One of the highlights in Bogotá: Monserrate. And not surprisingly, because from this spot high on the mountain you have an impressive view of Colombia’s capital. A highlight to see in Bogotá that is definitely not to be missed. Go up on the scary steep train or get on the cable car to 3152 meters altitude and marvel at how big this city really is. In this article you can read all about Monserrate.
Bogotá: the high-altitude capital of Colombia
When you arrive in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, you immediately notice that this is a big city. Lots of traffic, lots of people, lots of traffic jams, long travel times and lots of buildings. Officially there are 8 million people living in Bogotá, but in reality it is probably about 10 million or even more.
When you walk through the city you will see mostly people and buildings, but you will not have an idea of how big this city really is. Bogotá is located at 2600 meters altitude with an even higher mountain range on the east side. And there you can go up to see for yourself the capital’s impressive size. One of the most popular sights in Bogotá.
Monserrate in Bogotá: a must-see during a city trip
You can’t miss it: everywhere you walk in Bogotá you see the white church on Mount Monserrate. Or well, almost from everywhere. Because although from the top you are amazed at how big Bogotá is, the entire north of the city cannot be seen. That’s how huge Bogotá is….
The large white church on top of the mountain is the Shrine of the Fallen Lord of Monserrate (Basílica Santuario del Señor Caído de Monserrate) and stands out above everything else.
The first version of the shrine was built in the year 1657, but it was so badly damaged during the severe earthquake in 1917 that a new church had to be built. In 1920, the new church was inaugurated, and this is the church you see towering over Bogotá to this day.
To this day, many religious people visit the church every day, and probably even more tourists.
How to get to Monserrate in Bogotá?
There are 3 ways to climb Mount Monserrate. If you take the cable car or the little train, you will first pass by the visitor center, where you buy your ticket. If you walk you can go up for free. Monserrate is open 365 days a year.
1. By cable car (teleférico).
The cable car from downtown Bogotá to the top of Monserrate was built in 1953, and inaugurated in September 1955. There are two cabins that can hold up to 40 people. The cabins consist of large windows, from which you have a great view of the city.
Opening hours cable car Monserrate
The cable car is open Monday through Friday from noon to 10 in the evening. You can buy a ticket until 8:30PM. On Sundays, you can go up by cable car from 5:30AM to 6PM. Ticket sales stop on Sundays at 5PM.
What does the cable car cost?
Note: Don’t you want to walk back? Then buy a return ticket immediately.
2. The funicular train (funicular).
Another option is the funicular, cable car train, built between 1926 and 1929 by the Swiss company Lowis von Roll, and officially inaugurated on Aug. 18, 1929. In 2003, the little train was renovated to a more modern version.
The funicular has a straight length of 800 meters and an average slope of 80 degrees, with a speed of 3.2 meters per second and a maximum capacity of 80 people.
The cable car train also goes up steeply through the forest up the mountain. Although it’s a bit scary, also here you have a great view of Bogotá. A fun experience!
Opening hours train to Monserrate
You can take the train up Monserrate on Monday through Friday between 5:30AM and 11:45AM. On Saturdays between 5:30AM and 4PM, on Sundays 5:30AM and 6PM. On Sundays, you can buy a ticket until 5PM. And on holidays you can take the funicular up the mountain between 5:30AM and 6PM, you can buy your ticket until 5PM.
How much does the train cost?
Note: Don’t you want to walk back? Then buy a return ticket immediately.
3. Walking up Mount Monserrate in Bogotá
You can climb Monserrate Mountain via a path that is 2.5 kilometers long. The trail has two viewpoints and goes up quite steeply. This is where the hike begins.
Walking up is free. There are police on the route, so it is advisable to take only the official route to Monserrate and not deviate from it. It is not safe.
Just arrived in Bogotá from a low area? Then take the cable car or train to the top. In the center of Bogotá you can already suffer from the altitude, and this worsens as you go higher. Besides, walking up so steeply at over 2,500 meters altitude is very tough if you are not used to the altitude.
City tour of Bogotá
Would you rather have everything arranged or would you like to combine Monserrate with a city tour of Bogotá? Then choose one of these activities.
Restaurants on Mount Monserrate
At Monserrate, there are 7 restaurants. There is a culinary route as you come to the top, passing all the restaurants. Restaurants vary in price and luxury, but are generally not cheap. From some restaurants (such as San Isidro and Santa Clara) you have a great view of the city as you sit down to eat. Also spectacular in the evening!
Santa Clara Restaurant
Situated in the beautiful 1924 white house, with a fantastic view of the city. I had dinner here myself once and it was delicious. View menu, prices and opening hours here.
Restaurant San Isidro
The beautiful colonial house in the middle of the path to Monserrate, with a French kitchen. It is a more upscale restaurant, which requires formal clothing in the evening. View menu, prices and opening hours here.
More restaurants on Monserrate
Then there are the restaurants:
- Mercado Monserrate
- Café Bistró (to have a drink, this is where I once had delicious canelazo)
- Postres Picaditos (for desserts and cakes)
- La Tienda Monserrate (for typical Colombian appetizers, such as empanadas)
- El Kiosco (cheap food and drink, more fast food)
The pilgrim path to the church
After the scenic ride on the little train or cable car, you will arrive at an oasis of peace and nature. Along a beautiful path you walk even further up toward the church Monserrate. Meanwhile, you walk the Way of the Cross where through various images the suffering of Christ is depicted. A beautiful sight so in the middle of the Andes Mountains.
Nature versus the big city
Even though you are still in Bogotá, you are in the middle of the high Andes mountains. This becomes more apparent when you arrive at Monserrate, where you have the beautiful green mountains on one side and an immense city on the other. An extraordinary sight I can say. Instead of exhaust fumes, you can smell nature here, and if you’re lucky you’ll see one of the many species of birds that fly around (including hummingbirds). Enjoy hiking high in the mountains, yet in the middle of a metropolis!
Monserrate: an impressive view of Bogotá
Once you have arrived at the viewpoint after the beautiful hike, I can assure you that you will be impressed. So beautiful! Spectacular. Bogotá suddenly turns out to be an insanely big city, you see the slums in the mountains and even the airport far away (if the weather is nice).
And the great thing is that you only see part of the city, so in reality Bogotá is even bigger. For example, for many years I lived in the north of the city, from where you can’t see Monserrate. So you can only see about two-thirds. Incredible…
Practical tips for visiting Monserrate in Bogotá
How to get to Monserrate from downtown Bogotá?
Are you staying in La Candelaria? Then you can walk to the visitor center. This is safe for the most part, there is only one stretch at the top just before Monserrate where you have to be more careful. Do not use a phone on the street and leave valuables in your hotel (or at home). Keep these safety recommendations for Bogotá in mind.
Of course, you can also take a cab to Monserrate. Always order these through an app, and never stop taxis on the street. If you are going from Monserrate back to your hotel or another destination in Bogotá by taxi, order it as well. Here’s how to do it.
Plan your visit to Monserrate
As you read above, both the cable car and cable train do not run all day on weekdays. Therefore, it is fun to go up by train in the morning and back by cable car in the afternoon. That way you’ve had both. Note: In this case, buy a return ticket directly at the visitor center.
Want to go up by cable car or train and walk back? Then buy only a single ticket.
When can you expect big crowds?
There are certain times when it is extremely crowded at Monserrate. Consider weekends, Friday afternoons, vacation periods and holidays. In December, Monserrate is completely illuminated, which is a special experience. Or at least: it should be when you get to the top. Expect very long queues if you want to go up in the evening or afternoon during the Christmas season. I haven’t succeeded yet…
Before you decide to go to Monserrate: take a look outside. If it is raining or the mountain is in the clouds (happens frequently), I would wait a while since you can’t see much in that case.
The weather in Bogotá can change quite quickly, and especially if you plan to stay a few hours, it is advisable to bring an umbrella and something warm. After all, you’re at high altitude and it’s always colder there.
Monserrate: a must-see sight in Bogotá, Colombia!
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