The Best Things to do in Bogota, Colombia
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The Best Things to do in Bogota, Colombia

7 min read

May 12, 2017

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By Christina Schranz

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Last updated on October 19th, 2020 at 10:16 am

Thinking of planning a trip to Colombia to experience the best things to do in Bogota? Is Bogotá on your list, but you are not quite sure what to do there? Let me help you – I just spent 10 days in this fascinating city and really enjoyed all it has to offer! Bogotá, the beating heart of Colombia, rests at an altitude of 8,675 feet (2,644m), making it the third-highest capital in South America behind Quito and La Paz. Due to its location in an incredibly diverse and beautiful country, Bogotá offers a little bit of everything to both the experienced traveler and someone getting their passport stamped for the first time.

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Last updated on October 19th, 2020 at 10:16 am

1. Guided City Tour in Bogotá

A trip to Bogota is not complete without a proper city tour. This is of course one of the best things to do in Bogota! Not many visitors know that Bogota is unofficially divided into Bogota Norte (North), Bogota Centro (Center), and Bogota Sur (South). Each area of Bogota is particular and represents different architecture and style of the city. The oldest part of Bogota is located in the central area of the city. It’s a historical district called La Candelaria where you should take your first steps and get familiar with all the colonial buildings, the main big central square (Plaza de Bolivar), narrow cobblestone streets, and local markets rich with fresh fruit and handicrafts. This part of the city is included in all of our Colombia tours.

After you get to know the historical side of Bogota, I invite you to see its northern region where you can see how local people enjoy their everyday lives in nice international restaurants, clubs, and shops. The northern part of Bogota with neighborhoods like “Rosales” or “Zona T” are known for being more sophisticated and entertaining.

Traveler’s Tip: Take a cable car to the top of Monserrate Hill, as it is a great addition to any Bogotá city tour. At the top, you will see spectacular views of the city.

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historic building in bogota colombia
beautiful buildings in bogota colombia

Last updated on October 19th, 2020 at 10:16 am

2. Enjoy Colombian Coffee & The Gold Museum

Bogota is a large metropolitan city situated at an altitude of over 8660 feet above sea level. Its specific location and climate make it one of the coolest cities in Colombia. After you visit the highlights of the city the most recommended things to do would be to try the local restaurants and cozy cafes serving hot chocolate or canelazo (hot cane sugar beverage with rum or aguardiente). This will make you feel warmer when the weather is not ideal. Rainy days are also perfect for visiting famous museums like the Gold Museum (home to more than 30,000 pre-Colombian gold artifacts) and Botero Museum.

If you are into coffee experiences be sure to visit one of the Juan Valdez coffee shops which are emblematic for the whole country and represent the Colombian coffee culture. For foodies traveling to Colombia, you will find there some hearty Colombian cuisine for those cooler days in Bogota. They are served in all traditional restaurants in the city.

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gold artifact in the museum
coffee beans in colombia

Last updated on October 19th, 2020 at 10:16 am

3. Take a Cable Car up Monserrate Hill

The typical city tour of Bogota ends in the highest peak of Bogota, a famous Monserrate hill which you can reach by a cable car or a funicular train. On top of the hill, you will find a 17th-century church and the most stunning views of the city. Some people prefer to visit this place during the evening time to see the sunset sky and night city lights of Bogota. Monserrate is a pilgrim destination and has been considered a sacred mountain since the time the indigenous Muisca people lived there during the pre-Columbian times.

Traveler’s Tip: If you want to see some more of the pre-Columbian history of Colombia I recommend the tour to archeological ruins of San Augustin.

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panoramic view of bogota city
church on top of the hill in bogota

Last updated on October 19th, 2020 at 10:16 am

4. Take a Day Trip to Zipaquirá

The best things to do in Bogota can be also found outside of the city. If you spend more than 2 nights in Bogota I strongly recommend visiting a small city of Zipaquirá with the famous Salt Cathedral. Zipaquirá is 31 miles (50 km) north of  Bogota. This underground church was built in a salt mine in a place where miners were praying for their safety before starting to work. The Salt Cathedral is filled with unique sculptures that can be seen during a 1h guided tour. Everything is enriched with a set of colorful lights making the whole experience magical and spiritual. This big salt deposit was used many many years ago by indigenous pre-Columbian people and played a big role in colonial times as well. A curious fact to mention: famous Nobel prize writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez used to live in a city of Zipaquira.

While here, opt for a guided tour, as it is a fantastic way to see all of the town and its historic features. The tour begins by leading you to the fully functioning salt cathedral, a construction approx. 394 feet (120 meters) underground in a former salt mine. Today, local mines still churn out 40% of Colombia’s salt resources. During this tour, you will also get a chance to visit the main square of Zipaquirá. If you are flexible with your trip length, I recommend staying overnight in Villa de Leyva, a charming colonial city, about 2 hours north of Bogotá.

Traveler’s Tip: Take the Colombia Train Tour Bogotá to Zipaquirá for a scenic day trip. Upon arrival in Zipaquirá’s central plaza, head into any one of the charming cafes that line the streets and enjoy a lovely afternoon snack.

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purple zipaquira salt cathedral
glowing cross in zipaquira cathedral

Last updated on October 19th, 2020 at 10:16 am

5. Graffiti Walking Tour

Interested in a good mix of art, culture, and history? Discover Bogotá on a walking tour through La Candelaria and learn about the artwork of local artists. This is a great alternative view of the city. Immerse yourself in its culture as you listen to commentary on politics, the history of the city, as well as the historical implications of graffiti in the city.

Traveler’s Tip: After experiencing the local street art, head to the Botero Museum, one of Bogotá’s most famous art museums. View work from Fernando Botero, where his signature style, “Boterismo,” is hard to miss. You can also see other works from artists such as Degas and even Picasso. For more hidden gems, like the street art in La Candelaria, read 24 Hours in Bogotá.

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colorful street art in bogota
colombian street art

Last updated on October 19th, 2020 at 10:16 am

6. Escape to Guatavita Lagoon

Enjoy the landscape of the savanna as you travel towards the lagoon, which lies at an altitude of approx. 9,842 feet (3,000 meters) and is the birthplace of the legend of “El Dorado” – the “golden one.” A short hike will take you to various viewpoints from where you can take in the full view of the lagoon. Legend has it, that original inhabitants of the area performed a ceremony by the lagoon. The tribal chief “cacique” was allegedly covered in gold powder before venturing to the center of the lake on a raft and then submerging into the water. In addition, jewelry, precious stones, gold, and silver artifacts were thrown in by worshippers. Unfortunately, numerous attempts to recover the treasures have largely been unsuccessful.

Traveler’s Tip: After an afternoon of hiking around the lagoon, drive down to the lovely little town of Guatavita. There, you will find fantastic souvenirs and a couple of places to grab a well-deserved bite to eat.

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route to lagoon outside of bogota
pretty blue lagoon outside of bogota colombia

Last updated on October 19th, 2020 at 10:16 am

Ready for your trip to Colombia? Call us today to combine a visit of Bogotá with some of Colombia’s other fascinating destinations, such as Cartagena, the coffee region, or Medellín.

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