Visit Paloquemao Market in Bogotá: a Foodie’s Paradise

If you’re a food-lover, Paloquemao market—Bogota’s largest food market—should be on your list of “where to eat” when visiting Colombia’s capital.

Whilst Paloquemao is slowly becoming a popular off-the-beaten-track Bogota travel spot, it is still under-visited, and you are unlikely to find many other foreigners there on a visit.

Also, as a working market meant for shoppers from actual restaurants, it retains that authentic market vibe that many popular tourist markets lack.

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What Does The Paloquemao Market Look Like?

Visiting Paloquemao can feel a bit like wandering around a labyrinth – it’s a dense maze-like place, with thousands of stalls loudly pushing their wares.

And what wares! 

Fruits that you never imagined existing, in all shapes and sizes; potatoes by the thousand, with varieties that seem like science-fiction inventions (pink potatoes, anyone!?); fish and meat in every species and cut available; not to mention hundreds of little restaurants and tiendas making a tidy sum selling food and drink to hungry and thirsty market employees and customers. 

It can all be a bit overwhelming at first glance, but once you start exploring you realize that there is a hectic order to the place, and it is divided into sections – fruit and veg areas, meat and fish, flowers…

It’s a bit like a metaphor for Colombia: crazy and hectic at first glance but with a structure and order hidden beneath the chaos.

Maybe that’s why I love visiting Paloquemao so much – it reminds me of Colombia!

What To Do In The Paloquemao Market?

But what is there to actually do when you visit Paloquemao, besides just walking around?

First, get a delicious late breakfast

Paloquemao Market - Bogota (9)
Credit: javicaballero_shots

My recommendation is usually to go down for brunch and stick around for a couple of hours, freeing up some stomach space for a snack before you leave.

You see, unless you’re buying stock for your new Bogota restaurant, then the primary purpose of a visit to Paloquemao is to eat, eat, eat!

My trip usually starts out with a visit to one of Paloquemao’s best little hidden restaurants for a hearty brunch meal – either ‘Los Primos’ near the house-plants section (so-named because the owner calls everyone primo; there’s no actual sign or anything) for a delicious caldo de pescado or fish stew, or the lechona (a tasty pork dish) from the little stall near the loading car-park.

You might not be used to fish or pork in the morning, but you know what they say…”When in Rome…” Or “when in Bogota…eat fish in the morning.” 

Then walk around and look for fruits

After a big feed like that, you’ll need to take a stroll to burn off the extra calories, right!? This is the time I usually dedicate to wandering around Paloquemao, taking in the sounds and smells of an authentic Colombian food market.

It’s a great local experience, and one which not too many people get to have on a visit to Bogota, so make the most of the madness and take it all in!

Plus, if you make sure to walk enough, then you’ll soon be ready for more food…which is really the point of it all, right?!

Next stop: the fruit zone! 

This is the section that travelers generally love the most, as it offers the most unique experiences in Paloquemao, specifically the chance to sample loads of exotic fruits that you never knew existed…fruits with fancy exciting names like curubaguanabanapitahayafeijoa, and mangosteen! Crazy, eh!? 

Any vendor will happily tell you the name of the fruit you’re pointing at, and sell you one piece, ready to eat then and there. Some of the most fun you can have at Paloquemao is just hanging out by a fruit stall, sampling the exciting stuff on offer.

End your Paloquemao experience with a fresh juice

Fruit Lulo Juice
Lulo juice

Once the fruit sampling is done, I usually like to grab a juice from a popular stall near the main entrance to the market – with regular flavors such as pineapple, strawberry, and mango available, there’ll be something for even the least adventurous traveler.

However, it’s the really interesting and strange fruit juices that should have the foodies salivating – borojo (a Pacific coast fruit that is supposedly an aphrodisiac), guanabana (best enjoyed with milk), lulo (an endemic Colombian/Ecuadorian fruit) and many more are available, and if you really want the full Colombian fruit experience you have to try at least one!

All in all, a visit to Paloquemao, whether with an agency or as a solo mission, is a highly rewarding thing to do on a visit to Bogota, and Colombia in general.

Paloquemao serves as a nice introduction to the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of Colombia, and the friendliness of the Colombian people as well. So make sure to put some time aside (especially if you have about three days in Bogota) to spend a few hours in Paloquemao market, a true foodie paradise in Bogota…

How To Get To The Paloquemao Market

Credit: fvaldez115

If you do decide to visit Paloquemao by yourself, it’s pretty easy to get there.

You can either take a taxi/UBER – it should cost roughly 10,000 COP from La Candelaria. It’s here btw.

Tips To Visit The Paloquemao Market

Credit: alejandroangelt

Paloquemao, being off the main tourist track in Bogota, can be a bit tricky to navigate effectively if you don’t speak Spanish or aren’t very confident. It might also be a bit overwhelming for less experienced or shyer travelers.

→ Therefore, I recommend you learn a bit of Spanish so that you can at least ask for the price and haggle a bit—when buying fruits.

→ Tell the fruit vendor that you want to eat it right (para comer ahora) away so he can pick for you a ripe (maduro in Spanish) one.

Paloquemao closes at 4:30 p.m. on weekdays and 2:30 p.m. on the weekends, but most places begin to wind down at least an hour before closing, so if you can aim to arrive by 11 a.m., then you’re onto a winner.

Author’s note: This article was originally published by Chris Bell on the site It has now been edited by Thomas Espeute, following the acquisition of by Tomplanmytrip.

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I have been traveling around Colombia and Mexico since 2015 to discover new experiences and help travelers make the right choices.

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