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Bogota is one of Colombia’s most interesting destinations. That said, many travelers shun seeing the capital and head straight to destinations such as the coffee region, the Caribbean coast or Medellin. With most international flights arriving into Bogota, why not spend a few days getting to know the city? Bogota is packed with museums, history, culture, great restaurants and bars, and the country’s best nightlife. From incredible city vistas, through to nearby colonial towns, clubs with thirteen dance floors, and some of the country’s top restaurants, here are the best things to do in Bogota, Colombia:
1. Take a Step Back in Time in La Candelaria
The historic city center, known as La Candelaria, is filled with colorful, bohemian houses, and cobblestone streets. You can find out more about the Spanish colonial era, check out the local street art, and enjoy the restaurants and cafes. It’s a great place to start exploring Bogota and orientate yourself, and you’ll also find some of the most popular hostels and hotels here. The barrio is home to the famous Museo Botero, displaying some of artist Fernando Botero’s most eccentric and grotesque pieces, alongside modern-art galleries like Espacio Odeon. Sign up to a graffiti tour to see some of La Candelaria best street art or kick back in one of the neighborhood’s many cafes.
2. Visit the Salt Cathedral
If you’d like to see something a bit different, head to the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá, which is an underground Roman Catholic church built in a salt mine. The cathedral lies at around 656 feet underground in the tunnels of the mine, which is said to be the largest salt reserve in the world. At the mines, take a tour to discover the cathedral and its tunnels. It’s definitely a unique experience and well worth a visit while in Bogota.
3. Head Out of Town to Villa de Leyva
Villa de Leyva is easily one of the most beautiful colonial towns in Colombia and is just a few hours away from Bogota. Villa de Leyva is home to whitewashed colonial buildings, quaint cobbled streets, and a traditional Plaza Mayor, which is the main square. If you start early you can see the town as a day trip from Bogota.
4. Visit the Museum of Gold
The Museum of Gold, or Museo d’Oro, is easily the best museum in Colombia. It’s home to the world’s largest collection of gold objects and there’s an incredible display of pre-hispanic gold and metals. There are over 50,000 gold objects housed in the museum, and most of the objects were discovered or excavated in Colombia. The museum has Spanish and English descriptions — handy if you haven’t picked up the language yet (here are some handy Colombian phrases to give you a head start.)
5. Go to the Top of Montserrat
Monserrate Mountain, or Cerro Monserrate, sits at 10,341 feet above sea level. From the top, you can see incredible panoramic views of Colombia’s sprawling capital city, and the view is best seen at sunset and night. The summit can be reached by hiking or taking an aerial tram or funicular. At the top, you’ll find a church alongside food, drink, and handicraft stalls selling things such as traditional Colombian hot-chocolate with cheese and handmade trinkets.
6. Relax in Parque Central Simon Bolivar
Parque Central Simon Bolivar is an enormous green space where you can relax with ice cream on a sunny day. The park is around 400 acres in size, and home to lakes, trees, bicycle lanes, events arenas, an Olympic swimming pool, amusement park, and water park. The park is filled with families or locals doing sports and is a perfect spot for people-watching. It’s a calming escape from the bustling city.
7. Party at Teatron
Some say Teatron is the best club in South America, and it’s easy to see why. While Teatron is primarily a gay club, it draws people from all walks of life looking to party in one of the most popular clubs in the country, if not the continent. Teatron is more than just a club, it’s a nightclub complex set within an old movie theater. It has thirteen different dance floors, each with a varying style of music and atmosphere. You can find all-you-can-drink entry options, and street food if you get hungry. It will definitely give you a night to remember!
8. Go Shopping at a Flea Market
The two best flea markets in Bogota are San Alejo and Usaquen. San Alejo is located in downtown Bogota and is a market in a parking lot filled with tents and vendors selling antiques and second-hand objects. Usaquen market is a more ‘upscale’ flea market, selling antiques, handcrafted goods, and foods. It takes place weekly on Sunday and you’ll also see musicians and stalls selling locally-grown coffee beans.
9. Visit Laguna de Guatavita
Laguna de Guatavita is the site of the legend of El Dorado. The lake was once considered a sacred place by the Muisca people, who cast elaborate gold offerings into its waters, therefore inspiring the legend of El Dorado. Over the centuries there were several attempts to drain the lake and take the gold, and much of the gold on display at the Museo D’Oro was discovered here. The lake is best explored with a tour guide who can enlighten you about the legends and history of the lake. It’s also a beautiful spot for some fresh air.
10. Eat at Andres Carne de Res
Andres Carne de Res is more than just a restaurant, it’s an experience. The larger-than-life steakhouse has shot to the top as the best restaurant to visit in the Bogota thanks to its elaborate decor and extensive menu. At over 70-pages long, the menu truly has something for everyone and is filled with Colombian classics. To feel like a real local, wash down a plate with a shot of Aguardiente.
11. Go Shopping in the Zona Rosa
The Zona Rosa, or the Zona ‘T’ is an upscale part of the city, filled with shops, boutiques, nice restaurants, cafes, and bars. If you’re looking for a souvenir or great nightlife, this is the area for you.