If you want to know how real “Bogotanos” live like, look no further than Santa Bárbara. This is by far one of the most authentic and energetic neighborhoods in the city. From high-end restaurants, beautiful hidden parks, independent design shops and Bogotá’s one and only train station, this place has it all!
If you make the wise decision to explore Santa Bárbara, prepare yourself to see a lot of smart and modern apartment buildings with big balconies. But, if you venture through its narrow streets, you will keep finding beautifully preserved English cottages and Spanish town houses, that have been transformed into fancy restaurants, eclectic cafes and really modern independent design shops.
Located between Autopista Norte and Carrera 7 (one of Bogotá’s oldest and most important avenues) and Calle 116 to Calle 127, this neighborhood covers some of the most relevant streets and highways where you can reach the city centre within 30 minutes (check the public transport routes here). If you enjoy biking, you are in the right place. This neighborhood has one of the nicest bike paths located all the way down in Carrera 19 and Calle 116.
Demographics & Cost of Living
Santa Bárbara is very well known for its great location, not too far from the city center but close enough to the north of the city. This neighborhood is a people’s first choice among young professionals, families and the elderly community.
Living in Santa Bárbara is fairly reasonable. Although some of its areas are categorized as “estrato” 5 & 6 (to review the social and economic categorization of the city click here), which represents an increase in the price of utility bills, most of its rent prices are fairly cheaper in comparison to other places closer to university areas and financial districts.
© Photograph by David Nuñez (Cll 116 with Carrera 9)
Where to Eat
If you like to grab some food at dawn after dancing salsa for hours at a club, then you should go down Calle 116 between Carrera 15 and Autopista Norte. This street is famously known for its amazing fast food venues opened 24/7. Ask your Uber driver to take you to the best fast food restaurant in the neighborhood and order a “mazorca”, a cheap Colombian take on a Kebab that tastes better at 3 am.
Another important food quarter close to Santa Bárbara is Usaquén. You take Calle 116 and walk all the way towards the mountains, you encounter a beautiful church and the main square. The best time to visit is on Sunday mornings to enjoy the weekly flea market to then grab a late lunch in one of its amazing and multiple restaurants (Click here to check out usaquén’s 10 best restaurants).
Usaquén on Sundays is a lot of fun! I strongly recommend to grab a lunch in a Caribbean restaurant called “El Arca” (Calle 118 # 5 – 03) or if you have a higher food budget and want to treat yourself to something fancier, go to “La Mar” (Calle 119B # 6 – 01) and order their signature ”ceviche”.
Other Things to Do
If going to the movies is very expensive back at home, then you should definitely go to Cine Colombia inside of Unicentro Shopping Centre. It is very cheap in Bogotá and if you want to save even more, go every Wednesday and purchase half price tickets (Prices around USD $4).
If live music is your thing, then you should go every Thursday to Pardo Restaurant. Try one of their cocktails in the courtyard while listening to their live jazz sessions featuring different local artist every week. Make sure you arrive around 6pm to guarantee yourself a good seat. The music and atmosphere is in high demand and it gets very crowded.
Santa Bárbara is a fun and vibrant area where you can find the perfect balance between experiencing life as a local but also enjoying the daily fun of someone who is traveling and constantly avoiding the daily routine. You should certainly consider Santa Bárbara for your next day exploring Bogotá. Keep visiting Colture for more information on Bogotá’s neighborhoods!
Quick tip: If you are bored of the city and want to scape for a day, go to Sabana’s Train Station and take a day tour to the outskirts of Bogotá.
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