Bogotá, the high-altitude capital of Colombia, is a city of contrasts, blending colonial charm with urban dynamism and traditional markets with modern skyscrapers. For those pondering things to do in Bogotá, visit the Gold Museum, which houses one of the world’s largest collections of pre-Hispanic gold artifacts, and explore La Candelaria, the city’s historic heart with its narrow streets, vibrant murals, and centuries-old churches, are top activities.
The city’s Monserrate Mountain, accessible by cable car or funicular, offers panoramic views of Bogotá’s sprawling expanse. Nearby, the Botero Museum showcases the works of Fernando Botero, one of Colombia’s most renowned artists, in a colonial setting.
Beyond its cultural and historical landmarks, Bogotá is a hub for gastronomy, offering everything from traditional arepas to gourmet international cuisine. Bogotá’s blend of history, art, and cosmopolitan flair makes it a captivating destination for those seeking the best places to visit in Colombia.
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Attractions & Things to Do in Bogotá, Colombia
1. Gold Museum (Museo del Oro)
One of the most iconic museums in South America, the Gold Museum in Bogotá boasts a dazzling collection of pre-Hispanic gold artifacts. With over 55,000 pieces of gold and other materials, it offers a deep insight into the cultures and civilizations that flourished in Colombia before the Spanish conquest.
Travel Tip: The museum is closed on Mondays. Plan to spend at least a few hours here to appreciate the exhibits truly, and don’t miss the interactive musical room dedicated to indigenous instruments.
Dominating Bogotá’s skyline, Monserrate is a mountain that rises over 3,000 meters above sea level and symbolizes the city. You can reach its summit by cable car, funicular, or foot, offering panoramic views of the sprawling urban landscape below. The hilltop also has a church, making it a pilgrimage site.
Travel Tip: It can get chilly at the top, so bring a sweater or jacket. Also, due to the high altitude, take it slow and stay hydrated to avoid altitude sickness.
3. Bolívar Square (Plaza de Bolívar)
This historic square is the heart of Bogotá and has witnessed many of Colombia’s pivotal moments. It’s a great place to soak in the city’s history and culture. Important governmental and religious buildings surround it, such as the Primary Cathedral of Bogotá and the Capitolio Nacional.
Travel Tip: It’s a bustling area, so keep an eye on your belongings. Pigeon feeding is popular in the square, but be wary of street vendors pushing feed on tourists for high prices.
4. Botero Museum (Museo Botero)
This museum showcases the works of Colombia’s most famous artist, Fernando Botero. His distinctive style, known for “chubby” figures, is instantly recognizable. Aside from Botero’s works, the museum also has pieces from other artists like Picasso, Renoir, and Dalí.
Travel Tip: Entrance to the museum is free. Given its central location, combine your visit with other nearby attractions in the La Candelaria district.
5. La Candelaria
Bogotá’s oldest neighborhood, La Candelaria, is a vibrant maze of cobbled streets, colonial-era houses, and vibrant street art. Many cafes, museums, and cultural venues complement its bohemian atmosphere.
Travel Tip: While exploring during the day is a beautiful area, some parts of La Candelaria can be less safe at night. Stick to well-traveled routes and take a taxi if you’re out late.
6. Simón Bolívar Metropolitan Park (Parque Metropolitano Simón Bolívar)
Often referred to as the “lungs of the city,” this massive urban park offers fresh air amidst Bogotá’s hustle and bustle. With a large lake, cycling paths, and recreational areas, it’s a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
Travel Tip: On Sundays, the city closes down some of its main roads for “Ciclovía,” where residents come out to bike, run, and walk. Consider renting a bike and joining in on this unique Bogotá tradition.
Once a separate village but now integrated into Bogotá, Usaquén retains its charming colonial ambiance. With its narrow streets, historic church, and quaint plaza, the neighborhood offers a blend of traditional and contemporary, with many boutiques, restaurants, and bars.
Travel Tip: Visit on a Sunday to experience the famous Usaquén flea market, where you can find a myriad of artisanal crafts, antiques, and local foods. It’s also a great time to sample traditional Colombian snacks from street vendors.
8. National Museum of Colombia (Museo Nacional de Colombia)
Housed in a former prison, the National Museum of Colombia is the oldest in the country. It offers a comprehensive overview of Colombia’s history, from pre-Columbian to modern times, through various artifacts, artworks, and exhibitions.
Travel Tip: The museum offers guided tours in Spanish, but even if you don’t speak the language, the exhibits are well-labeled in Spanish and English. Dedicate at least a couple of hours to explore its vast collection.
9. Teatro Colón
Bogotá’s main opera house, the Teatro Colón, is an architectural gem from the late 19th century. Renowned for its superb acoustics and beautiful interiors, the theater offers a diverse program ranging from opera and ballet to contemporary performances.
Travel Tip: If you don’t have time for a show, consider taking a guided tour of the theater during the day to learn about its history and admire its architecture.
10. Bogotá’s Graffiti Tour
Street art has blossomed in Bogotá over recent years, turning the city’s walls into vibrant canvases that tell stories of social and political issues and Colombian culture. The graffiti tours provide insights into the meanings behind these artworks, offering a unique perspective on the city’s urban culture.
Travel Tip: While there are self-guided options, joining an organized tour can provide a richer understanding of the context and stories behind each piece. Wear comfortable shoes, as the tours can cover much ground on foot.
11. 93 Park (Parque de la 93)
A popular upscale area in Bogotá, Parque de la 93, surrounds trendy restaurants, bars, and cafes. The park is a relaxing green space, often hosting events, live music, and art installations.
Travel Tip: This area is cheerful in the evenings and on weekends. It’s an excellent spot for dining or simply relaxing after a day of sightseeing, but as always, remain vigilant and watch your belongings.
12. Quinta de Bolívar
Once the residence of the great Liberator Simón Bolívar, this historic colonial house is now a museum dedicated to his life and the Colombian independence movement. The house, with its preserved 19th-century furnishings and beautiful gardens, offers a tranquil escape from the city’s hustle.
Travel Tip: The gardens are charming, providing a serene atmosphere. It’s a good spot for a picnic or to relax. Make sure to check the museum’s hours, as they can vary.
13. Maloka Interactive Center (Centro Interactivo Maloka)
Maloka is a science museum that offers interactive exhibits on various topics, from human biology to space exploration. Aimed at fostering curiosity, especially among younger visitors, it’s an excellent place for families.
Travel Tip: The museum is vast, so prioritize exhibits that interest you most if you’re on a tight schedule. Wear comfortable shoes, as you’ll be on your feet exploring.
14. Bogotá’s Planetarium
One of the most modern in Latin America, Bogotá’s Planetarium offers a deep dive into the universe’s wonders. With high-definition projections and interactive displays, it makes for an enlightening and entertaining visit for kids and adults.
Travel Tip: Try to time your visit during special shows or events regularly hosted at the planetarium. Check the schedule in advance.
15. Salitre Mágico
A famous amusement park in Bogotá, Salitre Mágico, offers a variety of rides and attractions suitable for all ages. It’s a fun day out for the family, from roller coasters and water rides to more gentle kiddie attractions.
Travel Tip: Visit on weekdays to avoid the largest crowds. Remember to carry sunscreen and hats, especially during sunny days, as some waiting areas are exposed.
16. Bogotá’s Greenway (Ciclorutas de Bogotá)
Bogotá boasts one of Latin America’s most extensive network bike paths, offering a unique way to explore the city. These greenways, or “ciclorutas,” stretch over 300km, passing through various neighborhoods and attractions.
Travel Tip: Rent a bicycle and explore parts of the city that may be less accessible by car or public transport. If you’re uncomfortable navigating independently, consider joining a guided bike tour for a more structured experience.
17. Jardín Botánico de Bogotá
Bogotá’s Botanical Garden is a green oasis in the city’s heart, showcasing a diverse collection of Colombian flora. With themed gardens, ponds, and greenhouses, it offers a peaceful retreat and an educational experience.
Travel Tip: The garden hosts various events and workshops throughout the year, so check their calendar beforehand. Also, remember to bring a light jacket, as Bogotá’s weather can be unpredictable, even on seemingly sunny days.
FAQ About Things to Do in Bogotá, Colombia
What are the top attractions to visit in Bogotá?
Some of the top attractions in Bogotá include the Gold Museum, Monserrate, the Botero Museum, and the historic neighborhood of La Candelaria.
Is it safe to walk around La Candelaria during the day?
Yes, La Candelaria is generally safe to explore during the day. However, like any major city, it’s always a good idea to stay aware of your surroundings and avoid displaying valuables.
Are there any local markets I should visit in Bogotá?
Absolutely! Paloquemao Market is a must-visit for those looking to experience local flavors, fresh produce, and traditional Colombian goods.
Can I take a day trip to the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá from Bogotá?
Yes, the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá is just an hour away from Bogotá and a popular day trip destination. Many tour operators offer guided tours to this unique underground cathedral.
What are some recommended activities for nature lovers in Bogotá?
Nature enthusiasts can visit the Simón Bolívar Metropolitan Park, hike the Quebrada La Vieja trail, or explore the Bogotá Botanical Garden.
Where can I experience traditional Colombian music and dance in Bogotá?
Andrés Carne de Res in Chía, just outside Bogotá, is a famous venue where visitors can enjoy traditional Colombian music, dance, and cuisine in a festive atmosphere.
Are there any museums in Bogotá that focus on Colombia’s indigenous cultures?
Yes, the National Museum of Colombia has exhibits dedicated to indigenous cultures, showcasing artifacts, art, and historical information.
How can I learn about Bogotá’s history and architecture?
A guided walking tour of the city, especially in the La Candelaria district, is a great way to learn about Bogotá’s rich history, colonial architecture, and cultural landmarks.