If you ask a group of people whether Bogota is worth visiting, you’ll probably get a number of different answers. Bogota seems to be a bit of a ‘love it or hate it’ city.
Some people see the beauty in Colombia’s capital, whilst others perceive it as a grey city where they don’t feel that safe. The only way to find out who’s right is to experience Bogota for yourself.
Bogota is a big city that varies greatly depending on what district you’re in.
Visit La Candeleria and you’ll be surrounded by colourful colonial houses, incredible graffiti and plenty of museums to keep you entertained for days. Hop over to Chapinero for some luxury, nightlife and grand malls.
Get your bucket list ready. In this guide, we’ll show you the best things to do in Bogota and how to experience them.
Need help planning your trip? Check out our tips for visiting Bogota — you’ll find the best restaurants, where to stay, how to get around and more!
#1 Get the best view of Bogota from Monserrate mountain
If you look up to the sky pretty much anywhere in Bogota, you’ll see the iconic hill with a white church on top.
Monserrate is one of the most popular things to do in Bogota as it offers incredible panoramic views of the city. The ride up, and down, in the funicular or cable car is also pretty fun!
Once you reach the top, which sits at 3,152m above sea level, you can’t help but be amazed by the size of Bogota. This sprawling and dense city just keeps on going.
The top of Monserrate is a nice place to grab a drink or some food and look over the lush jungle on the other side of the hill. You can also visit Monserrate Sanctuary, a popular pilgrimage destination.
When to visit Monserrate
We’d recommend visiting during the week as Monserrate can get very busy on the weekend with locals. This means you’ll probably have to stand in a queue for some time.
Going early in the morning is another good strategy to avoid queues.
Top Tip: Our favourite time to visit is just before sunset. This way you get to see the city during the day, as well as lit up at night. It’s a magnificent sight!
How to visit Monserrate
There are a number of ways to reach the top of Monserrate — by foot, funicular or cable car.
Hiking up Monserrate can be a great way to get some exercise in. You’ll gain more than 500m of elevation, so it’s not for the faint-hearted, but it takes on average an hour.
The hiking path is open between 5am-1pm every day apart from Tuesday. It’s only open for these hours as walking the path in the dark isn’t considered very safe.
If you’re looking to save some money, the hike is free. Plus you have more time to take in the incredible views as you go up.
By funicular or cable car
If you don’t fancy the walk up, you can take the funicular or cable car to the top (and back).
The cable car takes 4 minutes, whilst the funicular travels at a slower pace. We’d recommend taking one up, and the other down. This way you get to experience both.
A return ticket for either costs 22,000 COP ($4.65). The opening times of both vary throughout the week. You can see their opening times below:
Tuesday to Friday: 6:30am to 11:45am
Saturdays: 6:30am to 4pm
Sundays: 6:30am to 6:30pm
Monday: doesn’t run
Monday: 6:30am to midnight
Tuesday to Saturday: 12pm until midnight
Sunday: 10:30am to 4:30pm
If you really want to make the most of your time in Bogota, you can join this all-in-one tour which takes you to Monserrate, on a tour of La Candeleria, to the Gold Museum and to a coffee tasting!
As you walk around Bogota, you can’t help but notice the amount of graffiti and murals that cover the city’s walls.
Over the past few years, Bogota’s views on street art have changed. It’s now promoted and protected. However, it’s more than just art. The murals tell a story, convey a political message or represent a part of Colombia’s history.
Street art has been a way for the community to be heard and express their thoughts and feelings. There’s also a big focus on Colombia’s incredible biodiversity and spirituality, with lots of images of animals, plants and indigenous culture.
Join a graffiti tour
You can wander the streets and admire the works of art yourself, but if you really want to understand the artist’s intentions behind the art, you should join a graffiti tour.
We recommend joining the Gran Colombia Free Graffiti Tour. The tour guides are incredibly knowledgeable and go above and beyond to share their country with you.
The tour lasts 2.5 hours, covering all of the main graffiti streets around the La Candelaria area. Plus a coca tea tasting at the end.
Although it says free in the title, you are expected to tip at the end of the tour. What we love about these types of tours is that you can decide the value of the tour.
#3 Discover Colombia’s cuisine on a food tour
Colombia isn’t as famous for its food as other Latin American countries such as Mexico and Peru, but it does have some very tasty dishes.
A food tour is a great thing to do in Bogota to learn about its history and culture. Often, these things go hand in hand.
We recommend this Bogota Food Tour which takes you to seven spots across the city. You’ll get to taste delicious dishes such as ajiaco and tamales, plus different types of fruit that you might not have heard of before.
Make sure to come on an empty stomach as the taster-size portions feel more like full-size meals!
Another tour that we’d recommend joining during your time in Bogota is a free walking tour.
Colombia has had a turbulent but fascinating history. Taking a walking tour allows you to get a better understanding of what has made the country what it is today. There’s more to Colombia than its narco past.
We recommend joining the Free Walking Tour with Beyond Colombia. Over 3 hours, you’ll cover a large proportion of the historic area of Bogota. You’ll cover topics such as El Dorado, the Black Market of Emeralds, Simon Bolivar and much more.
The best part is that you’ll get a local’s perspective on the city, as well as some insider recommendations.
#5 Discover over 34,000 pieces in the Gold Museum
Colombia has a long and fascinating history when it comes to gold. It was used hundreds of years ago in religious ceremonies and it brought Europeans to Colombia in the hope of getting rich.
The Gold Museum in Bogota beautifully tells the story of Colombia’s relationship with gold. Boasting over 34,000 pieces of gold, it’s the largest collection of pre-hispanic gold work in the whole world.
How to visit Bogota’s Gold Museum
The Gold Museum is open Tuesday to Saturday, 9am-6pm, and on Sundays, 10am-4pm.
Exploring the museum in depth takes around 4 hours.
Entrance Tuesday-Saturday costs 4,000 COP ($0.85) and is free on Sundays — which does mean that on Sundays the Gold Museum can be very busy! You can also buy an audio tour for 8,000 COP ($1.70).
#6 Admire works of art at the Botero Museum
The Botero Museum is considered one of the best museums in Bogota, and we can’t help but agree.
Aside from the actual building being stunning, the exhibitions inside are fascinating and extraordinary.
Fernando Botero is one of Colombia’s most famous artists. His paintings are unlike any other artists’, depicting people with large and exaggerated features. Often his works make a political criticism or humorous point.
How the museum came into existence
In 2000, Fernando Botero donated a large proportion of his art collection — 208 pieces, to be exact. Of these, 123 were his personal artwork, whilst the rest are by renowned artists such as Picasso. The diversity of the art pieces throughout the museum is captivating.
Fernando Botero wanted to make art accessible to everyone. That’s why the entrance to the museum is free.
The Botero Museum is open every day apart from Mondays.
#7 Explore Bogota by bike
The last tour that we recommend in Bogota is the bike tour. This is a very popular one to join. You’ll see lots of groups riding around Bogota.
The advantage of a bike tour, in addition to it being super fun, is that you can cover more ground.
On this Bogota Bike Tour you visit traditional food markets, a coffee factory, the bullfighting stadium, central cemetery, historic centre and more!
The tour lasts 4 hours and costs just $12.
Want to see more of Bogota and have an adventure at the same time? Join this Bogota Bike Tour for $12.
#8 Wander around La Candelaria
If you’re staying in La Candelaria, you’ll inevitably end up exploring the area. For those staying in other districts, visiting La Candelaria should be at the top of your things to do list.
Considered the vibrant heart of Bogota, the historic centre boasts colourful colonial buildings and narrow streets.
La Candelaria is where you can find delicious coffee shops and restaurants, some of the city’s best street art and lots of museums. We talk about a few of the museums below.
#9 See what the hype is about in Zona Rosa
Spending the day exploring another neighbourhood in Bogota is a great way to see the different sides of the city.
Zona Rosa has a very different vibe and aesthetic to La Candeleria. It’s one of the most stylish and modern areas of Bogota.
Here you’ll discover some of the best nightlife in the city, the trendiest bars and fine dining restaurants.
If you need to do some shopping, it’s home to huge, modern and glamorous malls. You can spend the whole day simply wandering around these.
The Salt Cathedral is more than a religious site. It’s a masterpiece! The cathedral originally began at the hands of miners who wanted to create a place of worship.
Over time, the salt cathedral expanded and was updated in 1995 to what you see today. Now, it sits 200m underground and can hold 3,000 people during Sunday services.
It was declared the First Wonder of Colombia in 2007 for a reason. The lighting brings the architecture and sculptures to life, creating a somewhat magical feel. It’s hard to describe the feeling, so you’ll just have to visit the salt cathedral yourself.
How to visit Zipaquirá’s Salt Cathedral
Zipaquirá’s Salt Cathedral is located just under an hour from Bogota. It’s pretty easy to get to with public transport.
You can take a bus from the North Station of Transmilenio or the Transportation Terminal to Zipaquirá. From here you can just walk to the Salt Cathedral. The bus ticket costs 5,400 COP ($1.15).
Entrance to the Salt Cathedral costs 60,000 COP ($12.50).
Alternatively, a lot of people opt to join a tour. This way the journey to and from Bogota is organised for you, and all you have to do is enjoy!
Although more expensive than doing the day trip by yourself, this Salt Cathedral Tour for $55 also includes an audio guide and a chance for you to explore the town of Zipaquirá too.
Bogota is pretty much an urban jungle, so if you’re craving some nature, you may want to visit Laguna de Guatavita.
Ever heard the legend of El Dorado or seen the movie ‘The Road to El Dorado’? Well, Laguna de Guatavita is where this all happened!
Laguna de Guatavita is one of the most sacred pre-hispanic lagoons. It was used by the Muisca people as the location for their sacred rituals. One of which involved the chief being completely covered in gold dust, surrounded by piles of gold and emeralds ready to be offered to the gods.
During the ritual, gold objects and precious stones were thrown into the lagoon. After hearing of this legend, people from far and wide travelled to Laguna de Guatavita to retrieve the gold from the waters.
Now, sitting at 3,100m, the lagoon is a beautiful place to visit and learn about its legends.
How to visit Laguna de Guatavita
If you have a car, then the journey to Laguna de Guatavita takes just under 2 hours.
For those relying on public transport, you can take a bus from Portal Norte Bus Terminal to Guatavita. This costs 9,000 COP ($1.90). Ask the driver to drop you off near Laguna de Guatavita. From here, you’ll need to take another bus to the entrance which costs 7,000 COP ($1.45).
An option that requires less planning is combining a visit to the Salt Cathedral with Laguna de Guatavita. This private tour for $85 is a great way to cover two of Bogota’s most famous day trips. Plus the added bonus is that everything is organised for you!
The beautiful colonial town of Villa de Leyva is a popular holiday destination for people from Bogota.
Villa de Leyva couldn’t be any more different from Bogota. It’s a very organised town, with stunning white-washed buildings, cobblestone streets and a vibrant plaza.
How long should you spend in Villa de Leyva
As it takes 5 hours on the bus to get to Villa de Leyva, we wouldn’t recommend it as a day trip. Staying a night or two allows you to absorb the relaxing atmosphere of the town, try some of its delicious restaurants and go hiking.
Villa de Leyva is surrounded by mountains, so there are plenty of hiking routes that you can do. Our favourite is the Las Carcavas trail — it leads you to a place that looks like Mars!
For more than 30 years now, the market has been a meeting place for culture, tradition and antiques. Every Sunday, over 330 stores set up business selling everything from clothing, jewellery, furniture and knick knacks to antique toys.
Even if you don’t plan on buying anything, it’s a wonderful way to spend your Sunday morning — absorbing the vibrant atmosphere of the market and discovering the weird and wonderful things for sale.
The market is open 9am-5pm every Sunday.
#14 Get some fresh air in Simon Bolivar Park
From above, Bogota may just look like a maze of concrete, but you can actually find 360 hectares of green space. This makes Parque Metropolitano Simón Bolívar bigger than New York’s Central Park.
The park is a nice place to relax, read a book, walk around the lake or hire a bike. It’s a popular place for locals, looking to escape the noise of the city.
#15 Understand the history of Colombia at the National Museum
If Bogota is your first stop in Colombia, a visit to Bogota’s National Museum can be a great way to learn a bit about the country.
With over 20,000 objects, the museum takes you through the history of Colombia from its first inhabitants and prehispanic societies to modern-day Indigenous groups.
Entrance costs only 3,000 COP ($0.60)
#16 Find a bike and join Ciclovia on a Sunday
Every Sunday something magical happens across Colombia. In all of the major cities, a large area of streets is closed to car trafffic.
Locals then flood to these streets to go running, cycling, even rollerblading.
The program was introduced to promote active living in urban areas. This definitely seems to have worked as you see thousands of people passing through the streets.
Stalls selling food and drink set up along the street, making the day a real event. This is one of the most local things to do in Bogota!
Ciclovia starts at 7am and lasts until 2pm every Sunday. The route covers 128km and can be found on Bogota’s main roads.
#17 Enjoy nature in Bogota’s Botanical Gardens
If you’re a plant fanatic or just want to be surrounded by nature for a few hours, then Bogota’s Botanical Gardens are worth a visit.
With over 19,000 different plants from all over Colombia, it’s impressive seeing all of the country’s incredible biodiversity in one place.
As well as being a lovely place to spend a few hours, Bogota Botanical Garden plays an important role in the protection of endangered species and research.
The Botanical Garden is open every day and entrance costs 3,500 COP ($0.70)
#18 Learn a language (or party) at Gringo Tuesdays
Despite the name, Gringo Tuesdays aren’t just for Gringos, the event is for locals too.
Gringo Tuesdays is a cultural and language exchange, held in a bar called Vintrash every Tuesday. It’s a great opportunity to meet people from all over the world, including Colombia, practise your new language skills and learn about another culture.
How to attend Gringo Tuesdays
This is the wholesome part of Gringo Tuesdays which happens between 5pm and 9pm. After 9pm, the event just turns into a massive party.
Entrance to Gringo Tuesday costs 20,000 COP ($4.25), but this also includes a couple of beers.
It always turns out to be a crazy and unforgettable night. And don’t worry, if you miss Gringo Tuesday in Bogota, you can also go in Medellin.
#19 Play Tejo like a pro
Tejo is a popular game that can be found all over Colombia.
It’s a rather bizarre but exciting game. Players take turns to throw a heavy steel disk onto a board covered in clay. At the centre of the board lies a metal ring or horseshoe.
Around the edges of the ring are triangular paper pouches that are filled with gunpowder. When you hit them, you’ll be rewarded with a pretty loud explosion and maybe some fire!
Points are earned depending on where the heavy metal disk lands. It’s a fun way to spend the evening in Bogota, playing alongside locals and enjoying a cerveza or two!
What makes it different is that the outside is completely covered in red and white stripes. You can find it within the historic centre, so it’s worth a quick stop if you’re exploring Bogota’s museums.
Round it up
Now you’ve picked the best things to do in Bogota, it’s time to start ticking off that bucket list. Not sure how to plan your trip? Our guide is here to help! You’ll find out how long to stay in Bogota, where to eat, how to get around and more. Happy planning!
Our favourite places to stay in Bogota
In Colombia’s capital, you’ll find plenty of stylish and clean hotels that offer great value for money. Location is important in Bogota because some areas aren’t recommended to stay in.
Top tip: Don’t spend too much time looking into accommodation in Bogota. The capital is somewhere you’ll probably only want to spend 1-2 nights anyways.
Here are our favourite places to stay in Bogota:
93 Luxury Suites Residences — Treating Yourself
Are you dreaming about sleeping on an extremely comfy bed after your long flight? 93 Luxury Suites will make you feel rejuvenated within a night.
The next morning you can go for a little workout in their in-house gym or watch a movie in their 17-seat cinema room. After staying here, you’ll be ready to start your Colombian adventure.
Kate is a writer, (ex)Management Consultant and avid traveller. She recently returned from a 2-year career break exploring the world and decided corporate life wasn’t for her. She’ll soon be testing life as a digital nomad. She’s visited over 40 countries and fell in love with Latin America in particular. Her travelling has inspired a passion for yoga, salsa, hiking and Spanish.
Aleksandra is a writer and editor who recently moved from Hong Kong to London. She’s worked and studied in four countries (and counting) and picked up a new hobby in each of them. She’s a big fan of long train journeys so you can count on her to take the scenic route, finding a few hidden gems along the way.