Is Bogotá really the WORST holiday destination?

Bolívar Square, Bogotá

Bolívar Square, Bogotá

A new interactive guide has ranked Bogotá as the second worst holiday destination in the world. Rating location, crime statistics and cleanliness led to the piles of household waste in Stolipinovo, Plovdiv in Bulgaria taking top spot as the least desirable place for a short break. The ‘high violent crime rates’ gave Bogotá its high ranking, but is this a fair reflection on the Colombian capital? Should travellers skip Bogotá?

It took 24 hours sat on a bus to get to Bogotá. 24 hours on a bus that had the air conditioning constantly and unnecessarily cranked on high. Cold would be an understatement. Even a taxi driver struggling to navigate one-way streets to find my hotel could not dampen my excitement of arriving in the Colombian capital or ruin my joy of getting off that bus.

La Candelaria

La Candelaria – Source

I stayed in La Candelaria area of the city where colonial houses line narrow, cobblestone streets. These old, colourful buildings are peppered with bright, modern street art, whilst skyscrapers tower just a block or two away. My first foray onto the streets had me chatting to different people whose neighbour’s friend’s distant relative lives in/has visited/wants to visit the UK. My first Colombian meal, an arepa (a sort of flatbread) with cheese and sausages, was selected with the assistance of yet another friendly local.

Museo del Oro -

Muisca Raft, one of the many artifacts in the Museo del Oro – Source

Inside the Museo del Oro I was literally surrounded by thousands of gold artifacts from Colombia’s indigenous cultures. The Museo Botero showcased works by Picasso, Miró, Monet and Dali and Colombian artist, Fernando Botero. His work is easily recognizable as he depicts people and things in an exaggerated volume, aka fat. From a painting of a young fat Mona Lisa to rotund guerilla fighters, statues of chubby horses to voluptuous women.

Even just wandering the streets, especially in La Candelaria neighbourhood, revealed beautiful squares and historic churches. In the heart of this area is the Plaza Bolívar featuring the early 19th century Cathedral and the more modern Palace of Justice, rebuilt after being burnt down during a siege by guerillas in 1985.

Mona Lisa by Fernando Botero

Mona Lisa by Fernando Botero

I only stayed in Bogotá a few days so cannot say more than that I took basic safety precautions (taxis at night etc) and had no problems. I certainly wouldn’t want abstract crime statistics to put anyone off exploring this cosmopolitan and history-filled Colombian city. Worst holiday destination in the world? Definitely not.


Posted on May 15, 2014, in Colombia, South America and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Nice post Emma. Bogota wasn’t my favorite place in Colombia but it certainly isn’t one of the worst places to go, far from it. These lists always compiled by some geek in a back office who hasn’t been anywhere or, worst, by a publication looking to make controversy. Conde Naste for example has come up with ridiculous ones in recent times.
    Bogota just fine, I’d say better than most North American cities. Maybe they should have put Detroit on the list..
    Frank (bbqboy)

    • Well they did put a suburb of my home city on the list (Manchester, UK)… it’s a great city but I have no idea who would go on holiday to the Moss Side area of it!

    • Emma: glad you enjoyed the city and hope you can come back and stay longer.

      Frank: I am from Detroit and now live in Bogotá. It is a different culture, but I prefer Bogotá . With my wife, who has lived most of her life in Bogotá, we write about the city of 8 million people. La Candelaria is a small historical part of the city. But there is so much more to see and do both in the city and nearby towns.

      ……. Michael

  2. Ouch.. cant believe it has been voted the 2nd worst destination. I absoultly LOVE IT. So so much, not on first sight however, it needs a bit of time to creep into your heart. I just had an article i wrote about how Colombia is the next biggest touirst hotspot published on as they agreed with me too. Read it here and let it change your mind (well who evers mind it was that decided this silly title) Great article though Emma, loving your blog

  3. I’ve heard mostly good things about Bogota and Colombia over the last few years. maybe 15 years ago it was considered unsafe, but surprised to hear today that it’s considered SO unsafe.

  4. We didn’t love Bogota, but didn’t find it unsafe at all…though a friend of mine just visited and was robbed in La Candelaria on his first day. 😦 And agree with you that the people of Colombia are beyond friendly and amazing. It’s unfortunate that the 0.00001% of people with bad intentions give the country such a bad reputation.

    • Oh no what a bad start to a trip! Yes it is a shame a minority are creating a bad reputation, but it should help people be more aware of pickpockets or muggings (like in many big cities around the world).

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