A bit off the tourist trail in Bogota, one of Colombia’s best farmers markets is hands down the Paloquemao market. This massive Bogota market brings the best and freshest items from all regions of Colombia, making it a truly authentic and immersive experience to enjoy in the nation’s capital.
Due to its size and density, the Paloquemao market is best experienced on a personal guided tour organized by Kuoda. Our bilingual guide will lead you through the labyrinth of flavors and colors while engaging with local vendors to relate the vast stories and cultures that make this market unique.
Tempted to add a visit to the Paloquemao market on your ethical luxury travel adventure to Colombia? Read on to find out why we at Kuoda are sure you will adore this foodie paradise in Bogota!
Where is it
The massive yet charming Paloquemao market resides in Bogota, the capital city of Colombia. According to local legend, a large tree (palo)— that must have had some significance for residents in the area— burned down (quemado). This event would go on to provide the name ‘Paloquemao’ for the neighborhood as well as the farmers market.
Though the Paloquemao market originated in 1946, it has been in its current location (Av. Cdad. de Lima #25-04) since 1967. After buying fresh produce and feasting on ready-to-eat local fare, head over to the National Museum of Colombia as well as the Bogota Museum of Modern Art (MAMBO), both just a mile from Paloquemao.
How to get there
According to your preference and the location of your hotel, Kuoda can customize your mode of transportation to Paloquemao.
A 30-minute drive from the El Dorado International Airport in Bogota, Kuoda travel designers can arrange transportation from your hotel to the market.
If looking to stretch your legs, the Paloquemao market is a 40-minute walk from Bogota’s vibrant historic district known as La Candelaria. This area is considered a safe and scenic zone for travelers to stay. Even if your hotel is not located in this zone, consider stopping by after a trip to the market!
Why you should visit
The traditional market hosts countless stalls that belong to national producers and chefs, making it a stop for regenerative and ethical tourism that supports local communities. As a sustainable travel company, Kuoda is proud to include the Paloquemao market on customized travel itineraries.
A half- or full-day trip to the Paloquemao market is also incredibly immersive. Converse and haggle with vendors who are always proud to show visitors what they offer. And why limit yourself to ogling at the luscious and colorful display of fruit, veggies, grains and more? This is your opportunity to sample and discover your favorite Colombian ingredients!
Plus, if your trip to Colombia does not include excursions to each of the diverse regions, the Paloquemao market is a melting pot of the best that each ecosystem has to offer.
A paradise for foodies
Peru and Mexico are often the first Latin American destinations to come to mind for so-called foodies, but the Paloquemao market proves that Colombia has some culinary gems to lure globetrotting gourmands as well.
If looking to experience the flavors and smells of the Colombian coast, jungle and mountains, the Paloquemao market is the place to engage your senses. Cruise the outskirts of the market for prepared food to indulge your cravings and to try something new. Arepas, hearty soups and traditional desserts are made fresh each day to feed the crowds of locals that pass through and enliven this daily market.
Below we detail the top foods to try while visiting the Paloquemao market.
Top foods to try
- Guanabana: Known as soursop in most English-speaking countries, guanabana is a large, heart-shaped tree fruit with a slightly intimidating look. Though covered in short spikes, the inside is marvelously smooth and juicy. Some describe the taste as a blend of strawberry and apple with a hint of acidity. Slice it up and eat the pulp fresh or mix into a juice.
- Lulo: A popular ingredient added to juices, the fragile lulo fruit is a must-try in the Paloquemao market. The citrus flavor is revealing of its Vitamin C potency, and in fact you may hear some locals refer to the round fruit as ‘naranjilla’ (little orange). Sliced open, lulo has a juicy center with tiny seeds— much like its relative, the tomato!
- Ajiaco: Also referred to as ajiaco santafereño, this hearty soup is a Bogota staple. After a few hours spent milling around the farmers market, fuel up with the Colombian chicken soup, ajiaco. Chicken, potatoes, corn and the herb guascas. Guascas provides the stew with a richness and depth, though curiously it is in the daisy family.
- Lechona tolimense: This typical pork dish derives from Tolima, Colombia, a town 4 hours west of the Paloquemao market. Before roasting a whole pig, the chef will stuff it with rice and vegetables. Eight hours later, juicy and tender pork is cased by a crackly skin. This is an incredibly flavorful Colombian dish you must try!
- Arequipe: If you have done some foodie tours elsewhere in Latin America, you will note that arequipe is Colombia’s name for dulce de leche. In fact, in the Paloquemao market, vendors may even call it manjar blanco. A spoonful (or three) of this caramel-like dessert is sometimes enough to satisfy a sweet tooth. Locals often eat it spread across saltine crackers. Don’t be shy to pair it with a cup of strong Colombian coffee!
Beyond fruits and vegetables
Made available in the Paloquemao market are numerous other products to entice every type of traveler. A feast for the eyes, the fresh-cut flower section is outdoors and is a showcase of Mother Nature’s artistry. After perusing the glamorous variety and enormous volume of flowers, it will be easy to understand how Colombia has become one of the largest exporters of flowers in the world.
To see the flower market in all its glory, visit the Paloquemao market on a Tuesday or Saturday.
There is also an incredible array of herbs at this Bogota market. Your guide, hand-selected by Kuoda, can help you navigate your way through medicinal plants that have been used by local cultures for millennia. So-called ‘miracle plants’ include calendula (for curing skin wounds and more), borrachero (for motion sickness), ruda (for headaches and stomach pain), aloe vera (though a succulent, this juicy shrub is found in the herb section) and more.
To smell, taste and learn of the benefits of Colombian herbs is to gain a deeper understanding of local life and traditional cultures.
Best time to visit
Open every day of the week starting at 5am, it is best to get to the farmers market as early as possible. Locals arrive early to purchase their week’s worth of groceries and vendors will pack up as soon as the closing time is in sight (4:30pm on weekdays and 2:30pm on weekends). That said, late arrivals will see fewer crowds and may be able to pick up a few bargains from remaining vendors.
With the exception of the flower section, most of the Paloquemao market is indoors so the weather will only affect your custom trip if you are planning to walk to nearby sites afterward. If that is the case, consider that the driest months in Bogota fall between December and March.
Touring Paloquemao market with Kuoda
Few vendors and buyers that frequent the Paloquemao market speak English as this farmers market has yet to become a tourist hotspot. Join Kuoda on an immersive experience to the market on a tailor-made journey to Bogota. Whether you are a foodie or not, we can show you this authentic atmosphere, help you interact with national producers and support local communities all in one.
Be part of the sustainable travel movement and try something new at the Paloquemao market with Kuoda!