Tips + Trends

Usaquén is Having a Renaissance. Is This Bogotá’s Best Neighborhood?

Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, is brimming with hotspots that draw more and more visitors each year. Usaquén—though not the newest renaissance neighborhood—is by far the city’s most vibrant one, packed with antique stores, modern cafés, award-winning eateries and a popular Sunday market.

The historic center was its own city before being incorporated in the 1950s, but that small-town vibe remains as locals and visitors trade and commune daily along the cobblestoned streets that shoot off from the charming square.

Last year, the city debuted pedestrian-only walkways in the area, making Usaquén more explorer-friendly than ever. Lace up your walking shoes and head straight to these spots on your next visit.

See

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Take a ride on the steam train, which is a blast from the past. (Photo: Getty Images)

You can spend hours people watching on the town square, which is anchored by the 18th-century Iglesia de Santa Bárbara. On weekends and holidays, you’ll find storytellers and peddlers eager to regale you with tales of yesteryear.

Walk along the streets that lead out from the plaza to discover antique shops, art galleries, and independent boutiques such as Marykaditas and LaLocalidad. Take a steam-powered train through Bogotá’s scenic savannah to the historic town of Zipaquirá, known for its underground cathedral in a salt mine.

Trains depart on weekends from the Usaquén station around 9 a.m. Schedule a walking tour with Cuadrante Cultural to see the area’s key sites and learn about its storied past.

Do

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Visiting Usaquén means slowing down and enjoying life: (Photo: Getty Images)

Join families, lovebird, and students for a stroll through the square, where storytellers, artisans and artists converge on weekends. The Sunday market is legendary and has recently grown to include a secondary section, called the Mercado Buendía Usaquén, where a new wave of artisans sell jewelry, repurposed home goods, and hand-woven textiles.

At Cinema Paraíso, the only dine-in theatre around, you can catch an indie flick while noshing on candied popcorn, gourmet pizza, and artisan brews. The 1840s Hacienda Santa Bárbara , where early settlers held court, has been transformed into a mall, with the original architecture preserved and local designers housed within.

Eat

You won’t find a better breakfast than Abasto’s healthy update on homestyle cooking. The locavore restaurant has two locations in Usaquén, including its Bodega, where you can stock up on farm-fresh produce on the weekends.

Julia is a favorite for its wood-fired pizzas, crisp salads and artisan ice creams. For traditional dishes like ajiaco, chicharrones with arepa and sobrebarriga go to Casa Vieja, which has been serving up classic Colombian food for more than 50 years.

Vegetarians look no further than Granel Gourmet, located in a little purple house on the corner of Calle 120a. The city’s top chefs have outposts in Usaquén: Try the Rausch brothers’ French-inspired Bistronomy, seafood-centric 80 Sillas by the Takami group and La Plaza de Andrés—a miniature version of the meat wonderland in Chia.

Drink

Hops hero Bogota Beer Company has a brew inspired by the neighborhood, which you can sample at the cozy locale right off the square. To learn about Colombia’s coffee culture while getting your caffeine fix, walk a couple blocks away from the main center to Catación Pública, where staff offers tastings and barista courses.

La Cervecería led the charge on the British pub-inspired joints that now populate the city—the bar is especially popular on game days.