Bogotá, that’s that very big capital of Colombia with eight million inhabitants, isn’t it? The third highest located capital in the world? With only gray houses, air pollution and crime? Indeed: my hometown is not exactly known as the hippest city for any type of visit. Unfortunately, because actually Bogotá is a very cool city to live in as well as to visit. Many travelers to Colombia simply skip Bogotá for convenience or only visit the city for a few days. And then they also only stay in the center. While there are so many reasons to stay longer in Bogotá. Because secretly, this big bad capital has a lot to offer. That’s why I’m taking you on a city trip through Bogotá!
10 Things to see and do in Bogotá
1. Monserrate: a magnificent view of the city
One of Bogotá’s hotspots, and almost literally the highest point in the city, is the top of Mount Monserrate. As one of the most touristy places, I also take my parents to this magical place for a spectacular view. When we ride with the train up to 3100 meters and arrive at the white church that can be seen everywhere from the city, my parents are suddenly speechless. Because how beautiful it is, that view.
Suddenly they realize how big Bogotá really is. And that’s big, I can tell you. And to think that from here you can only see part of the city. We enjoy all the beauty we see and try to discover buildings and squares where we have been.
Once we are done looking we walk to one of the beautifully located restaurants on the mountain. Here we enjoy a delicious lunch at high altitude. Here you can read all the information for your visit to Monserrate.
2. La Candelaría: the historic city center
Near Monserrate, in the south of the city, we visit La Candelaría: the historic city center. This is exactly where most tourists stay. The old town is beautiful with its cobblestone streets, old churches and cute little houses. Which gives a totally different feel and experience from the rest of the city.
Stroll the historic streets, eat the famous obleas (large waffles with arequipe, a kind of caramel paste) and run through the hundreds of pigeons across the central square: Plaza de Bolívar.
By the way, did you know that in La Candelaria you can also take a very cool bicycle tour? On that tour, you will see a lot of the city in 4-5 hours, including the most colorful fruit market, the most beautiful graffiti, interesting museums and much more. Book it here!
3. The Botanical Garden
The Botanical Gardens are a beautiful green place to visit in Bogotá. You have to take a taxi to another part of town for it, but it’s worth it. Do you need nature, peace and greenery? Or do you just want to see something completely different in Bogotá? Then head to the Botanical Gardens. A wonderful place to visit. Learn more about the Jardín Botanico Bogotá here.
4. Coffee the Colombian way
Drinking coffee in Bogotá? Visit a Oma and Juan Valdez. These cafes serve the best coffee the way you like it. You can also buy coffee beans or ground coffee here. And the great thing is: you’ll find these coffee cafes all over the city. So not to be missed.
5. The market in Usaquén
A lot of years back was Usaquén a village outside the city. By now everything has grown in the city, so that this village has now become a neighborhood in Bogotá.
A very nice neighborhood where you still imagine yourself in colonial times with the old church, its square and cute old houses. The neighborhood is also rich in many restaurants where you can eat delicious food, and a shopping center can be found in what used to be a farm.
Every Sunday, the streets turn into one big cozy market where you can spend hours strolling past handmade Colombian goodies and enjoy live music and dancing. A favorite for many.
6. The Simón Bolívar Park
As in any major city, you will find a large park in Bogotá: Simón Bolívar. A place to play sports or enjoy a picnic on the grass. But you can also canoe or paddleboat here in the small lake in the middle of the park. A nice green place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a while. By the way, this park can be easily combined with the Botanical Gardens, as it is located right next to each other.
Simón Bolívar is perfect to combine with the other parks in this district, where you will find the most beautiful parks in Bogotá. Click here for two walking routes along parks in Bogotá.
7. Shopping in Bogotá
In Bogotá, you can store until you drop. The city is rich with many large shopping centers like you have never seen before. Each center has its own style, which also makes it immediately worth visiting several of them. I myself enjoy coming to Centro Comercial Andino, Gran Estación and Santafé.
Bogotá is a real shopping city. Read all about shopping in Bogotá here.
8. Museo de ‘El Chicó’
One of my favorite museums and park in Bogotá: Museo de ‘El Chicó’. The museum is housed in a beautiful eighteenth-century mansion surrounded by a garden. Once upon a time, the rich Mrs. Mercedes Sierra de Pérez lived here.
At the museum, we take a walk through the house and encounter, among other things, the insanely beautiful dining room and bathroom. Ms. Mercedes loved to travel, which is why we also see an extensive collection of souvenirs she brought back from the different countries she once visited. Especially works of art and antiques from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including Delft blue from the Netherlands. The gardens surrounding the house are at least as beautiful.
You reach this museum by bus 80 or 82 from the old center: get off at calle 94. Read all about the museum here!
9. Getting your nails painted in Bogotá
For Colombian women (and men, too, for that matter), nails are very important. Consequently, many women spend every weekend at the nail salon for a new color.
You can get your nails done almost on every street corner somewhere. I myself regularly get my nails painted, I do this at Super Wow. I always choose semi-permanent, which is gel polish and lasts a long time. At Super Wow, you pay 65,000 pesos for that. At small nail salons and regular nail polish, you’re done for about 15,000 pesos.
10. Torre Colpatria
Besides Monserrate, another viewpoint in Bogotá is Torre Colpatria. One of the tallest buildings in the city, where you have an insane view from the 48th floor.
With a super-fast elevator you fly up. The most fun is to go in the late afternoon and watch the sunset from the tower. Beautiful all the lights and the sunset over Bogotá.
Unlike Monserrate, you have a 360-degree view from Torre Colpatria. On top of that, the tower is more in the city, allowing you to see further north and south. Actually, only from this tower can you see how big Bogotá really is.
And there is much more to do in Bogotá. Consider:
- This bus route from the south to the north;
- A day of wellness with massage in Bogotá;
- Discover the area with these 22 day trips from Bogotá.
Bogotá is much nicer than most travelers think. Go outside the center and explore the city!