The capital of Colombia is the cosmopolitan heart of the country, where cobbled backstreets meet towering feats of contemporary architecture. Bogota is a densely populated urban sprawl nestled amongst some of the most impressive mountain ranges in the world and boasting a deeply embedded and fascinating culture.
Modern Bogota is known for its rich cultural heritage, fantastic culinary scene and burgeoning arts districts. Creativity and passion run through the veins of this city and make it a truly liberating destination to visit. At night, Bogota continues to impress with a lively and thriving gay nightlife industry that has something for every taste.
The gay scene in Bogota is largely focused around the upmarket and recently regenerated area of Chapinero. The district is home to more than 100 gay bars, clubs and shops and evidence of the city’s vibrant LGBT+ community can be seen throughout. Bogota is becoming increasingly known as a hub of gay culture and community in South America and gay travelers are flocking to experience all that this unique and diverse city has to offer.
Situated in an old movie theater in the heart of gay Chapinero, Theatron is a gay mega-complex, featuring a nightclub and bar. Theatron is often referred to as “the largest gay club in South America”, and with 5 floors and 13 themed rooms, this title is well deserved. Each room in Theatron is themed around a different music genre or era, meaning there’s a clubbing experience for every gay traveler at this venue. The club is one of the most popular in Bogota and attracts over 8,000 patrons every Saturday night.
Boogaloo club is a former blues bar turned gay nightlife hotspot. The club is popular amongst the city’s younger gay population who are drawn to the venue partly because of its reputation as the coolest gay club in Bogota. The industrial interior design and roster of famous live DJs have earned Boogaloo cult status amongst the trendsetters of the city’s gay scene. Boasting a large and diverse crowd, Boogaloo is an unmissable destination on a trip to Bogota.
A favorite early evening hangout amongst the gay community in the city, Color House Cafe Bar opened in 2008 and has been a staple of the gay scene in Bogota ever since. The vibrant decor, amazing drink deals and casual atmosphere make Color House the perfect place to warm up before heading to some of Chapinero’s bigger gay clubs. The bar is just a short walk from Theatron and draws impressive crowds on weekends.
Most gay travelers choose to stay in the affluent El Retiro neighbourhood or Chapinero. Both districts provide travelers with a plethora of hotel and accommodation choices as well as quick and convenient access to the city’s most popular gay bars and clubs. Hotels in these areas are also more likely to be gay-friendly and gay travelers should be able to enjoy a stress-free stay.
Recently refurbished and proving stylish 4-star accommodation, the Hilton Bogota is located just five minutes from the gay district of Chapinero and boasts an impressive selection of amenities including an outdoor pool, gym, restaurant and lounge area. The rooms at the Hilton are complete with comfortable and elegant furniture and guests are treated to unparalleled views across the Bogota skyline. Many of the city’s most significant and popular attractions are located within walking distance from the hotel, including the National Pedagogic University.
The Sofitel was Colombia’s first luxury hotel and is situated in the up-market El Retiro neighbourhood of Bogota. The building was designed by world-renowned architect Miguel Soto, and the rooms are individually finished with decorative accessories and furniture from the likes of Hermes and Lavin. The on-site dining options available in The Sofitel include a french bistro-style restaurant and a casual lounge bar, in addition, many of the city’s best gay nightlife venues are located within short walking distance.
Managing a delicate balance between effortlessly stylish and extremely over the top, the W Hotel Bogota is a great choice for gay travellers who appreciate eccentricity and luxury. Located in the Usaquen neighbourhood, the area where the W stands was once farmland before being taken over by towering skyscrapers, boutiques and trendy restaurants. There is a theme of gold running throughout the hotel, with the lobby, bathrooms and even pillows all offering guests an opulent and elegant stay in the heart of Bogota.
La Candelaria is the beating heart of Bogota and also the oldest and best-preserved part of the city. The area is home to perfectly restored 300-year old houses, narrow back alleys and stunning street murals. The centre of La Candelaria is Plaza De Bolivar, a large square marked by a bronze statue of Simon Bolivar, the military and political leader who earned much of South America’s independence from Spain in the 19th century.
The most worthwhile monuments and locations of discovery are spread throughout this beautiful neighbourhood, and the meandering streets can become confusing at times, so the best way to navigate the intricate web is by hiring a local tour guide or partaking in a group tour.
Travelers are advised to keep a watchful eye over their belongings in La Candelaria as the tight streets and confusing web of houses provide the perfect working conditions for pickpockets and thieves.
Looming over Downtown Bogota and dominating the city’s skyline, Cerro de Monserrate is Bogota’s most popular tourist attraction. The mountain has long been considered a place of sacred cultural significance for the residents of the city because of the small church that sits at its summit, and visitors can still appreciate the stunning panoramic views today.
Access to the summit of Cerro de Monserrate is achieved via cable car, operating every day and charging a relatively inexpensive fee. This option transports visitors from Downtown Bogota to the top of the mountain quickly and with comfort. Alternatively, there a number of hiking trails and walking paths that snake their way up the side of the colossal Cerro de Monserrate. However, the walk should only be attempted by adventurous travelers as the combination of high altitude pressure and the dramatic incline make hiking the mountain a challenging prospect.
Every June a range of pride events take place in the city and the focal point of these is the Bogota Pride March. The march tends to occur at the end of the month and draws large crowds of LGBT+ individuals and allies seeking to celebrate the diversity of Bogota’s LGBT+ community as well as demand an end to discrimination in all its forms.
Bogota had its first pride parade in 1982, and the original event was attended by just 30 people. Today the Bogota Pride March attracts over 200,000 people, who march, watch and support the rights of LGBT+ people in Colombia.
Colombia has some of the most advanced gay rights in South America with a number of laws designed to protect LGBT+ individuals from violence, discrimination and extortion. Additionally, same-sex marriage was legalised in the country in 2016 and in 2018 Bogota elected its first lesbian mayor. Transgender people in Colombia also enjoy a range of legal protections and liberties including the right to undergo gender confirmation surgery without extensive psychiatric evaluation.
Most gay travellers in Bogota will have a problem-free visit, however, it is important to remember that like any location, there are still areas of the city where public displays of affection should be carefully considered for your own safety.
by George Pizani | More: Gay Bogota