The Top 11 Fun Things to do in Bogotá
Looking for the best things to do in Bogotá? The list of top attractions in Bogotá is quite long, so if you want help narrowing it down, read on!
The capital and largest city of Colombia is one of the most heavily touristed cities in the country.
And for good reason—this thriving metropolis boasts a lot of history and culture, great transportation, an artistic historic center, and lots of natural space within the city to recharge.
You will see a lot of lists of top things to do in Bogotá. This list includes my favorites that you won’t want to miss.
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My Reasons for not Wanting to See Bogotá
This may seem like a strange way to open a post about the top things to do in Bogotá. And I guess it is. But here’s the thing:
I was prepared to not like Bogotá.
I’ll admit it. It’s harsh, but I had my reasons, mostly, due to my concerns about safety. I didn’t share this with most people as many already thought I was a little touched in the head to go to Colombia.
In researching Bogotá, many of the articles referenced the high rate of theft and above all to absolutely not use your cell phone in public. I have zero sense of direction and I use my cell phone for navigation. So, this was an issue for me.
Here’s my truth: I could not have been more wrong to judge Bogotá so harshly.
I planned my trip to only have two days in Bogotá, and I regretted it as I was packing to leave. There was so much much I didn’t get to see.
Though I was careful to be very aware of my surroundings, especially when I did need to use my phone for navigation, I didn’t feel safety was any more of a concern than in any large city.
Next time I go to Colombia, I’ll spend more time in Bogotá.
Top Things to Do in Bogotá in Colombia
You’d expect there to be a lot of things to do in Bogotá, given how large the city is. And, you’d be right. You could easily spend several days, or a week or more exploring this massive city.
If you’re going to stay in and around the central historic district, where many of the top attractions are, here is what you will want to see.
Explore La Candelaria
One of the top things to do in Bogotá is to wander the streets of La Candelaria, the historic colonial neighborhood in the city. It can either be done as part of a walking tour or easily on a self-guided tour.
This historic neighborhood is a gem packed full of places to see including the Botero Museum, the Gold Museum, the opera house (Teatro Colón Bogotá), and many others.
In addition to the tourist attractions and sites to see, you can wander through history admiring the interesting architecture in the old colonial style. You will see a lot of unique architecture featuring elaborate doors and entryways painted in vibrant, bright colors and many museums, restaurants, hotels, and hostels.
Also, there are many murals and artistic graffiti in this area. This is the neighborhood where many of the tourists choose to stay and the oldest, most historic part of the city.
While you’re there, visit Santuario Nuestra Señora del Carmen. Locally known as “the candy cane church,” the striking red and white horizontal stripes inside and outside are hard to miss.
There are a number of great walking tours of the La Candelaria Bogotá neighborhood as well as some free walking tours. I took a free walking tour and would absolutely recommend checking one of them out.
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This map shows the Bogotá Candelaria neighborhood. Do make sure you are aware of your surroundings at all times, as this area can be a little sketchy with pickpockets, particularly at night.
Gold Museum (el Museo del Oro)
The Gold Museum Bogotá is the most famous museum in the city and within the entire country as well. With good reason—it contains an impressive 55,000 pieces of gold artifacts, mostly found within the country and in the area.
This museum has the largest collection of gold artifacts in the world. It is one of the most spectacular exhibits of pre-Colombian art, culture, and tradition ever displayed. It’s one of the top things to do in Bogotá and something you should not miss.
You can learn, in both Spanish and English, about the metals used to make jewelry, masks, bowls, and other items, including how they were discovered, mined, and worked. You can read about the people who used these items and the meaning and symbolism that they held.
If you need a little pick-me-up, the best coffee in the city is right on the main floor in the Gold Museum. Cafe San Alberto is located on the first floor, where you can have coffee served in many different styles.
They offer more traditional brews like drip coffee and espresso, a siphon pot, also known as a vacuum pot, and several other different kinds.
Try something different when you’re here! We thought the siphon pot was a lot of fun to watch, kind of like a high school science experiment. Then start on the second floor for the museum exhibits.
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The Gold Museum is located in the La
The Botero Museum is located in the La Candelaria neighborhood. It contains
Botero’s art makes up a large portion of the museum, but there are other famous and talented international artists featured as well. His works often depict disproportionately large and plump people, and also some still life as well.
Botero’s art is lighthearted and unlike that of any other artist. His artwork can be found in large galleries throughout the world, including New York City and Paris. Along with Botero’s work, you will find pieces by other greats, including Picasso, Degas, and Dalí.
He is known for the Botero sculptures as well as paintings. You’ll find Botero works in Medellin in Botero Park and the museum and a Botero sculpture in Cartagena.
The building, Museos Banco de la Republica, houses several museums, including the Mint Museum (Casa de Moneda), with an impressive display of coins and notes throughout history, as well as the Miguel Urrutia Art Museum (MAMU). It’s a striking building and worth walking around.
All of the museums on the Banco de la Republica are free to all visitors. Opening Hours: Mon, Wed to Sat: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. & Sun: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Museo de Botero, Calle 11 #4-41, Bogotá, Colombia.
Simon Bolívar Square (Plaza Bolívar) and the Cathedral
Plaza Bolívar is the center where government business gets done in Bogotá. It is the main square in the heart of La Candelaria and where some of the city’s most important buildings and offices.
This includes the Palace of Justice, the Capitol Building, the Cathedral of Bogotá, and the city mayor’s office. It is a sprawling and pigeon-filled plaza that must be on your list of things to see in Bogotá.
The stunning Cathedral (The Primatial Cathedral of Bogotá, Catedral Primada de Bogotá) Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is a highlight of this plaza and is located right on the Square. This beautiful building, built four times in the same spot, provides just a piece of the history located on this square.
If you do take a walking tour, you will learn about the historical significance of this area, from the fights for independence to the days of Pablo Escobar’s siege of the Palace of Justice.
During the day, we saw soldiers marching from the area of the Presidential Palace and you will often see events and festivals here.
Plaza Bolívar is located at Cra. 7 #11-10, Bogotá, Colombia.
Just like other cities in Colombia, the Zona Rosa district is where you want to go for nightlife. Zona Rosa has some of the best upscale restaurants in the city.
In addition to fine dining, there are many bars and clubs as well. There
Zona G is the upscale and luxurious part of Bogotá, where you can find 93 Park (Parque 93) or 93rd Street Park, a commercial and recreational park. It’s also the place to party well into the night (and the morning).
This map shows the location of Zona Rosa in Bogotá.
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Monserrate Monastery and Monserrate Mountain tower over Bogotá and is one of the tourist attractions that define the city. The hill that rises more than 10,000 feet (more than 3000 meters) over the city is a pilgrimage site for Christians and the indigenous people (the Muiscas).
There are a historic church and shrine dedicated to “El Señor Caído,” or The Fallen Lord. You will find a few restaurants and bars at the
The funicular runs Monday to Saturday from 6:30 to 11:30 and Sundays from 5:30 to 5:30. Costs range from 6k COP to 20k COP ($2 USD to $6.50 USD). Please visit this page for more information.
Colon Theater (Teatro Colón)
This theater was built in the late 1800s and designed by an Italian architect. Teatro Colón was named after Christopher Columbus and it’s the national theater of Colombia. The seats are in a horseshoe shape and the beautiful interior is decorated with frescoes.
Check online to see what shows are on and head to the theater to purchase tickets or take a guided tour to have a look around. There are operas, concerts, and modern plays to choose from, and the whole experience has a magical, romantic vibe to it.
The Colon Theater is located at Calle 10 # 5-32, Bogotá, La Candelaria. Tours are daily at 11 or 2 and cost around 8k COP, or around $1.75 USD.
The National Museum of Colombia (Museo Nacional de Colombia)
The Colombian National Museum is the oldest and largest museum in all of Colombia. It has a massive collection of over 20,000 pieces of history, art, and culture, some dating back as far as 10,000 BC.
You can learn about early human history in Colombia here, showcasing archaeological pieces of the different ethnic and cultural groups of Colombia from pre-colonial times and recent artists as well
There are 17 galleries inside, and the museum is undergoing a modernization project. It’s slated for completion in 2023.
If you’re looking to learn about the history of Colombia and this area, this is one of the most popular things to do in Bogotá, Colombia. The Museum is located in the International Center. Adults cost 4k COP ($1.30 USD). It is open from 9 to 5, Tuesday through Sunday, and it’s closed on Mondays.
Parque Central Simón Bolívar
Simón Bolívar is the “Central Park” of Bogotá. It’s an enormous free park, the largest in the city, with a lot going on. There is a lake where you can rent small boats and feed ducks and many trails where you can go for a run,
It’s a large space for events that can hold over 140,000
Parque Central Simon Bolivar is a short ride from the Chaperino and Zona G neighborhoods.
Zipaquira Salt Mine (Catedral de Sal de Zipaquirá)
A visit to Zipaquira and the Salt Cathedral is the best day trip from Bogotá, a top thing to do in Bogotá, and I highly recommend it. So much of the history during the Spanish conquest revolved around their quest for gold.
Zipaquira is where gold was found, but that wasn’t the highlight. The “white gold” was considered even more precious to the indigenous people.
Zipaquirá is a small town with a Spanish Colonial center marked by a large church and a vibrant square. It’s a little over an hour from the outskirts of Bogotá.
The town is known for its famous Salt Cathedral, an underground Roman Catholic church built in large tunnels created while excavating salt. The town itself is quite nice and worth seeing as well.
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I contacted Bogotá Pass for a tour as I was told that all tours go through them. However, my amazing guide also provides tours direct to the public. You can contact him at [email protected].
Presidential House (Casa de Nariño)
The Presidential Palace is the home and workplace of the President of Colombia. It also houses the main office of the executive branch.
This former palace is an impressively large building close to Plaza Bolívar. Tours are offered daily for those with reservations, a fact I sadly learned too late.
The Presidential house is located at Carrera 8 No. 7-26, Bogotá. Tours are offered for free Monday through Friday at 9, 10:30, 2:30, and 4, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays at 2:30 and 4. A special treat on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday at 4 is the changing of the guard ceremony. Reservations in advance are required.
Where to Stay in Bogotá
La Candelaria is one of the most popular places for tourists to stay when visiting Bogota. It’s in close proximity to many tourist attractions.
It’s also a great historic neighborhood and relatively safe. Though I usually try to stay off the beaten path when I travel, I did choose to stay in La Candelaria and I’m glad I did.
Candelaria is a popular place for tourists to stay when visiting Bogotá. It’s a historic neighborhood, relatively safe, and in close proximity to many of the popular places to visit.
I chose to stay here as I had only two days in Bogotá, and I’m glad I did. It can be very crowded so always be aware of your surroundings, put away your cell phone and you will have a great time!
Hotel Casa Galeria is a wonderful little boutique hotel with attentive staff, rooms, and an amazing breakfast. The hotel is open-air, though, so it’s quite cold many times of the year.
They provide you with a nighttime hot drink and a hot water bottle, which helps tremendously. It’s also very loud as it’s located on a very busy pedestrian walkway. They also have a nice little cafe with great coffee and lots of local pastries and desserts.
Zona Rosa is another good place to base yourself as it’s home to many restaurants, boutiques, malls, bars, and the very nice Parque 93, which is surrounded by shops and even more places to eat.
Best Hotels in Bogatá
Budget—Selina Chapinero Bogatá: This is a great budget hotel in the middle of Chapinero. The rooms are comfortable and sophisticated. The restaurant on site is wonderful with international cuisine and regional dishes as well. It’s right next to the metro station so you can easily travel around.
Mid-range—NH Bogotá Boheme Royal: This hotel offers elegant rooms in La Zona Rosa. The rooms are spacious and modern with free WIFI. They have a bar on-site as well as a restaurant that serves free hot breakfast in the morning.
Luxury—Hotel Santa Lucia Boutique Spa: Stay here at a luxury hotel in La Candelaria. The bathrooms and bedrooms are beautiful with free WIFI in every room of the hotel. They have an amazing spa, a restaurant, and a gym.
Where to Eat in Bogotá
El Gato Gris, the grey cat, is a fantastic restaurant in La Candelaria. They offer local Colombian cuisine and live music every day at noon and in the evening. It’s an interesting old house with lots of small rooms, and the top floor is open to views of the local area.
Restaurante la Puerta de la Catedral is a great restaurant near the Cathedral and Plaza Bolívar. I had an amazing meal of trucha (trout) with sour potatoes, ripe plantain, and salad for only 28k COP ($9).
I also had a crazy good hot drink with aguardiente, a liquor made from sugar cane and passion fruit, and agua panela, a mixture of sugar cane and water.
Cafe Casa Galeria is a great place for breakfast or for a snack. Their pastries are made in-house and are amazing. Try chucula, an indigenous hot drink made of cocoa and 7 grains that tastes like light chocolate hazelnut.
Or try chicha, a fermented corn drink, or one of their amazing pastries. I recommend the Torta de Almojábana made with cornflour and cuajada cheese.
Take a City Tour
Beyond Colombia offers a great city tour in Bogotá and also in Cartagena. On this tour, we visited many of the top Bogotá attractions in Candelaria. These were mentioned above, including the Botero Museum, Teatro Colon, Plaza Bolivar, and the Cathedral.
I recommend taking free walking tours to explore a city, and this is one I recommend.
We wandered some of the smaller streets in the La Candelaria neighborhood to enjoy the street art and architecture. Interestingly, we even stopped at my hotel, Hotel Casa Galeria, where I learned that it was once a “hidden”
Weather and Altitude of Bogotá
The Bogotá elevation is over 8,500 feet above sea level. This high elevation makes for cooler weather than in most of the country.
Average temperatures range from 44°F to 66°F (6.7°C to nearly 19°C). December through March is generally the best time to visit during the dry season. It can be quite cold, though, so be prepared.
I visited in December and it was very cold. Interestingly, my hotel was open air, where the rooms were closed, but the ceiling was largely open to the elements. I was curious when they gave me a hot water bottle when I went to bed and a hot drink but they sure made a difference!
How to Get to Bogotá
Bogotá’s El Dorado International Airport offers flights from a number of cities in the US, Europe, and some of the largest cities in South America. A fact for which I’m grateful or I may have skipped out on visiting entirely!
It’s a large airport offering a lot of connections within Colombia as well. Driving time can take a while between the larger cities in Colombia. Road conditions aren’t always the best. So, in-country flights can sometimes save you a lot of time. There are a number of budget carriers so you have alternatives.
Bus services are good in the country. All bus lines run to Bogotá and there are a number of options. Most bring you to Terminal de Transporte, the main station in Bogotá.
Why I’m Glad I Visited Bogotá
There is a lot to offer visitors and many things to do in Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia. It’s not just a big city, there is a vibrancy here and a strong pulse worth checking out.
I visited because it’s a travel hub, with lots of domestic and international flights in and out. And I left wishing for more time there.
Though it’s a huge city, many of the places to visit in Bogotá are in a small geographic area so it’s possible to see a lot in a short period of time. No matter what you do when you visit Colombia, don’t skip Bogotá!
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