Oh, Bogota, the vibrant heart of Colombia, rich with history, culture, and a touch of adventure! Just the place to satiate that wanderlust of yours. It’s high time you explored this captivating metropolis.
Located more than 2,500 meters (8,000 feet) above sea level, the high-altitude capital of Colombia is far larger than most people imagine, comparable in size to metropolises like New York City and Mexico City.
Among the notable tourist attractions, you’ll find the colorful neighborhood of La Candelaria , top-notch museums, and the panoramic views of the Cerro de Monserrate.
Whether you want to delve into the city’s past or immerse yourself in its modern-day charms, these recommendations will help you make the most of your time in Bogota. Join us as we discover some of the best things to do in Bogota, ensuring you have an unforgettable trip to this intriguing city.
In this post, we'll cover:
19. Catedral Primada
Bogotá’s Catedral Primada is a must-visit destination for anyone who appreciates beautiful architecture. Located in the heart of the La Candelaria neighborhood, the cathedral has a stunning neoclassical design that dates back to the early 19th century.
This beautiful cathedral is not only a place of worship, but also a cultural landmark representing the city’s history and heritage. As you explore the magnificent interior, you’ll discover intricate stained glass windows, impressive religious sculptures, and beautiful side chapels.
Be sure to also take a stroll around Plaza de Bolívar, the bustling square surrounding the cathedral, to get a true sense of the city’s vibrant atmosphere.
18. Usaquen Market
The Usaquén Market is a popular weekend destination in Bogotá, offering visitors a unique blend of traditional crafts, delicious local cuisine, and lively street performances. The market stands out as a hub for local artists and food vendors, giving tourists an authentic taste of Colombian culture.
Located in the heart of the charming Usaquén neighborhood, the market is teeming with vibrant colors and alluring smells. You’ll find an assortment of handmade crafts like textiles, leather goods, and jewelry, making it a great destination for some souvenir hunting. Additionally, the vast array of mouth-watering street food ensures that even the pickiest eaters find something to suit their taste buds.
Just remember not to fill up on too many goodies – you still have plenty of more sections to explore in this wonderful city!
17. Simon Bolívar Park
Simón Bolívar Park, one of Bogotá’s largest and most visited green spaces, offers a relaxing escape from the bustling city streets.
With an abundance of recreational activities, you’ll never find yourself at a loss for things to do. Rent a paddleboat and explore the picturesque lake, or challenge your friends to a game of soccer, beach volleyball, or tennis.
Or just enjoy a leisurely stroll, wander along the tree-lined paths, marvel at the park’s diverse flora, and be sure to visit the smaller parks and monuments nestled within, such as the Children’s Park, the Forest of Stories, and the Simon Bolivar Monument. There is even an amusement park.
16. Graffiti Tour
When visiting Bogota, a graffiti tour is a must! The city’s vibrant street art scene tells stories of its history, culture, and politics.
Bogota’s street art is not just a form of expression; it’s a movement. There are guided tours led by passionate locals who know the ins and outs of these captivating creations. There are both walking and biking tours.
La Candelaria, a bohemian neighborhood filled with historical charm, is the perfect place to start your graffiti journey. As you wander through its charming cobblestone streets, you’ll discover many hidden gems in the form of intricate art pieces.
Keep your eye out for works by Bacan, a renowned Bogota artist known for their distinct style and thought-provoking themes.
15. Casa de Moneda
The Casa de Moneda, founded in 1621, is a fascinating attraction in Bogotá. As one of the oldest mints in the Americas, it has played a significant role in Colombia’s history.
Now functioning as a museum, visitors can admire the diverse collection of coins, banknotes, and historical artifacts from different eras. An interesting highlight is the machinery used in minting coins throughout history.
The Casa de Moneda also houses a noteworthy collection of Colombian art, featuring works from prominent artists such as Alejandro Obregón and Fernando Botero. The beautiful architecture of the building itself adds to the overall charm, too!
14. Quinta de Bolivar
Tucked away in the lush mountainside, Quinta de Bolívar is a must-see historical gem in Bogotá. Once the residence of the famous liberator Simón Bolívar, this beautiful colonial estate now serves as a museum, showcasing the life and accomplishments of Bolívar.
As you wander through the elegantly furnished rooms, you’ll see art and artifacts, including Bolívar’s personal belongings and intricate paintings that tell his story.
Make sure to take a leisurely stroll through the vibrant gardens that surround the property. Filled with exotic plants, fountains, and statues, these gardens offer a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
While you’re there, take advantage of the stunning panoramic views of Bogotá, perfect for those Insta-worthy snaps.
13. National Museum of Colombia
Exhibiting a vast collection of Colombian history, art and culture, he National Museum of Colombia houses more than 20,000 pieces ranging from pre-Columbian artifacts to modern art.
The first floor focuses on indigenous cultures and their way of life. You’ll find impressive quetzal feathered headdresses and ancient ceramic figures that tell the stories of these fascinating civilizations. Moving up to the second floor, you’ll be exposed to Colombia’s colonial period, showcasing impressive Baroque-style architectures and religious artwork.
As you head up to the third floor, notice the transition from Colombian history to contemporary art, including pieces by world-renowned artist Fernando Botero.
While strolling through the museum, don’t forget to check out the beautiful central patio garden—a great spot for a relaxing break after diving deep into Colombia’s rich history.
12. Museo Santa Clara
Santa Clara is one of the oldest churches in all of Colombia, and its interior is also one of the most extravagantly decorated.
Built over a 50-year span in the 17th century, the church is filled with ornate features. These include the barrel vault ceiling painted in a gold floral motif and nearly 150 sculptures and paintings of saints decorating the building’s walls.
The church is now owned by the Colombian government, and it has been transformed into a museum. Although there are plenty of beautiful churches to be seen in and around Bogota, the Museo Santa Clara is definitely a must-see landmark in the city.
11. Plaza de Bolivar
The energetic main square in the heart of Bogota is the Plaza de Bolivar. Surrounding the plaza, you’ll find several historic buildings including neoclassical palaces, government buildings and the largest church in all of Colombia.
This destination used to be known as Plaza Mayor, but it was renamed in the 19th century after the military leader Simón Bolívar. The Plaza de Bolivar is the center of the city, and it is what Bogota truly grew around. If you only have the chance to stop at one important destination in Bogota, it should be the Plaza de Bolivar.
10. Parque 93
In Northern Bogota, in the district of Chapinero, you’ll find Parque 93. Also known as Parque de la 93, this is considered to be the hotspot for dining and nightlife in Bogota.
During the day, Parque 93 is an excellent place to sightsee, take a stroll or just enjoy the sunshine at the park itself. There are frequent music and art festivals within the park, not to mention an abundance of rotating public art installations.
In the evenings, cosmopolitan locals and international travelers alike gravitate to the trendy cafes and bustling nightlife venues, and it is a great place to have a drink and mingle.
9. Paloquemao Market
A bit off the tourist trail, the Paloquemao Market is one of Colombia’s most popular farmers markets, filled with captivating tastes and smells. As you wander through the busy aisles, prepare to be amazed by the seemingly endless array of local fruits, vegetables, flowers, and more.
If you’re a foodie, you’ll definitely want to sink your teeth into some mouth-watering Colombian dishes at one of the market’s many restaurantes populares. From the scrumptious arepas to the hearty soups, there’s no shortage of delicious options.
The friendly vendors are happy to tell you all about their fresh goods and share a piece of their culture. Snap a few photos, listen to their stories, and most importantly, enjoy the warm energy that permeates the busy market.
8. Iglesia de San Francisco
One of the most important religious landmarks in Bogota is the Iglesia de San Francisco. Built between 1557 and 1621, the building is the oldest surviving church in the city. Since it is located just steps from the famed Museum of Gold, the Iglesia de San Francisco is a popular place to explore.
Elaborate Christian artwork decorates the walls, making it more like a religious art gallery than a traditional church. Be sure to spend some time admiring the extraordinary altarpiece from the 17th century, which is gilded in gold and decorated with beautiful details.
7. Jardin Botanico de Bogota
The Botanical Gardens of Bogota, also known as the Jardín Botánico José Celestino Mutis, is the largest of its kind in all of Colombia. Founded in 1955, it is an excellent opportunity to admire the staggering numbers of plants and flowers found naturally throughout the country.
Walk through rose gardens and medicinal gardens, and then bask in the view of more than 5,000 orchids in one place. Of special significance is the large building containing five rooms, each of which represents a unique climate zone in the country. You can walk through each and see the plants and atmosphere found in each of these Colombian climate zones.
6. Bogota Ciclovia
The city of Bogota is very pedestrian friendly, and it also boasts the largest network of bicycle routes in all of Latin America. Every Sunday, cycling takes over the city thanks to the weekly Ciclovia.
Between seven in the morning and two in the afternoon each Sunday, many roads are closed to cars. This allows cyclists, joggers or roller skaters to explore the city in a whole new way.
Refreshment stands dot the sides of the road, and there are even performances along the way. Several shops rent bicycles in the district called La Candelaria.
5. Visit Catedral de Sal in Zipaquira
One of the most unique adventures to embark on while visiting Bogota is a trip to the remarkable Catedral de Sal in Zipaquirá. This underground wonder, known as the Salt Cathedral, was carved into the walls of an abandoned salt mine and serves as a popular tourist destination for its stunning architecture and spiritual significance.
Getting to Zipaquirá is fairly straightforward, with buses readily available from Bogota’s Portal del Norte bus terminal. Alternatively, you can take the scenic “Tren Turístico de La Sabana” on weekends, offering a fun and leisurely train ride through the countryside.
Once in Zipaquirá, you’ll descend into the mine and witness the breathtaking salt sculptures and delicate lighting that adorn the cathedral’s interior. The incredible skill of Colombian artisans, the artwork and intricate design of Catedral de Sal are truly awe-inspiring.
In addition to the main cathedral, the complex also features a museum showcasing the history of salt mining in the region and its cultural significance.
The city of Bogota is dominated by a mountain called Monserrate. At the top of the peak is a church and a shrine, and you’ll also be able to access stunning views over the city below. Also at the top are two lovely restaurants and plenty of souvenir stalls.
There are several ways to get up and down Monserrate. A stone path takes about 90 minutes to hike up, but you can also ride the funicular. Monserrate is easily one of the top attractions in Bogota, and it is a great way to familiarize yourself with Bogota’s layout from above.
3. Museo del Oro
There are several fantastic museums in Bogota, but one of the most fascinating is the Museo del Oro, or the Museum of Gold.
Before Columbus and other European explorers came to Colombia, gold was a significant part of the local culture and heritage. The Museo del Oro explores that, featuring an amazing collection of gold that dates from centuries past.
You’ll find incredible pieces of melted gold made by countless tribes and groups from Latin America, including the famous Pasca golden raft which may have inspired the legends of El Dorado. Onsite there is also a restaurant, gift shop and cafe.
2. Museo Botero
The Museo Botero is named after Fernando Botero, who is the best-known and most influential Colombian artist of all time. Also known as the Banco de la Republica Art Collection, this museum houses Botero’s personal art collection.
When you visit the museum, you’ll be able to see over 3,000 pieces of art dating from the 16th century all the way to today. Entrance is free for all, and it offers the chance to see works by Alejandro Obregón, Gregorio Vázquez de Arce y Ceballos and countless others.
Most of the collection is made up of paintings, but there also some sculptures and mixed-medium pieces on display.
1. La Candelaria
Arguably the most important district in the city is La Candelaria. This is the heart of the Bogota, and it is where Simon Bolivar escaped, the revolutionary heroine Policarpa Salavarrieta was executed and the revolution began with Grito de Libertad. In addition to all this historic significance, La Candelaria is home to numerous landmarks.
You’ll definitely want to visit the Plaza de Bolivar, and you can’t miss the Palacio de Nariño. Just walking along the streets of this district means you can admire beautiful colonial architecture, and the emerald market is a dazzling spot that many visitors love.
Finally, satisfy your cravings for traditional Colombian cuisine at some of the neighborhood’s authentic restaurants. Classic dishes like arepas, empanadas, and ajiaco are sure to delight your taste buds!
Best Time to Visit Bogota
As Bogota sits high up on a plateau in the Colombian Andes region, the city is quite cool all year round with temperatures averaging 16 to 18°C (61 to 64°F). Outside of the rainy months of April to June and October and November are the best times to visit.
Due to the summer holidays, Christmas and New Year’s, December through March is one of its peak seasons when prices are highest. While the dry weather is lovely for sightseeing or strolling about Simon Bolivar Park, there are rarely clear, sunny skies throughout the day.
After Easter and the Festival Estereo Picnic, the crowds do drop off a bit as the rainy season sets in. While wandering about isn’t too pleasant, there are big events like the International Book Fair and Ibero-American Theatre Festival to attend in April and May.
Although very cool, July and August (winter in Colombia) are the most popular months to visit as Europeans head here on their summer holidays. Prices again rise at its hotels, cafes and restaurants are all packed.
As September is still dry, Bogota remains quite busy with its great jazz festival also going on then. The Rock al Parque music festival in October also attracts enormous crowds despite the rain for around 20 days on average.