Bogota was established in 1538 and is known for its historical spots. Colombia’s capital city is filled with character and is the country’s cultural center. Located in the Andes mountains, an essential part of the Bogota travel experience is appreciating the city’s beautiful churches and colonial neighborhoods. Unfortunately, it is also infamous for higher than normal crime rates.
Based on these facts, the city might appear intimidating to some. However, If you love exploring nature, history, art, and culture, you won’t regret visiting the “Athens of South America.” Its rich history, art, food, and scenic views will not disappoint. By exercising caution and common sense, many opportunities await tourists that are safe and cheap for budget travelers.
You will also witness its incredible museums, eye-catching arts, historical places, vibrant nightlife, and welcoming people.
If you have made up your mind to visit, read on for a list of the best things to do in Bogota to make your trip exciting and worthwhile. We will explore everything you need to before visiting these must-see tourist destinations.
Best Things to Do in Bogota
The foremost thing you can do in town is a free walk tour of the city. It helps you to make your trip more valuable. During a walking tour, you likely chit-chat with locals and other visitors. You will get an introduction to the city.
Locals will answer your question and tell you about the land. I recommend you choose an adventurous path for the trip where you can explore some exciting things in an urban area. You can sign up for a local free tour agency.
Monserrate Hill is the most popular and must-visit place. Located at more than 3000 meters in height, it can be seen anywhere in the town. Every taxi driver knows the way to Monserrate Hill.
If you love walking, it is safe to hike there during the day. However, avoid walking there at night time.
Monserrate Hill is a famous place for local weddings. There you can see a white church. But the worthy thing about going there is visiting the city from its height. It is an excellent viewpoint for seeing the town from there.
There are few overpriced restaurants on the top. But you get drinks and food from snack bars.
La Candelaria is a downtown area of the municipality and a famous tourist spot. It is a vibrant neighborhood with narrow, colorful streets. It is believed that Candelaria is the place where Bogota was born. So, you can explore the city’s history in this town as it is an important tourist, commercial and educational center.
Candelaria is home to old houses, buildings, and churches with Baroque, Spanish Colonial, and art deco styles. It has several libraries, universities, the famous Botero Museum, and the Gold Museum.
The Gold Museum is the most popular in the country, and nearly half a million people visit it. Opened in 1939, the Gold Museum museum holds almost 55,000 pieces of gold and has documentation of the pre-Hispanic civilization of Colombia.
You can get much information about the gold discovery, mining, and crafting into jewelry and other metal shapes. Moreover, you will get to know how this gold performs its role in the country’s economy.
The museum building is stunning and has a low entry fee(1$).
Botero Museum was founded in 2000 and is famous for its excellent art collection. It is named after Colombian artist Fernando Botero because it was created by donating Fernando’s work.
Fernando’s work consists of paintings and sculptures of big weighty animals and folks. He donated hundreds of workpieces. He directed this work to be displayed to the public free of cost.
In addition to Fernando’s work, you can also see the artwork of other great artists like Picasso, Monet, and different world great artists.
It is the most exciting thing that you can do in the town. On Sunday, the 100-kilometer-long road of the city is closed for vehicles, and it is called Ciclovia Sunday. The people come out on the road with their cycles, skateboards, roller boards, and walk with dogs. If you are there on Sunday, then it is entertaining to join Ciclovia.
You can rent a cycle to join locals in this activity from 8 a.m – 2 p.m.
Plaza Bolivar is located in the heart of the historical area of the city and has a historical statue of Simon Bolivar. The site is always filled with pigeons.
Plaza Bolivar is a center of government business and home of the Palace of Justice, the mayor’s house, the National Capitol, and the Primary Cathedral of Bogota.
Plaza has a 16th-century building. In the era of the Spanish Colonial, this place was the hub of bullfights, circus acts, and public markets.
The city is famous for its history, arts, and cultural monument preservation. You can visit Santa Clara Church to explore the arts and sculptures of the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. In the 17th century, it was built as a Church and was one of the oldest churches in the entire country. Later transitioned into a museum by the government.
The most representative samples of architecture and Baroque decoration of Colombia of the 17th and 18th centuries are preserved in the building. Almost 148 baroque paintings decorate the church’s wall, increasing its beauty. The interior of the building is worth visiting, having a ceiling of golden wooden flowers. In short, it is a must-visit place.
Usaquen Market is set on Sunday, where local vendors come to sell their arts, crafts, gifts, food, and other popular goods.
I like purchasing local stuff wherever I go. If you are there on Sunday, you must head to the market to buy locally made products. The market is cheap and affordable, having impressive and upscale things.
If you are a history lover, you must go to the National Museum of Colombia, the biggest museum in the country. The National Museum was built in 1823, one of the oldest buildings on the subcontinent. Formerly, it was used as a prison cell, but in 1946 it was converted into a museum. It has over 20,000 historical art pieces, some of which date to 10,000 BCE.
The museum has a vast country history, art, and culture collection. There you can get information about county heritage.
The Botanical Garden opened in 1955 and has a vast collection of 20,000 plants. There is a comprehensive collection of endangered regional plants that primarily belong to the Andes and alpine regions of the subcontinent.
The botanical garden is the biggest botanic garden in the city. It served as a research center and also for recreation. There are libraries and a public information desk.
If you like peace, then this place is meant for you. You can wander there while soothing your eyes with blossom plants. There you can find food stalls and can grab something to eat.
Simon Bolivar Park is next to Botanical Garden. So, you can head towards the park as it is the biggest park in the city. It opened in 1979 and expanded over 1,000 acres of area.
You will see people exercising, relaxing, and enjoying themselves with their families. On weekends, parks are crowded because Bogotian people like outdoor activities.
Virgilio Barco is a public library located next to Simon Bolivar. The building was designed by Rogelio Salmon, one of the city’s famous architects. The mirror-walled building opened to the public in 2001, spanning over 14 hectares.
A library is a go-to place for books lover and fans of architecture. From the outside, it looks like a low risen building; when you enter, you will be stunned by the design of the building. There are spacious parks, study rooms, and rooms for children to encourage them to study and do research. You will find an art exhibition there.
Ibero-American Theater Festival is a cultural festival held there. It is a world-famous festival and the most prominent arts performing festival.
You should never miss this festival if you are there in April(April 4-20). At the festival, 100 international and 170 Colombian companies do more than 800 performances and bring together the culture of the five subcontinents in a single place. The purpose of the festival is to show the diversity of different cultures.
The festival includes performances like classical dance, international concerts, street theater, storytelling, and other events. In addition, there are national and international games presentations, academic and trade exhibitions, children’s play, circus acts, and events for all ages. The performances take place on stages and on the streets.
You can go to Villa de Leyva for a day trip. The destination takes 3 to 4 hours on a bus from the central city. Villa de Leyva is a small tourist colonial town and municipality. In 1954 this village was declared the National Monument of Colombia as it preserves national architecture. That’s why it is the principal tourist attraction for local and international tourists.
This village is known as Colombian National Heritage Town and is one of the few towns of Colombia preserving colonial style and architecture – having streets and plazas constructed with cobblestones. The town also features buildings of the 16th century.
Several festivals are held throughout the town, like kites, gastronomy, trees, Villa de Leyva jazz, onion beauty pageant, and Festival of Lights. I hope you catch any of these festivals during the visit to taste the real fun of the village.
Apart from this, you can look for clay made house, Casa Terracota – considered the largest clay pottery in the world. Also, head towards the fossil museum and vineyard.
What to Do in Bogota During Day Time?
You can take a day trip to the northern areas to rest from the city and get fresh air. You can visit Guatavita Lake, located 75 kilometers north of the municipality in the northern mountain range of Colombia. You will see perfectly circular mountains of 700 meters in diameter. Guatavita lake is a fantastic place to visit. The areas of the north are covered with hilly green trees. Nature comes close there.
The area is above sea level, so the temperature falls from 5 to 11℃. You can go nearby where you will find hot springs for relaxation. It will be the best thing that you can do during day time.
For night fun, you can do plenty of fun things while staying there. The first thing is to go for dinner. You can taste local foods and can enjoy some street food there.
You can attend Gringo Tuesday, which starts early for exchanging language with local and foreign but ends up with DJs, dance, music, and party and board games.
La Candelaria is not only for daytime amusement. You can visit La Candelaria at night to enjoy night plays performed by locals in La Candelaria theater. There you can catch cultural events and music and can meet with locals.
Visit the neighborhood, Zona Rosa – home of restaurants, malls, boutiques, and an outdoor seating area.
Cycling is one of the most popular recreation activities in Colombia. You can rent a cycle to do this activity.
If you are a game lover, you must try it. Tejo is a national game. You will like to play a couple of rounds of Tejo.
You can also visit some other famous sites like Usaquen – located in the north and has the largest park.
Chapinero is the residency of an upper-class community in the town. The Colombian stock exchange building is located there.