In this article you will learn about the best things to do in Bogota whether you are just stopping over on your way to Peru or you’re spending one day in Bogota as a prelude to your Colombia trip.
Where is Bogota
Bogota is situated at 2,640 meters above sea level in central Colombia, a country that has 3 ranges of mountains and a unique access to both the Pacific and the Caribbean Sea. When I think Bogota I think Pablo Escobar and drug wars. Colombia today is a much safer place than a few years back, but it doesn’t mean you don’t need to keep your wits about you.
Bogota temperature never really goes above 20 degrees Celsius. It’ pretty consistent all year round with high averages of 18 degrees Celsius and low averages of 8 degrees Celsius. The wettest months are October, April and May with 95 mm of rainfall. The driest months are January and June to August were it averages 40 mm of rainfall.
Best hotels in Bogota Colombia
If you’re considering where to stay in Bogota, here are some safe and decent neighbourhoods to consider: Zona Rosa, La Candelaria, Central, South Chapinero and Bogota International Centre.
Below are some best places to stay in Bogota.
The Orchids Hotel
This luxury pick in the heart of La Candelaria which is a historic quarter of Bogota is the best pick if your budget allows it. This unique colonial villa has only 6 rooms and all the amenities that you need to spend a night in style including a butler service!
Check the availability here.
Hotel Morrison Bogota-
This middle range hotel is situated in the business district. This hotel has a business feel but also can be suitable for leisure. The hotel has a great breakfast, outstanding service and many good restaurants nearby.
Check the availability here.
Hotel San Francisco Bogota
This is a budget option to stay close to the historic quarter.Check the availability here.
Courtyard by Marriott Bogota Airport
This is one of the hotels near Bogota Airport which can come in handy if your flight is at an awkward time. The hotel has all the amenities expected from a Marriot branch!
Check the availability here.
Top 10 things to do – one day in Bogota
1. Visit Paloquemao fruit market
Colombia is situated in the tropics and a big part of the country is covered by the jungle. This is good news for those of you that love fruits. Colombia has so many types of them, some I have never seen or heard about before in my life. So head to the fruit market and go wild. Buy some fruits that you don’t recognise and have some fun tasting it. You can ask vendors to cut it for you so you can try it there! My favourite fruits were guajava and pitaya.
2. Buy from street vendors in the Septima Avenida
Walk along this avenue towards Plaza Bolivar and observe what is happening around you. Every Sunday, on this street thousands of vendors display their products for sales. You can buy here virtually anything and everything from Shrek toys, SIM cards, squidgy toys that smash on the surface and mould back to a ball to arts and crafts like handmade bracelets. The street is unbelievably busy on Sunday. It seems like all “rolas” with their families (Colombian for residents of Bogota) spend the day here walking, buying and munching on different street foods.
3. Play Tejo
Tejo is the Colombian national sport. It’s the weirdest game I’ve ever seen in my life! You throw a metal ball towards a circular board with small metal triangles. If you hit one the right way, it explodes! A few locals let me have a go but you can also pay for a whole round. Colombians, I think mostly men play this in the bars. Playing tejo is one of the most interesting things to do in Bogota, Colombia!
4. Eat some street food
Exploring street foods is one of the top things to do in Bogota! As you walk the streets of Bogota, do what the locals do and do some street food shopping! Bogota has some grilled sweet corn called “masorka”. There are so many varieties of sweet corn in South America, probably as many as varieties of potatoes! There is also Colombian national alcoholic drink called- “aguardiente”. I loved the red, juice with fruit chunks called “sal picon”. There are sellers with massive glass containers selling it on the Plaza Bolivar. And there are “empanadas” – small pastries with various fillings. Yum!
5. Take some snaps at Plaza Bolivar
As Septima Avenida finishes, you will get onto Bogota’s main square. The square houses the Bogota’s historic buildings such the Palace of Justice, the National Capitol and the Primary Cathedral of Bogota. This is probably the most recognisable place in Bogota, so take some good snaps! Our guide told us that Pablo Escobar attempted a few times to put a bomb in El Congreso to destroy the evidence of his criminal activities! Apparently he also offered the government to pay the debt with America in exchange for not extraditing him from the USA.
6. Visit Museo de Oro
The Gold Museum is one the most visited Bogota attractions, apparently around 500,000 tourists see it every year! The museum showcases golden objects such as jewellery and other artefacts from pre Colombian civilizations in a chronological order. Very interesting to see some treasures!
7. Visit Museo Botero
What to see in Bogota if you only had 1 hour to spare. Go to the Museo Botero! This is by far my favourite Bogota must see! The whole museum is devoted to Colombia’s finest and most loved artist – Fernando Botero. His iconic style called “Boterismo” that depicts people in exaggerated shapes somehow reminded me of works of the great Rubens. I’m not a big fan of museums, but Botero’s pieces seemed to me vibrant and memorable.
8. Walk along La Candelaria
From the Museo Botero, walk up the street towards la Candelaria. On your way, you will see a yellow church under patronage of Saint Ezequiel. An interesting fact about this church is that during the Spanish conquest there were two different entrances to the church- one for Spanish born and one for indigenous people.
As you walk further along, you’ll start noticing crafts shops and hipsters restaurants and cafes. If you are hungry, this is the place where you will find some great options for lunch or dinner. This area is probably the nicest in Bogota and although I didn’t stay here I would highly recommend you to stay for the night in this lovely neighbourhood.
Plaza del Chorro de Quevedo – is another lively place where young people meet, eat, drink and mingle. It is also the place where Bogota was founded. Walk across the square and you will find yourself in a narrow alley called “the funnel”. The hipster, chic, party vibe continues here. Pay attention to many great murals along the way!
9. Admire Bogota from the top of Monserrate Mountain
Get an UBER to the funicular station of Monserrate. The cable car cost around $5 and it’s quite a ride! Choose a day with a good visibility to take advantage of this viewing point! It’s also possible to hike to the top. It will take around 1 hour. But due to the altitude, the hike is quiet challenging. I didn’t try it because I read a lot from other bloggers that it’s not safe especially in the late afternoons.
10. Join a walking tour
Bogota is such a vibrant and interesting city but also can be sketchy and overwhelming. So if you only have one day in Bogota, I recommend you joining a city tour. I certainly felt overwhelmed as streets were action packed and crowded. Having a local guide taking me round the city certainly gave my jetlagged body the comfort I craved and I have not missed any Bogota best bits like playing Tejo.
Bonus – Salt Cathedral Bogota
What to do in Bogota if you happen to have a spare day? Visiting salt cathedral of Zipaquirá is definitely by far the best option for a day trip from Bogota. It is situated about 50km north from Bogota, and will take about half a day to see the salt mine and the salt cathedral – Colombia’s first wonder. You can take an UBER to Portal del Norte bus station that will take you to Zipaquira. The bus takes approximately 2 hours and departs regularly. Once in Zipaquira, you can walk to the entrance. The bus costs around $2 and the entrance fee $19. Alternatively, you can take an organised tour that will take care of the logistics for you.
Hungry for more South America’s city itineraries read top things to do in Lima here!