20 Top Things To Do In Bogota

There are many fun things to do in Bogota. The capital of Colombia, a city of no less than 7.5 million people, well deserves to be explored and has plenty of things to see and do to keep you entertained – though many mistakenly decide to only spend a few hours there, while on a layover to go elsewhere.

It’s a pity, really. Bogota has a lot to offer, a lot more than meets the eye, and despite being such a vast metropolis, the vibe is friendly and the locals are extremely welcoming.

Perched at 2600 meters above sea level in the Andes, Bogota it’s a world apart from the sunny Cartagena. The average temperature here is 14 degrees Celsius, and it pretty much rains every day. It’s a bit like England! Yet, you can’t help but warming to it. 

Are you curious to find out more? This posts highlights the things you shouldn’t miss in Bogota, and includes a few tips on how to make the most of the city. You may also want to learn more about the country by reading these facts about Colombia.

things to do in bogota colombia

Best Bogota City Tours

If you feel you need some guidance when exploring Bogota, you may want to join a guided tour. BeyondColombia organizes free walking tours of the city – you just have to tip the guide.

Alternatively, you can consider one of the many guided tours on offer.Here are some I recommend:

Bogota full day grand city tour – It lasts all day and also goes to Montserrate and La Candelaria.

Specialty coffee workshop – it goes to the best coffee shops in the city and you can have several tastings. Just watch your caffeine intake though!

Street food tour of Bogota – an excellent way to taste and get to know all the local specialties and get a better understanding of local culture.

Half day tour of Bogota’s graffiti – it’s one of the best rated tours in the city, and in a country where graffiti play such an important role it is a must!

things to do in Bogota

The beautiful cathedral in Plaza Bolivar

The Top Things To Do In Bogota

Go to Plaza de Bolivar

Located in the historic heart of Bogota, Plaza de Bolivar is actually as eclectic as it gets in terms of architectural styles. The Capitolio Nacional (national capitol building), where the national congress sits, is built in a neoclassical style.

The Alcaldia (the City Hall) also known as Lievano Palace is built in French style and dates back to the early 20th century.

The Catedral Primada, which is on the eastern side of the square, is Bogota’s largest church and was built in neoclassical style. The only example of colonial style architecture in the square is the Capilla del Sagrario, which is right next to the Cathedral.

Other notable sights in this magnificent square include a small statue of Simon Bolivar and the Palace of Justice, where the 1995 siege took place.

Whichever way you look at it, Plaza de Bolivar is an interesting place and visiting is one of the top things to do in Bogota.

Admire Bogota’s beautiful churches

The Iglesia de San Francisco is Bogota’s oldest church. Located right in front of the Gold Museum (more about that below), it doesn’t look like much from the outside, but I assure you the interior is magnificent. Don’t trust me? Pop in for a moment – it’s free anyways!

Other notable churches you may want to check out include the Iglesia San Agustin La Candelaria; and the Santuario Nuestra Señora del Carmen (National Shrine of Our Lady of Carmen), which is close to Botero Museum.

Finally, there’s Santa Clara Church, now a museum that houses an fantastic collection of artworks from the 17th to the 20th century and which was first built in the mid 17th century.

things to do in Bogota
Make sure to visit Candelaria – it’s one of the top things to do in Bogota

Walk around La Candelaria

Visiting La Candelaria is one of the unmissable things to do in Bogota to appreciate the colonial feel of the city. It’s a lovely neighborhood of cobbled alleys, museums galore, theaters, cafés and street art.

It’s also where you will find the National Shrine of Our Lady of Carmen, a Gothic church with a unique red-and-white striped pattern that was built between 1926 and 1938.

Located in the Candelaria you will also find the (free to visit) Gabriel Garcia Marquez Cultural Center, a building (built with donations from Mexico) that honors the famous Colombian-born writer. The reason Mexico donated the money to build this place is that Garcia Marquez had a strong relationship with Mexico, where he actually spent most of his life.

The unique building is made of two circles, one with a fountain in the middle, and an open space on the upper level from where you can enjoy stunning views of Bogotà. There obviously is a bookshop to buy any Garcia Marquez novel too.

The area has some good hostels and other places to stay, and some fairly good restaurants too.

La Candelaria one of the safest neighborhood in Bogota, so you can explore by yourself. But if you are curious to learn more about its history and how it evolved into becoming a place for artists, you may as well join a guided tour.

I recommend this Bogota full day grand city tour that goes to Cerro Montserrate and also to La Candelaria. It’s one of the best rated.

Alternatively, there’s this La Candelaria, Mount Montserrate and Museo del Oro full day tour – it’s similar to the one above but also goes to one of the best museums in the city.

Check out the Barrio Egipto

Just around the corner from La Candelaria, the Barrio Egipto once was to Bogotà what Comuna 13 was to Medellin – a poor and extremely dangerous part of the city where crime thrived.

Now, it is actually a popular nightlife hub in Bogota and a popular place to visit thanks to the graffiti art that is a reference to its recent violent past. You may want to join a guided tour there – the best ones are actually run by former members of gang groups such as Breaking Borders.

When exploring, make sure not to miss the Church of Our Lady of Egypt, one of the oldest in the city and where celebration for Three Kings Day take place every year on 6 January..

Things to do in Bogota
Visiting Cerro Montserrate is one of the unmissable things to do in Bogota

Enjoy the views from Monserrate

Among the unmissable things to do in Bogota there’s going up Cerro de Monserrate. This peak that towers over Bogota with its 3,152 meters was a sacred mountain to the Muisca people. It’s been a place of pilgrimage since the 1600s and a church was built at the top by the Spanish in 1640.

According to legend, the church was built with the help of pilgrims who carried bricks up the hill to complete it. It’s a plain church, but nice. Take care to notice the Statue of the Black Madonna (the Virgin Morena, or black virgin in English), Patron Saint of Catalonia.

The views of the city from Monserrate are impressive, but the site is also famous for the statue of El Señor Caido – which depicts Jesus Christ right after being taken off the cross. There is also a park, which is nice to explore.

Is Bogota Safe?

To get to Monserrate, you have three options:

CABLE CAR – Called Teleferico, it gives you the best views of the city. Tickets can be purchased directly at the door.

FUNICULAR – Best on a Sunday, when the cable car gets too busy. The price is the same as that of the Teleferico.

WALK – If you feel fit and the altitude doesn’t bother you, you can walk all the way up the more than 1,500 steps to the top, with an elevation gain of 400 meters. Although there are meant to be uniformed guards on the trail (which is marked by Stations of the Cross signs), robberies are often reported so take precautions should you decide to walk it – and by all means don’t go alone.

Bogota gets terribly congested with traffic, and as the day goes along, the pollution increases and the views from Cerro Monserrate become less clear. Go up quite early in the morning for clear views. Also, keep in mind that the temperature inevitably drops even more compared to the already cold city, so bring up an extra layer.

Enjoy a different view from Torre Colpatria  

You can get a good 360 degrees view of Bogota from its tallest skyscraper, Torre Colpatria, where you can access the mirador (viewpoint) on the 48th floor. Make sure to go as it is one of the top things to do in Bogota.


Visit La Zona Rosa

Zona Rosa, whose official name is Zona T, is the upscale area of Bogota – with all the luxury shops, restaurants and hotels and some of the best bars and nightlife in the city.

It’s definitely where to go in Bogota if you want to treat yourself to a good dinner, but keep in mind that prices are going to be higher than in the rest of the city.

In Zona Rosa you’ll also find the famous Andres Carne de Res, a restaurant which originally opened in Chia but that now also has opened here in Bogota. It’s more than just a restaurant – here you can spend the night dancing to salsa and merengue tunes.

The gay friendly part of Bogota is Zona G, which also has some great bars.

Is Bogota Safe?
Photo by Santiago Robayo Escobar @shutterstock

Explore Chapinero

Chapinero is one of the nicest areas of the city and if you want to get out of the main tourist trail, visiting is what to do in Bogota. It’s where a large university is located, so the vibe is young and friendly.

Here, you’ll find some very good restaurants – though not as expensive as those of Zona Rosa, and good places to stay that are a world away from the backpackers’ places of Candelaria.

Make sure to also go to Usaquen, the trendiest neighborhood in town. It’s packed with nice cafés and bars, and lots of vintage stores and it’s home to a cool market.

things to do in Bogota
Biking is the best way to move around Bogota

Explore Bogota by bike

One of the things that impressed me the most about Bogota is how biking friendly the city is. There’s something like 300 km of biking lanes, that have been built since 1998, and locals regularly use this mode of transportation to go about their daily business.

Needless to say, one of the top things to do in Bogota to properly see it is joining a bike tour. I recommend this one: it takes you to markets, you see graffiti, and much more.

Most bike tours start in La Candelaria and make several stops throughout the day, to visit museums, have a taste of street food, admire street art. Tours vary depending on the events going on in the city.

Join the Ciclovia Sundays

Speaking of bikes, one of the most fun things to do in Bogota on Sundays and public holidays is joining the Ciclovia. A Sunday institution of Bogota since 1976, that’s when more than 120 km (75 miles) of roads are closed to traffic, and the locals get to use them to bike, skate, rollerblade, run and even walk the dogs.

You can rent a bike to join in the fun. You can even join a Ciclovia Sunday morning boke tour that will take you to the main attractions in the city.

And if you get hungry you can stop at the many stalls that pop up at the side of the street.

Street art is thriving in Bogota

Admire all the street art

If you love street art, you’ll be in for a treat. Bogota street art is thriving, and has been so for decades – despite the fact that graffiti artists had to work at nights and under cover not to be caught by the police.

In 2011, Diego Felipe Becerra was shot by two police officers as he painted his famous Felix de Cat, causing such a reaction from the rest of the artists community and the public that the two officers were eventually arrested.

That’s when graffiti art was finally legalized in certain parts of the city, and it became an integral part of Bogota identity.

If you are into street art, head straight to Callejón del Embudo (bottleneck in Spanish), in the Bogotá neighborhood of Candelaria. Notable places here are Plazoleta de Chorro de Quevedo, which is where the Spanish colonizers first established themselves and home of a small, lovely church. There are also lots of independent coffee shops – the best is by far Casa Galería.

You can join a guided tour of Bogota street art that will take you to the most impressive pieces – some work on a donation basis, but most of the time you have to pay.

I recommend this half day tour of Bogota’s graffiti – it’s one of the best rated.

Is Bogota safe?

Visit the incredible museums  

Colombia’s capital has some excellent museums and art galleries, and visiting them is among the best things to do in Bogota on a rainy day.

Here are the best museums in Bogota:

MUSEO DEL ORO – Thought to be the most important gold museum in the world, the exhibit displays beautiful jewelry and ornaments used by indigenous Colombians (the Muisca) before the arrival of Colón. It’s a great way to learn a bit more about the Colombian indigenous culture. There is a small admission fee. Free on Sundays. Get an audio-guide for a better experience.

MUSEO BOTERO – If you have to pick just one museum to visit in town, go to Museo Botero. It’s a great gallery, funded by a donation by Botero (Colombia’s most famous artist) himself. Other than his paintings (there are 123), you’ll also be able to see works of Picasso, Mirò, Renoir, Dali, Matisse and Monet. It’s located in stunning colonial mansion in La Candelaria and visiting is free.

MUSEO NACIONAL DE COLOMBIA – Located in a former prison, it is a great museum to learn about the country’s history before and after Spanish colonization. There is a small admission fee. Free on Sundays. 

MUSEO SANTA CLARA – This 17th century church was deconsecrated in the 1960s and became a museum dedicated to baroque art – there are many incredible paintings on display!

Other interesting museums include the Museo de Arte Colonial and the Museo Historico Policia (Historical Museum of the National Police), which is a rather quirky museum with dummies of drug dealers of the likes of Pablo Escobar.


Hang out in Simon Bolivar Park 

Simon Bolivar is to Bogota what Central Park is to New York: it’s the biggest park in the city, created in 1979, and it gets incredibly busy at weekends. It’s the perfect place to visit at the weekend, for a picnic, to hang out by the lake, rent a bike and take a stroll. During the summer, lots of concerts are held in the park.   

Visit Bogota Botanical Garden – the Jardin Botanico

Another nice park you may want to visit to get a break from the chaos of the city is Bogota Botanical Garden. There is a small admission fee to visit this beautiful park that spreads across 20 acres and was first opened in 1955. Inside, you can admire all sorts of plants. My favorite are the orchids, but there are plenty of plants coming from the Amazon basin.

Mingle with the locals at the market

Bogota isn’t a touristy city – you can get much of a local feel here wherever you go, really. Yet, if you want to get a good understanding of the local vibe and way of life, a visit to one of the local markets is a must.

The market in Plaza Paloquemao (literally burned stick!) has an incredible array of fresh produce, flowers, eggs, seafood and meat. You’ll also get to taste a lot of street food. Visiting is definitely among the most fun things to do in Bogota.

things to do in Bogota
Eating arepas is one of the things to do in Bogota

Go on a food tour

One of the top things to do in Bogota is trying local food. Colombia is a country with an incredible array of fruit that you won’t get to see anywhere else in the world. Most people who travel to Colombia complain that food is either incredibly bland, or too deep fried.

In my month in Colombia, I actually tried a few things that were delicious, and I enjoyed the earthy, warm soups that are served any time of day. Bogota is a great dining destination.

Some of Colombia’s must try are:

  • AREPAS – Corn patties that can be plain or filled with cheese. It’s a common street food.
  • BANDEJA PAISA – A full meal of rice, beans, avocado, arepa, fried eggs and often also some grilled meat.
  • SANCOCHO DE GALLINA – A chicken soup with potaoes, onions, corn and whatever else is available;
  • AJACO – Similar to sancocho de gallina, this soup is typical from the Bogota region and is served with rice and avocado.
  • EMPANADA – Similar to arepa, it’s stuffed with meat or cheese, folded and fried.
  • HORMIGA CULONAS – A local delicacy, it’s literally bigbutt ants. 
  • PAPA RELLENA – Just your stuffed potatoes.

While the best restaurants in Bogota are in Zona Rosa, your best bet for excellent food that is also cheap is the street, and if you dig well, you’ll find some delicious stuff. It’s just by chance that I have discovered La Puerta Falsa (literally, the False Door), a small place that serves some of the best local staples.

If you have just arrived in Colombia and feel overwhelmed by the incredible offer of food, you may want to opt for a food tour (even better, a street food tour such as this one) to taste all the local specialties.

Make sure to also read my post The Best Colombian Food To Try.

things to do in Bogota
Tasting coffee is a must

Learn about coffee

In a country that exports some of the best quality coffee in the world, you will want to learn about the secrets to a good coffee.

While the Eje Cafetero, the coffee region of Colombia is at some 10 hours drive from Bogota, you can still appreciate coffee in the capital and a coffee tour certainly is one of the things to do in Bogota. There even are guided coffee crawl tours (yes, seriously!).

You can even join this specialty coffee workshop – in a country that has such an important coffee production this is an incredible tour to join!

Taste some beer

Latin America was never big on good beer – no matter how hard I tried in Costa Rica or even Panama, I never found a beer that I truly enjoyed. Except in Colombia, which has its own great breweries and where you can get draft beer.

The most famous brewery is Bogota Beer Company, which has opened several locations across the city where you can walk in to enjoy some good pub food and what is unarguably the best beer in the country.

They even do beer tours of the city – it certainly is one of the things to do in Bogota if you like your pint!

If you are a fan of beer you should definitely join this beer tour here – it takes you to the best breweries in the city.


Learn how to salsa

Salsa is to Colombia what tango is to Argentina. You really have no choice here: when in Bogota, you have to sign up for a salsa class, and / or go to a salsa club. There are several in the city, but the best ones are Quiebracanto Club and Sandunguera. 

If salsa really isn’t your idea of fun, then you may want to head to Salitre Magico, Bogota Amusement Park. There is a small entry fee, or you can pay to enter and enjoy unlimited rides.

Villa de Leyva
Villa de Leyva is a nice place for day trips from Bogota

Take a day trip to out of the city 

Bogota is lovely, but the surroundings are amazing too. The following places can be easily visited on day trips from Bogota.

Chicaque Natural Park

One of the easiest day trips from Bogota is Chicaque Natural Park, which is just 30 minutes south west of the city. There you will find a gorgeous cloud forest and plenty of trails to hike.

You can visit independently or on guided tour such as this one. There is a small admission fee.

There are tree houses in the park where you can actually spend the night. 

Day trips from Bogota
The interior of Zipaquira Cathedral

Zipaquira and the Salt Cathedral  

The Salt Catedral, which was born out of an old salt mine, is one of the most fascinating things to see in Colombia. It’s located near Zipaquira, 50 km (31 miles) north of Bogota.

The Cathedral is entirely built inside a salt mine, 200-meters underground, and it is famous as the “First Wonder of Colombia”. First built in 1932 to provide a place to pray for the miners, it was open to the public in 1995 and can host up to 8400 people. Inside, there are three naves each representing a stage of the life of Jesus – birth, life and death, and his resurrection.

It will take you a while to visit – and it’s best to actually go on a guided tour. Make sure not to miss the cross – it’s the biggest underground cross in the world!

You can get to Zipaquira on a combination of public transportation but it can be a bit of a hassle. If that sounds too time consuming, you can also join this guided tour of Zipaquira that includes transportation from Bogota.


Guatavita Lagoon

La Laguna de Guatavita (Guatavita Lake) is located around 18 km (little over 11 miles) from Guatavita, which in and of itself is quite an interesting place to visit, and about 1.5 hours from Bogota. The lagoon is a sacred lake and the ritual center of the Muisca indigenous peoples.

It’s where the myth of El Dorado was born. The legend suggests that here a new leader was asked to perform a ritual and by the end of it he came out of the lake covered in gold dust. He was then placed on a raft and sent to navigate around the lake, and as he did so he’d throw pieces of gold in the lake, as offerings to the deities.

It was the Spaniards that gave it the name of El Dorado – they went after the legendary gold and drained the water of the lake in an attempt to find the mythical gold.

Visits to Guatavita are incredibly interesting. You get to learn more about the Muisca indigenous people. Tours typucally often include a visit of the Museo del Oro of Bogota, as this includes a lot of pieces coming from the Guatavita region. 

You can go to Guatavita by a combination of public transportation, or opt for a guided tour such as this Zipaquira Salt Cathedral and Lake Guatavita tour from Bogota – it’s very well reviewed and recommended.

Chingaza National Park

Chingaza National Park

A great place to visit from Bogota if you are keen on hiking is Chingaza National Park. Known as the place where Bogota’s water comes from, it’s at about two hours from the city, in the eastern chain of Colombia’s Andes and with peaks between 800 and 4000 meters above sea level.

Here there are around 40 glacial lakes – the most famous are Chingaza and Siecha.

One of the most popular hiking trails in the area is the one to Lagunas de Buitrago, which takes about 3 hours to complete and is classified as easy, offering scenic views of the surroundings. From there, the road continues to Siecha Lakes – the trail is a bit more difficult to follow in this case, and you may be better off with a guide.

If you are keen on visiting, you are better off booking a guided tour such as this one, which also includes a hike to Laguna de Buitrago. 

Villa de Leyva building

Villa de Leyva

Villa del Leyva – a tentative UNESCO World Heritage site – is a gorgeous small colonial town about 3 hours drive from Bogota. It’s a lovely place to explore for a day, with lots of buildings intact from the 16th century.

If you have more time I actually recommend to spend at least a weekend there. It’s where people from Bogota go for a getaway from the city so it feels very local!

If you are pressed for time but you still want to visit on a day trip, you are better off booking a guided day tour such as this one that includes transportation.

things to do in Bogota
There are a lot of good places to stay in Bogota

Practical Tips To Organize Your Trip To Bogota

Where to stay in Bogota

Most people who visit Bogota stay in La Candelaria, where you’ll find the majority of boutique hotels and hostels. A few good ones can also be found in Chapinero and Zona Rosa.

Here’s a selection of the best places to stay in Bogota:

  • Fernweh Photography Hostel is walking distance from La Candelaria. It’s the perfect place to stay if you have a passion for photography. Rooms are comfortable, and there is a nice reading room.
  • The Candelaria House has gorgeous, large room – each one different from the other – that look more like those of a historical house than of a hotel.
  • Zohar is a good small hotel in Candelaria with comfortable room that go from the budget ones with shared facilities to the more comfortable ones with all the comforts.
  • Hotel El Dorado is located in Chapinero. It features comfortable rooms with contemporary style furniture and the staff is incredibly kind.
  • Sofitel Bogota Victoria Regia is a fabulous hotel in Zona Rosa. Rooms are large and modern, there is a gym, a spa, and the onsite restaurant serves delicious food.

Make sure to also read my posts A Complete Guide To Where To Stay In Bogota and The Most Unique Airbnbs In Bogota.


How to get to Bogota

By bus

Bogota is very well connected to the rest of the country by an incredible web of bus routes. The main bus station is La Terminal, around 5 km west of the city center in an area called La Salitre. There, you’ll find buses going to and coming from the rest of the country.

is bogota safe?
Photo by Daniel Andres Garzon @shutterstock

By plane

Bogota airport is called El Dorado (the airport code is BOG) and it’s one of the most important ones in Latin America, with has flights to various locations in the country and to the rest of the world.

From there, you have various options to get to the city. 

TRANSMILENIO –This is one of the best ways of moving around Bogota and the most budget friendly way of getting from the airport to the city. The bus will go all the way to Universidades, the closest stop to La Candelaria. To use the Transmilenio, you will have to buy a (very cheap) Tullave Card. It works on a top up basis so  you can recharge it in a the station or in several shops.  

TAXI AND UBER – Taxis are a great way to travel from the airport to the city. A ride will be in the range of $15 USD if you are getting off at La Candelaria, but much like in most of South America, you will have to haggle the price. Uber is another good option and a bit cheaper than the taxi, but it only works if you have data – you will have to book it once you are in the terminal and can use its free Wi-Fi, or need to have a local SIM (more about that in a bit).

PRIVATE SHUTTLE – This is by far the easiest and most comfortable way of getting from the airport to Bogota. You just have to make sure to book it in advance. You can book your Bogota airport transfer here.


Moving around

Unless you want to move around by bike, you can count on Bogota’s very efficient bus system. Here are the various options:

TRANSMILENIO – Bogota doesn’t have a metro but you can use the Transmilenio, which are probably the best way to move around as they run on a dedicated lane in the center of the road. A ride is very cheap but you need to get a Tullave Card and top it up any time you need credit. Transmilenio runs from 4:30 am to midnight.

BUS – Public buses in Bogota run on the road just like all cars, so they move around incredibly slowly. What’s good about them is that they actually reach a wider area than the Transmilenio, and you can use the Tullave card on them.

TAXI AND UBER – Unless it’s the middle of the night and you can’t get a bus, taxis aren’t a great way of moving around town. They work on a meter system and with the terrible traffic jams in Bogota they take about forever. The same goes for Uber, which however is a bit cheaper.

Is Bogota Safe?

Safety in Bogota

Colombia is one of the best places to travel alone. I didn’t have any issue when I visited Bogota, and in the last few years crime rates have decreased thanks to the efforts of the police forces. Check the latest reports on safety here. However I recommend you use your caution when you walk around, especially at night. When in doubt, opt to take a taxi.

Getting a SIM card may be a good idea when in Colombia – you can use it for local calls, and to surf the web or use apps such as Uber. The good news is that you can easily get yours as soon as you land – there are shops at the airport. There are various providers, but Claro is by far the one with the best coverage and most competitive prices. You will need a copy of your passport when purchasing the SIM Card.

Make sure to also purchase travel insurance before visiting Colombia. You can get one here.

You should also read my posts Is Bogota Safe? and Is Colombia Safe?

Further Readings

Are you planning a trip to Colombia? Make sure to read my posts:

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Read about the best things to do in Bogota - via @clautavani

2 thoughts on “20 Top Things To Do In Bogota”

  1. Bogota seems like a lovely and lively city! The view from Monserrate is incredible! I like that the city is pedestrian friendly…I love walking and exploring places that I visit.

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