Many people might tell you to skip Bogotá, Colombia’s expansive capital.
They may say it’s nothing special or that there’s not that much to do there but this underrated city has a vibrant atmosphere as well as a picture-perfect historic centre.
It is in fact the ideal starting point to a trip in Colombia. From walking tours to gain insight into Colombia’s history as well as pristine historic buildings that capture the influence left by the Spanish invasion, Bogotá is a taster of what’s to come on a vacay in Colombia.
However, if visiting for only a few weeks one to two days in Bogotá is certainly enough to basque in its essence. Here is a two day itinerary for this great city.
Go on a walking tour
Take a free walking tour to get to grips with the city. Beyond Colombia is the most reputable tour there is and they also do free food tours and war and peace tours.
You will be taken to all of the main sights in La Candelaria, the historic centre, and you will also enjoy street performances and insight into some of Colombia’s most famous legends.
Tours go every day at 10am and 2pm from outside the Museo del Oro (gold museum). The tour is free but tips are appreciated. The suggested tip is around 20,000 COP.
Visit the Museo Botero
The Botero museum is a seriously impressive museum and I have been to a lot of museums in my time!
Fernando Botero is a famous Colombian artist known for his unique visual style and has donated many sculptures and pieces to various museums and cities in the country including, most famously, Botero Sqaure in Medellín.
Set in a beautiful old building, the museum boasts a large collection of Botero’s work as well as pieces from other well known artists. This is also a great stop for lunch as the museum houses a slick, modern restaurant in-house. It is not the cheapest restaurant in town but the pizzas and coffee are delicious and the setting is delightful.
Buy street food and enjoy Bolívar Square
If you are still peckish or would rather a cheaper lunch option head to Bolívar Square square and buy from the street vendors. They have everything from arepas and corn to waffles, plantain and churros. You could enjoy a whole meal here for just a couple of pesos.
While there make sure to sit on the steps of Cathedral and watch the world go by.
Dinner in La Candelaria
There are lots of choice when it comes to dining in La Candelaria.
For local cuisine, head to some of the many restaurants just off Bolívar Square for traditional Colombian dishes (as well as some Bogotá classics). Otherwise explore the small streets of the area to discover pretty little restaurants, bars and cafes to eat in.
Head to Cerro de Monserrate
For a truly spectacular view of the city, head up to Monserrate, a mountain boasting a church at the top with perfect views of the city.
There are a couple of ways to reach the summit as you can hike it, get a cable car or take the funicular (definitely the most unique way to visit!). The funicular is a sort of train that travels vertically instead of horizontally (it goes very slow but is still a bit scary). The cable car and funicular cost about the same at 20,000 COP for the round trip (note that the price drops to 11,000 on Sundays).
The walking trail is free but is not an easy hike and time-consuming if on a tight schedule (you likely won’t be able to do much for the rest of the day after it…). The trek up will take at least an hour depending on your fitness levels and you should allow up to four hours for the whole trip.
At the top explore the beautiful buildings including the church before getting your pictures with that stunning view.
Take in the Museo del Oro
The Gold Museum is one of the top rated museums in the city and boasts a lot of what it says on the tin: gold.
Provides good insight into the lives of indigenous communities and the discovery of gold in Colombia. Entry is only 4,000 COP.
Visit Plaza de San Victorina for a true representation of Colombian city life
You will have spent a lot of time in La Candelaria, which is truly the tourist part of the city.
For a more authentic look at life in Bogota just walk ten minutes outside of the historic centre. Here you will find an extremely busy square full of locals, vendors and merchants. It is literally the complete opposite of Bolívar Square but probably a more authentic looks at life in the city.
OR stick to the historic area and visit Plazoleta Chorro de Quevedo
You may visit this area on your walking tour but another gorgeous place to visit within La Candelaria is Plazoleta Chorro de Quevedo, a small square with a church that has regular markets. Follow the lane to the back of the square for small shops, quirky restaurants and an abundance of street art.
What to do in one day:
Definitely get up and do the walking tour followed by a tour of the Botero Museum (and have a scrumptious lunch here!). Then I would recommend exploring La Candelaria and having some street food in Bolívar Square. If you have time, take a quick trip up to Montserrat in the Funicular. Lastly, enjoy dinner in the historic centre if you have time.
And where to go after Bogotá? Head to Salento before taking in the great atmosphere of Medellin.
Bogota is the perfect place to start your trip in Colombia but before you fly, here are some great Colombia Travel Tips to ensure the perfect start to a vacation in this great country.