Thinking of planning a trip to Colombia? Is Bogotá on your list, but you are not quite sure what to do there? Let me help you – I just spent 10 days in this fascinating city and really enjoyed all it has to offer! Bogotá, the beating heart of Colombia, rests at an altitude of 8,675 feet (2,644m), making it the third highest capital in South America behind Quito and Sucre. Due to its location in an incredibly diverse and beautiful country, Bogotá offers a little bit of everything to both the experienced traveler and someone getting their passport stamped for the first time.
Read on for the Best Things to do in Bogotá, Colombia:
1. Guided City Tour in Bogotá
A trip to Bogotá is not complete without a proper city tour. Start at Plaza de Bolivar, the main square of the city, surrounded by federal government buildings. Then continue to the colonial part of the city, also known as “La Candelaria” where you will find the San Francisco Church and many of the city’s renowned museums such as the Gold Museum (home to more than 30,000 pre-Colombian gold artifacts) and the Botero Museum.
Traveler’s Tip: Take a cable car to the top of Monserrate Hill, as it is a great addition to any Bogotá city tour. At the top, you will see spectacular views of the city. For more traveler’s tips on Bogotá, read Bogotá: 10 Things Locals Want You to Know.
2. Take a Day Trip to Zipaquirá
Zipaquirá lies about 31 miles (50 km) north of Bogotá. While here, opt for a guided tour, as it is a fantastic way to see all of the town and its historic features. The tour begins by leading you to the fully functioning salt cathedral, a construction approx. 394 feet (120 meters) underground in a former salt mine. Today, local mines in Zipaquirá still churn out 40% of Colombia’s salt resources. During this tour, you will also get a chance to visit the main square of Zipaquirá. If you are flexible with your trip length, I recommend staying overnight in Villa de Leyva, a charming colonial city, about 2 hours north of Bogotá.
Traveler’s Tip: Take the Colombia Train Tour Bogotá to Zipaquirá for a scenic day trip. Upon arrival in Zipaquirá‘s central plaza, head into any one of the charming cafes that line the streets and enjoy a lovely afternoon snack.
3. Graffiti Walking Tour
Interested in a good mix of art, culture, and history? Discover Bogotá on a walking tour through La Candelaria and learn about the artwork of local artists. This is a great alternative view of the city. Immerse yourself in its culture as you listen to commentary on politics, the history of the city, as well as the historical implications of graffiti in the city.
Traveler’s Tip: After experiencing the local street art, head to the Botero Museum, one of Bogotá’s most famous art museums. View work from Fernando Botero, where his signature style, “Boterismo,” is hard to miss. You can also see other works from artists such as Degas and even Picasso. For more hidden gems, like the street art in La Candelaria, read 24 Hours in Bogotá.
4. Escape to Guatavita Lagoon
Enjoy the landscape of the savanna as you travel towards the lagoon, which lies at an altitude of approx. 9,842 feet (3,000 meters) and is the birthplace of the legend of “El Dorado” – the “golden one.” A short hike will take you to various viewpoints from where you can take in the full view of the lagoon. Legend has it, that original inhabitants of the area performed a ceremony by the lagoon. The tribal chief “cacique” was allegedly covered in gold powder before venturing to the center of the lake on a raft and then submerging into the water. In addition, jewelry, precious stones, gold and silver artifacts were thrown in by worshippers. Numerous attempts to recover the treasures have largely been unsuccessful. Make sure to look for a figure of the raft when at the Gold Museum in Bogotá!
Traveler’s Tip: After an afternoon of hiking around the lagoon, drive down to the lovely little town of Guatavita. There, you will find fantastic souvenirs and a couple of places to grab a well-deserved bite to eat.
Ready for your trip to Colombia? Call us today to combine a visit of Bogotá with some of Colombia’s other fascinating destinations, such as Cartagena, the coffee region or Medellín.