The huge, high-altitude capital of Colombia is Bogotá. Its cobblestoned centre, La Candelaria, is home to colonial-era landmarks like the 17th century Iglesia de San Francisco and the neoclassical theatre Teatro Colón. Famous museums like the Museo Botero, which showcases the artwork of Fernando Botero, and the Museo del Oro, which displays ancient gold artefacts, are also located there.
When the Spanish arrived to loot gold and resources, the Muisca, the region’s indigenous population, the Muisca called Bogotá their home. Bogotá has been the nation’s capital and largest metropolis ever since. Bogotá is also frequently referred to as Colombia’s cultural melting pot.
Bogota is Colombia’s capital and largest city in the Andes mountain range, 8,660 feet above sea level. With a population of over 7 million people, it is the country’s political, cultural, and economic center.
Bogota was founded in 1538 by Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, and it has a rich history spans centuries of colonialism, independence movements, and political turmoil. Today, it is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city with a diverse population and a thriving arts and culture scene.
Some of the top attractions in Bogota include the historic La Candelaria neighborhood, which features colonial-era architecture and numerous museums; the famous Gold Museum, which houses an impressive collection of pre-Columbian gold artifacts; and the Cerro Monserrate, a mountain that offers stunning views of the city and is a popular pilgrimage site for locals and tourists alike.
Bogota is also known for its excellent food scene, with various traditional and modern restaurants serving everything from street food to haute cuisine. Finally, the city is well-connected to other parts of Colombia and South America, with a significant international airport and a network of highways and public transportation options.
The area that is now indigenous people inhabited Bogota for thousands of years before the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century. The first Spanish settlement in the region was established in 1538 by conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, who founded the town of Santa Fe de Bogota. The settlement proliferated, becoming an important center of colonial administration and trade.
During the colonial period, Bogota was the Viceroyalty of New Granada’s capital, encompassing much of present-day Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela. The city played a crucial role in the fight for independence from Spain, with notable figures like Simon Bolivar and Antonio Nariño leading revolutionary movements from Bogota.
After achieving independence in 1819, Bogota continued to grow and develop as a cultural and economic center. The city was heavily influenced by European immigration in the 19th and early 20th centuries, which helped to shape its architecture, arts, and culture.
In the 20th century, Bogota experienced rapid urbanisation and industrialization, leading to social and economic challenges, including poverty, inequality, and violence. However, the city has undergone significant transformation and revitalization in recent years, with major investments in infrastructure, public spaces, and cultural institutions.
One of the most distinctive aspects of Bogota’s culture is its music and dance scene. The city has various musical styles, including traditional folk music like cumbia and bambuco and more modern genres like salsa, reggaeton, and rock. Bogota also hosts numerous music festivals throughout the year, including the Bogota Jazz Festival and the Rock al Parque Festival.
Another vital aspect of Bogota’s culture is its art and literature. Bogota is also known for its vibrant literary scene, with various bookstores, publishing houses, and literary festivals.
Bogota’s cuisine is another crucial aspect of its culture, with many traditional and modern restaurants serving everything from hearty stews and empanadas to haute cuisine. The city is mainly known for its street food, including arepas (corn cakes stuffed with cheese, meat, or vegetables), churros (fried dough with sugar), and buñuelos (fried dough balls).
Finally, Bogota’s culture is shaped by its people, known for their warmth, hospitality, and sense of community. The city has a robust civic engagement and social activism tradition, with numerous grassroots organizations working to address issues like poverty, inequality, and environmental sustainability.
The capital of Colombia and one of South America’s biggest cities is Bogota. Here are some of the top tourist attractions from the place:
The heart of the historic center of Bogota is the Plaza Bolivar, surrounded by some of the most important buildings in the city, like the cathedral and the mayor’s office. Most important of all is the Simon Bolivar statue that sits in the middle of the square. He was the man who liberated South America and was an icon of independence.
The Botanical Gardens is a fantastic thing to do in Bogota. After spending time among this buzzing metropolis’s bright lights and noise, what better way to unwind than to visit this peaceful oasis at the city’s heart? Walk around 19.5 hectares of land among 20,000 plants, beautiful rose gardens and animals.
La Candelaria is the most beautiful and historic district in Bogota, where you can escape the city’s modern buzz and visit the colonial streets and houses. The colorful, bohemian neighborhood is full of history and filled with artists and musicians practicing their crafts. Because of this, one of the best things to do in La Candelaria is simply to sit down at one of the cute cafes and people-watch.
After spending time in the historic district of La Candelaria, head out for a delicious dinner at the Madre pizza restaurant. You’ll find a beautiful restaurant with a fun industrial-style interior hidden down a small alley. They do great pizzas, delicious cocktails and often have live music while you eat!
Just 1 hour from Bogota is the fascinating Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira. Underneath the ground, discover the salt mine tunnels and a cathedral carved down to 200 meters. The massive space is lit with neon blue light to highlight the alcoves, stones, and pews. People still attend church services here; it’s a unique religious site!
The Museo del Oro (Gold Museum) is a top thing to do in Bogota. Home to over 34,000 gold items, it’s no surprise that this museum has been named one of the greatest in the world. Each piece tells an incredible historical story, with many coming from the rituals and practices of indigenous communities.
Colombia is home to some delicious flavors, and Bogota, the capital, has some of the best restaurants! If you want to try many delicious local foods, learn more about the ingredients, and find some traditional restaurants, we highly recommend joining a food tour. There’s something for all taste buds: ceviche, empanadas, filling arepas, or cheesy palitos!
Despite such unique must-visit locations, Bogota is an underrated place or tourist attraction. Here are some of its beautiful yet hidden places:
Nestled within the historic La Candelaria district is the beautiful Santuario Nuestra Senora del Carmen church. Unlike the typical look of most churches, this one is covered in red and white stripes, looking like a piece of candy among the city’s roofs.
Another La Candelaria gem, Quinua y Amaranto, is a small intimate restaurant serving tasty vegan and vegetarian food. This is an excellent option for a reasonably priced veggie lunch in Bogota, with a lovely wait staff and great vibes.
Colombian coffee is widely known as some of the best in the world, so make the most of being in Bogota by visiting one of the many coffee plantations in the surrounding hills. Not only will you learn all about the growth, production, and sale of coffee, but you’ll also get to try the coffee!
Bogita is a megacity of gigantic dimensions, spreading into countless suburbs with grimy streets, glass towers, and charming colonial structures. Here are some of its must-visit locations:
Street art in Bogota is something else, with streets filled with colorful murals depicting stories, myths, and political messages. This kind of art was highly illegal in the past, and the history between artists and the police was very turbulent.
These days, CRISP (one of the most famous graffiti artists in Bogota) says that the lack of fear over being jailed allows artists to have more creative freedom, painting murals that have significant value for the community.
Bogota sits in the shadow of the majestic Monserrate, a beautiful mountain just outside the city that stands over 3000 meters tall. For those looking for adventure and exertion, you can hike to the top of the peak.
However, be aware that this can take 2-4 hours, so take a reusable water bottle with plenty of water. It’s safe as guards are posted throughout the hike for safety, but keep in mind that you can only enter the trail in the morning.
A lovely thing to do in Bogota if you are in the city on a Sunday is the Usaquen Market. Beautiful stalls line the streets, selling souvenirs different from the standard ones at most markets.
Leave a little room in your suitcase for some of the high-quality handicrafts made by the finest artisans in the city, whether that’s bags, shoes, or jewellery.
The Botero Museum is a free art museum in Bogota, home to multiple modern art exhibitions. It’s named after Fernando Botero, the most famous Colombian artist (from Medellin) renowned for his colorful, funny, and large paintings.
His artwork is unique, painting and sculpting humans with proportions far bigger than the average! There is even Botero’s version of the Mona Lisa. You can see his work displayed all over the world, in major cities like Madrid or Singapore.
Bogota is a big sprawling city, so a bike tour works surprisingly well! The bike tours are very well organised, and a guide will help you navigate the busy streets, so you don’t need to worry about traffic.
It’s the perfect way to see the city and learn more from knowledgeable locals who are passionate about their city. Ask for recommendations on top things to do in Bogota and places to eat!
Bogota has produced many notable personalities across various fields, including politics, literature, art, music, and sports. Here are some examples:
The Nobel Prize-winning author of “One Hundred Years of Solitude” was born in Aracataca, Colombia, but spent much of his early life in Bogota.
This renowned Colombian artist, known for his distinctive figurative sculptures and paintings, was born in Medellin but has lived and worked in Bogota for much of his career.
This 19th century revolutionary leader was vital in securing independence for several South American countries, including Colombia. He died in Santa Marta, but his remains are buried in Bogota’s National Capitol.
This Grammy-winning singer and songwriter was born in Barranquilla but has lived in Bogota for many years. She is known for hits like “Hips Don’t Lie” and “Whenever, Wherever.”
This Colombian musician, known for blending rock, pop, and traditional Latin American music, was born in Medellin but lived and worked in Bogota.
This former mayor of Bogota (1995-1997, 2001-2003) is known for his innovative approaches to urban governance, including initiatives to reduce crime and improve public transportation.
This professional cyclist, born in Combita, is one of Colombia’s most successful athletes. He has won several prestigious races, including the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana.
This former Colombian senator and presidential candidate gained international attention after being kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2002. She was held captive for six years before being rescued in a daring military operation.
Bogota is a vibrant city that hosts numerous festivals and special events annually. Here are some of the most popular events that visitors might want to attend:
This biennial theater festival is one of Latin America’s largest and most important cultural events, bringing together theater companies from around the world to perform in venues across Bogota.
This annual rock music festival in Bogota’s Simon Bolivar Park attracts thousands of fans from across Colombia and beyond. The festival features performances by both local and international artists.
This annual film festival showcases many international and Colombian films, including feature films, documentaries, and shorts.
This annual festival, also held in Simon Bolivar Park, celebrates Colombian culture through music, dance, food, and crafts. The festival features performances by traditional musicians and dancers from across the country.
This annual festival showcases the best Colombian cuisine and wine, with tastings, workshops, and culinary demonstrations by some of the country’s top chefs.
This summer festival, held in August, features a wide range of cultural events, including concerts, dance performances, and sports competitions.
This traditional Colombian holiday celebrated on December 7th, marks the start of the Christmas season. People light candles and lanterns in the streets and parks, and there are often fireworks displays.
This annual carnival, held in August, features colorful parades, music, dancing, and street performances and is one of the biggest celebrations of its kind in Colombia.
Shopping in this busy metropolis is more than a commercial activity but a fully realized cultural encounter. Join us as we investigate the best shopping areas in Bogota, where you can indulge in retail therapy and learn about the city’s fascinating history and cutting-edge fashions.
There’s a lot of activity in this market. Food and beverage options are available. We sat for several hours doing nothing but people-watching. There are numerous opportunities to eat traditional cuisine at low-cost stands. Understanding fruits and vegetables is easier with a guided tour.
The market is fantastic, resembling a craft fair more than a flea market! The vendors are excited and eager to discuss the crafts but are notobtrusive. It is a delightful experience. Near the market are several excellent cafes and the “Galeria Indigena” store, where you can purchase jewellery and trinkets from other regions.
The most upscale mall in the city, Andino Mall, is located in the centre of one of the neighbourhoods that both locals and visitors love. It is the ideal option for your shopping and amusement because of its outstanding location, ambiance, comfort, safety, excellent service, and a vast selection of shops with national and international recognition.
Bogota has a rich culinary scene that blends traditional Colombian ingredients with international flavors. Here are some must-try food items when you are in Bogota:
This hearty soup is a Bogota specialty, made with chicken, potatoes, corn, capers, avocado, and a unique herb called guascas. It is typically served with rice and a side of avocado.
This iconic Colombian dish is a hearty platter that typically includes rice, beans, fried pork belly, chorizo sausage, fried egg, plantains, and an arepa (a cornmeal flatbread).
These fried or baked turnovers contain various ingredients, such as beef, chicken, cheese, or vegetables. They are a popular street food in Bogota.
This simple soup is made with milk, scallions, and eggs and is typically served for breakfast with bread or arepas.
This traditional dish from the Tolima region of Colombia is a roasted pig stuffed with rice, peas, and spices. It is often served with arepas and aji sauce.
These cornmeal flatbreads are a staple of Colombian cuisine and can be filled with a variety of ingredients, such as cheese, meat, or vegetables.
This traditional Colombian beverage is made from fermented corn and has a sweet, slightly sour flavor. It is often served in small clay cups and can be found in many traditional restaurants in Bogota.
This tender beef dish is marinated in a sauce made with coffee, panela (unrefined cane sugar), and spices. It is typically served with rice and plantains.
These are just a few examples of the many delicious foods you can try in Bogota. Be sure also to explore the city’s many restaurants, cafes, and street food vendors to discover even more local flavors.
Bogota has a variety of hotels and accommodations to suit different preferences and budgets. Here are some options to consider:
Bogota has several luxury hotels that offer top-notch amenities and services, such as spa treatments, gourmet restaurants, and concierge services. Examples comprise:
– Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina
– he JW Marriott Hotel Bogota
– Sofitel Bogota Victoria Regia
Bogota also has many mid-range hotels that offer comfortable accommodations at more affordable prices. Some popular options include:
– Hotel Estelar La Fontana
– Hotel Casa Deco
– NH Collection Bogota Andino Royal
If you are on a tight budget, many budget hotels and hostels in Bogota offer clean and basic accommodations at affordable prices. Some popular options include:
– Masaya Hostel Bogota
– Musicology Hostel
– Hotel Casa Gabriela
Bogota also has many Airbnb options, ranging from shared rooms to entire apartments or houses. This can be a good option if you prefer more privacy and flexibility during your stay.
If you are planning to stay in Bogota for an extended period, many extended-stay accommodations are available, such as furnished and serviced apartments. Some popular options include:
– Apartaestudios La Candelaria
– BH Parque 93
– GHL Comfort Hotel Los Heroes
When choosing accommodations in Bogota, it is important to consider factors such as location, safety, and accessibility to public transportation. Be sure to research your options and read reviews from other travellers to find the best accommodations for your needs.
This elegant hotel is located in the historic La Candelaria neighbourhood and features 62 luxurious rooms and suites. The hotel also offers a full-service spa, fitness centre, and a gourmet restaurant.
This stylish hotel in the trendy Salitre district offers 264 spacious guest rooms and suites. The hotel features a full-service spa, fitness centre, and several on-site dining options, including a sushi bar and a steakhouse.
This upscale hotel is located in the popular Chico neighbourhood and features 102 elegant rooms and suites. The hotel also offers a full-service spa, fitness centre, and a gourmet restaurant serving French and Colombian cuisine.
This boutique hotel is located in the heart of the Zona Rosa neighbourhood and features 60 modern and stylish rooms and suites. The hotel also offers a rooftop bar, fitness center, and international cuisine restaurant.
This luxurious hotel is located in the charming Usaquen neighbourhood and features 58 spacious rooms and suites. The hotel also offers a full-service spa, fitness center, and a Colombian and Mediterranean cuisine restaurant.
Bogota has various transportation options to help you get around the city. Here are some of the most popular transportation services in Bogota:
Bogota’s rapid transit bus system covers much of the city and is one of the most efficient and affordable ways to get around. TransMilenio buses run on dedicated lanes, so traffic congestion does not affect them. You can purchase a rechargeable card at any station to pay for your fare.
In addition to TransMilenio, Bogota has a public bus network that operates on regular city streets. While these buses may be slower and less reliable than TransMilenio, they can be a good option for reaching areas not served by the rapid transit system.
Taxis are convenient and affordable for getting around Bogota, especially for shorter distances. You can hail a taxi on the street or use a ride-hailing app like Uber or Cabify. Taxis in Bogota are metered, and fares are generally reasonable.
Bogota has an extensive network of bike lanes and paths, which make cycling a popular transportation option. On Sundays and public holidays, many streets are closed to cars and open to cyclists and pedestrians, creating an extensive network of temporary bike lanes known as Ciclovia.
If you prefer to drive, Bogota has many car rental companies and an extensive network of roads and highways. However, traffic can be heavy, and parking can be challenging in some areas.
When using any of these transportation services in Bogota, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and take appropriate safety precautions, especially when using public transportation or walking in unfamiliar areas.