The city of Bogota is located in the central region of Colombia (known as the Bogota Savanna), with the Andes Mountains to its east. This is the capital city of Colombia and is the third highest capital city in South America, at around 2640 metres above sea level.
The historical city centre, known as ‘La Candelaria’, is a cultural delight – cobblestoned streets, colonial buildings, churches, theatres, and museums. Head south of the centre and you’ll find a grittier reality of working class life, whilst going north will take you to the more wealthy districts - popular for the nightlife, restaurants, and up-market hotels.
Over the past 30 years, tourism has increased drastically in Bogota due to improvements in infrastructure and safety. Bogota now has much more to offer tourists: over the past few years, there has been a large increase in the number of shopping malls, as well as an abundance of museums and historical landmarks to visit. There are lots of amazing things to do in Bogota, such as visiting the incredible Museo del Oro and the picturesque Quinta de Bolivar.
The many green areas in Bogota make for great eco-tourism and all kinds hiking or sightseeing activities. With two gorgeous waterfalls just outside the main area of town, and an abundance of historical sites inside the city, there is no shortage of activities for tourists. Below is our Bogota travel guide with information on all the best things to do, places to go and what not to miss.
LA CANDELERIA – The historic, old part of the city of Bogota is a great place to visit because of the many historical attractions that can be found.
QUINTA DE BOLIVAR – This is a colonial house that once served as residence to Simon Bolivar in the capital after the War of Independence. It is now a museum dedicated to the life and times of Simon Bolivar. This is a good place to go to learn a little bit about the history of Bogota and Colombia.
TORRE COLPATRIA – A skyscraper standing 50 stories high in downtown Bogota offers a great view of the entire city. It is the fifth tallest building in all of South America, standing at 196 meters (643 feet) tall. On weekends and holidays the top floor is open to visitors. Here you’ll find a lookout and cafeteria, which is a great place to relax and take in the view of Bogota.
BOTERO MUSEUM – Located in La Candelaria, this museum contains famous artwork from Fernando Botero as well as paintings from Monet and Picasso. This is the place to go for art lovers.
MUSEO DEL ORO - This is one of the most important museums in Colombia and is also located in La Candelaria. The museum displays metals and materials that were valuable to the indigenous people before the Europeans arrived.
*** WHAT NOT TO MISS ***
The Bogota Philharmonic is the most important symphony orchestra in Colombia, with over 100 musicians and 140 performances a year. The Ibero-American Theatre Festival is one of the biggest of its kind in the world, and enjoys over 450 performances across theatres and from the streets.
Rock al Parque is an open-air rock music festival where you can enjoy over 60 band performances for free during three days of the year.
Bogota provides an array of different food: Parque de la 93, Zona G (both north of the centre), and La Candelaria are some of the areas where you can find international food. One of Bogota’s traditional dishes is ajiaco, a soup served with chicken, a variety of corn on the cob, and guascas, which is a herb. Usually it is served with sour cream and capers.
For South American cuisine, go to Capital Cocina y Café (Calle 10 2 - 99) – this is a small, charming restaurant set in a colonial house. The steak and ceviche are both recommended. It’s a little expensive but you’re paying for the delicious, high-quality food.
For somewhere more budget-friendly, try La Puerta Falsa (Calle 11 No 6-50), located in La Candeleria. Here you can sample typical Colombian and Latin food, such as tamale. It’s a small place and gets very busy with locals – a sure sign of a good eatery!
If you fancy a vegetarian dish, check out Quinua y Amaranto (Calle 11 # 2-95) in La Candaleria. Come here for lunch, and you can get a juice, soup, main, and dessert for a good price. The atmosphere is cute and cozy, and the food tastes amazing, with unique flavours - you’ll find yourself coming back the next day… and the next!
Parque de la 93 (north of the centre) is one of the most visited places, and is known for its restaurants and night clubs. This is the place to visit if you are looking for some good bars and clubs to celebrate during your time in Bogota.
Armando Records (Calle 85 No. 14-46) is one of the most popular clubs, and plays a variety of music. You’ll find electro and house on the roof terrace, which has a retro-lounge style décor, and pop, latin, and reggaetón on the lower floor. Open Tuesday through ‘til Saturday, come here for a guaranteed good night out!
For salsa, salsa, and more salsa, go to Quiebracanto (Cra. 5 #17-76) – here you can dance the night away to live music. Equally, if you want to a more relaxing evening, there’s space to sit, have a drink, and chat with old friends.
The dry and rainy seasons alternate throughout the year. The driest months are December, January, July and August, and the rainiest months are April, May, October and November. The annual average temperature is 14.5 degrees Celsius, and the weather is mostly overcast and rarely very sunny. January is the month with the coldest nights.
Bogota has an International airport called El Dorado, which is the main airport of the country, located a 20-minute drive from the centre. From Lima, flights take 2 hours and 50 minutes, and from La Paz it’s 3 hours 40 minutes. If you want to travel by plane within Colombia, it’s just 55 minutes from Medellin, or Cali, and 1 hour and 25 minutes from Cartagena.
Travelling by bus is also an option. The bus station here is called El Terminal de Transporte de Bogota, and you can travel by bus within Colombia as well as to other South American Countries. Medellin to Bogota is 10 hours, from Cartagena it’s around 20 hours, and from Quito (Ecuador) it’s 24 hours.
Most of the hostels and hostels in the city are found in La Candelaria, and caters to those who enjoy the arts and history. This is generally the place to stay in Bogota.
One great place is Alegria’s Hostel (Calle 9 # 2-13), which a laid-back atmosphere, is homely and cozy, and is situated in La Candeleria. Come here for a tranquil stay, with comfy dorms and private rooms available, a communal kitchen where you can prepare your own meals, and two charming courtyards to relax in.
At Casa Bellavista Hostel (Cra. 2 #12B-31) the staff will make you feel welcome, and there’s a nice family atmosphere, making it easy to meet other people. Another option is Hostal Fatima (Calle 14), which has more of a party atmosphere, with a cool bar and courtyard to hangout in.
Be careful when using public transport. Always choose your taxi carefully, and be cautious at night-time.
If you travel around Colombia by bus, it’s worth paying just a little bit more to get a newer and better-maintained bus.