or “Señora” unless invited to use first names.

And remember, always keep your conversations courteous and avoid controversial topics; it’s considered impolite to argue or raise your voice in public. 

Time in Bogotá 

Have you heard of ‘Colombian time’?

It’s a common local phrase referring to the flexible approach Colombians often have towards punctuality.

While business meetings tend to start on time, social events may start significantly later than scheduled.

So, don’t be surprised if a dinner party scheduled for 7 pm doesn’t get going until 8 or 9. It’s just part of the local rhythm! 

Dressing in Bogotá 

When it comes to attire, Bogotanos lean towards the formal side.

Whether it’s a business meeting or a casual social gathering, wearing neat, elegant clothing is always a good choice.

A touch of fashion sense won’t hurt either; after all, Bogotá is one of South America’s fashion capitals. 

Gift giving 

If you’re invited to a Colombian home, it’s customary to bring a gift.

A good bottle of wine, flowers, or chocolates are safe bets.

But keep this in mind: if you choose to gift flowers, avoid lilies or marigolds, as they are traditionally associated with funerals. 

Food and nightlife in Bogotá

Bogotá is a food lover’s paradise. Let’s venture into the heart of Bogotá’s gastronomic scene and explore the city’s nightlife. 

The gastronomic delight 

From the local markets brimming with fresh produce to the upscale restaurants offering exquisite dishes, there’s something for everyone in Bogotá.

This Colombian soup is made with corn, chicken and up to three different types of potatoes.
Ajiaco Colombiano, a traditional Colombian soup made with corn, chicken, and up to three different types of potatoes.

The city’s culinary landscape mirrors its diverse culture, a fusion of indigenous ingredients, Spanish influence, and modern techniques. 

  • Bandera Paisa: This traditional Colombian dish is a heartening combination of rice, beans, ground meat, fried egg, plantain, and avocado. It’s a must-try experience that will give you a taste of the region’s culinary richness.
  • Empanadas: A popular street food, these filled pastries are a delight. Whether they’re stuffed with chicken, beef, or vegetables, they’re a sure pleasure to your taste buds.
  • Ajiaco: This hearty soup, primarily made of chicken, three varieties of potatoes, and corn, showcases the simplicity and depth of Colombian cuisine.

Bogotá’s nightlife: an unforgettable experience 

When the sun goes down, Bogotá transforms into a city of lights, music, and merriment.

Whether you’re a fan of salsa, techno, or reggae, there’s a place for you. And if you’d prefer a quiet evening sipping a craft beer or local rum, you’ll have no problem finding a place to unwind from a busy day. 

“In Bogotá, night-time is a symphony of sights and sounds, an amplified version of the day.”

  • Andrés Carne de Res: A legendary spot in Bogotá, it’s more than just a restaurant. It’s a carnival of music, dance, and delectable food that embodies the spirit of Colombian festivities.
  • Armando Records: This trendy bar and club offers a fantastic blend of music, from indie to Latin pop. With its rooftop terrace, it’s a perfect place to enjoy the city’s skyline at night.
  • La Villa: If you’re into salsa dancing, this is your spot. The energy is infectious, the vibe is welcoming, and the music keeps you moving till the wee hours.

Living in Bogotá, you’ll find that food and nightlife aren’t just aspects of the city’s culture; they are the culture. 

Exploring Bogotá’s culture and history

As an expat, delving into Bogotá’s culture and history can be both enlightening and exhilarating.

So, where do you start? 


Begin your journey at the Museo del Oro, home to the world’s largest collection of pre-Hispanic gold work.

Can you envision the gleam of over 55,000 pieces of gold, each carrying the weight of a civilization long past?

Here, you’ll understand why the indigenous peoples referred to gold as “the sweat of the sun”. 

Next, the Museo Nacional de Colombia beckons.

Housed in a former prison, its gloomy exterior belies the priceless artifacts within. From ancient pottery to modern art, it’s a visual narration of Colombia’s journey through the ages. 

Historical sites 

At the heart of Bogotá, you’ll find the La Candelaria district.

With its vibrant houses, charming cafes, and bustling street markets, it’s a kaleidoscope of Bogotán life.

But beneath its lively exterior lies a rich historical core, including the magnificent Plaza de Bolívar and the grand Catedral Primada

Don’t forget the Monastery of Santa Clara, a beautiful testament to Colombia’s colonial past.

You can sense the echoes of ancient prayers in its quiet halls and see the past come alive in its splendid art. 

Cultural experiences 

What better way is there to understand a city than to live its traditions?

In Bogotá, be sure to visit the bustling Paloquemao market. From exotic fruits to fresh flowers, it’s a sensory explosion that captures the city’s spirit. 

Bandeja Paisa
Bandeja Paisa

And for the artistically inclined, the city’s graffiti tour is a must.

It’s not mere vandalism but a form of expression that tells the city’s untold stories. Can you decode the messages embedded in the swirls of paint? 

Safety in Bogotá: tips for expats

Like any other major city, there is a mix of safe and less safe areas, and knowing how to navigate this sprawling metropolis is paramount to your well-being. 

Understanding the city layout 

As a rule of thumb, the higher the street numbers, the safer the neighborhoods.

Districts like Chapinero, Rosales, and Usaquén are the areas where many expats find comfort and security.

But remember, no city is a monolith; there are pockets of safety and risk everywhere. Savvy navigation is your trusted companion. 

Street smarts: essential for every expat 

As an expat, it’s crucial to cultivate your street smarts.

Here are some useful pointers: 

  • Blend in: Dress modestly and avoid flashy displays of wealth. You’re not in Bogotá to show off but to engage yourself in a new culture.
  • Be aware: Keep your wits about yourself, especially in crowded places. Thieves, like opportunity, can be found in every city.
  • Trust wisely: Bogotanos are typically warm and friendly, but it’s still important to be careful about who you trust, especially when it comes to your personal safety and belongings.

Remember: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine. 

Taxis & public transport: navigating the city 

When it comes to taxis, it’s safer to use apps like Tappsi or Uber rather than hailing one on the streets.

As for public transport, the TransMilenio bus system is generally safe during the day.

As night falls, however, it’s better to opt for a taxi or an Uber. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. 

Emergency numbers: save them! 

And finally, here are the essential emergency numbers you should save on your phone: 

Fire Department119

Learning Spanish in Bogotá

Bogotá offers a wealth of opportunities to learn Spanish, the second most spoken language in the world, an adventure that can open doors to new friendships, experiences, and understanding. 

Why choose Bogotá to learn Spanish, you ask? 

Bogotá stands as a language-learning haven. The city’s cosmopolitan essence merged with its deep-rooted Hispanic heritage, creates an ideal environment for language immersion.

You’ll find a myriad of language schools, universities, and private tutors catering to all levels of proficiency, offering flexible and personalized classes.

Let’s look at how to navigate through these options. 

Choosing the right language school 

When it comes to selecting a language school in Bogotá, consider the following factors: 

  1. Accreditation: Ensure the institution is accredited by the Colombian Ministry of Education. This guarantees a standard of education that complies with national regulations.
  2. Methodology: Look for schools that focus on practical learning experiences. It’s essential to have plenty of opportunities to speak and interact in Spanish.
  3. Class size: Opt for smaller class sizes to ensure more individual attention from the teacher.
  4. Location: Choose a school located in a safe and accessible area. Ideally, it should be close to your place of residence or work.
  5. Reviews: Last but not least, consider the experiences of former students. Online reviews and recommendations can offer valuable insights.

University programs and private tutors 

If you’re seeking a more formal education or personalized focus, universities and private tutors offer excellent alternatives.

Universities such as Universidad de los Andes and Universidad Nacional de Colombia provide comprehensive programs.

For those preferring one-on-one instruction, hiring a private tutor can be a flexible and targeted approach to learning Spanish. 

Whatever way you choose to learn Spanish in Bogotá, you’re about to embark on a journey of linguistic discovery.

You’ll find that language is far more than words and grammar; it’s a gateway to understanding a culture, its people, and its heart. 

Weekend getaways from Bogotá

Take a journey with me as we explore the realm of weekend getaways from Bogotá.

These destinations are close enough for a quick retreat but far enough to offer a refreshing change of scenery. 

Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá 

What if I told you a cathedral could be carved entirely out of salt?

Nestled in the cozy town of Zipaquirá, just an hour’s trip from Bogotá lies the awe-inspiring Salt Cathedral.

A marvel of architecture and a testament to the human spirit, this underground sanctuary is a must-visit. Deep within the earth, you will find a place of divine tranquility. 

Villa de Leyva 

Have you ever wanted to step back in time?

Villa de Leyva, a quaint town situated just two hours away from Bogotá, offers such an escape. With its cobblestone streets and whitewashed houses, this town is a spectacle frozen in the colonial era. 

Chingaza National Park 

Are you fond of nature’s untouched beauty?

A drone view of Chingaza National Park - lakes and mountains
Chingaza National Park

Then, you’ll find solace in the serene expanses of Chingaza National Park.

Home to majestic deer, spectacled bears, and over 2,000 plant species, this park, located just a few hours away from Bogotá, is a veritable Eden for nature lovers. 

Coffee farms in Fusagasugá 

Is there anything more Colombian than a day spent at a coffee farm?

Head to Fusagasugá, a short drive from Bogotá, and immerse yourself in Colombia’s coffee culture.

Here, the famed Cafe de Colombia originates, and you can learn about the journey from bean to cup. 

Famous festivals and events in Bogotá

Are you a lover of cultural celebrations and dynamic spectacles?

You’re in for a treat! Bogotá, a city with a passionate heart and a soul steeped in history, hosts a multitude of festivals and events that draw in local and international crowds alike.

Let’s delve into the city’s calendar and discover what the capital of Colombia has in store for you. 

Carnaval de Bogotá 

Marking the city’s birthday, the Carnaval de Bogotá is a feverish explosion of color, music, and dance; it’s a spectacle that shakes the city to its core.

Held in August, the carnival features parades, folk music, and dance performances, radiating joy and unity across the city. 

Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro 

Held every other year, the Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro, one of the largest theatre festivals globally, transforms the city’s streets into a grand stage.

With a tapestry of performances ranging from drama to comedy, from classical to experimental, this festival caters to every theatrical taste. 

Jazz al Parque 

Are you a jazz enthusiast?

Then you can look forward to Jazz al Parque, an annual river of melodious harmony that flows through Bogotá’s parks every September.

From rising talents to revered masters, local and international artists unite to serenade the city with their soulful tunes. 

Bogotá International Film Festival 

For cinephiles, the Bogotá International Film Festival is a cinematic utopia.

The festival showcases a plethora of films from all over the world, offering a cultural voyage without leaving your cinema seat.

An event all about celebrating the art of filmmaking, it’s a must-visit for film buffs. 

Shopping in Bogotá: local markets and malls

Bogotá, with its rich blend of tradition and modernity, offers an array of shopping experiences that can be as diverse as your taste.

From bustling local markets brimming with fresh produce to high-end malls housing top fashion brands, your shopping expedition is bound to be an adventure. 

Local markets 

There’s something undeniably thrilling about shopping in a local market; it’s a sensory feast of sights, sounds, and smells, and Bogotá’s markets do not disappoint.

Here are a few that you must add to your visit list: 

  • Paloquemao Market: This is where Bogotá comes alive in a riot of colors and flavors. The stalls are overflowing with exotic fruits, vegetables, flowers, and more. 
  • Usaquén Flea Market: Open only on Sundays, this market is a treasure trove of handicrafts, antiques, and unique souvenirs. With live music and food stalls, it’s a perfect Sunday outing.
  • San Alejo Flea Market: A haven for antique lovers, this market offers a wide range of vintage items, from jewelry to vinyl records. 


Perhaps you crave a shopping experience that’s a little more familiar, a little more like home? 

Bogotá’s malls offer a blend of international and local fashion brands, along with dining and entertainment options.

Some of the top malls include: 

  1. Andino Shopping Mall: A luxurious shopping destination with high-end brands, a variety of dining options, and even a movie theater.
  2. Titan Plaza: With over 250 stores, this mall caters to all your shopping needs. Its modern architecture and wide range of brands make it a popular choice among locals and tourists alike.
  3. Unicentro Bogotá: One of the oldest malls in the city, it offers a good mix of high-street and local brands. 

Sports and fitness in Bogotá

Are you a fitness enthusiast or a sports fan?

Bogotá is a playground for anyone with a love for physical activity and sports. From the pulse-pounding thrill of soccer to the serene calm of yoga, there’s something for every taste. 

Soccer: a national passion 

In Bogotá, soccer isn’t just a sport; it’s a way of life. 

Whether you’re watching a match at the colossal Estadio El Campín or playing a friendly game at your local park, the passion for soccer is palpable.

Millonarios FC and Independiente Santa Fe, the city’s two major clubs, regularly fill the stadium with ardent fans.

If you’re looking to participate, join one of the many amateur leagues available throughout the city. 

Outdoor activities: embrace the natural beauty 

With verdant parks and magnificent mountains surrounding the city, outdoor enthusiasts will find their sanctuary in Bogotá.

Fancy a run?

The city’s parks, such as the Parque Nacional and Parque Simón Bolívar, offer ample space for jogging or cycling.

For the more adventurous, there are opportunities for rock climbing, hiking, and mountain biking in the nearby Andes Mountains. 

Fitness centers: for the urban athlete 

If indoor fitness is more your speed, Bogotá won’t disappoint.

The city is home to an array of modern gyms and fitness centers, offering everything from weightlifting to spin classes.

Many also offer yoga, Pilates, and Zumba classes, catering to a variety of fitness interests. 

“In Bogotá, there’s no excuse not to stay fit. Whether you’re a fan of sports or prefer a quiet workout, the city offers endless opportunities for physical activity.”

Local sports: beyond soccer 

Bogotá’s sports culture extends beyond soccer.

The city also hosts thrilling basketball and baseball games and even bullfighting events.

For the golf enthusiasts among you, the city boasts several world-class golf courses. 

In conclusion

Settling into the rhythm of Bogotá as an expat, you may find yourself captivated by the city’s enchanting blend of tradition and modernity, touched by the warmth of its people; and invigorated by its frenetic pace.

But it begs the question: What does living in Bogotá truly entail for an expat like yourself? 

As an expat, you’ll find yourself navigating a mix of challenges and charms unique to this lively Colombian metropolis.

There’s a symphony of experiences waiting for you; a crescendo of cultural immersion, a harmony of quality living, and the occasional discord of adapting to a new environment. 

But wouldn’t life be a dull chorus without a few high notes and low notes? 

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