Bogota has been on my list of cities to see for a while. It's located just a couple of degrees north of the equator but it sits in an Andean valley that puts it at 9,000 feet of elevation. It's also a huge metropolis – only New York and Mexico City have more people in the Americas.
It's also a largely modern city that does not have the ever-present poor areas of Medellin. It does share, however, the same choking traffic pollution. The privately-run buses provide a striking diesel exhaust that match some of the worst traffic-polluted areas anywhere in the world.
Bogota's neighborhoods comes as diverse as many things in Colombia. Candelaria looks more like Cuzco with steep ascents, lots of culture and small streets. It's also where you can ride up to Monserrate with a cable car or tram (strangely both leave from the same station and go to the same place up the hill).
Zona Rosa looks more like Boston with malls and brick buildings. Chapinero is the city's financial district but with hip coffee shops and expensive restaurants.
Teusaquillo is the artsy neighborhood that hosts the city's biggest public college and lots of restaurants – an area that is just being re-discovered.
Bogota is a fascinating city with lots of history and ample contrasts for the eager city explorer.
The city has a high crime rate and you have to keep your guard up especially after dark. Some areas are prone to muggings and random violence (while others are safer than most US cities).
The weather is a challenge as you can see all seasons changing constantly in a matter of hours – from hot sunshine, cold winds, torrential rains and back to warm sunny weather.
The price level is usually a bit cheaper than most US cities but not always so.
Bogota's pollution is a real negative as it can be really annoying when you find yourself wading through toxic diesel exhaust all the time.