In search of a bargain: a Sunday rummage through Bogota’s flea markets.

If flea markets are your thing then get down to Bogota Centro on a Sunday. Time it right you can visit all three of Bogota’s flea markets in one busy bargain-filled day!

10.00am: Starting at Las Aguas in La Candelaria, you’ll find the least well known of Bogota’s flea markets. This market was moved from Parque de los Periodistas several years ago and has relocated to a nearby car park. Here you will find a very local flea market filled with around 80 stalls selling all kinds of junk, second hand clothes, not-quite antiques and perhaps the odd hidden treasure! Not too many tourists venture here, as there are no souvenirs or handicrafts on offer, just plenty of bric-o-brac, so you’ll be mingling with local bargain hunters and wheeler-dealers! Las Aguas flea market doesn’t get too crowded and there is a security guard at the front gate. Take plenty of small change if you want to buy. It’s a great place to connect with Bogotanos!

You can explore La Candelaria and visit other major landmarks on Uncover Colombia’s walking City Tour to the historic centre of Bogota.

Templete del Libertador near Las Aguas Flea Market

Templete del Libertador near Las Aguas Flea Market

10.30am: Leaving the flea market, head past Las Aguas Transmilenio station and down Calle 19 – browsing the second hand books – until you get to Carrera 7. Walking north along the pedestrianized “La Septima” (away from Plaza Bolivar), you’ll find that the whole avenue has been converted into a street fair with caricature artists, urban musicians, Michael Jackson impersonators and many more second hand items for sale along the kerbside. It might take a while to wander along this crowded street and take in the lively atmosphere! Don’t miss Pasteleria Florida (Carrera 7 No 20-82) for a coffee and one of the two traditional breakfast tamales wrapped in banana leaves!

12.00pm: Strolling further north along 7th Avenue it is easy to spot the tallest building in Colombia, the imposing Torre Colpatria. If you want a great view of Bogota’s cityscape you can visit the lookout on the 48th floor (Sundays from 11am to 7pm, entry $4,500 pesos pp).

Left: Torre Colpatria and San Alejo market viewed from Montserrate. Right: View down to San Alejo market from Torre Colpatria mirador.

Left: Torre Colpatria and San Alejo market viewed from Monserrate. Right: View down to San Alejo market from Torre Colpatria mirador.

Opposite the skyscraper is the entrance to San Alejo flea market. This market has something for everyone! There are fresh fruit juices and both savoury and sweet snack stalls at the main entrance.

Fresh tropical fruit juices: Guanabana, lulo, mandarin and grape!

Fresh tropical fruit juices: Guanabana, lulo, mandarin and grape!

Hundreds of covered stalls await you encompassing anything and everything from antiques, books, coins and stamps, CDs and vinyl to printed t-shirts, surplus army clothes, handicrafts and costume jewellery.

One of the many antique stalls inside the market

One of the many antique stalls inside the market

Coins and Banknotes: a numismatist’s dream

Coins and Banknotes: a numismatist’s dream

More memorabilia and bric-o-brac galore!

More memorabilia and bric-o-brac galore!

2.00pm: Once you’ve had your fill at San Alejo flea market, continue your adventure north, walking past the Bogota Planetarium and down to the fortress architecture of Colombia’s oldest and largest museum – the National Museum of Colombia. This building served as a prison until 1946 and now houses a collection of history, art and culture spread across the 104 restored prison cells (Sundays 10am to 5pm, free entry to permanent exhibitions). Save the museum for another day if you want more market time in Usaquen!

Catch a local buseta to Usaquen from outside the museum. Look for any bus going north marked Usaquen – you’ll have to hail it to stop. The one-way journey, which stays on Carrera 7 is $1600 per person and the trip should take no more than 30 minutes, as traffic is lighter on Sundays. Taking a local bus is a worthwhile local experience but you could always take a taxi too! Jump out at the whitewashed walls of colonial Hacienda Santa Barbara, where, inside there is a shopping mall.

Usaquen is a charming colonial neighbourhood in Bogota, worth a visit any day of the week for it’s high-end restaurants and bars, but it really comes to life on Sunday afternoons when the street market is there. You could really spend a whole Sunday just at this street fair… and many people do. On offer is a diverse array of arts and crafts – you won’t find much junk here! If you are looking to buy some traditional Colombian gifts, this is the place to go.

A tango singer in Usaquen

A tango singer in Usaquen

There are numerous street musicians to serenade you along your way whilst you browse and barter at over 120 stalls. Market traders offer souvenirs, paintings, printed t-shirts, handmade jewellery, plants, and many other Colombian foods and crafts.

The street market in Usaquen draws to a close around 4.00pm, perfect timing to drop in to a bar for a drink or two before dinner in one of the many excellent restaurants.

Markets addresses:

Las Aguas Flea Market: Sundays 10.00am to 3.00pm.
Carrera 3 # 17-2 inside the car park.

San Alejo Flea Market: Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays, 9:00am to 5:00pm.
Carrera 7 No 24-70 opposite Torre Colpatria.

Usaquen Street Market: Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays, 11:00am to 4:00pm. Carrera 5 / Calle 120 in Usaquen Village.

Enjoy your visit!

Mark Boultwood.

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