Lost in Bogotá? Google Maps isn’t working? For as huge as the city is, it’s surprisingly easy to determine where you are and which direction you’re heading. Bogotá is made up of a grid-style system of hundreds of calles and carreras, but knowing the main ones can help you orient yourself and figure out the rest.
Bogotá’s calles run east-west and the carreras run north-south (not perfectly, but that’s the general orientation). The best piece of advice I was given upon first arriving to the city is to look and see where the mountains are (Monserrate, the big white church, sits on top of one of them). These mountains make up part of the Cordillera Oriental, or the Eastern hills of the Andes Mountains, and border the entire east side of Bogotá. They’re the easiest point of reference because they’re so big you can see them from anywhere in the city. Going towards these mountains, the carrera numbers become smaller. Heading south, the calle numbers become smaller (unless you are already in the south of the city, which starts at Calle 1 Sur and goes up from there as you head even farther south).
With a landmark like the mountain range and the numbered streets, you can always determine approximately where you are and where you want to go. That being said, there are a few specific roads in Bogotá worth knowing that make it even easier. The Transmilenio buses run predominantly and frequently on the following streets (as they tend to be wider and can accommodate more buses), so if you’re looking for public transportation, it won’t be hard. You can also use one of these apps to help you out as well.
Carrera Séptima (Carrera 7)
Coming in from the north just outside of Bogotá as an inter-municipal highway, once it enters the city, it becomes Carrera 7. It’s the easternmost highway in Bogotá until Calle 92, where it continues south and becomes more of a street. It gets narrower, especially as it approaches the neighborhood of La Candelaria, where upon reaching Calle 19, it temporarily becomes a pedestrian only walkway until it passes Plaza de Bolívar. By this point, it’s no longer a main street as it disappears and merges with other streets in the south.
Points of Interest:
· The Mexican and Canadian Embassies
· The Usaquén neighborhood
· The Chicó neighborhood
· Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (a private Catholic university)
· Torre Colpatria (a landmark that is one of the tallest skyscrapers in the city)
· El Museo Nacional (the National Museum)
· MAMBO (Bogotá Museum of Modern Art)
· Museo del Oro (the Gold Museum)
· Plaza de Bolívar
Autopista Norte (North Highway)/Avenida Caracas (Carrera 14)
It runs outside of northern Bogotá as Autopista Paseo de los Libertadoresthen becomes Autopista Norteupon entering the city before it intersects with Avenida NQS near the northern edge of the Chapinero district and then continues as Avenida Caracas (Carrera 14) all the way down to the south through the locality of Usme. Other names it may be referred to as depending on the area of Bogotá it’s running through are Troncal Caracas and Carretera a Usme.
Points of Interest:
· Parque Jaime Duque (an amusement park a little outside the city, just past Chía)
· Centro Comercial Santafé (one of the largest shopping malls in Colombia)
· The Cedritos neighborhood
· The Chapinero neighborhood
· Universidad Católica de Colombia (a private university)
· Monumento a los Héroes (the Heroes Monument)
· Several major Transmilenio stations: Portal del Norte, Portal Usme, Avenida Jiménez, Tercer Milenio
Avenida NQS (Norte-Quito-Sur)
Avenida NQS is comprised of three roads: Avenida Carrera Novena(Avenida Carrera 9), Avenida Ciudad de Quito (Carrera 30) and Autopista Sur (South Highway). The Carrera 9 part of Avenida NQS begins in the northeast at Calle 170 and runs down through Usaquén, where it starts to cross southwest and becomes Carrera 30 once it reaches Calle 92. Carrera 30 continues south through the locality of Teusaquillo, after which it comes to an intersection at Calle 8 Sur where Autopista Sur begins and Carrera 30 continues, but is no longer part of NQS. Autopista Sur goes southwest towards the municipality of Soacha, then out of the city entirely.
Points of Interest:
· Universidad Nacional de Colombia (large public university with campuses in other cities)
· Estadio El Campín (one of the main stadiums in Bogotá)
· Centro Mayor (the biggest mall in Colombia)
· Calima CC (another one of the largest malls in Colombia)
· Hospital Universitario Méderi (a university hospital)
· The major Transmilenio station, Portal del Sur
· SENA (national learning center run by the government, located in most cities in Colombia)
· Jardines del Apogeo (a very big cemetery)
· Terminal Satélite del Sur (south bus terminal)
The principal highway/street on the west side of Bogotá that runs the whole length of the city. It begins in the locality of Suba up in the north at Calle 170 and heads directly south. After crossing Autopista Sur at the edge of the Kennedy locality, the road curves a little southeast as it passes through the locality of Tunjuelito and continues down through Usme, where it crosses Avenida Caracas. It then leaves the city as Autopista al Llano toward some cities you might want to visit, should you want to escape the cold!
Points of Interest:
· Parque La Colina (a huge mall)
· Club Los Lagartos (a private club with all sorts of amenities and activities)
· Titan Plaza (an enormous mall)
· Terminal Salitre (the main bus terminal in Bogotá)
· Multiplaza (a gargantuan mall)
· El Edén CC (what will become the biggest mall in Colombia once it opens in 2019)
· Bavaria (a Colombian beverage company responsible for the production of many domestic beers)
· Estadio Metropolitano de Techo (a humongous stadium used mostly for soccer)
· Parque Mundo Aventura (amusement park)
· GM Colmotores (General Motors plant)
· Parque El Tunal
· The major Transmilenio station, Portal del Tunal
· CEMEX (a major cement and construction supply plant)
Avenida El Dorado (Calle 26)
Avenida El Dorado runs perpendicular from the Cordillera Oriental, crosses the entire width of the city, and ends at the El Dorado International Airport on the west-side of Bogotá. It intersects with Carrera 7, Avenida Caracas, Avenida NQS and Avenida Boyacá.
Points of interest:
· Casa Editorial El Tiempo (a media giant in charge of the national newspaper, El Tiempo)
· CC Gran Estación (a gigantic mall)
· The United States Embassy (it’s as big as some of the malls)
· Universidad Nacional de Colombia (the same one on NQS, both highways border it)
· Centro de Memoria, Paz y Reconciliación (a museum of sorts, dedicated to the armed conflict in Colombia that plagued the country for decades)
· Cementerio Central (the oldest cemetery in Bogotá where many important people in Colombian history are buried)
· Parque de la Independencia
· Biblioteca Nacional de Colombia (National Library of Colombia)
Avenida de las Américas (Calle 34)
This road runs perfectly east to west originating at Carrera 7 in Teusaquillo as Calle 34 and after intersecting with Avenida Caracas, Avenida El Dorado, Carrera 30 of Avenida NQS and Avenida Boyacá, it officially turns into Avenida de las Américas. It continues away from the Cordillera Oriental towards Kennedy, where at Monumento Banderas, a colossal roundabout, it winds around and veers northwest where it soon comes to an end at the next sizeable roundabout called Glorieta Américas con Ciudad de Cali.
Points of Interest:
· Corferias (convention center/fairgrounds)
· Carrera CC (a mall for automobiles so you know this one’s big too)
· CC Plaza Central (yet another massive mall)
· Outlet de las Américas (an outlet mall)
· The major Transmilenio station, Mundo Aventura
· The major Transmilenio station, Portal de Bandera
So basically, if you like malls, just stick to the main roads and you’ll eventually find one. But seriously, if you’re on a shopping mission, consider Bogotá the hub for all your commercial needs. And while you’re at it, Unicentro is a pretty cool mall too that you should check out and my fellow Colture writer will tell you why. This article was not intended to be about malls, but they do make good reference points since so many of them are of monumental size. If all else fails and you think you’re really lost, take a taxi or Uber to get where you need to go. Unless you’re down with the adventure, then keep exploring and remember you can also ask the locals for help or directions! Colombia is known for their friendly people, so you’ll never be alone nor truly lost, but if you’re having trouble deciphering an address, let us help you!
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