Bogota is one of the best cities in the world for street photography, rivaling even the wonders in China. Everything is interesting. Street art covers the walls, street performers and unique artists are on every corner, men even gather to trade emeralds out of napkins. It is a fascinating city, and nowhere more so than in the La Candelaria neighborhood. We explored these historic streets in Bogota to find the best route for your own free walking photo tour.
Bogota has a fairly unsavory reputation after decades of conflict, but times are changing and the country is on the cusp of big tourism growth. Now is the perfect time to visit as it has yet to affect the authenticity of this city. And there is no better way to explore than with your camera in hand on a self guided walking tour.
La Candelaria is the town center area, and has a rich cultural vibe. It is packed with locals, cafes, parks and art. One note though, while this is a fascinating place to wander during the day, we would think twice about being here after dark.
The self guided walking tour starts at Parque Santander, outside of the Museo del Oro (Gold Museum). People come to skateboard, sell tinto or street food, relax on park benches and play chess.
From here, walk a block south on Carrera 6 towards Plazoleta del Rosario and the Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada monument. Observe the indigenous artists selling beadwork jewelry at the corner.
The Plazoleta del Rosario is a gathering point for men who trade emeralds street side. While we don’t recommend buying any gems out of a napkin without prior expertise, this is a great place to people watch.
Once you know what to look for, you will see trading all around.
When your pockets are filled with green glass, head a block west to the intersection of Carrera 7 and Av. Jimenez where a plethora of artists and performers gather to sell their wares. Keep an eye on your pockets here, it would be a shame to lose your life savings of napkin emeralds so soon. These streets shut down to motorized traffic on Sundays, when even more activity begins, including guinea pig races. We visited on a weekday, and still had plenty to see.
We even witnessed another less anticipated resurrection.
When the concert ends, continue your walking tour by going east down Calle 12c, which intersects Carrera 7 one block south of Av. Jimenez. Head east for five blocks, finding various people and paintings of interest along the way.
Head south once you reach Callejon Del Embudo / Carrera 2. This heads through a walking alley with cute coffee shops, restaurants, and a ton of wall art. Continue for three blocks and pass the Plazoleta Chorro de Quevedo, where you will find even more colorful picture-worthy murals.
The whole area is photogenic, so keep your camera handy.
This is where the neighborhood gets muchisimo lindo, and photo opps are in every direction. We walked slowly in this area, taking time to enjoy the street concerts, paintings, and colorful old buildings with camera ready, taking tons of pictures.
Once you reach Calle 11, walk west for five blocks to return to Carrera 7. Along the way will be more artists, paintings, and several other surprises which we failed to capture adequately. When you are on your walking tour, try and get a good photo of the man with his sombrero wearing llama.
Don’t miss the views of the mountains to the east as you wander. Some of the best can be found from the top of the Gabriel Garcia Marquez Cultural Center, which offers free entry to the upper deck.
You can also drop into the Botero Museum to see many pieces by this famous artist, along with several from Picasso, Monet, Dali, Renoir and others. This museum is also free, and located en route to Bolívar Square.
Once you reach Carrera 7, you will be at Simón Bolívar Square. This is one of the pinnacles of people watching, so you may spend a while by the church, hanging out with a billion pigeons.
After you tire of befriending birds, walk east on Calle 10 from the south part of the square for the last part of your street photo walking tour. Check out the paintings along the first two blocks and on Carrera 5.
This is where the walking tour ends. You will now be about five blocks south of your start point by the Museo del Oro. The total walk should be between one and two hours at a relaxed pace, including plenty of time for photos and even a specialty Colombian coffee, arepa or empanada along the way.
We hope you enjoyed this free photo walking tour of Bogota. We would love to see some of your pictures, especially of a guinea pig race!
If you are dying to jump through your computer right now, we highly recommend checking out posts from these other countries as well:
- Japan, You Stole Our Hearts and Our Wallet
- Getting Lost and Then Found in Vietnam
- Less Beaten Travel: 6 Non-Touristy Things to Do in Cambodia
- Tasmanian Camper Vancation
Now that you’ve turned in your resignation letter, it is time to get started planning your world trip. And are you tired of dragging roller luggage across cobblestone streets? Make sure to never break another luggage wheel by packing smart.