While not a feature exclusive to this city, Bogotá is awash with streets, and even whole neighbourhoods, where just one item or service, and pretty much nothing else, can be purchased. Chris Erb discovers that there are districts for everything from pets, electronics, leather, printers and hairdressers to concentrations of restaurants selling the exact same thing.
The intense competition between all these places side-by-side means that the prices are generally lower than elsewhere, and the selection is often overwhelming. So next time you’re thinking of a trip to the mall, consider going to some Bogotá shopping districts instead. A selection of some of the concentrations of shops or services is listed below, but you can see a full list and our bilingual map at the bottom of the page.
Let there be light
If your apartment needs a bit more light, you’re in luck! Bogotá has an entire district dedicated to lamps. Not light fixtures (those can be found on Caracas between Calles 65 and 61, and downtown on Carrera 12 between Calles 19 and 15), but just lamps. Most are pretty ordinary but there are a few small workshops where beautiful artisanal and stained glass lamps are made and sold. You can find them on Carrera 17 between Calles 72 and 68.
If you’re in the mood for a heart attack, look no further than Zona L. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, the “L” stands for lechona, a mix of pork, rice and chickpeas served out of a pig carcass (with its head attached of course). This stretch of Caracas between Calles 27 Sur and 30 Sur and some of the surrounding side streets features around 40 places serving up this Tolimense delicacy.
On your bike
Drivers sitting in Bogotá’s famous traffic jams have probably enviously looked out their windows at the cyclists effortlessly cruising by. If you are one of those looking upon the cyclists with envy, head down to one of the city’s many bike districts and pick one up. Concentrations of bike shops can be found all over the city including on Calle 68 between NQS and Carrera 28, a giant one on Calle 13 between Carreras 16 and 24, and small ones in Muzú on Autopista Sur between Carreras 52c Sur and 51f Sur and just north of Unicentro on Calle 127 between Carrera 20 and Autopista Norte.
Bookworms will be happy downtown in the area between Calles 15 and 16 and especially on Carrera 8a where there is a two storey mall dedicated only to books as well as some of the city’s more famous used booksellers. There are a couple of pedestrianised streets here where best-sellers and DVDs are sold from carts or tarps on the ground.
Viva el marriachi!
Instead of sleeping on the couch after an argument with your loved one, why not hire a mariachi? You’ll see them roaming the streets on the east side of Caracas around Calle 55. Few of them are very good and I don’t think any are Mexican, but I’m told they get the job done.
Sight and sound
In need of a new pair of glasses? Make your way downtown to Calle 19 where, between Caracas and Carrera 7 on the south side of the street there are dozens of shops selling frames of every type and style. Even more glasses can be found on the ground floor of the little mall at the corner of Carrera 7 with the additional benefit that if you climb the stairs, you’ll also find the city’s only concentration of record shops, catering to almost every style of music.
District of districts
A trip downtown isn’t complete without visiting San Victorino. This area of the city probably has the most intense commercial activity you can imagine. As the hustlers on the streets and in the adjacent plaza will tell you (and try to lead you to), you can find a number of stores – many of which are hidden on upper floors – that sell piñatas, school textbooks, knockoff clothing, stationery or kitchenware. If you’re looking for any of these items and can’t find them in San Victorino, it’s unlikely you’ll find them anywhere else.
If you’re in need of electronic equipment of any kind, there are, of course, a number of places to go. By far the biggest and best known are at Unilago and the Centro de Alta Tecnología, two malls side-by-side on Carrera 15 between Calles 79 and 77 that are completely populated by tiny stores selling nothing but technology. You can find anything from outdated Blackberries to top-of-the-line gaming computers. The surrounding stores, inevitably, are almost all duplicates of what can be found inside the malls.
Walk this way
Bogotanos love their shoes and, as such, there are no shortage of shoe shops in every part of the city. However, the holy grail of shoe shops of all sorts can be found in Restrepo in the area around Calle 17 sur between Carreras 18 and 21. You won’t find much in the way of high-end footwear here, but the selection of sneakers and affordable shoes is remarkable. This is also an area known for its cordwainers so if you need a pair of custom shoes, this may be the place to do it.
For the list of Bogotá shopping districts check out our map and below. And if you think there’s somewhere we’ve missed, get in touch with us at [email protected] and we’ll be glad to add in new districts as we receive them.
Calle 68 between Carreras 27b and 24
Carrera 13 between Calles 13 and 19
Army surplus/military supplies
Calle 9 between Carreras 8 and 10 and Carrera 9 between Calles 9 and 8
Arts and crafts supplies and framing
Calle 53 between Carrera 24 and Caracas
Carrera 9 between Calles 22 and 19
Calle 13 between Carreras 16 and 24
Calle 68 between NQS and Carrera 27b bis
Autopista Sur between Carreras 52c and 51f
Calle 127 between Carrera 20 and Autopista Norte
Calles 15 and 16 around Carrera 8a
Carrera 23 between Calles 63f and 65
CDs and records
Mall at corner of Calle 19 and Carrera 7
Chorro de Quevedo: Carrera 2 between Calles 12b and 12c
C.C. Galerías on third floor
Coffee making equipment
Corner of Calle 19 at Caracas
Carrera 27 between Calles 13 and 6
Electronic equipment and computers
Carrera 15 between Calles 82 and 77 (Unilago, Centro de Alta Tecnología and environs)
Furniture and/or furniture makers
Carreras 50, 51, 52 between Calles 79b and 72b
Primero de Mayo between Transversal 31 (NQS Sur) and Carrera 40a
Calle 109 between Carreras 15 and 19 (high-end and designer)
Calle 19 between Carrera 7 and Caracas
Calle 3 between Carrera 27 and NQS
Carrera 6 between Calles 12 and 12b (and surrounding area)
Carrera 17 between Calles 62 and 57
Carrera 17 between Calles 72 and 68
Calle 63f between Carreras 24 and Diagonal 64a
Carrera 21 between Calle 19 Sur and 20 Sur
Caracas between Calles 65 and 61
Carrera 12 between Calles 13 and 19
East side of Caracas around Calle 55
Autopista Norte between Calle 146 and Calle 152
East side of Carrera 68 between Calle 13 and Calle 3
Between Calles 63 and 60 and Caracas and Carrera 16 (San Luis)
Between Calles 15 sur and 18 sur and Caracas and Carrera 16 (Restrepo)
Calle 58 bis between Carreras 13 and 9 (around Theatron)
Calle 31 sur between Carreras 71f and 69 bis (Carvajal)
Carrera 50 between Autopista Sur and Diagonal 49 Sur (Venecia)
Calle 73 with Carrera 69h (Las Ferias)
Calle 68 between Carreras 21 and 24 (7 de agosto)
Carrera 7 between Calles 59 and 54
Carrera 9 between Calles 24 and 22
Zona Rosa/Zona T (between Calles 85 and 80 and Carreras 11 and 15)
Parque de la 93 (area surrounding Parque de la 93 between Calles 95 and 93 and Carreras 11 and 15)
Galerías (Calle 53 around C.C. Galarias and Carrera 27 between Calles 53 and 51a)
Cuadra Picha (Avenida Primero de Mayo between Carrera 69 and avenida Boyacá, west side of Carrera 71d until Calle 2a Sur, Calle 6 Sur between Carrera 71d and avenida Boyacá)
Usaquén (between Calles 127 and 116 and Carreras 5 and 7)
Candelaria (roughly between Avenida Jiménez and Calle 10 and Carreras 5b and 2)
Restrepo (area around Calle 17 Sur and Carrera 17 meet)
Chapinero/Chapigay (Roughly between Carreras 7 and 13 and Calles 64 and 55)
Zona G (between Calles 71a and 65 and Carreras 4 and 7)
La Macarena (Carrera 4a Between Calle 30 and 26b)
Zona L (lechona) (Caracas between Calles 27 and 30 sur as well as surrounding area)
Zona de Tolerancia/Zona Roja (strip clubs, prostitution) (between Caracas and Carrera 19 and calles 26 and 19)
Asaderos de carne (roundabout at Calle 3 and Carrera 50)
Caracas between calles 57 and 53
Plaza de Mercado Restrepo (Carrera 19 at Calle 18 sur)
Piñatas, kitchenware, stationery
Religious nicknacks and literature
Carrera 5a at Plazoleta 20 de julio and Diagonal 27 Bis Sur
San Jose (roughly between Carreras 19 and 24 and Calles 11 8)
De la 38 (Carrera 38 between Calles 11a and Calle 6 and surrounding streets)
Norte (Carrera 45 at Calle 195)
De la 68 (Calle 72 at Carrera 70 Bis)
Suba (Calle 139 at Carrera 110)
Area around Carreras 52c and 68 and Calles 41c Sur and 44 Sur
Calle 3 Sur between Carreras 10 and 14
Calle 17 sur between Carreras 18 and 21 and cross streets
Carrera 15 around Calle 85
Carrera 24 between Calle 63d and Calle 63a
Carrera 69 at Calle 63 (mostly rollerblading equipment)
Carrera 24 below Calle 80
Calle 60g Sur
Used office furniture
Calle 80 between Carrera 24 and NQS