Bogota has quickly won over my heart with its friendly people, natural beauty, and tons of cultural activities. Bogota is so much more than its troubled and violent past, today Bogota is a great tourist destination and is much safer than it was even a couple of years ago. Bogota is a modern city with tons of things to discover. Whether you have a couple days or more, here are my recommendations on what to see and do in Bogota, Colombia.
La Candelaria is the historic district of Bogota and it’s full of things to see and do. You could easily spend an entire day here as some of the best restaurants and attractions are all located in La Candelaria. Simon Bolivar Plaza is also located within walking distance and it’s a great place to people watch and enjoy a snack or fruit juice from one of the many street vendors. There are a couple of things in La Candelaria that you shouldn’t miss. Check out Manzana Cultural Street, where you will find tons of museums, most with free entry! One of the highlights of Manzana Cultural is the Botero Museum. Fernando Botero is one of Colombia’s well known artists, and the Botero Museum highlights many of his works. You’ll also find pieces by Dali and Picasso here. While La Candelaria is perfectly safe to roam around during the day, once it starts turning into night, its best to return to your hotel as La Candelaria turns into a ghost town at night and becomes less safe.
Visit the Museo De Oro
The Museo De Oro is one of Colombia’s most well-renowned as well as visited museums. The Museo de Oro contains more than 55,000 pieces of gold from all the major pre-Hispanic cultures in Colombia. The Museum provides descriptions in both English and Spanish and provides excellent information on metalworking and how different methods of gold casting were discovered. The Museum also provides meaning into the most common symbols used in gold works and what they signified for the tribes. The Museum also has temporary exhibits unrelated to gold that change quite often.
Take in Some Views at Cerro De Monserrate
Cerro De Monserrate offers some of the best views of Bogota and you get a chance to see just how big the city really is. The contrast between the lush green Andes and the city are a beautiful juxtaposition. To get to the top of Cerro De Monserrate you can either take a cable car (a round trip fare is 19,000 COP) or a train which will get you there sooner. You can also try hiking up to the top, but I recommend you do this in the morning. My Airbnb hosts as well as members of a Facebook Travel Group I am a part of warned not to hike up in the afternoon as there are less people and an increased chance of getting robbed. I took the cable car to the top and was greeted with beautiful views of Bogota. From the top of Cerro De Monserrate you really get to see all of Bogota. If you look to the left you are greeted with a contrasting view of beautiful, green mountains. There is also a church at the top of the Cerro De Monserrate that is also worth checking out, or ducking into if it’s raining. There’s also a couple of high end restaurants that serve mostly Colombian fare. Most dishes start out at 20,000 COP so it’s a bit more on the expensive side.
Take a Day Trip to the Catedral De Sal
If you are looking to take a day trip outside of Bogota, check out the Catedral De Sal – which is a cathedral located in a cavernous salt mine. To get to Catedral de Sal, just take a bus to Portal Norte. Once you get out you should see several coach size buses that say “Zipa” on them. The “Zipa” buses will take you to the town of Zipaquira, which is a town located 40 minutes outside Bogota. The Zipa buses make stops beyond Zipa, so either let the driver know that you want to get off to see the Catedral de Sal, or do what I did and use google maps to follow the bus drivers journey and get off when it looks like you are in Zipaquira. Take a left and you will end up in the main plaza. From here you will take a right and keep walking until you see a sign that says Catedral De Sal. From here you will have to go up some stairs and it will feel like you’re hiking, but once you get to the top you will see a big plaza where the Catedral de Sal. If you are a foreigner you will have to pay 50,000 COP compared to the 20,000 COP Colombians pay. The ticket price includes an obligatory tour. The tour guides will take you through the cavernous Catedral de Sal which is truly unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. There is a stations of the cross in the Catedral de Sal as well as a steep staircase with 47 stairs – if you make the upward climb it is reputed that your sins will be forgiven and you will come out purified. The Catedral de Sal is lit up with lights that illuminate the dark cave. Some might find the disco changing lights tacky, but I thought it looked really cool. Overall, the Catedral de Sal is absolutely worth the trip outside Bogota.
Enjoy the Mercado de Las Pulgas en Usaquen
If you happen to be in Bogota on a Sunday, you can enjoy two things – Bogota’s Sunday Ciclovia, where bikes and pedestrians take over the streets and you can enjoy the Mercado de La Pulgas en Usaquen. Usaquen is a colonial town that became swallowed up by sprawling Bogota and now it is the host of one of the city’s most popular flea markets. The Usaquen Flea Market does not really feel like a flea market, it feels more like a tourist market with tons of handicrafts for sale. You can find everything from colorful weaved tote bags to beaded jewelry. There are also tons of cafes and restaurants, many catered towards tourists, to check out. Spending a day in Usaquen is definitely a great way to pass a lazy Sunday.