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Things to do in Bogotá when it’s raining

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to state that Bogotá has received more than its fair share of rain over the last month or two. The wettest times of year in the Colombian Andean region are, roughly, from April to June and September to November (though it’s not an exact science!). During these months it’s common for the day to start out sunny and dissolve into a heavy downpour lasting a few hours by lunchtime. Whenever I go out to explore Bogotá, I try to have a rainy-day activity as a back-up, just in case. Here are a few things to do in Bogotá when it’s raining.

Shelter in an art gallery or museum

One of my favourite things to do in Bogotá is explore the abundant offering of art galleries and museums. There are many museums in La Candelaria, Bogotá’s historic quarter, one of the most famous being the Botero Museum. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of sniggering at Colombia’s most famous artist’s unique portrayals of voluptuous figures. The museum also has pieces from Botero’s own private collection, including works from Picasso, Chagall, Miró, Monet and Matisse. One of my favourite exhibition spaces is just a block down from the Botero Museum on the corner of cra. 6 and calle 11. On the lower ground floor of the Gabriel García Márquez Cultural Centre (just by the Juan Valdez on the corner) there is an art space dedicated to displaying paintings, sculptures, photographs, montages and textile art of Latin American contemporary artists. It’s called the Sala de Exposiciones Débora Arango and every time I’m in the Candelaria I’ll pop in to check out the latest exhibition – it never disappoints! I think my favourite so far was a ‘Tin-Tin meets Frida Kahlo’ exhibition (see below)! The MAMBO (Museum of Modern Art Bogotá) is also well worth a visit. I really enjoyed a recent trip to the MAMU (Museo de Arte Miguel Urrutia) which also showcases the latest pieces from artists across Latin America. Other neighbourhoods with a fantastic offering of art galleries are San Felipe, stretching across the few blocks around calle 72 and carrera 21, and La Macarena, just up the hill from Bogotá’s International Centre.

things to do in Bogotá art gallery

Me and Tin-Tin having a cheeky peek at Frida and Diego at the recent exhibition at the Sala de Exposiciones Débora Arango

Warm up with a hot chocolate (and cheese) at La Puerta Falsa

La Puerta Falsa is Bogota’s oldest restaurant in the historical centre of the Candelaria, founded in 1816. It is also the perfect place to warm up with a hot chocolate and a chunk of cheese on a rainy day. Many people drop the cheese into a mug of steaming hot chocolate and then scoop out the melted cheese with a teaspoon. I was a little skeptical about this combination at first, but when I finally took the plunge I found it delicious and satisfying! La Puerta Falsa is quite small (very cosy/cramped, depending on whether you’re a glass-half-full/half-empty kind of person) and popular. If there’s a queue outside, La Puerta de la Catedral is a few doors up and has a very similar menu. I actually suspect that the two restaurants’ food comes from the same kitchen nearby!

things to do in Bogotá hot chocolate and cheese

It may not look that appetizing in the photo, but I promise hot chocolate with cheese is soooo good!

Get lost in a literary menagerie

Librería Merlin has an air of Paris’s Shakespeare and Company. This second-hand bookshop in downtown Bogotá has books, magazines, newspapers and comics in many languages, spread over three floors. The corridors and rooms are lined with piles of books and antiques, and there are plenty of sofas and chairs to sink into with a classic on a rainy day. There is a small collection of classics in English on the first/ground floor, to the right as you enter the shop, and a whole wall of English books from floor to ceiling on the third floor. The prices are written on the inside of the books, and you can normally negotiate a small discount at the till.

things to do in Bogotá bookshop

The English-language section in Librería Merlin – eat your heart out Shakespeare and Company!

Go shopping

A classic rainy-day activity never dies! There are many large shopping malls to choose from in Bogotá – Titán and Centro Mayor being two of the largest, and Andino and Retiro in the Zona T being the two you go to for luxury brands. There’s also lots of handicrafts and souvenirs markets to choose from – I’ll often duck into one of the ones near the Candelaria on a wet afternoon (and invariably head home with a bagful of impulse buys!).

things to do in Bogotá - markets

Have the perfect cup of Colombian coffee

Catación Pública is a specialty coffee shop close to the Sunday flea market in Usaquén. The expert baristas invite visitors to open the coffee jars on the counter and breathe in each one. Normally the one that smells best in the jar will be the one that tastes best in the cup. They will recommend the best methods for preparing the coffee you choose according to how you like your coffee. Each serving is enough for two cups prepared using two different methods. Alternatively, choose one preparation method and try two different coffees to compare flavours. Catación Pública is the only coffee shop in Bogotá to offer caramelized coffee cherries, a sweet and tangy delicacy which brings out the flavours in the coffee – I highly recommend trying some! It is possible to book a one-hour coffee tasting session (or ‘cupping’ as they call it here), but personally I think the Bogotá coffee shop tour is better value for money as you get to visit several different specialty coffee shops in one three-hour tour.

things to do in Bogotá coffee

Order the coffee cherries with your coffee at Catación Pública… mmm!

Hmmm… what have I forgotten? Tell us about your favourite things to do in Bogotá (other than staying in!) when it’s raining in the comments section below!

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9 Comments on Things to do in Bogotá when it’s raining

  1. Vivek Jayaraman // May 16, 2018 at 10:06 am // Reply

    Hello Naomi, I live in the northern part of the city, a little (way too far) far from all the happening places :(. However, these rainy days, one of the things that I have been doing is to eat out in a nice sandwich place in Calle 161 with 16 called San Duche. The other thing I like to do is to order empanaditas pipian home and have it with a salsa de mani. One of the very few authentic colombian spicy food. With the rain, a nice food in the apartmene watching the mountains 🙂 They have eatouts in some places in the city as well.

    • Hey Vivek, thanks for your comment and for the recommendation! I know what it’s like being far from the action, as I live in Normandia, up towards the airport! The good thing about living in the north of Bogota is that the air is fresher up there and it’s a bit more green! Gotta love that view of the mountains too 🙂
      I also love eating take out on a rainy day, and love empanadas with peanut sauce!
      All the best!

  2. I think that list pretty much covers it. You could always play tejo (or in my case minitejo) in 7 de agosto (K24 and Cll77) but you’re making a big beer-drinking commitment. Mostly when it’s raining I duck into a tienda, get a slice of salchichón and a soda, and watch it rain while the person behind the counter asks me what the heck I’m doing in Bogotá, and if I agree that it’s a terrible place. Because I’m old, I remind them that whatever they think about it, it used to be much, much worse..

    • Thanks Rich! I agree, tejo’s a great rainy-day activity! I love the little tiendas and bakeries in Bogota, and there are so many of them that you’d have no problem finding one! A great way to practice Spanish also 🙂

  3. Anastazia Prost // September 15, 2018 at 6:07 pm // Reply

    Hello Naomi! Just yesterday I arrived to Bogota from the United States. Like you, I will obtain my CELTA and then teach English here. One of my favorite pastimes to do in the US on rainy days is sit at a coffee shop and read. Is this frowned about in Bogota? When I studied abroad in Chile, I noticed that unless I was socializing, coffee shops did not like it when single people came to the shops, bought a coffee, and ended up staying there for an hour or two. What is your take on it in Bogota? Is it considered weird?

    • Hi Anastazia, no it won’t be a problem in Bogota – single people (often students) use coffee shops all the time to work in. So the chances are most people will be there with their laptop instead of a book 🙂 The only thing that might happen is that after a while someone comes and asks if you would like more coffee!

      • Anastazia Prost // September 18, 2018 at 10:09 pm // Reply

        Thank you, Naomi! Also, do you have any coffee shops that you would recommend for studying/reading? I read your post on specialty coffee shops, but I did not know if these were best for studying.

        • If you need a quiet place, Amor Perfecto in Chapinero Alto would be good. There’s a big Juan Valdez Origins in Rosales so you would surely be able to find a quiet corner there. I know that both of these coffee shops have Wi-Fi.
          Apart from coffee shops, Libreria Merlin bookshop downtown has a few tables and armchairs where you could read. Luis Arango library in the Candelaria has loads of quiet places to study, but I think you’re only only to bring in water. A few bookshops also have cafes – Libreria Wilborada, Tornamesa, Luvina. I would check them all out and see where you prefer!

    • Good luck with the CELTA and enjoy your time in Bogota!

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