Tourists often skip Bogotá when visiting Colombia. Contaminated, gray, somewhat dangerous, and without much tourist appeal, it must be said that it does not enjoy a very good reputation. Personally, I have adored this gigantic but culturally vibrant capital. Discover what to do in Bogotá with these 14 essential places.

Bogotá in a nutshell

The country’s capital is located more than 2,600 meters above sea level in the Andes Mountains. Its 8 million inhabitants are accustomed to its cool climate and gray sky, which sometimes reveals a scorching sun.
As the historical, economic, and political center of the country, this gigantic city has much to offer to tourists who enjoy exploring in a unique way. It may not be the most beautiful city in the country, but it provides significant cultural and culinary diversity, serving as a wonderful starting point to discover the rest of Colombia.

What to do in BOGOTÁ? 14 places you can't miss!

Like all capitals, Bogotá has a large number of squares, parks, museums, and buildings to visit. Discover what to see and do in Bogotá!

1. The Candelaria

It is the quintessential tourist spot, and I’m sure you’ll be taking out your camera on numerous occasions. The colorful streets, cobblestone pavement, and colonial buildings attract tourists to this historic neighborhood.
Also in this neighborhood are the most important landmarks in the city, such as Plaza Bolívar or the Botero and Gold Museums. Additionally, it is filled with charming churches; don’t hesitate to go inside to discover their interior decorations!
la candelaria bogota
candelaria bogota

2. The Chorro de Quevedo

Both locals and tourists gather in this small square, where something is always happening. It is believed that this is where the Colombian capital was founded on August 6, 1538.
There is no better place to try chicha, a typical drink of indigenous origin made from fermented corn. Numerous street vendors offer it, as do local bars. You can opt for the traditional version or try varieties like mango, lulo, passion fruit, among others. I liked this different drink, although I admit I wouldn’t drink it every day.
As you stroll through the streets behind the square, you’ll be able to admire numerous graffiti. While street art has taken over most major cities around the world in recent decades, in Bogotá, this happened quite late.
chorro de quevedo bogota
graffiti bogota
street art bogota

3. The Santuario Nuestra Señora del Carmen

As impressive on the outside as it is on the inside, the sanctuary is often overlooked by tourists. It’s truly unfortunate as it possesses genuine beauty.
The building was designed by architect Giovanni Buscaglione in the Florentine Gothic style. It also features Byzantine and Arab touches, influenced by the artist’s travels to Italy, Constantinople, Izmir, and Alexandria.
Unfortunately, the building is often closed. To ensure you can enter, it’s best to arrive at the time of the Mass.

4. The plaza Bolivar

What to do in Bogotá? There is no doubt that the most well-known square in the city is present in many answers. It holds great importance at religious, economic, political, and legal levels. In fact, it is bordered by the cathedral, the town hall, the courthouse, and the Capitol.

It’s an excellent place to buy tangerine juice while observing locals and tourists moving around the square. Numerous vendors also offer food and crafts in this location.

plaza bolivar bogota

5. The catedral Primada

The cathedral is, therefore, the most beautiful building in Plaza Simón Bolívar. Also known as the Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, it is a neoclassical religious structure built between 1807 and 1823.
It is open most of the time, so feel free to enter and compare the beauty of its exterior with the simplicity of its interior.

6. The Botero museum

Whether you’re a fan of the artist or not, a visit to the Botero Museum is a must, especially since the entrance is free! Over 100 pieces, including paintings and sculptures, are displayed in this charming building. His works cover various themes, including the recent history of Colombia.
It’s also possible to admire the works of other talented artists in this museum, including Renoir and Picasso.
museo botero
museo botero bogota
museo nacional bogota

7. The Colombian National Museum

The National Museum tells the history of Colombia around four axes: art, history, archaeology, and ethnography. It’s a fantastic place if you are a history lover or interested in the country; you can’t miss it! You’ll be able to admire 2,500 works and objects that bear witness to the history and national heritage.
If you’re not that interested, it’s still worth taking a look at the building. Upon entering and heading to the museum shop, you can access a small courtyard without having to pay the entrance fee, giving you an idea of the architecture of this former prison.
que faire a bogota
museo nacional colombia
bogota museo nacional
museo nacional bogota
museo nacional de colombia

8. The Miguel Urrutia Museum

Accessible from the Botero Museum, the Miguel Urrutia Museum is a space where representative works of Colombian, Latin American, and global art are exhibited.
The permanent collection is enjoyable, but its temporary exhibitions are often wonderful. The entrance is free, so you really take no risk by stopping by.

9. The Casa de la Moneda

Also accessible from the Botero Museum and free of charge, the Casa de la Moneda is another museum worth discovering. As you’ve probably gathered, it narrates the main economic, social, and cultural processes of Colombia through the history of its currency.

10. The Plaza de mercado La Perseverancia

There are many markets in Bogotá to feel the pulse of local life and do some shopping. La Perseverancia market is quite small but always bustling with life. After your shopping, you can sit in one of its numerous restaurants to taste delicious local specialties.

perseverancia bogota
plaza perseverancia bogota

I couldn’t go, but Paloquemao Market was also recommended to me, especially for trying the country’s fruits.

11. The Cerro de Monserrate

Probably the number 1 tourist attraction in Bogotá: Monserrate Hill. Elevated at 1,300 meters, it offers a breathtaking view of the capital stretching as far as the eye can see beneath you.
Surrounded by mountains, the environment is beautiful and peaceful. The Basilica of the Lord of Monserrate is a must-visit. It’s recommended to go around 10-11 in the morning for beautiful photos or at sunset.
You can ascend by cable car or funicular to Monserrate and also on foot, but keep in mind that it’s better to be in good physical shape for that. Also, beware of the legend that says if a couple goes up to Monserrate together, they will never get married.
cerro de monserrate bogota
cerro monserrate bogota
bogota cerro de monserrate
My experience at Monserrate
I purchased my ticket on this website for a visit at 11 in the morning. On my ticket, it was clearly written that I could go through the “Web Purchases” line to avoid the queue. Nothing could be further from the truth. I had to wait with everyone else. Groups and families without tickets lined up while one of their members went to buy tickets. So, solo travelers without online-purchased tickets had to queue twice.
Under a scorching sun, surrounded by elderly people, couples with babies, and individuals with their dogs, it took me 1.5 hours to ascend and 1.5 hours to descend for a site that is typically visited in 30–40 minutes. Let’s say that although the view was beautiful, it was challenging for me to appreciate it fully.
I received several testimonials on my Instagram account from tourists who had no problem visiting this place. However, I recommend that you be prepared in case of a negative experience with a water bottle, some food, sunscreen, or an umbrella.

12. The Simon Bolivar park

If you want to explore the city away from its center and enjoy some fresh air, Simón Bolívar Park is the place you need. The city’s Central Park extends over 113 hectares.
Play areas for children, food stalls, boat rides on the lake… It’s the perfect place to spend a relaxed Sunday. An amusement park and a botanical garden are nearby.
parque bolivar bogota

13. The Quinta Camacho neighborhood

If you feel like transporting yourself to Europe for a few hours, the Quinta Camacho neighborhood with its British architecture is the ideal destination. Here, houses are made of brick in a completely English style.
It’s also a booming neighborhood where trendy restaurants, small cafes, design shops, and art galleries abound. In the evening, it’s the fashionable district to go out and experience the true Bogotá nightlife.
quinta camacho
quinta camacho bogota

14. The Usaquen market

If you’re in Bogotá on a Sunday or a holiday, don’t forget to visit Usaquén. This charming neighborhood hosts a flea market where creators showcase their works. It’s the perfect place to buy souvenirs.
Formerly a small village, Usaquén has managed to preserve its soul and clearly invites relaxation in its narrow streets. It’s also an area where restaurants abound.

BONUS: The catedral de Sal

Impossible to finish this list of “What to do in Bogotá?” without mentioning this magical and extraordinary place!
Located outside Bogotá, in the town of Zipaquirá, the Salt Cathedral is one of Colombia’s wonders that you cannot miss. Inaugurated in 1995, it is situated 180 meters underground in a salt mine. Sculptures and artworks are revealed along the corridors.
I highly recommend visiting this unique monument! Read my blog post!

How many days to explore Bogotá?

Here, everything depends on your desires and your travel style. If you like to quickly visit cities or plan to dedicate the rest of your stay to other destinations in the country, 2-3 days will be sufficient.
If you prefer to travel slowly and leisurely, you can spend between 7 and 15 days there. Additionally, the capital has a lot to offer for art and culture lovers. It’s also a good base for exploring the region.
If you are a digital nomad and only have weekends to explore your destination, why not stay between 1 and 3 months? Personally, I was there for 3 weeks, but I believe I could have easily spent 3 months, given the endless options for activities and the interesting villages to discover in the surrounding areas.

What to do in Bogotá in 2 days? Itinerary

That’s an itinerary for all those, like me, who like to take the time to discover a destination at their own pace, all while enjoying good food, coffee, and a break on a bench to people-watch.
If you’re more of a fast-paced traveler, you’ll probably be able to do much more in just 2 days.
Day 1:
  • Visit to La Candelaria: 2–3 hours. Pause at Chorro de Quevedo to have a chicha. Visit the Sanctuary during mass.
  • Visit to the Botero Museum: 1 hour. If you crave more culture, continue with the Miguel Urrutia Museum and/or the Casa de la Moneda.
  • Lunchtime: La Candelaria is full of restaurants and cafes. Give preference to establishments that use local seasonal products and employ local workers.
  • Stroll through Plaza Bolívar: a must-visit for both locals and tourists.
  • Walk in Simón Bolívar Park: to end the day in a relaxing way.
Day 2:
  • Visit to Monserrate: 1 hour (the ascent and descent can take a long time on busy days). Locals recommend going around 10-11 in the morning for beautiful photos.
  • Lunch at La Perseverancia Market Plaza: enjoy the market atmosphere before sitting in one of its many restaurants.
  • Visit to the National Museum of Colombia: 2–3 hours.
  • Walk in the Quinta Camacho neighborhood: take the opportunity to have a good coffee, and why not, dine there as well?

What to DO in Bogotá in 3 days? Itinerary

If you have an additional day to dedicate to Bogotá, you can add one of these two options to the 2-day itinerary:
1. Spend the morning at the Usaquén flea market if it’s a Sunday or holiday. Have lunch at one of its many restaurants and end the day in Bogotá by visiting a museum you haven’t had time to explore yet.
2. Go to Zipaquirá to discover the town before lunch at a local restaurant. Spend the afternoon marveling at the Salt Cathedral.

When to visit Bogotá?

Bogotá is a city that is pleasant to explore at any time of the year. However, if you decide to go in December, January, or February, you increase your chances of avoiding rain and enjoying the 5–6 hours of daily sunshine, compared to the 4 hours the rest of the year.

How to get to Bogotá?

From Europe, there are numerous direct flights offered, among others, by Air France or Iberia.
In Latin America, there are also direct flights from many cities such as Mexico City or São Paulo, to name a few. Avianca, LATAM, and Aeroméxico are just a few of the companies that offer these flights.
If you are already in Colombia, you can opt for the company Avianca, which offers flights from many Colombian cities. Many bus companies can take you to Bogotá for a more eco-friendly stay while discovering the landscapes of this beautiful country.

How to get around Bogotá?

If you stay in the historic center, you can do almost everything on foot.
Uber is available throughout the city, both in car and motorcycle versions, allowing you to move around seamlessly and easily.
On the other hand, the public transportation system covers the entire city perfectly. You just need to buy a rechargeable card at a Transmilenio counter and validate it for each trip. There are various types of buses, including Transmilenos, long accordion-style buses that run on exclusive lanes.
With your card, you can also take other types of buses, but keep in mind that you may get stuck in traffic. Google Maps is usually very helpful for navigating this extensive transportation system!

Where to stay in Bogotá?

Of course, it all depends on personal preferences, but if you enjoy exploring most tourist attractions on foot, I would recommend staying in the La Candelaria neighborhood.
You can also choose Chapinero if you want to be in the heart of the nightlife. Finally, Usaquén is a very good option for enjoying a quieter atmosphere.

Where to buy a SIM card in Bogotá?

Ordering an Uber or meeting up with a friend, these are actions that require a local SIM card. Of course, you can buy a SIM card at the airport, but keep in mind that it will always be more expensive than in the city.
In the city, there are official stores that sell this precious item, and many other shops do as well. Pay attention to the storefronts; they often have the logos of Claro, Movistar, or Tigo, the country’s main telecommunications companies. The sellers will be able to advise you, or even better, consider checking online for the company and the plan you want and ask them.
To avoid dealing with this issue, you can also opt for an eSIM card. This is especially useful if you travel regularly from one country to another.

Is Bogotá dangerous?

Like in most cities in Latin America, it’s important to follow some basic rules to avoid dangers:
  • Don’t walk with your phone in your hands.
  • Avoid walking alone at night.
  • Refrain from carrying large sums of money.
  • Inform yourself about common scams.
As a racialized woman traveling alone, I have not felt in danger. However, there are certain areas that, if you are not accustomed to traveling in Latin America, can be quite intimidating.

Being a digital nomad in Bogotá

Unlike Medellín, which is considered the mecca for remote workers in Colombia, Bogotá is not necessarily the most popular place among digital nomads. However, there is a small community.
It’s worth mentioning that the richness of cultural and nightlife, culinary variety, the possibility to easily explore other destinations, and the good quality of wifi are advantages that make the capital particularly attractive.
The city center has some co-working spaces, and there are also a few co-living places.

Traveling responsibly in Bogotá

The protection of the planet and respect for local communities are more relevant than ever in Bogotá, as elsewhere. Here are some ideas for responsible travel in Bogotá:
1. Learn about local living conditions and the environmental challenges the city faces. The city has even published a guide for responsible travel.
2. Don’t feed the pigeons in Simon Bolivar Square.
3. Use public transportation in a city already heavily polluted.
4. Sort your waste according to local rules.
5. Research rental prices before choosing yours to avoid contributing to gentrification.
6. Buy seasonal products in markets or greengrocers.
7. Choose restaurants that use local and seasonal products.
8. Select hotels that clearly display eco-friendly practices.
The list of eco-friendly actions is long, but do your best.

Visiting Bogotá as a POC

I am of South Asian origin. It is important to keep in mind that experiences of discrimination can vary based on one’s background. Personally, I haven’t encountered any problems or comments. No one stared at me on the street, and there were no attempts to scam me upon hearing my accent while speaking Spanish.
Well, this article about what to do in Bogotá comes to an end. I hope this information has helped plan your next visit to the Colombian capital.
If it has been useful, feel free to share the article on Pinterest!
what to do in bogota
what to do in bogota
what to do in bogota

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