Bogota, the capital of Colombia, with a population of around 8 million people is located at an altitude of 2,640 meters above sea level, making it one of the highest capital cities in the world!
It is not a coincidence that during my Latin American trip I spent more than a month in Colombia because, in my opinion, it’s just one of the best countries to travel to. For instance, there are countless things to do in Bogota! If you think you know beautiful landscapes, yummy food and friendly people, but you haven’t been to Bogotá, you HAVE TO head there immediately!
This is why I am so excited about writing this article for you; it is one of those countries that I just can’t stop talking about! I consider myself quite knowledgeable on things such as what to do in Bogota and the likes!
So, without further ado, let’s dive straight into the best things to do in Bogota:
- 1. Explore La Candelaria
- 2. Hike Monserrate Mountain
- 3. Visit Museo Botero
- 4. People watch at Plaza de Bolívar
- 5. Visit Paloquemao Market
- 6. Learn about Colombian history at the National Museum
- 7. Visit the Gold Museum
- 8. Relax at the Bogotá Botanical Garden
- 9. Marvel at San Francisco Church
- 10. Try Ajiaco and other typical Colombian dishes
- BONUS 1 – Fun things to do in Bogota, Colombia
- BONUS 2 – 4 Day Trips from Bogota, Colombia
- Bogota tourism – Practical information about the city
1. Explore La Candelaria
La Candelaria is the most iconic and historic district in Bogotá, pretty much the capital’s old town! You can find churches, old colonial houses and the most beautiful streets there and visiting it is one of the top things to do in Bogota!
You can join a free walking tour of La Candelaria here. It lasts about 3 hours and the guides accept donations based on how much you enjoyed it! The guides are super useful and they’ll answer all the questions you might have.
TOURS: Alternatively, you can either book this 3-hour walking tour around the picturesque Candelaria neighborhood or this 6-hour Bogota guided tour, which takes you through the most important landmarks. On a different note, if you’re looking for bike tours instead, I recommend this 4-hour long one.
PRICE: US$12 for the 3-hour guided tour
2. Hike Monserrate Mountain
Going to Bogotá and not seeing Cerro de Monserrate, it’s like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower – impossible! It is one of the main Bogota attractions!
Monserrate is one of the two hills that surround Bogota city. Because it is at an altitude of 3.152 m you can enjoy the best views of the city and its surroundings from the top! You can either hike up the hill for an hour, take the cable car or take the funicular.
PRO TIP: My advice is for you to take the cable car as it gives a better view of the city, however, if you’re heading there on Sundays bear in mind that the cable car is quite busy and you might want to take the funicular instead!
Because visiting this beautiful mountain is one of the best things to do in Bogota, I can recommend you take a shared Monserrate tour that includes an informative guide that will take you through the church and to see the views. Alternatively, check out this 3 in 1 7-hour walking tour that includes a visit to Monserrate, La Candelaria and several museums.
FUN FACT: There is a Montserrat (without “e” at the end and with an extra “t”) mountain in Barcelona (also offering a great view to the city!), don’t mix up those two!
FUN FACT2: There’s an old superstition that says that couples that visit Monserrate together will never get married. I learned about that one too late. Haven’t broken the news to my boyfriend and am not planning to! 😉
PRO TIP: Usually people take the cable car or funicular up the hill, and walk down the hill on their way back to the city!
3. Visit Museo Botero
One of the biggest Colombian artists has got to be Fernando Botero, and visiting the Botero Museum is a one of the top things and activities when heading to the Colombian capital!
Located in the beautiful La Candelaria area, Botero museum hosts many paintings that should not be missed and are quite a curious thing to observe.
TOURS: If you are just spending one day in Bogotá, check out this 6-hour layover private tour. They pick you up from the airport and take you to the most famous landmarks + the Botero Museum and you’ll be back in time for your next flight!
NOTE: You will learn a lot about Botero and his art if you are going to Medellin, his birthplace. Here is my extensive guide on Things to do in Medellin!
4. People watch at Plaza de Bolívar
The epicenter of the Colombian capital and one of the gems of Bogota sightseeing, Plaza de Bolivar is a square that is home to the Palace of Justice, the Cathedral and the Capitol Building. Make sure you also check out Casa Nariño, the presidential palace located just a couple of minutes walk from Plaza de Bolivar!
Named after Simon Bolivar, the revolutionary that helped most of the Latin American countries become independent from Spain, Plaza Bolivar is one of the top landmarks of the city!
5. Visit Paloquemao Market
I always recommend heading to the local market when travelling, and Bogota is no exception! Paloquemao Market is one of the most colorful markets in the city and all of Colombia! Paloquemao literally means “burned stick” and you can pretty much buy anything you want there, especially fresh produce! It is one of the coolest places to visit in Bogota!
6. Learn about Colombian history at the National Museum
If you’re passionate about history you should check out the Museo Nacional de Colombia. At this museum you will learn everything about Colombian history from before the Spanish colonization, during that time and even the most recent historical events.
PRICE: Admission for the museum is COP 4500 (US$1); the museum is open on Sunday as well with free entrance.
7. Visit the Gold Museum
Another must when in Colombia is The Gold Museum in Bogota! It displays beautiful jewelry and ornaments used by indigenous Colombians before the arrival of Colón. These ornaments depict the original history of Colombia and it’s a way to learn about Colombian culture before the arrival of the Spanish.
If you can only go to one museum in this city, make it this one because it is extremely interesting (and, well, pretty!).
PRICE: From Tuesday to Saturday COP 3000 (US$1), Sunday free entry at the museum
8. Relax at the Bogotá Botanical Garden
We all need a bit of a break from sightseeing in Bogota once in a while, and I find that heading to the Botanical Gardens is always a good way to relax without feeling like you’re being lazy!
A little oasis in the city, you can easily spend a couple or more hours here with a snack break at the café!
PRICE: Entry fee COP 3000 (US$1)
9. Marvel at San Francisco Church
Right in front of the Gold Museum you will find this gorgeous colonial church. The “Iglesia De San Francisco” is the oldest surviving church in the city!
It is a beautiful working church that from the outside might not look that magnificent, but it is definitely worth a visit as the inside is full of frescoes.
10. Try Ajiaco and other typical Colombian dishes
Food is one of my favorite things about travelling! You get to discover such different flavors and dishes and it is one of the most important intangible parts of a culture.
I arrived with no expectations in the city and after eating so many frijoles in Central America, I didn’t know that Colombian food was going to be one of my favorite foods in the world!
Find below the dishes that you HAVE TO try when heading to Bogotá:
- Ajiaco – The most typical dish in Bogota! It is white soup with chicken, potatoes and corn, served with rice and avocado.
- Bandeja Paisa – Colombia’s national dish. A combined dish of rice, fried plantain, chorizo, fried egg, avocado, beans, minced meat, etc.
- Arepas – If you go to Colombia and you don’t try arepas, we are not friends anymore. It’s what bread is in Spain, you just have it every day!
- Sancocho – This typical Colombian soup varies a lot by region;
- Empanada – It’s like a corn arepa filled with meat or cheese and folded in half, then it is fried;
- Hormigas culonas – “Bigbutt ants” – they’re exactly what you think they are;
- Papa Rellena – stuffed baked potatoes.
You should know that doing a food tour is my favorite thing; you’ll see food culture through the eyes of a local and instead of getting one meal you’ll get to taste several!
GUIDED TOURS: A must in your Bogota itinerary is this 3-hour Food experience where you’ll try 7 different traditional tastings. Another option is checking out this 4-hour Food Tasting experience in which you’ll try the most typical meals in a traditional Colombian home, just like a local!
BONUS 1 – Fun things to do in Bogota, Colombia
For those of you who are not visiting Bogota the first time, or for those looking for activities off-the-beaten-track, here are some unusual things to do in Colombia, Bogota:
1. Have fun at Salitre Mágico
This iconic amusement park located in Bogota is a super fun activity to do while in Colombia! In Salitre Mágico you can find bumper cars, roller coasters and even a house of horror!
Depending on how many rides you’d like to try, you can buy different tickets.
PRICE: COP 5000 (US$1.50) entry to the park, COP 30.000 (US$9) entry + rides
2. Salsa dance the night away
Going to Colombia and not trying your hand at salsa dancing would be a terrible mistake, especially if you’re a nightlife lover! It is probably the first question you’ll get when you come back home and you don’t want to disappoint!
TOURS: You can learn how to salsa dance with two local aficionados in this 7-hour English Salsa Night Tour where you’ll be picked up from your hotel and taken to the best salsa clubs in the Colombian capital!
3. Have fun around Usaquen District
A visit is not complete if you haven’t visited the trendiest neighborhood, Usaquen in Bogota! If you are into food, cute cafés, street music and antique stores, this is the place to go!
4. Enjoy Bogotá’s Street Art
Did you know the Bogotá street art scene is huge? It is partially thanks to Diego Felipe Becerra, a 16-year-old kid that was killed by the Bogota police after being caught spray painting. The event was such a shock to Colombian society that it only improved their views on graffiti and street artists!
You can find a lot of this art in the La Candelaria neighborhood, in places such as “Parque de los periodistas”, “El Embudo” Street or “Calle 26”, but the artwork is all throughout Bogota!
TOURS: You can enjoy this fun 3-hour Street Art and Graffiti guided tour that will take you exploring some awesome street art spots in the Colombian capital!
BONUS 2 – 4 Day Trips from Bogota, Colombia
Here are some other great places you can check out in case you have some more time Colombia and you want to escape the city walls:
1. Salt Cathedral and Nemocón Mine
On one hand, the Salt Cathedral is one of the most popular day trips from Bogota. It consists of a church located in an underground salt mine near Zipaquirá. It used to be a place of worship for the indigenous culture; nowadays it is known because it was turned into a Catholic church. Now there is even a little shopping mall inside the mine!
You can get on a bus to Zipaquirá that leaves every 30 min from Portal del Norte Bus terminal for COP 4.800 (US$1.40). Entrance fee is COP 50.000 (US$15).
On the other hand, the Nemocón mine is a salt mine that is at least 2.000 years old. While it doesn’t have an underground church, it is such an impressive structure that it has been the set for several hollywood movies! It is not as popular with foreigners as the Salt Cathedral, so it is definitely less crowded!
You can get on a bus to Nemocón that leaves every hour from Salitre Terminal for COP 6300 (US$1.80). Entrance fee is COP 22000 (US$6.50).
You can definitely see both in one day. If you first stop at Zipaquirá, once you’ve seen the Salt Cathedral, you can get a bus to Nemocón for COP 2800 (US$0.80)
TOURS: Alternatively, you can go for this 8-hour Salt Cathedral & Nemocon Mines excursion, you get to explore the Nemocón Mine and Salt Cathedral and visit the beautiful colonial town of Zipaquirá; Alternatively, you can book this private tour of the Salt Cathedral in which you’ll be picked up by your private guide and get to spend 6 hours enjoying this natural and cultural wonder!
PRICE: US$120 for the excursion
2. Laguna De Guatavita
Another one of the best day trips from Bogota city is the beautiful Laguna De Guatavita. Inspired by the Legend of El Dorado and sacred to local indigenous communities, Lake Guatavita offers beautiful and diverse flora and fauna.
You can do this trip on your own, however be mindful that there is an entrance fee as well as a parking fee.
TOURS: Alternatively, go ahead and check out this 7-hour Guatavita Lake and Nemocon Salt Mines Tour,, where you’ll get to explore this sacred lake as well as learn how rough miners had it in the Salt mines!
PRICE: Entry fee is COP 18000 (US$4.30), Parking COP 3000 (US$1). US$95 for the tour.
3. Chingaza National Park
As if we didn’t have enough hiking options, we couldn’t forget Chingaza National Park! An oasis for nature lovers, it will make you forget that you are just two hours away from the country’s capital! After all, it’s where most of Bogota’s water comes from!
TOURS: Because it is at least a two hour drive from the city, the best way to see it in just a day is getting a tour such as this 6-hour Chingaza National Park Tour where you’ll embark on a 3-hour hike to the Laguna de Buitrago while learning about Colombian nature from the most experienced guides!
PRICE: US$208 for the tour with an English speaking guide
4. Chicaque Natural Park
Just 30 min away from Bogota city (a bit to the South – West) lies the beautiful Chicaque Natural Park, famous for its scenic trails and cloud forests.
It’s the perfect place to hike through the mist and cool natural areas located on the outskirts of Bogota. You can either do it as a day trip or spend 1 or 2 nights in one of the tree houses available as accommodation!
TOURS: If you decide to do it as a day trip, the easiest thing for you to do is to book a tour such as this 8-hour High Andean Forests Tour. They will take you to the park in private transportation and guide you through the forests.
PRICE: US$75 for the tour. Without the tour, the entry fee is around US$4 per day.
Bogota tourism – Practical information about the city
Now that you know what you’ll be doing while in Bogota, we have to get to the not-so-fun (but extremely useful!) part : the practical information!
Where to stay in Bogota, Colombia
I have created this short list of places to stay when in Bogota, ranging from budget to luxury! I have also written a detailed blog post all about accommodations in Bogota. It is not only sorted by price, but also broken down by areas!
Luxury (US$160 and up):
- BOG Hotel – This one is great if you’re looking for a 5-star experience during your Bogota trip; plus, its design was inspired by the Museo del Oro!
- Casa Real 93 – The studio is spacious and the beds are big and comfy!
Mid-range (US$54 – US$160):
- NH Bogota Boheme Royal – This one is located right in the city center, close to Zona Rosa; the rooms are spacious and extremely neat.
- 93 Luxury Suites and Residences – surrounded by lots of restaurants and cafes, the location is amazing and the décor is so elegant and classic.
How to get from the airport to Bogotá city
Bogotá El Dorado Airport (BOG) is one of the most important airports in Latin America and also one of the safest! Most of the international flights enter the country through this airport, which is why connections to the city are so important!
Here are all the ways of getting from the airport to the city:
The Transmilenio system is a very efficient way to travel through Bogota. For just about COP 2500 (US$0.70), you can get a bus from Universidades, which is the closest stop to “La Candelaria” or the city center, and get off right at the airport!
In order to use Transmilenio, you need to buy a Tullave Card for COP 5000 (US$1.50) and recharge it, which you can do so at stations and other stores.
By taxi or Uber
Taxis are obviously another mode of transportation from the airport to the city. Make sure you don’t hail a taxi; book it at the airport taxi booth at the airport exit and you will be safe!
It is one of the best ways to travel to the city if it’s late at night. Expect to pay around COP 50000 ($15 USD) for the city center or La Candelaria (you will need to bargain!).
Uber is such a good choice when you haven’t planned how to get from the airport to the city and vice versa. It’s also quite safe (at least they have seatbelts huh?) and super straightforward. Moreover, it is way cheaper than taxis!
To book it, you’ll need to use wifi or data; you can check Bogota free wifi spots here. You can take advantage of the airport free wifi and book an Uber for around COP 40000 ($12 USD) to the city center, perfect if you’re travelling with friends! You can download it here.
Transportation in Bogotá
When I was in Bogotá, I was pleasantly surprised by its public transport system. Being such a big city, that received many migrants from the countryside in such a short amount of time, you would think it is chaotic, but it’s not!
By Transmilenio bus
When the Bogota government was faced with building a metro system, they hesitated. And after years of discussions and planning, they decided not to, and instead they built the new Transmilenio system!
The Transmilenio is a network of buses that work as a Bus Rapid Transit system; you’ll recognise them straight away as they run in the middle of the road and do not share their road space with cars (which means no traffic!). This makes it almost as efficient as a metro would be and this makes it a top transportation choice! Buses are quite frequent and affordable, running from 4:30 am to midnight and fares are around COP 2500 (US$0.70) per trip.
In order to use it, you need to buy a Tullave Card for COP 5000 (US$1.50) and recharge it, which you can do at stations and other stores.
By public bus
Bogota city also has a full range of normal public buses. They run on the roads, just as cars do, so they’re more likely to get stuck in a traffic jam than a Transmilenio bus.
However, more often than not, these buses serve as an extension of Transmilenio. So there is a chance your route will combine a Transmilenio bus and a public bus.
You can use your Tullave Card that we explained above in order to get on these public buses; fares are cheap; they cost around COP 2500 (US$0.70) per trip.
By taxis and Uber
Getting a taxi in Bogota is safe and easy, but my recommended choice is definitely Uber.
Minimum fare for the taxi is around COP 5000 (US$1.50) and each km is COP 5000 (US$1.50) more. There is also a small US$0.20 surcharge for booking a taxi. Uber is cheaper – the minimum fare is COP 4600 (US$1.13).
By the way, make sure you wear your seatbelt (if there’s any); Colombian taxi drivers are a bit more… passionate!
Great restaurants and cafés in Bogotá, Colombia
Choosing a place to eat might sound like a daunting task, because it is! At least it is for me, and when I am travelling, the least decisions I have to make, the better! Planning ahead makes time more enjoyable!
Check out below my list of favorite Bogota restaurants, including La Puerta Falsa, one of the most famous one out there:
- Andrés Carne de Res – This historic restaurant is probably the most famous one in all Colombia! You get all the typical dishes while you enjoy shows and traditional music. Check out this 3-hour Andrés Carne de Res Experience in which you get a transfer and to skip the line! A life saver!
- Azahar – If you’re looking for great coffee during your Bogota travels, you must stop by Azahar!
- Quinua y Amaranto – If you are vegan, vegetarian or just want to incorporate more veggies in your diet after so much bandeja paisa and empanadas, make sure you visit it!
- La Puerta Falsa – Possibly one of the most famous restaurants in Bogota and the oldest restaurant in the whole country. La Puerta Falsa is a must visit!
- Matiz – On the higher end, slightly pricey compared to other restaurants but worth it because it is one of the best restaurants in Bogotá!
- Mini Mal – A super trendy restaurant in Bogota that serves organic and local produce.
Money and prices in Bogota, Colombia
The type of currency used in Colombia is the Colombian peso. Here are some average prices:
- A meal in an inexpensive restaurant for 1 person – COP 14000 (US$4)
- Dinner for 2 in a restaurant – COP 85000 (US$25)
- A night in a hotel (very approximate) – COP 200000 ($60 USD)
- Taxi – COP 5000 (US$1.5) per km + COP 5000 (US$1.50) initial charge
- A bottle of water – COP 2000 (US$0.60)
- Domestic beer – COP 3500 (US$1)
- Average price for a museum – COP 3000 to 17000 (US$0.80 to US$5)
- 1 l of gas (1/4 gallon) – COP 3000 (US$0.80)
TIPPING CULTURE: Tipping is not usually expected. In high end restaurants they will include it in the bill, otherwise it is totally optional, but very appreciated!
Is Bogotá safe?
Even though Colombia (and Bogota in particular) has a bad reputation due to being gun and drug ridden all throughout the 1990s, the scene has changed quite a lot.
Nowadays it is quite safe to travel all throughout Colombia as terrorism had been pretty much erradicated and kidnappings have dropped by around 95%.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be cautious as there are still some robberies and pickpocketing happening, so always be a bit alert, don’t show your valuables and don’t be in places you don’t know at night.
Bogotá has very efficient tourist police and they’ll be super helpful if you ever need something!
SIM cards in Bogota, Colombia
There are three big mobile providers in Colombia and they have really competitive prices.
Based on coverage and prices, I believe that Claro is the best sim card provider to choose. For around COP 60000 (US$17) a month you can receive 12 GB of data plus unlimited calls. It is very reliable and prices are the most competitive in the market!
Claro is so convenient because you can buy it in many different stores, such as the Oxxo convenience store. If you’d like to buy it at the airport, you can find it at the airport convenience store.
Insurance in Colombia
When travelling to Latin America, or really when travelling anywhere where you are not covered for medical costs in case of an emergency, it’s definitely best to buy travel insurance. It can really save you from a few pesky situations!
World Nomads is a very popular insurance company chosen by all types of travelers when travelling to Latin America. It is super reliable and it can cover you literally anywhere. Have a look at their reviews on the website, they’re fantastic!
Thank you for reading up until the end of this super informative Bogota travel guide! (If I may say so myself!)
In this post I have talked about the best things to do in Bogota, Colombia! And even though we have seen so many fun things that you can do in Colombia’s capital city, I have also explained some practical information about traveling to sights close to Bogota.
I really hope this guide will be of help when you travel to Bogota; hopefully I made things a little easier for you!
P.S. If you are traveling to more destinations in Colombia (and you should!), please check out this section as we have quite some great content on other cities in Colombia too!
Let me know in the comments below if there’s anything you’d like to add, or even tell me about your experience when you come back! I can’t wait to hear about it!
- Where to stay in Bogota – From Luxury Accommodation to Budget
- Top 15 Unmissable Things To Do in Medellin (With Prices!)
- 7 Things You Should Know About Choosing the Best Car Rental in Bogota
- Things to Do in Cartagena, Colombia – 15 Attractions not to be missed
- Where to stay in Cartagena? Here are Your Best Options
- Your Colombia Bucket List – 10 places you cannot miss
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