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At first sight, Bogotá may not impress you. The constant rain, chilliness, and ominous pine-forest mountains make London seem sunny. But give Bogotá time and you will discover a sophisticated city of skyscrapers, glitzy upscale shopping centers, restaurants to satisfy even the most discerning palettes, and a nightlife that will leave you needing a vacation from your vacation. Colombia's capital, and by far the country's largest city, Bogotá is a sprawling metropolis, home to eclectic, experimental architecture, a large bohemian university crowd, a lively cafe scene, and dozens of attractive city parks. It is a city bursting with energy and culture.

But it's not all good news. Bogotá is, more than anything, a city of contrasts. Class differences are still very much apparent, with the wealthy, modern northern section a world apart from the sprawling slums, poverty, and high crime rates of the southern part of the city. Though security has improved dramatically in the last few years, the city center can still be dangerous at night, so you're better off not wearing expensive-looking jewelry and clothing when visiting these areas. However, Bogotá is one of Latin America's safer cities, and it's unlikely you'll encounter any serious problems.