Bogotá is the capital of Colombia and is home to more than 10 million inhabitants. The city is versatile and immense and is located at an altitude of 2,300 meters. The weather in the city is a bit cooler than other cities in Colombia, so an extra layer of clothing can’t hurt. Bogotá has some cool neighborhoods such as La Candelaria and Usaquén and has many museums that are worth visiting. The city can also be viewed from Mount Monseratte, which gives you a wide view and an impression of the size of the city. The city is big and because of the many activities you can enjoy yourself for a few days. Besides the nice places to visit, it is good to get an idea of the current situation of Bogotá. That is why we start with a short situation sketch and some background information about this capitol.
For years, Bogotá has suffered from a bad image of a dangerous and inaccessible city. Not only Bogotá but all of Colombia has (had) to do with this stamp. However, through many positive initiatives and developments, a downside is noticeable in many cities in Colombia. Despite the fact that Bogotá worked hard to improve the image of the city, a turnaround has recently been noticeable. Due to the bad economic and political situation in Venezuela, many Venezuelans are fleeing to Colombia and Bogotá, causing the crime rates in the city to rise again. You can also see throughout the city that notes of the currency of Venezuela (Venezuelan Bolivar) are used to make souvenirs. The notes have become worth so little that people literally throw them away. Others use the notes to turn them into art by painting them or folding them into bags or figurines. This negative development is not conducive to the turnaround that Bogotá wanted to make. It is therefore good to pay extra attention when you visit Bogotá. Avoid the Santa Fé district, stay in popular areas such as La Candelaria, Usaquén or Zona G and Zona Rosa, and avoid walking the streets at night. Do you want to know how to travel safely? Then read our tips here.
Just like in many other cities, you can take part in a (free) tour in Bogotá to get to know the city. For example, there is a walking, cycling and graffiti tour available that takes you through the nicest neighborhoods of the city. There are also food tours available that you can find and book online. If you participate in a free tour, a tip to the guide at the end of the tour is recommended.
La Candelaria and Plaza Bolívar
A popular and pleasant neighborhood is La Candelaria, followed by Plaza Bolívar. When you walk through the streets of La Candelaria you will be surprised every time with different murals and cozy cafes and bars. You will also find many ho(s)tels in this district and you can walk safely on the street. There is a cozy atmosphere and just walking through the streets and watching the many street performers is an activity in itself. If you walk from La Candelaria to Plaza Bolívar, you will probably also walk through Calle de Catedral. This street turns into a small market every day, where you can buy local products such as fruit and vegetables, but also souvenirs.
If you want to get an impression of the size of Bogotá, you can go up the Monserrate mountain. The city itself is already at an altitude of 2,300 meters, but from the Monserrate mountain you can find yourself on foot (a tough climb of about 1.5 hours with steps), with a cable car or with a train up and down. Once at the top you have a wide view over the city. You will also find a church on top of the mountain, a more luxurious restaurant with a surrounding (sculpture) garden, an area with souvenir stands and local eateries. If you walk past all the stands and restaurants, you will come to a place with a beautiful view over the mountains and surroundings. All the restaurants and souvenir stands look a bit touristy and are just too much of a good thing, but the view is beautiful. Monserrate is a popular place, especially among the locals. So try to avoid weekends and holidays.
You get to Monseratte by walking from the center or taking a taxi to the starting point. From there you can start the hike up (free) or take the cable car or train up. The funicular and train are equally expensive, 14,000 pesos/€3.50 one way or 23,500 pesos/€5.75 round trip. The cable car is available every day from 12:00. Open daily from 5:30 am – 10:30 pm.
In Bogotá you will find more than 100 museums, so there is always something that suits you. The most famous museums are the Gold Museum and the National Museum. Several exhibitions in the museums tell their story. The great thing about the museums in Bogotá is that the entrance fee is very favorable. For 4,000 pesos/€1 you can visit a museum, because the prices are the same almost everywhere. A nice morning or afternoon activity. The museums are often open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Usaquén District and the Flea Market
Every weekend there is a flea market in the Usaquén district from about 8 a.m. to about 6 p.m. Mainly on Sundays, the market is most extensive and you will find many stalls selling local art and souvenirs. You will also find several street artists, delicacies and a cozy and friendly atmosphere. The stalls do not always sell the most authentic items, but they do sell very beautiful and typical products. Since the market and neighborhood are about 10 km north of downtown Bogotá, the easiest way to get there is by taxi. For example with an Uber, for about 24,000 pesos/€6.
Food and drink
In Bogotá you will always find a nice place for a snack or a drink. However, there are a number of places that stand out.
Bogotá’s local brewery is the Bogotá Brewery Company. BBC has brewed about 5 types of specialty beer, including a Blond and Dark beer. The Monserrate is a favorite. You will find a BBC cafe in several places in the city. There are also several cafes that tap the beer.
Arte y pasion café: Escuela de Baristas
For a delicious cup of coffee and a new coffee experience, a visit to Arte y pasion café: Escuela de Baristas is recommended. The cafe is located near Plaza Bolívar and just selecting your coffee is quite an experience. You can choose from 13 types of coffee beans that come from the different coffee regions in Colombia. You can also choose the way in which your coffee is brewed. The baristas can also explain how your coffee is made, or give advice on which coffee suits you. When you have chosen what you want to drink, they come to your table to prepare the coffee. Drinking coffee next level.
Carrera 4a, at Plaza Santamaria, you will find several great restaurants in a cozy and safe neighborhood. The restaurants are generally international and you can eat from Peruvian, Spanish or, for example, Argentinian cuisine. At Panda bakery you can buy delicious bread. The street towards Calle 30, but also the street itself is a nice and cozy street with several restaurants and bars.
How do you get there and back?
Bogotá is the capital of Colombia so it is not difficult to get there. It is useful to know that you will most likely arrive at Terminal de transporte Salitre by bus. Bogotá has 3 larger bus stations, of which Salitre is the largest and most used. There is also a Terminal de Transporte Sur and Terminal de Transporte Norte. Salitre has 5 terminals that are connected to each other and many bus companies have their counters in each terminal. Outside, before you enter the terminal, there is a large sign with the bus companies that are located in that terminal. Don’t have a ticket yet and don’t know where to go? Feel free to ask someone for help, the people are very helpful. If you have already bought a ticket online, you can look outside on the signs in which terminal you need to be. Are you entering the wrong terminal? No problem, you can walk from one terminal to another very easily.
If you have an online ticket, you can proceed directly to the waiting/departure areas. You can find these behind the counters where the tickets are sold. Before you enter, your ticket will be checked and you will be told which stop to wait at.
You can go in all directions from the bus stations. By bus to Villa de Leyva, Tunja, San Gil, Medellin, the Tatacoa desert and more. The easiest way is to book your ticket online in advance via, for example, the Redbus site. This is not necessary, but for longer journeys it is often useful to be assured of your seat.
There are many taxis in Bogotá and digital taxi services such as Uber also operate there. Very easy and safe to get from A to B in Botogá and certainly recommended if you want to go somewhere in the evening.