Compared to its more (in)famous partners Medellin or Cartagena, Bogota gets the reputation of the airport city but there is so much more to Bogota than that. It is the economic, political and cultural centre of Colombia with music culture so extensive it was claimed by UNESCO city of music!
This capital is the third highest capital in South America located at 2640 meters above sea level, located in the bed of Andes. With its extensive history and culture, there are plenty of things to do in Bogota but if you choose to spend 24 hours here – you can fill your day with action, adventure, culture and food. Let us tell you what to do in Bogota, Colombia!
Guest post by Romi R. from One Way Today
WHAT’S THE BEST TIME TO VISIT BOGOTA?
Bogota is blessed with the weather sweet spot all year round. The temperatures are in the 18-degree pocket during the day but can go down to 8 at night. The two seasons in Bogota are the rainy and dry season, with rainy season being April – May and October – November.
June and July are the hottest months with Bogota Carnival happening at the same time – however, this attracts a lot of people to an already crowded city. The best time to visit is between December – March with the weather on your side but just the usual 8 million people. You won’t avoid crowds in Bogota – it’s a very populated city, but its what it gives it its charm.
A FEW FACTS ABOUT BOGOTA
Gringos often pronounce the name Bogota like Bough-go-tah, however, the correct pronunciation is Boh-go-TAH. Kick that last TA up a notch and make it fly away.
The population density is approximately 16 000 residents per square mile so kiss your personal space goodbye and get ready to brush off a shoulder or two. Don’t worry – contrary to what a lot of people think Bogota is not a city where everyone is out to rob you and dump you in a nearby alley. Most people are nice, friendly and really proud of their city. Colombians have a saying “no dar papaya” which means – don’t give papaya aka don’t give someone a reason to rob you. Use your common sense and you will have no issues going around Bogota.
Bogota is a bicycle-friendly city and if you plan on doing some extreme sports you can try renting a car. Due to the large population and traffic, you will have to abide by some local laws. If your plates end with an uneven number, you can’t drive a car from 6:00 AM to 8:30 AM and
3:00PM to 7:30 PM on uneven days, same for the even numbers on even days.
ONE DAY IN BOGOTA ITINERARY
Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do on your one day in Bogota.
Start with La Candelaria
Bogota’s must-see is its colourful La Candelaria. It’s in the centre of the city and accessible by bus but the taxi is affordable. Don’t flag a taxi from the street but instead use the app called Tappsi. Uber is also accessible but it’s in the legal grey area so if you choose to use it sit at the front with the driver. Candelaria is great to visit in the morning when it’s not so crowded yet. This is the perfect Instagram photo spot with the cool street art, cobblestone roads and many different options to try a coffee or have the famous chicha – sour corn-based drink with a little alcohol in it. Fun fact, chicha used to be made by ladies chewing the corn and then spitting it out into the water. They don’t make it like that anymore…at least that’s what they told me.
Do A Street Art Tour
While you’re already at the Candelaria treat yourself to one of the many street art tours. There are plenty of tours to choose from and you’ll have a local explain the origin, meaning and the message of the art on the walls of Candelaria and other neat little spots. Take your time to enjoy the paintings, music and let your senses go on a wild ride while learning the history of Bogota’s art. A lot of tours are offered by the artists themselves but you can also choose to do it yourself. However, with only one day available, it’s best to book a free – tip based tour from one of the locals. You will save on time and won’t spend too much money.
Visit the Museum Of Gold and Botero Museum
A 10-minute walk from the Candelaria is the Museum of Gold and Botero Museum is in the same area. It depends on your preference. The museum of gold is filled with more than 30,000 pieces of gold and packed with history. It has a collection of gold and other metal artifacts before the Spanish conquest. There are text descriptions in Spanish as well as English and the museum spreads over three floors. If you’re there on a Sunday the entrance is free (there will be a lot more people) but don’t worry if you’re not. A ticket for one person is only 3000 Colombian Pesos which is about 1 USD. Spend the rest of your early morning surrounded by gold and learn a bit about the history before the Spanish arrived in Colombia. If you’re more into art – Botero museum is the way to go. The painter and sculptor is famous in Colombia and he has donated all the statues and paintings under one condition – that they’re free of charge for the public. His art is focused on disproportions and his most famous painting is that of the Mona Lisa – but in his style. Have a look – even if you’re not into art you will have a good time here.
See The Bolivar Plaza
For some recent history, a short walk
from the museum is the Plaza Bolivar. The plaza is a meeting point for vendors
where you can try some street found like Empanadas or Arepas and see the statue
of Simon Bolivar – the first statue in the city. You can also have a look at
the Palace of Justice – a large building with a violent history. The Palace was
first destroyed in a fire after the murder of Jorge Eliecer Gaitan – a
politician and leader of the populist murder. His murder caused massive riots
and the destruction of the Palace of Justice. The palace was rebuilt only to be
destroyed again in 1985 by the M-19 in the “Palace of Justice Siege” while the
army tried to take the control of the building. If you take a look at your
right from the Palace you will see a smaller building where the survivors from
the siege were taken and tortured.
The Palace was finally rebuilt in 1989 and renovated in 2008.
Try Ajiaco Soup
After the intense history of the Palace, you might be in the mood for something to eat. Ajiaco soup is a traditional Colombian meal and the best one is in Bogota. There are plenty of spots to choose from but the prices will vary depending on the area you’re in. One of the less-touristy spots close to Plaza Bolivar is called El Mejor Ajiaco Del Mundo.
Here you can try other traditional Colombian food but don’t miss the chance to try the corn-chicken thick soup. It’s soup but I promise you, you won’t leave hungry.
Visit the Colombian National Museum
Now that you’re nice and full from lunch you can take a 20-minute walk, a 5-minute bus or taxi up to the Colombian National Museum. The museum is the biggest and oldest in Bogota and its a source of history and art from different periods of time. The museum is divided into different sections with the golden section, Simon Bolivar section, the colonial section and even the Botero section in case you missed his museum. The admission is also free on Sundays but the prices are less than 2 USD per person and a must see in Bogota.
Enjoy The Sunset At Monserrate
You will see the Monserrate everywhere
you’re in Bogota so you’ll easily find your way there. Take a taxi (or Uber but
you didn’t hear it from us) to the “telerifico” and for 10 USD you buy yourself
a return trip. The top of Monserrate overlooks the whole massive city of Bogota
(you will finally see just how huge Bogota is when up here) and the surrounding
mountains. It is one of the things even a picture can’t do justice but you will
have plenty of photo opportunities here. There are shops and restaurants here
to try as well but the view steals the spot.
Make sure you walk through the market and go all the way back to a quiet spot where you can take millions of photos uninterrupted… and wear a jacket – it can get cold up there at night.
Party at Zona Rosa
Finally, head over to the party zone of Zona Rosa. Colombians love to dance, sing and party and you’ll have an amazing time anywhere in this area. You can try the famous Andres Carne De Res. It’s a restaurant but you go there for the experience as well as the food. If you’re not in the mood you can try a beer from Bogota Beer Company or try the Pola y Cola – a mixture of beer and coca cola. The word Pola comes from the lady named Policarpa Salavarrieta – a heroine of Colombian independence. Wherever you are in Zona Rosa you will find something to do. From bars to clubs, from rock to house, there is something for everyone.
WHERE TO STAY IN BOGOTA?
There are a few options on where to stay in Bogota depending on the experience you prefer. The North part of the city is the safest and best, the centre is close to everything but some areas can get dangerous at night and stay away from the south.
This hotels location is in the walking distance of the Candelaria, the museums and the downtown area. It’s got an impressive bar and an affordable price. The area is safe and the Hotel Ibis has been rated as one of the best in Bogota for years. This is a great option for a mid-range budget and if you want to stay close to the centre.
Located in the North this hotel is a beautiful facility in a very safe neighborhood. The area is also surrounded by bars and restaurants in case you wanted to venture out. The airport is a close ride away and GHL Hotel Capital offers a free ride to and from the airport as well as the gym, live music, restaurants and steak bar.
The Cranky Croc Hostel
Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t have a nice stay. For the budget traveller, the Cranky Croc hostel located in La Candelaria is one of the best options. The hostel has a bar, shared lounge and garden area to enjoy. Its central location and price are the best option for the travellers who want to get the most out of their stay in Bogota.
BOGOTA DAY TRIPS
The Salt Cathedral
Only an hour drive from Bogota stands the mighty Salt Cathedral – an underground salt cavern located more than 100 meters underground. It’s a fascinating example of nature and human abilities to form something extraordinary. You can also have a stroll through the town of Zipaquira. This once place of worship is a sight you can’t miss if you have the time!
La Chorrera Falls
The highest waterfall in the entire country and only an hour away from Bogota this waterfall is a must see! The drive there is an adventure on its own and only the scenery on the way will make this trip worth it! The slight fog and the jungle surrounding the waterfall are a beautiful experience for any nature lover and even the indoor types will enjoy this!
Chiquaque Natural Park
Close by is the Chiquaque Natural park with all the biodiversity you can imagine. Colombia is home to half the population of the world’s birds, and you can find a lot of them here! You will find some rare species of birds only found in Colombia in this park. This natural beauty has waterfalls, forests, hiking trails and everything in between!
This trip takes a bit longer and it’s a great stop if you’re on your way to Cali or Neiva or if you have some extra time on your hands. You can camp out under the stars in the night and see all the stars we can’t see in the cities. You can spend hours here just enjoying the views and its a desert but with a forest!
EXTRA TIPS FOR VISITING BOGOTA
Sundays are great days to be in Bogota because a lot of the streets shut down for traffic and the vendors and markets open up so you can walk around and find fantastic deals on clothes, food, electronics and every other random item you can think of.
Most of the streets in Bogota have no names but are called Calle’s and Carrera’s. It might be confusing at first but it’s all based on the numbering system. The number of the street with the number of the house. Traffic is crazy in Bogota so walking or biking is the fastest options. You can use the local buses but they get very crowded! Arm yourself with some patience and enjoy people watching!
PIN FOR LATER!
If you have any other propositions for this One Day in Grand Canyon Itinerary, feel free to share them in the comments below!