Bogota is Colombia’s largest city and capital, a vibrant and very inviting place to visit. It is located on a high altitude of the Andes and has some pretty gorgeous things to do. The cobblestoned historic center is where all visitors inevitably concentrate, where beautiful colonial buildings reveal this city’s fascinating past. Museo del’ Oro that features pre-Columbian gold pieces, a 17th-century church, and a neoclassical hall Teatro Colon are among the city’s most iconic landmarks. But Bogota’s (and consequently Colombia’s) heritage is seen in traditional things that are truly special here. Here is a list of the 10 best things to buy when you visit Bogota, Colombia.
1. Chamba pottery
La Chamba pottery is one of the most uniquely Colombian things to buy in Bogota. Its black micacious clay is found only in central Colombia, in the village La Chamba, and it owes its color to the sediments of Magdalena River. Chamba cookware is widely used throughout Colombia as it is ideal for cooking and serving, while it can be used on the stovetop, in the microwave, and in the oven. Each piece is hand-crafted by the people from the tiny homogeneous village and gives an authentic and elegant look.
What a lucky country must Colombia be for having the reputation of producing some of the best chocolates in the entire world? Colombia’s chocolates are popular worldwide for their high quality, while there are certain areas in the country that are ideal for cultivating cacao as they feature great biodiversity and natural resources. The finest cacao comes in different shapes and flavors, such as dark chocolate, cocoa drink powder, chocolate-covered nuts, zapote and maracuyá (both Colombian fruits). Most big brands produce sustainable chocolates empowering local communities.
3. Aguardiente (anise-flavored liquor made from sugar cane)
Colombia’s national drink, called Aguardiente, literally means ‘water burning’ and is basically made of alcohol, water, anise, and sugarcane. This alcoholic beverage contains between 29% to 60% alcohol by volume, although, lately, they tend to produce it in the lowest alcohol volume. It’s a much-favored liquor among Colombians and tourists who usually buy a lukewarm bottle and share it with shots. There are different brands to look for that do taste different, but one of the most popular is the Aguardiente Antioqueno. It’s certainly a cool gift to bring back home.
You might be interested in these Airbnbs!
4. Coca tea
You will be surprised to hear what an important role the powerful coca plant plays in Colombia’s history and culture. Coca leaves have been cultivated by ancient civilizations and have been used widely thanks to their nutritious and medicinal properties, especially for altitude sickness. Brewing the leaves of coca into a tea or chewing them are the most common ways to use this plant, although they are also used in baking goods and dishes. Beware, though, neither coca tea nor coca leaves are to be brought into the USA.
‘The cradle of the Gods’ was a term given to the hammock pretty early in its history, with its origin lying with the indigenous people of south and middle America. Colombian hammocks are hand-woven and they are as vibrant and colorful at the whole Caribbean coast of Colombia. In Latin America, hammocks are quite often considered a way of living since people tend to sleep in them only. They are meant to provide relaxation and well-being, fitting just as well within the laid-back Latin America mentality. It’s extremely space-saving and easy to carry, so why not take one back home, you know, for those lazy days.
Being the world’s third highest annual coffee production country, one can imagine why it is so crucial to buy Colombian coffee in Bogota and bring it back home. What makes this coffee so popular and profoundly good, presumably depends on Colombia’s perfect geography and climate, along with the thoroughly growing and hand-picking methods, and of course, the type of coffee itself, which in our case is 100% Arabica beans. Depending on the region, Colombian coffee can have a fruity, chocolate, citrus, nut, or other notable flavors.
7. Mochila bags
These hand-woven, beautifully patterned, and sometimes colorful bags, exist thanks to the courtesy of the indigenous women of the Wayuu tribe from La Guajira, in northeastern Colombia. The nowadays endangered Wayuu tribe holds a strong belief that everything on earth is connected and has a soul. As such, the mochila’s intricate motifs represent, in a way, their cosmological view of the universe. It takes slightly less than a month to finish a large mochila bag, a fact that earns those women our utmost respect.
8. Sombrero Vueltiao (traditional hat)
If you think of this iconic traditional hat as an excellent carnival accessory, then it’s a great gift for yourself or anyone else who appreciates local stuff. It is actually one of Colombia’s symbols and is made of cana flecha, a type of cane growing in the region. The making of such a hat takes a long time, but its internationally recognized impressive artwork is certainly worth the effort. Usually, higher quality sombrero vueltiao are the ones that are more flexible.
9. Columbian vinyl records
It seems that Colombia is one of the few countries in the world that refuses to let the vinyl die. Each year thousands of music lovers and collectors gather in the city of Cali to actually celebrate the old school vinyl record. These albums predominantly focus on Latin, Afro-Cuban, and salsa music genres, while prices start from a few US dollars and go up to 1,000 USD depending on how rare the vinyl is.
10. Obleas con arequipe (wafers)
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
Colombia is sugar country, and as such, Colombians do appreciate a sweet dessert after their meal. One of those extremely delicious sweet snacks is the so-called obleas, which is basically thin wafers filled with various flavors, including cheese, raspberry sauce, and arequipe (rich, dark caramel). Obleas con arequipe are pretty popular among locals and tourists, and street stalls selling them can be seen in every corner of this country. Colombians pride themselves on the long cooking process, responsible for such a heavenly tasty arequipe.
Some things to remember from Bogota
From meticulously hand-crafted products to mouth-watering sweets, Bogota won’t disappoint you on your ‘things to buy’ list. Note down these brilliant Colombian things to buy and keep your memories alive!
Get Trip101 in your inbox