Last Updated on March 3, 2022 by Nellie Huang

Bogota doesn’t have the best reputation, but give it a chance and it will win you over. Go under its surface with this list of fun things to do in Bogota, Colombia.

Most visitors to Colombia avoid its capital city, Bogota, having heard rumors of how unsafe and uninteresting it is. Yes, Bogota is massive, chaotic and gritty, and some parts of Bogota are dangerous. But it’s a shame to leave Bogota out of your Colombia itinerary as it’s got lots of history, world class museums, and an exciting food scene.

To understand Colombia’s history and culture, you need to spend a few days in Bogota and give it a chance to win you over. Here are some of the best things to do in Bogota, Colombia, as well as a complete Bogota travel guide.

things to do in bogota - colombia bogota things to do

Bogota Travel Guide 2022

Colombia Covid Travel Restrictions

Colombia no longer requires a negative coronavirus test from travelers entering the country by air. Since 3 June, Colombia has eased several lockdown measures even though it is still fighting a third peak in the pandemic, which has been aggravated by a month of crowded antigovernment street protests. Read my full article on whether Colombia is safe to travel now.

I always recommend travelers to buy travel insurance, especially if you’re traveling during the pandemic. Safety Wing is the most popular travel insurance company for COVID19-coverage. I use their Nomad Insurance plan, which covers COVID-19 as any other illness as long as it was not contracted before your coverage start date. Refer to my travel insurance guide for more details.

22 Fun Things to Do in Bogota, Colombia


How to Get to Bogota

El Dorado International Airport is the largest in Colombia and it serves many major cities around the world. You can easily find direct flights from New York to Bogota for as cheap as $80 each way. If you’re already in South America, there are cheap flights from cities like Lima to Bogota for just $70 each way. From Europe, the cheapest flights are from Madrid to Bogota, with prices from $300 each way.

The airport is almost 15 kilometers from the city center, but it can take anything between 30 minutes to an hour to get to the center. There’s a Transmilenio bus to La Candelaria (a ticket costs only 2000 COP of $0.60), but that takes much longer than the taxi. The best way is to take an Uber — drivers always stop at carpark C outside Arrivals.

things to do in bogota - la canderlaria streets


How to Get Around Bogota

Taxis in Bogota are notorious for many reasons — I’ve heard horror stories of taxi drivers literally robbing tourists with knives, and forcing them to withdraw all their money at ATMs. The safest way to get around Bogota is on Uber as drivers are more reliable. Although Uber is technically illegal in Colombia, it works perfectly fine and you can pay with Paypal or credit card.

colombia bogota attractions - downtown bogota


Things to Do in Bogota

1. Explore La Candelaria

Cobblestoned roads, historical colonial buildings, and endless churches — La Candelaria is the casco antiguo (old town) of Bogota. It’s my favorite part of the city and one of the reasons why I prefer Bogota to Medellin. Some bloggers advise against that due to safety, but I felt safer here than in any other parts of the city.

Some of the important streets and sights in La Candelaria include Primada Cathedral, San Francisco Church, San Augustin Church, and Carrera Septima street. I spent days wandering around the old town and loved the history in the area.

what to do in bogota colombia what to do in bogota colombia

2. Join a Free Walking Tour

The best way to get to know La Candelaria, especially if you’re traveling solo like me, is to join a free walking tour. I signed up with Beyond Colombia and my guide Mauricio was great fun. 

The historical facts can be a bit hard to follow, but his tour was spontaneous and included visits to secret terraces, unique cafes and even locals’ home.

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travel in bogota - old theater

3. See the Iconic Plaza Bolivar

If you prefer to explore on your own, I recommend first heading to the main square, Plaza Bolivar, to get your bearings. The square is lined with buildings of high historical and architectural significance. The most prominent is the Cathedral of Bogota, then there’s the National Capitol in the South, the City Hall in the West, and Palace of Justice in the North. 

Plaza de Bolivar is the central point of Bogota (and some say Colombia). It has witnessed many major events, including the M19 siege of the Justice Palace. During my trip to Colombia, nationwide protests were taking place all over the country and the biggest ones happened right at Plaza de Bolivar.

plaza bolivar - things to do in bogota colombia

4. Try Ajiaco at La Puerta Falsa

Right by Plaza Bolivar is one of the most famous eatery in Bogota: La Puerta Falsa. It’s a simple and tiny old-school eatery that’s always crowded with people — so much so that many restaurants have opened just next door with similar names!

At Puerta Falsa, you have to try the Ajiaco, a regional dish from Bogota that’s hugely popular. Ajiaco is essentially a hearty soup made of chicken, three kinds of potatoes, corn and an herb called guascas. Because of the cooler weather, this warm, rich soup has become a staple in the region.

trip to bogota colombia - ajiaco

5. Visit the Museo de Botero

This is by far the quirkiest thing to do in Bogota. Botero Museum is a museum featuring a collection of Fernando Botero, Colombia’s most well-known artist. He is renowned for his paintings and sculptures of overly-sized cartoonish people and animals. And here in Bogota you get to learn more about this unique artist. Entrance is free, and free guided tours are available daily.

museo do botero - best places to visit in bogota

6. Admire the Santuario Nuestra Señora del Carmen

It’s easy to spot this Gothic church while wandering around La Candelaria. The church has a prominent appearance: red-and-white striped pattern — both on the outside and inside. Built from 1926 to 1938, the church stands almost 60 meters tall has some incredible Byzantine and Moorish art. The church was designed by architect Giovanni Buscaglione, who was a Salesian priest in the Roman Catholic Church. Entrance is free.

santuario de carmen - colombia bogota places to visit

7. Visit Museo de Bogota

I actually stumbled upon the Museum of Bogota and really enjoyed the tour they provided (only in Spanish). Located on Carrera 4, the small museum narrows in on Bogota’s urban & community development, with a focus on architecture and water drainage system. Entrance is free.

visit bogota - museo de bogota

8. Try Amazonian Herbs at the Apothecary del Condor

Definitely one of the coolest things to do in Bogota! While strolling around La Candelaria, I chanced upon the alternative Apothecary del Condor. The American-Colombian owner Mateo generously showed me around the beautiful colonial house where he grew up in. 

Mateo shared an incredible amount of knowledge and history about Colombia’s indigenous groups. I learned about the natural medicines of the Amazon and Andes, and even tried coca leaves and rapé tobacco. It was truly a journey of the senses and an immersive learning experience. Mateo actually offers this experience on Airbnb. 

tourist attractions in bogota - apothecary

9. Visit the Museo del Oro

Museo del Oro (translates to mean Gold Museum) is the most popular museum in Colombia. On display are more than 55,000 pieces of gold from pre-Hispanic cultures in Colombia. This institution has become a symbol of Colombia’s cultural memory.

The museum is not only visually captivating, but also provides info about Colombia’s history and the role gold plays in their society. Entrance fee is only 4000 COP ($1), and it is free on Sundays.

bogota things to do - museo del oro

10. See Street Art at Calle de Escudo

Most of the city’s best street art is found along the narrow Calle de Escudo. The alley is flanked by cafes, hippie shops, and art galleries. Bogotá is one of the most street-art-friendly cities on Earth, with walls on major streets being used as canvases.  

But it wasn’t always like this. Police used to crack down on graffiti artists extremely hard. In 2011, they pursued and killed 16-year-old artist Diego Felipe Becerra. There were protests throughout the city and two officers were eventually arrested. Today the police protect the rights of artists and the city frequently supports street art culture through incentives and city-sponsored projects. 

bogota travel - street art at calle del escudo

calle escudo - colombia bogota

11.Try Chicha at Chorro de Quevedo

Chorro de Quevedo is one of the best places in Bogota to try chicha, a traditional alcoholic drink made by fermenting corn and fruit. The indigenous people of Colombia have been drinking chicha for thousands of years. 

According to my guide, it’s not easy to find authentic chichas these days. He brought me to “la reina de chicha” (the queen of chicha), who has won competitions and now sells chichas out of her apartment. I don’t have her address, but if you want to taste some chicha, many of the bars at Chorro de Quevedo serve them.

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visit bogota

12. Visit Museo Nacional de Colombia

Housed in a former prison, the national museum is a great place to learn about the country’s history before and after Spanish colonization.  Located in right in the heart of downtown Bogotá, is the biggest and oldest museum in Colombia. The museum has 17 permanent exhibition rooms, with important displays of history, art and archaeology. Entrance is 3,800 COP ($1 USD) and free on Sundays. 

museo nacional de colombia - bogota sights

13. Enjoy the Nightlife in Chapinero

Though not as popular with tourists as La Candelaria, the upmarket Chapinero district is a window into an authentic urban Bogota. It features a mix of mountainside residential sections and commercial zones with glitzy malls. Fine-dining areas like Parque de la 93 and Zona G buzz in the evening, as do the glamorous clubs and bars of Zona Rosa. The Chapinero Central neighborhood also has a lively gay scene. 

bogota colombia trip - live music in chapinero

14. Go Up to Cerro Monserrate

For the best view of Bogota from above, head up to the highest point of the mountains surrounding the city: Cerro Monserrate. At the top of the 3,200m high mountain stands a church, that dates back to the 1650s. Here, you’ll also find the statue of El Señor Caido – which depicts Jesus Christ right after being taken off the cross. 

There are three ways to get to the top:

  • Cable car – The teleferico gives you the best views of the city. Tickets are 12,000 COP ($3.50) each way.
  • Funicular – I took the funicular up and the cable car down. Ticket prices are the same.
  • Foot – If you’re looking to experience Bogota’s nature, you can walk up to the top. It’s a popular activity for locals on Sundays. Keep in mind there are more than 1500 steps and the altitude can make it challenging. Robberies have occurred here, be on the alert!

bogota tourism - cerro monserrate view

bogota tourism - cerro monserrate view

15. Visit the Jardin Botanico

Located close to the airport, the botanical garden is the perfect spot to escape the mayhem of the busy city center. It’s lush, green, and natural — with wet temperate forests, waterfalls and even the famous wax palm (symbol of the country). Entrance is only 5000 COP ($1.32) and includes a free guided tour.

The new greenhouse, El Tropicario, has just opened and it looks spectacular. Housing plants from all over Colombia, the futuristic glass modules seemingly float on the simulated wetland.

jardin botanico - bogota colombia things to do

bogota travel guide - waterfall at jardin botanico bogota travel guide - waterfall at jardin botanico

16. Wander around Simon Bolivar Park

Created in 1979, Simon Bolivar is the biggest park in the city and is located right next to the botanical gardens. Bogotanos love their outdoor activities, so this park can get pretty busy on weekends with locals out for a picnic, bike ride or stroll. Entrance is free.

simon bolivar park - colombia bogota attractions

17. Join the Ciclovia Sundays

One of the coolest things about Bogota (Medellin too) is how bike-friendly the city is! On Sundays, more than 60 miles (100 km) of roads are closed off for locals to bike, rollerblade, or run. The Ciclovía has different bike stations to rent bikes from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. To know the Ciclovía paths click here.

ciclovia bogota - bogota travel guide

18. Try Salpicón at Siete de Agosto Market

The best place to eat typical Colombian foods and soak up local culture is the markets — Paloquemao is the biggest and most famous, but I recommend the more intimate Siete de Agosto. 

Be sure to try the salpicón, a salad of chopped tropical fruits mixed with orange juice, papaya juice and whipped cream. It’s a perfect combination of a smoothie and fruit salad. Frutería Dary’s is the most popular stall in the market and I can see why!

must see in bogota - salpicon in market

19. Go to the Sunday Usaquen Market

Every Sunday (11am – 4pm), artisans line the cobblestoned streets of Usaquen in Bogota to sell all sorts of local crafts and goods. While it’s usually referred to as a flea market, Usaquen Market is actually more upscale than the others. I like the hippie, laidback atmosphere and recommend it for a lazy Sunday afternoon activity.

things to do in colombia bogota - ursaquen market


Day Trips from Bogota

20. Visit the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira

One of the most popular day trips from Bogota is a visit of the impressive Zipaquira salt cathedral, also known as the first wonder of Colombia. I was worried it might be tacky, but it completely blew my mind (despite not being religious at all). The whole design and layout of the complex is an engineering feat, and the atmosphere in there is so spiritual.

The Salt Cathedral is located an hour’s drive from the city in Zipaquirá. The city itself is actually really photogenic and is a destination on its own. The Roman Catholic church is built in the tunnels of an old salt mine, at 200 meters below ground.  The easiest way to get there is to book a day tour.

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 zipaquira salt cathedral - day trip from bogota zipaquira salt cathedral - day trip from bogota

21. Discover the Legend of El Dorado at Lake Guatavita

If you’re craving to explore the backcountry, head out on a day trip to Lake Guatavita. Located around 60 kilometers north of Bogotá, this small lake is a sacred site to the region’s indigenous people and is apparently where the rumors of El Dorado originated.

Check out this day tour from Bogota. You’ll learn learn about the old indigenous traditions that gave this lake its renown and the possible reasons behind the legend. Get to hike around the lake and also soak in the hot springs in the nearby town of Sesquilé. 

lake guatavita - bogota day trips

22. Explore the Colonial Town of Villa de Leyva

One of the best places to visit from Bogota on a day trip is Villa de Leyva. The colonial town is a charming enclave dotted with whitewashed buildings, narrow cobblestone streets, and one of the largest squares in Latin America. If you’re traveling around Colombia, you’ll soon learn that the country’s biggest charm lies in its colonial mountain towns.

You can take a frequent bus from Bogota to Villa de Leyva, but if you have just a day for the visit, consider taking this Villa de Leyva Day Tour from Bogota.

villa de leyva - day trips from bogota

23. Go on a Coffee Tour in Tequendema

Coffee lovers alert! There are several coffee plantations in the mountain towns near Bogota, and they make for interesting tours for coffee lovers. Most coffee tours bring you to Fusagasugá, which is a 90-minute drive away. Along the way, you’ll stop at the legendary Tequendama waterfall for a short hike, before arriving at Coloma coffee farm. 

You’ll learn all about the history of the farm and the village, and even get to harvest the coffee beans before discovering the complete process of production, from seed to cup. From there, see where each coffee bean is washed, pulped, dried, and hand-picked. Finally, end the tour with a tasting of a delicious cup of coffee. Book your coffee tour here!

what to do in bogota colombia - coffee tour


Where to Stay in Bogota

Budget: Bogotá 100 Design Hotel 

With incredible prices, this modern hotel is located just 500 m from lively Parque 93 and nearby restaurants and bars. It’s in the upscale Chapinero district and offers great value for money. Check rates here.

Mid Range: Candelaria House Boutique

Of all the hotels I stayed in Colombia, this was my favorite. The stylish colonial house (pictured) is gorgeous and full of character, tastefully designed by the owner Camilo and decorated with antiques, kilim rugs and lush gardens. Great location just blocks from attractions. Check rates here. 

Luxury: W Bogota

Located in the Usaquien district, W Bogota is by far the most luxurious hotel in Bogota. Fun fact: All W hotels are designed after an urban legend and the W Bogotá pays tribute to the Dorado legend. The pool is amazing to unwind, the bar is very chic and in-house restaurants are top class. Check rates here.

candelaria boutique house - where to stay in bogota   candelaria boutique house - where to stay in bogota


Where to Eat in Bogota

Andrés Carne de Res

Possibly the most famous restaurant in Bogota, this place has earned a loyal following for its grilled meats and typical Colombian dishes: Order with sharing in mind so that you can sample the arepas de choclo (sweet corn cakes), papas criolla (Colombian potatoes), chicharrones (fried pork rinds), and lomo al trapo (cloth-wrapped grilled beef). Read TripAdvisor reviews.

Doña Elvira

For a deep dive into traditional Colombian cuisine, hit up lunch at Doña Elvira. Founded in 1934, the restaurant has a humble façade and a simple cafeteria-style interior. The menu is the best of everyday Colombian eating. Try the stuffed chicken necks, chopped pork ribs, or the braised flank steak. 

Casa

This restaurant’s name is an homage to the building it occupies, a 1950s home by the famous Colombian architect Guillermo Bermúdez. The menu is vaguely Mediterranean; try the fried rice with oxtail, the mussels, and the tuna tartare. Book your table.

La Puerta Falsa

Right by Plaza Bolivar is one of the most famous eatery in Bogota: La Puerta Falsa. It’s a simple and tiny old-school eatery that’s always crowded with people — so much so that many restaurants have opened just next door with similar names!

best restaurants in bogota


Further Reading on Colombia

There you have it, there’s no shortage of things to do in Bogota. Come with an open mind and you’ll be surprised by how cool Bogota is! Let me know if you have any questions below!

If you’re planning to travel Colombia, check out other articles I’ve written on Colombia:

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links i.e. if you book a stay through one of my links, I get a small commission at NO EXTRA COST to you. Thank you for your support!

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