With a population of nearly 10 million, Bogotá is the chaotic capital of Colombia that many travelers like to leave behind as fast as possible. That while there is an awful lot to do and see both inside and just outside the city. Because of the impressive surroundings skipped by many travelers, Bogotá is precisely a good base to explore the neighboring department of Cundinamarca. This can be done during a couple of days or on day trips from Bogotá. To give you inspiration and ideas for getting to know this still undiscovered region of Colombia, in this article you find 22 day trips from Bogotá. Which, by the way, you can easily visit for more days. Be surprised by the possibilities and diversity of this region!
1. The white village of Guatavita and the Laguna
Why? | White village, hiking, nature, mountain lake, camping
Guatavita is one of the most famous villages in the surroundings of Bogotá, yet not much visited by foreign tourists. The characteristic white village is located on a lake where you can enjoy views and go hiking. The village of Guatavita is perfect for strolling, eating good food and buying souvenirs. Since I live around the corner, I come there often, and every time it is fun. Along Lake Tominé there are also many places to camp. Read all about Guatavita here.
From Guatavita, you can book a tour to Laguna de Guatavita. This mountain lake is famous for the legend El Dorado. The hike steep uphill goes through beautiful nature. This is probably the most popular hike as a day trip from Bogotá, especially perfect if you have one day and don’t want to put too much effort into getting anywhere. More information can be found here.
2. Cheese factory HolaAndes: Dutch cheese in a Colombian farming village
Why? | Off the beaten path, Dutch cheese farm, hiking
Have you been traveling for a while and craving Dutch cheese? Want to see how they make Dutch cheese in Colombia? Or are you just curious about this extraordinary concept far off the beaten path? Then you’ve come to the right place. Contact Dutch Tobias and learn how they make Dutch cheese in Colombia. Have lunch at the farm and in the afternoon you can take a walk through páramo (see No. 3). Here you can find all the information about cheese making in HolaAndes.
3. Go look for black bears, páramo and FARC ruins in Vista Hermosa Nature Park
Why? | Hiking, páramo, FARC ruins, off the beaten path
An amazing day trip from Bogotá is definitely this natural park. Perfectly combined with the cheese factory HolaAndes, this park is a treat for the eyes. Spectacular páramo, far off the beaten track and tracks of black bears. If you are lucky you can actually spot them. With a guide you will walk up to the FARC ruins, where just over a decade ago there were actual guerrillas. Definitely a wonderful day trip combined with the cheese farm! Read all about Vista Hermosa here.
4. Hiking through a unique ecosystem in Chingaza National Park
Why? | Nature, hiking, páramo, off the beaten path
Chingaza National Park is nothing more than spectacular. Therefore, if you like hiking, this is for you. Off the beaten track, you walk among unique páramo to the most beautiful views at over 3,500 meters altitude. It is an amazine experience to be here and walk through an ecosystem found almost nowhere in the world. It is not easy to reach, but when you get there it is more than worth it. You can easily do one hike on a day trip. If you want to do more hiking or spend less travel time, stay in a village nearby (for tips, see the link). All detailed information about Chingaza can be found here.
5. Hike to Colombia’s highest waterfall in Choachí
Why? | Hiking, nature, off the beaten track, waterfall
Just a 1.5-hour drive from Bogotá you will find Colombia’s highest waterfall, La Chorrera. And believe me: this is a pretty spectacular picture. I didn’t expect much from it, but it was really great. During a hike of about 2.5 to 3 hours, you will pass two waterfalls and walk with your head in the clouds. Literally. It is a tough hike, quite a bit of traveling by bus and in rainy area, but really worth it! Perfectly combined with relaxing in the nearby thermal baths (No. 6). Find all the information about how to get to Colombia’s highest waterfall here.
6. Santa Mónica thermal baths in Choachí
Why? | Relaxing, swimming, thermal bath
Also in Choachí, you will find one of Colombia’s most famous thermal baths: Santa Mónica. Because these thermal baths are located at a a lot lower altitudde than Bogotá, it is also immediately a lot warmer and good for a day of relaxation. You have several thermal pools, saunas and steam rooms. Want to know more? Read all about the Termales de Choachí here.
7. Chicaque Nature Park
Why? | Nature, hiking, ziplining, horseback riding, waterfall, camping
South of Bogotá is the Chicaque Natural Park. A place where you can not only hike through beautiful nature to a waterfall, you will also find many butterflies and birds in the wild, you can go horseback riding and ziplining, you will have beautiful views and it is perfect for camping. A nice day trip from Bogotá, or spend the night there in the middle of nature. Read more about Chicaque here.
8. Relaxing and picking mango’s in La Mesa
Why? | Resting, sunbathing, swimming, hiking
If you are in Bogotá you will find that it’s quite chilly. No place to relax by the pool. But at only a 1 to 1.5 hour drive from the city, you can! Namely on the western side of Bogotá, where you will find a warm climate. La Mesa, for example, is a popular weekend destination among Bogotans, and you too can enjoy relaxing by the pool and enjoying beautiful nature there. You can also hike there and pick fresh mangoes from the tree. Read more about the hike we took here.
9. Hummingbird spotting in San Francisco
Why? | Hummingbird Garden, resting, camping, warm climate, hiking
San Francisco is also on the western side of Bogotá and here too you will find wonderful warm weather. This is where you can shoot photos of the speedy hummingbirds in the beautiful hummingbird garden, where you can camp and buy delicious coffee. There is also a hiking trail up the mountain for fantastic views. A fun day trip. Read all about San Francisco in Colombia here.
10. Tobia: rafting near Bogotá
Why? | Extreme sports such as rafting, abseiling, river hiking, ziplining and more
For extreme sports, you really don’t have to go all the way to San Gil ; this can also be found just around the corner from Bogotá. Tobia is a little farther from San Francisco and is the perfect place for rafting, ziplining or abseiling. We were there several times and also the hike through the river to the waterfall is very special. There are plenty of hotels where you can just lie down by the pool, just a couple of hours from Bogotá. Tobia is a really fun day trip from Bogotá for people who like (extreme) sports. Read more about extreme sports in Tobia here.
11. Shopping and eating in Chía
Why? | Shopping, food, Andrés Carne de Res
Chía is a village just north of Bogotá that has actually grown more or less attached to the city. It’s a popular place for Bogotans who want to live in a village. Although with a population of over 130,000, Chía really cannot be called a village anymore. The town does have a cute center, but in particular it is known for the famous restaurant Andrés Carne de Res. I myself come to Chía quite often, but for only one thing: the huge and luxurious shopping center Fontanar. In fact, for us, it was ideal to still go to a mall without having to go into Bogotá. We also always go to the (VIP) cinema in Fontanar. Fontanar is highly recommended if you like shopping, the cinema and good food. There is also a lot to do for children in that mall. By the way, you can find more information about shopping in Bogotá here.
12. Visit the salt cathedral in Zipaquirá
Why? | Underground salt cathedral, food, town, shopping, museums
Admitted, this is not my favorite day trip. But many say the salt cathedral in Zipaquirá is a must-see. I personally find it over the top, where as a tourist you pay a high entrance fee, you are obliged to go along on an underground tour and in the salt mine you pass by all tourist shops. The cathedral itself is pretty, but whether it’s worth it…. Zipaquirá, by the way, has more to offer, including an interesting museum (which I liked much better than the salt mine), good food and a historic center. It’s certainly one of the easiest day trips from Bogotá to take, but whether it’s the most fun I don’t know. Read all about Zipaquirá in this mini guide.
13. Sopó: paragliding, street art, hiking, camping and more
Why? | Street art, paragliding, food, hiking, páramo, views, camping, off the beaten path
Although Sopó is far off the beaten path for foreign travelers, there is an amazing amount of things to do in and around the village where I lived:
- Paragliding and mountain biking with one of the most beautiful views in the country
- Amazing street art
- Hiking to the beautiful viewpoint on Mount Pionono
- Impressive accommodation at the end of the world
- Hiking in Parque Puente Sopó
- The shrine
- The Cabaña Alpina
There are many wonderful restaurants, beautifully located hotels and fincas, and plenty to do in the area. Actually, for Sopó, one day is not even enough 😀
14. Parque Jaime Duque
Why? | Theme park, zoo, perfect with children
The first Colombian pilot who traveled with Avianca to the other side of the world was eager to create a place in Colombia where people could learn about the world. That became Parque Jaime Duque. Easily accessible from Bogotá, this is a wonderful place to explore (off weekends!). These include a replica of the Taj Mahal and a beautiful zoo. Perfect for children, but actually it is fun for all ages. Read all about Parque Jaime Duque here.
15. Camping at Lake Neusa
Why? | Camping, hiking, relaxing, nature, off the beaten path
Lake Neusa is a very beautiful lake near Zipaquirá. It’s a little tricky to get there by public transportation, but when you get there you have an cool place to camp in Colombia. On weekends and holidays there are many Bogotans who spend the day there, but outside of that you’ll have the lake all to yourself. You can hike, barbecue, picnic and thus camp there. In a place far away from civilization. Highly recommended! Read more about Neusa.
You pay a low entrance fee for access to the nature reserve. How much depends on exactly what you come to do. There is a restaurant in the park, but better to bring your own food and drinks.
16. The colorful salt mine of Nemocón
Why? | Salt mine, village
Besides the salt cathedral in Zipaquirá, there is another famous salt mine in Cundinamarca. The salt mine in Nemocón is different, slightly smaller in scale and you will find a light show with water. Personally, I liked this salt mine more than the one in Zipaquirá, but if you are not really into salt mines I would definitely skip this one too. By the way, Nemocón is a nice colorful village in beautiful surroundings, which you can combine perfectly with, for example, Suesca (No. 17) or Cucunubá (No. 18). Read more about the salt mine in Nemocón here.
17. Climb the high cliffs of Suesca
Why? | Rock climbing, hiking, relaxing
If you like being active then Suesca is the place to be. Known for the high rocks where you can climb to the top, this is a walhalla for climbers. And yes it is really beautiful there. We went a lot to Suesca. Sometimes to climb, but mostly to walk on the rocks. In fact, that is the perfect place for beautiful views and to picknick. There are also many restaurants that we sometimes go to in the evening. Don’t like climbing? Then it’s fun to walk on the rocks or stroll along the trail watching the tough climbers. Want to know more about Suesca? Click here.
18. Colombia’s best yogurt in Cucunubá
Why? | Off the beaten track, hiking, white village, views, food, yogurt, ponchos
Cucunubá is a small, white and authentic village in northern Cundinamarca. Totally off the beaten path and unknown among tourists. So the fact that I found Hema gear and Dutch tea there in a little cafe with pink bikes was quite a surprise. It is a very nice village to visit. If only for the most delicious yogurt desserts ever, the cozy café or the kitschy restaurant with delicious food. Also, typical Colombian ruanas are made and you can buy wonderfully warm wool sweaters. By the way, you can also walk up the mountain there for stunning views. Find more about Cucunubá here.
19. The lake of Sisga
Why? | Hiking, surfing, views, off the beaten path
On the way to northern Colombia, you will pass Lake Sisga. From the big bridge you have a great view of the lake, but there is much more to do. You can see llamas and eat at the waterfront, but also you can go hiking.
20. Drinking coffee in Machetá
Why? | Coffee, thermal baths, village, off the beaten track
Machetá is really one of those villages in Colombia where you go to witness life off the beaten path. Local Colombian life. Easy to do on a day trip from Bogotá, you’ll find delicious coffee, a cute village, thermal baths and if you are lucky and speak Spanish you can also visit a private coffee plantation. A fun day trip off the beaten path. Read all about Machetá and the coffee tour here.
21. The most challenging day trip from Bogotá: Lake Guavio
Why? | Off the beaten track, nature, spectacular views
If you like adventure then Lake Guavio is a great day trip. Getting there is difficult, a tremendously long road, and there are virtually no hotels. But if you dare, you’ll find yourself in small authentic villages and a really stunning lake. You’ll simply be amazed. The best way to get there is with a (4×4) car. The whole tour takes about 12 to 15 hours so leave very early in the morning. Are you going by bus? Then you will have to go from village to village, starting at Portal Norte in Bogotá. Perhaps then it would be better to start your trip in the village of Guasca, which saves a lot of travel time. Read all about Lake Guavio and the villages you pass through here.
22. Piscilago: the largest water park in Colombia
Why? Warm weather, going out, swimming, slides, zoo, also for children
Always wanted to walk among the lions in your bikini before going down the slide? Then Piscilago is for you. Really a fun experience if you like speed and adrenaline. After all, the slides here are really great. There are also many swimming pools, it is great for when traveling through Colombia with children, and as you walk from slide to slide you pass all kinds of wildlife. In addition, the nearby village of Melgar is the nightlife destination in the region, so perfect if you like nightclubs. Only 2.5 to 3 hours from Bogotá. By the way, also perfect as a stopover between the Tatacoa Desert and Salento. Here you will find all the information about Piscilago.
Traveling in Colombia off the beaten path
Don’t want to see all this on a day trip, but prefer to travel through the department of Cundinamarca? If so, I have laid out this complete itinerary for you. Where you travel from Bogotá to Honda through northern and western Cundinamarca.
Bogotá not a nice place to stay? Hell yes it is! Explore not only the city, but also the beautiful surroundings. And there are 6 more reasons to stay longer in Bogotá. Have fun!