Welcome to Colombia! Your Colombia trip will probably start in the capital city Bogotá. The city lies at 2,600 meters altitude in the mountains and therefore has a nice cool climate. Add the delicious food and all the sights and you’ll understand that your trip could not have started any better!
What to do in Bogota, Colombia?
We spent two days in Bogotá – at the beginning and end of our trip – and found that to be exactly right. The city may perhaps not be the highlight of Colombia. It has so many cool sights though, that it is absolutely worth two days of your trip. These are the best things to spend these two days with!
Wander around La Candelaria. Only in this area will you only find low buildings in this metropolis. The colourful houses and the lively street life make the oldest district of Bogotá an attraction in itself.
Bogotá has many world-class museums. The Botero Museum is a must if you want to learn about the most famous Colombian painter. Never heard of him? Take a look at his chubby artwork and you’ll probably know exactly who we are talking about. Botero himself donated this impressive collection of artworks not long ago to set up this museum. It is also great for your travel budget: the museum is free!
Reserve a spot at the free graffititour at 10.00 AM or 2.00 PM. During a walking tour around the city you will learn about the city’s beautiful graffiti art and get a glimpse of the Colombian culture. As with all free tours, the intention is that you give a voluntary donation afterwards.
From Monserrate you have an amazing view over the city. At 3,150 meters altitude you’ll find a white church and a beautiful viewpoint. You walk take the 1500 steps up, but do this for your own safety only during the busy weekends and not during the week. We chose an easier option and took the cable car up.
The most famous museum of Bogotá is the Gold Museum. You will come across many other gold museums in the country, but none can match the impressive collection of the museum in the capital. Admission to the museum is free on Sundays, but the entry price on the other days of the week is only 3000 pesos. Highly recommended are the free guided tours in Spanish and English from Tuesday to Saturday at 11.00 and 14.00. We were lucky to have a guide for our own on a Saturday morning, when we turned out to be the only ones interested in the free tour. Our private guide gave us the most amazing tour around the museum. We learned a lot about the history and culture of the country. A highlight of our trip!
Bogotá is the perfect place to get your first taste of the Colombian cuisine. In Bogotá we tried the fermented drink chicha, drunk coca leaves, ate too many banana chips and enjoyed many local tropical fruit. Our culinary highlight was a visit to the popular, yet tiny Puerta Falsa. We skipped the signature dish of chocolate milk with cheese, but chose Colombian ajiaco (a potato soup) and tamares in banana leaves. Oh, and if you are more interested in a burger? Go to the Wok-a-bar and order the El Diablo. You will love it! For a local snack, we recommend the empanadas to go at Comidas Rapida Henry, according to locals the best in town!
A fun way to get to know a city is a free walking tour. We did a tour that started and ended at the Plazoleta Chorro de Quevedo. We got to try a lot of local food and drinks and heard all about the Colombian history, culture and politics. The perfect start of your Colombia trip!
Tips for visiting Bogotá, Colombia
#1 Beware of the sun! Because of the cool temperatures you will not feel like using sunscreen, but the altitude is actually very treacherous. Because you are this close to the sun, you’ll get a sunburn very quickly and easily up here. It already happened to us in a few hours during a cold morning. Be warned!
#2 Bogotá is not unsafe at all. The historical La Candelaria and trendy Zona Rosa are perfectly safe for travelers.
#3 Take an Uber! In Bogotá you can travel with an uber, a much faster and cheaper way to travel to your hotel than by using the public transport or a taxi. With a bit of luck, you will meet a friendly driver who will tell you all about the city and his culture, like we had.
#4 Enjoy the street food! The banana chips and empanadas were very popular with us.
#5 Take advantage of the low budget options in the capital. A free museum or a free graffiti tour, you can save your travel budget for later.
#6 Bogotá has a car-free Sunday! The largest roads in the city are not accessible to cars on Sundays. Rent a bike and drive around the huge roads between the locals.
#7 We slept in the La Candeleria district in the beautiful boutique hostel Arche Noah. Highly recommended!