You have booked your flight to Colombia and visit Bogota, and the departure is approaching… You would like to make the most of your trip and have a glimpse of the most interesting activities to do, but you don’t really know where to start with your visit Bogota ?
No panic, we have prepared a comprehensive guide of Bogota, with all the tourist attractions of the city and surrounding areas, as well as ideas for stays, recommendations of hotels and restaurants, and even the means of transport to use. With all this information, you will not waste time looking for information from all sides, and your visit to Bogota will be unforgettable!
What to do, what to visit in Bogota?
Once in town, there are several options. You can go through your hotel to book guided tours and organized excursions to visit Bogota. It’s the simplest way, but also the most expensive. You can also plan your own schedule, and create a tailor-made program with the activities that suit you best.
In order to help you in this task, here is a list of the main things to do during a stay in Bogota.
1. La Candelaria
It’s the main tourist site of Bogota. La Candelaria is the first place to explore when you arrive. This historic district is beautiful with its colorful streets. Don’t hesitate to stroll, and lose yourself in this district. You’ll find small churches, street art frescoes, and the main attractions of the city center.
2. La Plaza de Bolivar – Visit Bogota
This square represents the historical heart of Bogota. All the most important buildings of the city were built around it: the cathedral, the town hall, the courthouse, and the congress headquarters.
In the middle, there is a statue of Simón Bolivar, the man who has shaped the history of Latin America. The “Libertador”, a general from Venezuela, who played a decisive role in the independence from Spain, and in 1819 became president of Greater Colombia (a country which aggregated Panama, Venezuela, Ecuador and Colombia).
3. The Museum of Gold
If you only have to visit one museum in Bogota, go through this one. You will see, of course, gold art objects, jewelry, and sculptures. But it’s also a place where you will retrace the history of Colombia before the invasion by the Spaniards, discovering the indigenous civilizations who lived there for thousands of years. This museum is simply beautiful.
4. The Botero Museum – Visit Bogota
Another museum of importance in Colombian history is that dedicated to the works of Fernando Botero. In addition, access is free!
This art museum located in the historic district of Bogota presents many creations of Botero, but also great names such as Picasso, Miró or Dalí. Fernando Botero is a Colombian artist famous for his statues and characters with round shapes, inspired by the pre-Columbian era. His works began to be known in the 1960s, and since then he has tirelessly continued to create and express his art throughout the world.
5. The National Museum of Colombia
It’s one of the oldest museums in Latin America, and the oldest in Colombia. In this national museum you will find cultural and artistic elements from different times. Some focus on archeological findings dating back more than 10,000 years, others revolve around the Spanish invasion and liberation. Finally, a large collection presents works of contemporary painters from Colombia.
6. Cerro de Monserrate
It’s a symbol of Bogota, visible almost everywhere from the city: the sanctuary of Monserrate. This white basilica majestically overlooks the capital, and offers a space of serenity and spectacular observation.
The most fun and scenic is the climb up thanks to the cable car. The immensity of the city is discovered little by little under your feet and gives way to a panoramic view once at the top. Photographer will have a great time, especially if the weather is nice and you arrive at sunset.
7. The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception – Visit Bogota
This national monument overlooks la Plaza de Bolivar. The cathedral is fairly recent, since it was built in the early 1800s. But its neoclassical style and its interior decoration in beige and golden tones make it a major site of the Colombian capital. It’s the largest cathedral in the country, and you will find many paintings and religious representations of quality.
8. Bolivar Park and José Celestino Mutis Botanical Garden
If you’re tired of the city’s uninterrupted traffic and polluted atmosphere, come and breathe a fresh air and enjoy nature in the Bolivar Park. Ideal for a walk around the lake or a morning running.
Not far from here, you can follow the theme of nature with the José Celestino Mutis Botanical Garden. In different greenhouses with all the climates of the country, you will observe the rich biodiversity of Colombia. If you love flowers, you will be delighted. Indeed, the garden is home to a collection of several thousand endemic orchids and roses.
9. Usaquen district and its flea market
Besides the famous district of Candelaria, there is another corner of Bogota that is equally interesting: Usaquen. With its lively atmosphere, its typical restaurants, and its artisans, the district is a place where life is good.
Moreover, it’s a fairly popular area for travelers to stay. And most importantly, don’t miss the flea market that takes place every Sunday. You will find objects of all kinds, but it is above all an opportunity to mingle with the people and make authentic encounters with locals.
10. Paloquemao and Perseverancia Markets
When you visit a city in a foreign country, one of the simple pleasures is to take a tour of the markets. We recommend those of Paloquemao and Perseverencia. Many stalls of fruits, vegetables, and other typical products await you.
Come on hungry to be able to taste all the flavors we don’t know at home. The colors, smells and friendliness of these markets are a must for your trip. Don’t hesitate to engage a conversation with local producers and follow their tasting tips.
11. Quint Camacho District
If you like to get off the beaten paths, you must visit the Quinta Camacho district. It’s a peaceful place composed of colorful houses with traditional architecture. It’s next to G area (G for Gourmet, the gastronomic district), and is home to excellent cafés and restaurants. Quinta Camacho is a charming little detour that you can easily put in your program.
12. Cristobal Colon Theatre
The National Theater of Colombia is a very important cultural place of the capital. First of all, its stone exterior architecture is remarkable, as well as its beautifully decorated performance rooms and its Gatti curtain. Then, its varied programming will delight culture lovers who wish to see a play of classical or contemporary, or even a concert of music.
13. Maloka and the Planetarium of Bogota
Maloka is an interactive park that can be recognized by its silver faceted dome. It’s a place dedicated to science, technology and digital. You can make interactive experiments, play with virtual reality, and expand your knowledge of robotics.
The planetarium is composed of a museum dedicated to space, a dome in which are projected animations and rooms for workshops. In the evening, it’s also possible to attend an activity of observation of the sky with telescopes, in the presence of professionals of astronomy.
14. Mundo Adventura Park
To finish on the tourist activities to do in Bogota, here is the amusement park which will entertain all the members of the family and the amateurs of thrills. With its many rides, aquarium and carnival games, Mundo Aventura will offer a well-deserved relaxation.
Full day trips
If you want to get out of the capital and explore its surroundings for a day, here are some examples of excursions.
1. Visit of the Zipaquira Salt Cathedral and Tourist Train
If your stay in Bogota is during a weekend or a holiday, you’re lucky! You can make one of the most beautiful day trips around Bogota. The Savannah tourist train leaves the city center in the early morning and crosses several villages before reaching Zipaquira.
This is where you will find the famous salt cathedral with its beautiful colorful reflections. After about an hour of sightseeing, the train will take you back to the capital at the end of the afternoon.
2. Chorrera Waterfall
If you are looking for an impressive outing in nature, the Chorrera Waterfall is for you. About an hour from Bogota is Colombia’s highest waterfall, in the middle of the forest. To access it, you can either book through a tourist company, rent a car, or if you are more resourceful and fit, it’s possible to get there by bus and walking a few extra kilometers.
Once in the nature park, an hour walk in the vegetation awaits you. Suddenly, the waterfall appears in all its splendor. On the way back you will see a second waterfall, natural pools, and a food court.
3. Chingaza Natural Park
This park is the main fresh water supply that feeds Bogota. It’s located 1h30 drive from the capital, and presents a typical landscape of the Andes: the “paramo”. The fauna and flora are very developed, and many endemic species are found in the park (condor, bears, deer…).
It’s the ideal place for hikers and wilderness lovers. On the other hand, there is no public transport to go up there, and the wisest thing is to go with an organized tour with a guide who knows well the trek routes and the very variable climatic conditions.
4. Laguna de Guatavita
This is the place of a legend that you have certainly heard about: El Dorado. The Muisca people who lived here long before the arrival of the Spaniards considered this lake as a sacred place in which they performed rituals.
But the greed of the colonists and gold washers disfigured the site, and almost destroyed it. Tourism then took over, and the lake went from sacred site to devastated ecosystem. After ten years of closure to tourists, the site has reopened, but on the principle of responsible tourism. The number of entries is limited, and official guides are required to visit the park, respecting biodiversity. This is quite positive because they will teach you a lot about Muisca culture, geology and flora. You can easily access the lake by bus from Bogota.
5. Hummingbird Observatory of Calera
About an hour from Bogota, you can immerse yourself in a nature reserve that is home to different species of hummingbirds. These tiny colorful birds are very numerous in this area, and it would be a shame to miss this visit.
If you wish, you can even sleep in the observatory’s B & B to meet the birds at sunrise. Some creative activities are also offered on site.
Ideas of stays
A week-end in Bogota
By staying 2 or 3 days in the capital, you will already have time to visit the historic city center and the main attractions such as the Museum of Gold, typical restaurants, and the Monserrate. Relax, take the time to wander around the neighborhoods and talk to locals.
During 5 days you can have a deeper insight into Bogota. In addition to the must-see sites, you will have time to explore Quinta Camacho or Usaquen districts and its flea market. A detour to parks and markets is also a good idea. You can also include in your program an excursion to Zipaquira or a natural park near the capital.
5 days is the ideal length of stay in Bogota.
If you are not in a hurry, don’t hesitate to start with a classic visit, then continue off the beaten path. It’s also an opportunity for various nature excursions, including Chingaza Park, Guatavita Lake or Hummingbird Observatory (why not spend a night in this beautiful setting?). You will also have the opportunity to try all the little restaurants in the area and make some unexpected discoveries by following the advice of the locals.
Good places to visit Bogota
Where to sleep in Bogota?
- Grand Hyatt Bogota (5-star): Teusaquillo area, breathtaking views, spa and pool, luxurious rooms.
- Hotel Casa de la Vega (4 stars): Colonial style house in the historic center of Bogota.
- Biohotel organic suites (4-star): Usaquen district, eco-friendly hotel, vegetal decor, organic meal.
- Hotel Casona del Patio (3 stars): Located in the quiet area of Quinta Camacho, in Chapinero, 25 minutes from the historic center.
- Hotel Casa Deco (3 stars): Candelaria area, historical center, ideal for exploring the old town, museums and history.
- CGH Candelaria Boutique (3-star): Candelaria area, roof terrace, nice services for the price
Where to eat in Bogota?
- G Zone in Chapinero: it is in G Zone (G for Gourmet), that you will find the restaurants of the city. There is something for every taste and every budget. The Misia restaurant is highly recommended for its popular Caribbean cuisine, among others.
- La Puerta Falsa is an institution in Bogota. Go there absolutely to taste the typical Colombian dishes and the hot chocolate a little special, but delicious!
- El Son de los Grillos is an old establishment in the Candelaria district. Its decoration has an old charm, and its cuisine is very famous.
- La Casa Santa Clara: this restaurant with Colombian specialties has the particularity of being perched at the top of the Monserrate. It’s very nice to have a meal with such an exceptional view.
- Bruto: an upscale establishment to appreciate an excellent Mediterranean food.
- For those who like to get their hands dirty, it’s possible to take a guided tour of some markets, and then take a Colombian cooking class with a chef.
- T Zone and Pink Zone: these are the liveliest places to go out at night in bars and discotheques.
How to get around in Bogota?
While visit Bogota, there is no metro or tramway like in Medellin. The essential public transport is the bus. The red buses of the Transmilenio network are the most used by tourists. They travel on a special lane outside traffic jams, which is an advantage. For more complex journeys, read the information given at the stations, and don’t hesitate to ask the agents for help.
However, if you don’t like being crowded with dozens of people, you can opt for taxis and Ubers. It’s very convenient, and not so expensive as you think. At night, it’s also safer. But be warned, there is a lot of traffic jams in the capital! For a journey of a few kilometers, nothing beats walking in a big city. And then you could discover unexpected places and make good encounters.