Bogota is the sprawling capital of Colombia and a main entry point to this vibrant South American city. There are plenty of things to do in Bogota that you should defiantly carve out a few days to explore the city when you are visiting Colombia.
Joe and I ended our three and a half week Colombian adventure in Bogota. In fact, it was our finally city before heading back to the USA for a bit after spending 3 and a half months in South America.
Bogota, Colombia offers a wide variety of activities to enjoy, from visiting historical sites to living it up in the city’s nightlife, there’s plenty to see and do. Whether you’re in Bogota for an exciting adventure or looking for a relaxing vacation, there is something to do in Bogota for everyone.
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Below is a quick list of 21 awesome Bogota attractions. If you’re in a hurry, screen shot the list below or if you want more information just click on the blue links.
- Plaza Bolivar
- La Candelaria
- Go on a Coffee Tour
- Gold Museum
- Free walking Tour
- Climb Cerro Monserrate
- Go on a Food Tour
- Go Biking on a Ciclovía Sunday
- Try Tejo
- Parque Central Simón Bolívar
- Eat a Traditional Colombian Meal
- Take a Cooking Class
- Bicycle Tour of the City
- Botero Museum
- Visit the Botanical Gardens
- Santuario Nuestra Señora del Carmen
Bogota Travel Vlogs
I spent three weeks traveling around Colombia with my partner Joe doing as many awesome things as I could. If you’d like to see exactly what it was like, check out our Colombia series below after you read this post.
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Best Things to do in Bogota
By far the most popular thing to do in Bogota is to go to Plaza Bolívar. In fact, it’s probably the first thing most people do when you arrive to the city.
The Plaza Bolivar is a large and beautiful public square located in the heart of the city. The square is surrounded by important government and religious buildings such as the Palace of Justice, the National Capitol, the Archbishop’s Palace and the Cathedral Primed.
In the center of the plaza is a majestic equestrian statue of Bolivar which is surrounded by lots and lots of birds. You can buy bird seed from a local vendor for less than a quarter and feed the birds. We of course had to partake in this activity and let the birds eat out of our hands. It felt real weird that’s all I have to say.
The plaza is a popular gathering place for locals and visitors alike. It’s a great place to take a stroll, enjoy some street performers, pet a llama or just take in the beauty of the city.
La Candelaria is a vibrant and historical neighborhood located in the heart of Bogota. Plaza Bolivar that we discussed above is located in the Candelaria.
This is the oldest part of the city and one of the best areas to stay in Bogota for tourists. This area is filled with colonial-era buildings that have been preserved for centuries.
La Cadelaria is home to a large number of museums, churches and historical buildings like the iconic Monserrate and La Caterdral Primada. The area is known for its lively atmosphere, with a variety of restaurants, bars, cafes vibrant street art, music and theater. This area is a great place to start your explorations of Bogota and get a feel of the city.
Go on a Coffee Tour
Colombia and coffee go together like peanut butter and jelly. Join a coffee tour and learn about coffee from bean to cup. You’ll get an understanding about the centuries-old-coffee-making traditions and sample some of the countries finest brews.
A knowledgable guide will explain the process of picking the cherries, drying and roasting the beans and finishing with a perfectly poured cup of coffee. This is a must do in Bogota for the coffee lover.
Gold Museum (Museo del Oro)
One of the best museums in Bogota to visit is the Gold Museum. The museum is a treasure trove of gold artifacts that date back to the pre-Columbian era. The museum houses an impressive collection of gold artifacts that were discovered in the tombs of ancient cultures.
Over 55,000 pieces of gold have been unearthed and are now on display in the museum. In fact the Gold Museum has the largest collection of pre-Hispanic gold in the world. You can explore the Gold Museum by taking a guided tour or wander on your own.
Free Walking Tour
The best way to get to know a city and your bearings is by going on a free Bogota walking tour. It’s even better when you can do so with a local guide and a group of like-minded travellers. Plus it’s free, (minus the tip)!
A walking tour is a great introduction to a new area and in my opinion one of the best free things to do in Bogota. Tours usually last around 2 hours and a local guide will be able to answer any questions that you have.
Climbing Cerro Monserrate
If you love getting high, climb Cerro Monserrate for epic views of Bogota. It stands at a little over 10,000 feet and is one of the symbols of the city.
Climbing to the top of the mountain is one of the best things to do in Bogota. It’s a great way to experience the beautiful nature of Colombia and to get a stunning view of Bogota from above.
The climb is relatively easy if you’re in decent shape. The trail takes around 1-2 hours to complete depending on your fitness level. Once at the top, you can admire the sweeping views of the city and the surrounding landscape.
Alternatively, there is a cable car that can take you to the top if you’re not into hiking. Pro tip, taking in the views from the top at sunset is beautiful, it can get a little sketchy hiking down at night.
Go Biking on Ciclovía Sundays
One of the coolest things to do in Bogota is partake in a Ciclovia Sunday. Every Sunday, Bogota shuts down major streets and you’re only allowed on them if you are running, walking on a bicycle, skateboard or something the sort.
This is the definition of fitness travel. Ciclovia Sundays usually take place from 7am to 2pm and there’s usually live music which only adds to the allure. This is a great way for a chance to connect with locals and experience the culture of Bogota.
Go on a Food Tour
One of my favorite things to do when I visit a new city is go on a food tour. From the bustling city streets of La Candelaria to the local markets of Usaquen, taking a food tour gives you the opportunity to sample a variety of traditional Colombian dishes and drinks.
With the help of a knowledgable guide, you’ll explore the local flavors and customs of Bogota. Sample a variety of dishes including arepas, empanadas and tamales – just to name a few. I promise you won’t regret embarking on a food tour full of tasty culinary offerings.
Try Tejo Game
Did you even visit Colombia if you don’t try Tejo? Tejo is a traditional game that was invented in Colombia and is especially popular in Bogota.
The game involves throwing a tejo (small metal disk) into the air and trying to hit a target containing gunpowder. It’s a fun thing to do in Bogota that’s often played socially with a few friends getting together, enjoying a few beers and a few rounds of Tejo.
Better yet, book a tejo and craft beer tour in Bogota. You’ll spend the afternoon learning the process of making the perfect microbrew and then go to a professional tejo course to learn how to play the popular Colombian sport.
Parque Central Simón Bolívar
If you are looking for a nature refresh from the concrete jungle of Bogota, then head to Parque Central Simón Bolívar. This is the largest public park in the city that covers an area of nearly 300 acres and is one of the best places to visit in Bogota.
Located in the historic center, the park was established in 1873 making it one of the oldest parks in the country. The official residence of the President of Colombia surrounds the park so you know its gotta be a beautiful place. You can visit the park to take leisurely strolls along the trails or just relax and escape the hustle and bustle of the big city of Bogota.
Eat a Traditional Colombian Meal
Bogota does not have a shortage of restaurants that serves típica Colombian fare. Trying local dishes is one of the best ways to start to get to know a foreign culture. Traditional Colombian dishes include:
- Mondongo – Pork, tripe and chorizo soup,
- Arepas – a cross between a tortilla and a pancake can be filled with cheese, meat and even made as a desert.
- Arepa de Huevo – Same as above but this is a deep fried egg.
- Ajiaco – Potato and chicken soup (my favorite).
- Bandeja Paisa – A HUGE dish that consists of rice, minced meat, red beans, chorizo, arepa, a fried egg, chicharron (fried pork skin), sweet plantain, and a half of avocado.
- Patacones – Plantains that have been flattened and deep fried served with a sauce of your choice.
- Obleas – Thin wafer sandwiches filled with a variety of ingredients such as blackberry jam, milk cream, condensed milk, peanuts, coconut, fruit syrups, chocolate sprinkles, and even cheese.
- Sancocho – Chicken, Beef rib or Fish soup that contains potato, yuca, plantain.
- Empanadas – Deep fried pockets filled with meat, potatoes, chicken, and rice.
- Fiambre – Rice, sausage, fried pork, ground meat, boiled or fried egg, a slice of ripe banana and arepa wrapped in banana leaves.
Take a Cooking Class
Can you depict a theme here…I really enjoy food. Another tasty thing to do in Bogota is take a cooking class. Taught by a local chef, you’ll go to the market, pick out fresh ingredients and then learn how to prepare a Colombian dish. The best part is, you’ll get to eat all your hard work.
Bicycle Tour of the City
Bogota is big on cycling so why not explore the city on two wheels. Cycle past modern and colonial architecture, lush parks and bustling neighborhoods.
Take in the sights and sounds of Bogota at your own pace and make stops along the way. The knowledgable guide will point out interesting facts about the city’s history, providing you a deeper insight into Bogota. Don’t miss out on this fun and unique thing to do in Bogota.
Here are some bicycle tours in Bogota to check out:
Peruse The Botero Museum
Calling all art lovers. Located I the heart of the Candelaria, the Botero Museum is housed in a former Colonial mansion and features over 220 pieces of art from the Colombian master Fernando Botero.
The collection includes sculptures, paintings and drawings showcasing Botero’s unique style of exaggerated and voluminous figures. There are even works of Picasso and Monet inside.
It cost 10,000 COP (about $2 USD) to enter and is opened 6 days a week Monday to Saturday: 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Sundays and Holidays: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Closed on Tuesdays.
Santuario Nuestra Señora del Carmen
One of the most unique buildings in Bogota is the Santuario Nuestra Señora del Carmen. The large Catholic Church was built in the 17th century and features a stunning Baroque-style architecture and a unique striped paint scheme.
Every Sunday, the church is filled with worshippers who come to hear mass and to pray. This is a popular tourist attraction in Bogota so if you want to see this on your travels, I would avoid Sunday morning. The church is open daily from 7:30-11:30am.
Bogotá Botanical Gardens
The Bogota Botanical Gardens are a a peaceful refuge from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis. With more than 10,000 species of plants, the garden is home to a variety of flora including orchids, bromeliads and cacti.
The gardens are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 5pm and from 9pm to 5 pm on the weekends. It’s closed the first Monday of every month and it costs about $2 USD to get in.
Come here to relax, learn and appreciate the natural beauty of Colombia. You can visit the botanical gardens independently or on a tour.
Bogota Day Trips
I couldn’t make a best things to do in Bogtota post without including some of the best day trips from Bogota. All of these day trips can be visited independently but if you are short on time and would rather have someone plan all the logistics for you, you can visit these destinations on a guided tour.
Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá
The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira is probably the most popular day trip from Bogota. This religious structure is not only popular but its unique as it was carved out of the walls of a salt mine.
The Zipaquira Salt Cathedral is located about 650 feet underground and contains three different levels that represent the birth, the life and the death of Jesus Christ. The main chamber is decorated with a huge cross formed out of red, yellow and purple lights. The walls of the cathedral are made of salt crystals and contain 14 chapels, each representing a different station of the cross.
Andrés Carne de Res
Located in the Chia district, just a 45 minute ride outside the city is one of Bogota’s most iconic restaurants – Andres Carne de Res. The steakhouse is a popular destination for tourists and locals since they first opened their doors in 1982.
Andres is known for its world-class entertainment, the lively atmosphere and of course steak. The restaurant features a wide variety of music and dancing throughout the night – everything from clowns to actors to singers and dancers.
Think of it as an indoor Colombian festival with the best Colombian food. The venue has multiple floors and each floor has its own unique theme. This is a fun thing to do in Bogota with kids.
Stay at the Wandering Dutch
One of the best things to do in Bogota outside the city is to spend the night in an airplane. The Wandering Dutch is old Fokker 27 plane turned into an Airbnb.
Located about an hour outside the city of near near Chingaza National Park, this stay is a wonderful experience to get out in nature, shut down your devices and just kick it in the mountains. Joe and I stayed here on our second to last night before leaving the country and the best part was the host family.
Owned and operated by an amazing family. Not only did they pick us up from Bogota and drive us out to the property, but they dropped us back off in Bogota the next day. We were not expecting this and the hospitality we received was one of a kind.
Inside the plane is real airplane seats and a stocked cockpit. We played board games, sat by the fire and reflected on the epic summer we had traveling around South America.
Laguna de Guatavita
A little less than 2 hours away from Bogota is Laguna de Guatavita. Lake Guatavita is a high altitude lake located in the Eastern Ranges of the Colombian Andes. The lake is surrounded by steep mountains and this is a great place to go hiking near Bogota.
The lake is best known for its mysterious origin story which involves the Musica people and their legendary El Dorado ritual. According to legend, Musica chiefs would throw golden and jewelry offerings into the lake as part of the ritual.
Tours usually include a traditional indigenous Muyska Ceremonial Temple known as Cusmuy, Museo Indigena Guatavita and lunch.
Hike to La Chorrera and El Chiflón Waterfalls
The last day trip from Bogota you should check out is hiking to la Chorrera and el Chiffon Waterfalls. To get to the start of the hike, it’s about a 45 minute car ride from the city.
I love hiking and its the number one thing I try to do in every new destination that I visit. La Chorrerra waterfall is a single cascade of frothy whitewater, while El Chiffon waterfall is a series of cascades that forms a dramatic sight and is Colombia’s tallest waterfall. Hike to two of Colombia’s best waterfalls and enjoy the beautiful views along the way.