Bogota is one of the largest cities in South America and is usually the starting point for a trip through Colombia. Bogota is often skipped because people want to see other destinations in Colombia, which is a shame. After all, the capital of Colombia has many nice things to offer. Bogota is a perfect city to get acquainted with the culture from Colombia and a practical point of view, it is nice not to have to travel immediately after a long flight.
We are happy to share our experience in this article and hope to get you excited to get to know Bogota. In this article, you can read about the best things to do in Bogota, where you need to stay, and many more tips. Continue reading to discover: what to do in Bogota.
Things to do in Bogota?
In the capital of Colombia, you can discover a lot of history, culture, museums and beautiful sights. Read below our 10 recommended activities to do in Bogota.
Tip: use the map below to see where the best things in Bogota are located. Click on the top right corner to enlarge the map. If you click on the star symbol next to the title, you can save this map to your Google Maps account. You can show or hide different categories on the map. You can use this map to navigate when you are in Bogota.
#1 Discover the historic center
The best thing to do in Bogota is to discover the historic center. There are a lot of things to see, at least these five sights should you visit, namely: La Plaza de Bolivar, La Florida, La Casa de la Moneda, Iglesia de San Francisco, and La Candelaria.
Plaza de Bolivar was once the busiest spot in Bogota when the square was surrounded by colonial buildings and markets. Today, the square is a symbol of independence. In the middle of the square is a statue of Simon Bolivar, who was the liberator of South America. In this square, you can see the Cathedral of Bogota, the Palace of Justice, the Office Building of the Mayor, and the Congress Building (the White House of Colombia).
La Florida is the most traditional restaurant to visit in Bogota, a perfect place to get to know Colombia’s culture. They serve traditional drinks, various bread, pastries and so-called ‘onces’ which are a kind of snacks. We enjoyed tamales tolimenses, this is a stew wrapped in leaves. Try it yourself, it tastes delicious.
In the historic district La Candelaria you can visit La Casa de la Moneda. This is free to visit. Here you get to know how money has developed in Colombia. A fun museum to visit because you get a good understanding of how the economy has developed.
In the historic center, you can find many churches, but the church that you should have visited is Iglesia de San Fransisco. The great thing about this church is that a lot is still in original condition which is impressive to see. Especially the altar with the surrounding golden columns are beautiful to see. Even for people who don’t like to visit churches, it is still recommended to visit.
The best neighborhood to visit in Bogota is without a doubt La Candelaria. This is one of the most historic neighborhoods in the city. Located a few minutes from Bolivar Plaza, la Candelaria is a wonderful place to walk through narrow, colonial streets and see colonial houses. There is a lot to see in the La Candelaria district, you need an afternoon to see the majority of this neighborhood.
To discover the most important sights in Bogota in a relatively short time, it is recommended to follow a free walking tour. If you are interested, you need to reserve a spot in advance at Beyond Colombia.
Tip: do the tour in the morning so that you have time in the afternoon to get a better look at the places you saw.
In addition to the traditional tour to discover the historic center of Bogota, you can also follow a graffiti tour. In the neighborhood of La Candelaria, you can see the best graffiti art in the world. It is recommended to visit it with a guide, as many of these works deal with a social theme. The guide explains how freedom of expression in Colombia has developed in recent years through graffiti. Book your ticket for the graffiti tour here.
#2 Follow a bike tour
What could be more fun than cycling through the capital of Colombia and being able to see a lot in a relatively short period. Following a bike tour is perfect for this.
During the bike tour, you will visit traditional fruit markets, a coffee factory, the bullfighting stadium, the historic center, squares, parks, and different neighborhoods. It is perfect to get a good picture of Bogota in 4 hours.
It is good to know that cycling in Bogota is safe. Many local people cycle in the city, so the infrastructure for cyclists is excellent. Check actual prices and availability here.
Where to stay in Bogota
Option 1 Affordable and Cozy: Selina La Candelaria Bogota
Selina is a lovely place to stay. The hotel is so beautifully designed that you will be amazed. Selina is perfect to meet other travelers as you have many places to relax. You can choose from a standard room to a very luxurious double room. For a small addition, you can enjoy their breakfast. In addition, Selina has a restaurant and a bar, so you don’t necessarily have to leave the hotel in the evening. It is located right in the La Candelaria neighborhood, one of the safest neighborhoods in Bogota. Check prices and availability here.
Option 2 perfect for resting: Saint Simon
Saint Simon is a great place to relax after a long flight. The hotel has nice rooms with fantastic beds. It is located in the Zona Rosa district, this is a safe and beautiful neighborhood. The hotel is located near a large shopping center which is convenient if you want to buy something. Check availability here.
#3 Discover the local cuisine
If you want to get to know Colombia, part of this is getting to know Colombian cuisine. For this, you need to follow a food tour. During a 3-hour tour you will try ceviche (raw fish cooked in lemon juice), empanadas (fried snacks with chicken, minced meat or cheese), arepas (grilled round sandwiches), palito (salty, elongated cheese rolls), and sancocho (traditional Latin American soup).
It is fun to visit the local places that are unknown to most tourists. During your visit to these local places, you will have a special encounter with the locals. The locals of Colombia are known for being extremely curious and always wanting to start a conversation. Because you are different, you will certainly have a fantastic conversation with the locals.
The food tours in Bogota are very popular, so be on time to reserve your spot. Check here for more information and availability.
#4 Best museums in Bogota
Visit the best museum in Bogota is a must when you are in Bogota. There are a lot of choices but there are two museums that you should not miss: Museo Botero and Museo del Oro.
Museo Botero mainly features artwork by Fernando Botero, Colombia’s most famous artist. The works of art can be called unique because Fernando Botero depicts people whose physical proportions are different than we normally see. Admission to this museum is free.
The other museum in Bogota worth visiting is the Museo del Oro. When you walk through the museum you will understand why the Europeans used to make long sea voyages. They wanted to rob Colombia of their wealth of gold. The entrance fee is $1. By visiting this museum you can better imagine why Colombia used to be popular for Europeans because in this museum you see a lot of gold.
#5 Visit Mount Monserrate
What to do in Bogota if you want to do an active activity, this is possible. You can visit Monserrate, this is a mountain near Bogota. A visit to Monserrate is literally and figuratively speaking a highlight. With a height of 3152 meters, you have breathtaking views over the metropolis of Bogota. Standing on the top of Monserrate in Bogota, you realize how big Bogota is.
There are three ways to reach the top of Monserrate: by funicular, train or by walking. If you are in good shape and you enjoy hiking this option is recommended. We did the hike ourselves and enjoyed it. It is great if you hiked for 60 minutes and eventually arrive at a church with a view of this enormous city.
If hiking isn’t your thing, you can buy tickets for a cable car or train at the foot of the mountain. Reservations are not necessary.
In addition to the view, you can visit the church and enjoy nature. It’s nice to get out of the city for a while and have some nature around you.
#6 Buy an emerald in Bogota
Visiting the Emerald Market in the center of Bogota is fun to walk through. Bogota is the best place in the world to buy an emerald because prices are lower. This is because the natural resources are close to Bogota which means that transport costs are low.
Nice to buy a gift for someone. There are several jewelers in the building, we recommend visiting The Emerald Store because this is a certified jeweler. It is a 2-minute walk from Museo del Oro.
Looking for an itinerary through Colombia? Read more.
#7 Comuna El Paraíso
If you would like to do something that is not done by most travelers, a visit to the picturesque neighborhood of Comuna El Paraíso just outside the center is a must. During your visit, you can see how local activists express themselves and how street art enchants the neighborhood. Following a tour is recommended because you get all the information from a local guide.
Start your visit with a ride in the funicular where you get a view over the neighborhood, it’s beautiful to see all the colored houses. After this walk through the neighborhood and see several colorful houses up close. Check availability and current prices here.
The above seven activities are all in the city, the next four activities are outside the city. Each of these activities is a must to visit.
#8 Discover the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá
If you only want to do 1 activity outside the city of Bogota you need to visit the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá. Zipaquirá is one hour drive from Bogota and is a colonial city where you can see old Spanish buildings. The main square with the old church and the surrounding buildings with side streets is worth a visit. Nice to walk through because there are several boutique shops here where you can buy handmade products, such as jewelry and dishes.
The main reason to travel to Zipaquirá, however, is to visit the Salt Cathedral. Here you can wander into the underground tunnels of the salt mine and visit the salt cathedral. It is magical to walk through the tunnels because of the blue lighting. Are you interested? Check more information here.
#9 Visit a local coffee plantation
When you are in Colombia you immediately notice one thing: Colombians love coffee. The quality of the coffee is extremely good. When you are in Bogota and you enter different cafes you often see that they sell bean shops that you can use at home to make your Colombian coffee. What could be more fun than visiting the place where these beans come from?
Visiting a traditional farm is recommended if you want to learn more about the process of making the coffee. If you are interested read more information here. The advantage is that you can buy coffee beans cheaply at this place.
#10 Discover the beautiful nature outside Bogota
Outside of Bogota, there are two places you can visit if you want to discover more of Colombia’s nature. These are the Andean Forest and Chingaza National Park.
The best day trip for hiking is to visit Chingaza National Park. In this park, you hike in the Colombian Andes. The best thing about the park is that you visit two lakes called Buitrago and Siecha. You can also walk up to the mountain to eventually have a fantastic panoramic view of the area. It is advisable to walk in this area with a guide because you can quickly get lost. Check availability here.
The Andean Forest is known for the El Chiflón and La Chorrera waterfalls. this is the highest waterfall in Colombia. You can easily combine a visit to the Andean forest with a city trip to Bogota because it is just 3 hours away from Bogota. In addition to the waterfall, you have a beautiful view of the region on the mountain. The hike is not difficult, you just have to climb 590 meters to reach the waterfall. Read more information here.
How many days do you need for Bogota?
We recommend that you rest for one day in Bogota during your arrival before continuing your journey. You probably have a return flight from Bogota, which means that you will also be in Bogota on the last day. Because of this, it is recommended to stay two days in Bogota. This is great for discovering the main attractions of Bogota.
If you want to do a day trip from Bogota, such as visiting El Dorado, it is recommended to stay in Bogota for three days. We do not recommend staying longer than three days because Colombia has many other beautiful places to discover.
Where to stay in Bogota?
It is highly recommended when looking for accommodation in Bogota that you try to find one that is in a quiet location. For many, Bogota is the destination where they arrive after a long flight, so a good night’s sleep is very important.
It is also important to stay in a tourist area for safety reasons. Zona Rosa and La Candelaria are the safest areas with many dining and entertainment options. The safest area is La Candelaria, as it is the busiest here. Zona Rosa, on the other hand, is something more beautiful.
Tip: be on time to book the accommodations in these neighborhoods, because they are fully booked quickly.
Affordable and cozy:
Selina La Candelaria Bogota
Selina is a lovely place to stay. The hotel is so beautifully designed that you will be amazed. Selina is perfect to meet other travelers as you have many places to relax. You can choose from a standard room to a very luxurious double room. For a small addition, you can enjoy their breakfast. In addition, Selina has a restaurant and a bar, so you don’t necessarily have to leave the hotel in the evening. It is located right in the La Candelaria neighborhood, one of the safest neighborhoods in Bogota.
Perfect for resting:
Saint Simon is a great place to relax after a long flight. The hotel has nice rooms with fantastic beds. It is located in the Zona Rosa district, this is a safe and beautiful neighborhood. The hotel is located near a large shopping center which is convenient if you want to buy something.
Where to eat in Bogota?
While walking through the historic center, a visit to La Florida is a must, as this is the most traditional restaurant in Bogota. This is one of the oldest restaurants in Bogota where they serve traditional dishes. A good place to get to know the culture of Colombia better. They serve traditional drinks, various pieces of bread, pastries and so-called ‘onces’ which are kind of snacks. We had tamales tolimenses, this is a stew wrapped in leaves. Highly recommended to try it for yourself.
Another recommended place to eat in the evening is Andrés Carne de Res. A nice place where you can find yourself in an uninhibited spontaneous Colombian party atmosphere where you can enjoy the food, dance, and drinks. The dish parilla is highly recommended, this is grilled meat that is richly supplemented with potatoes and vegetables.
If you would like to visit a vegan restaurant, visiting Herbívoro Cocina Vegana is recommended. The owners use environmentally conscious products and aim to inspire the customer to also eat vegan. The red cabbage burger with fries is recommended to try.
If you like to eat delicious French toast in the morning or afternoon with fresh fruit, Al Agua Patos is a must to visit.
How to get to Bogota?
Most travel to Bogota by plane. At the terminal, it is recommended to order a taxi from one of the stables before you step outside. These are the official taxis, so you can be sure it’s safe.
If you are already in Colombia and you want to travel to Bogota, the best way to do this is by bus. If it concerns long distances you can take a night bus, for shorter distances you can use the normal bus. It is best to go to the bus terminal of the relevant location and buy a ticket to Bogota. All bus companies are fine to use. During our trip we used Bolivariano, Expreso Palmira, Velotax Expreso Brasilia and Ochoa. When arriving in Bogota you can take a taxi to the accommodation.
You can find all the transport tickets here at Bookaway. We used Bookaway to book all our bus tickets. They’re easy to use and book with, and we’ve explored the best destinations in Colombia with their busses.
If you prefer not to sit on the bus for long, you can also book internal flights to travel to Bogota. The advantage is that you are on location faster, but this costs more money.
If you travel to Colombia by plane and you are looking for a car to rent, you can rent it through Rentalcars. We use Rentalcars when we want to travel by car to discover new destinations. They’re easy to use and book with.
What is the best period to travel to Bogota?
Colombia has a tropical climate. Because it is close to the equator, the temperature is the same all year round and there are few temperature fluctuations. Colombia has a rainy and dry season.
The rainy season for Bogota is between May-July and October-December. The dry season is between December-March and July-August.
Colombia can be roughly divided into three seasons:
- High season (December-February): driest period, best period to visit Colombia. The disadvantage is that prices are the highest during this period;
- Moderate season (March-September): wet period, good time to visit Colombia. The disadvantage is that the large cities can suffer from a lot of rainfall in April and May;
- Low season (October-November): period of flooding in the Andean region. Due to the low water level you can make good hikes in the Amazon. Prices are lowest during this period.
Bogota is a great place to visit all year round. The best period is during the moderate season when prices are lower.
Traveling in Bogota FAQ
1. Is Bogota safe to visit?
Yes, Bogota is safe to travel to, you just have to take a few things into account. First of all, you should choose your accommodation that is located in the Zona Rosa and La Candelaria districts because these are the safest areas. As a tourist, you can easily walk on the streets in these neighborhoods all day long.
In addition, you should of course use common sense. For example, do not walk in strange streets in the evening. Also, only use official taxis. If you want to use a taxi you can always ask the reception if they can arrange a taxi for you.
2. How much does a taxi cost to the center from the airport?
A taxi from Bogota El Dorado Airport to Santa Fe / La Candelaria (the center of Bogota) costs +/- 30,000 CO / $7.50.
Want to see more of Colombia?
We hope this article gave you a clear picture of what to do in Bogota, where to stay, and more useful Bogota tips.
From Bogota, you can visit different destinations. If you follow our Colombia itinerary Salento is your next destination. Salento is a village from which you can visit Valle de Cocora. This is a nature park where you can make a great hike and see the tallest palm trees in the world.
If you don’t follow our itinerary but are still curious about which places you can travel to from Bogota, those are San Gil, Medellin, and Cartagena. San Gil is a village located between the mountains where you can do many outdoor activities. Medellin is the best city in Colombia to visit and Cartagena is the city where you can see many colonial influences in the historic center.
What do you think of Bogota? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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