Bogotá, the colorful capital city of Colombia, has been gaining momentum as a standout Latin American tourist destination.
While once considered dangerous and gritty, Bogotá has made immense progress reinventing itself as Colombia's cultural staple and must-visit city. Today, this bustling urban city is a world-class destination for museums centered around art and history, delicious food, and a blend of cultures.
In this post, we'll cover the 6 most amazing things to do in Bogotá. Continue reading to discover the incredible sights this vibrant Colombian city has to offer!
Unforgettable things to do in Bogotá
1. Explore La Candelaria
One of the must-see places in Bogotá to soak up some culture is a visit to La Candelaria. This historic neighborhood in the city's center is now a popular tourist destination.
The best way to enjoy this neighborhood is on foot - taking in the cobblestone roads, street art, and brightly-colored colonial buildings. You'll likely spend a lot of time in La Candelaria as it is home to some of the top museums in the country, such as the Gold Museum and Botero Museum.
Foodies, rejoice! While venturing through the neighborhood, be sure to grab a bite at La Puerta Falsa. Opened in 1816, La Puerta Falsa is one of the oldest restaurants in Bogotá and is famous for its traditional-style tamales.
After your meal, wander over to The Plaza Chorro de Quevedo. The plaza is a popular spot to hang out, grab a drink, and people-watch while listening to locals perform live music.
2. Head to the Museo de Botero
The Museo de Botero was founded in 2000 after its namesake, Fernando Botero, donated over 200 pieces of his own and other artists' work (including Monet and Picasso). Botero is arguably Colombia's most famous artist, so locals are incredibly proud of this space dedicated to him. His work is recognized for the chubby representation of people, animals, and things.
The two floors of the museum are filled with unique pieces. The first floor is dedicated solely to Botero, and on the second floor, you'll find Botero's sculptures intertwined with work from other artists. Even the building itself is gorgeous! The museum is in a renovated Colonial-style mansion with an immaculate garden.
If you are traveling throughout Colombia and want to see more of Botero's work, his hometown of Medellin is a great city to visit! Check out this guide of things to do in Medellin; you won't want to miss the Plaza Botero.
The Museo de Botero is open Monday - Saturday (9 am - 7 pm) and Sunday (10 am - 5 pm) but is closed on Tuesday. Museo de Botero is free to enter, and audio guides are available for about $2.50 USD.
3. Visit the Salt Cathedral
Just outside of Bogotá, in the town of Zipaquira, you will find the incredible Salt Cathedral. Located 600 feet underground, the former salt mine now exists as an iconic Roman Catholic church. The church is an architectural marvel that will leave you speechless. Get lost in thought while imagining the workers extracting the rock salt that forms these floor-to-ceiling crosses. The church's dome, pews, and sculptures are also carved from salt!
The Salt Cathedral is open daily from 9 am - 5:30 pm and holds mass every Sunday. Admission is around $15 USD.
4. Marvel at the Museo del Oro
The Museo del Oro, or Museum of Gold, is a unique museum in Bogotá that has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city. You'll be dazzled as you walk through exhibits containing over 55,000 pieces of gold and ancient artifacts.
Throughout the three floors, you'll learn all about Colombia's pre-Hispanic culture (seeing all the gold, it quickly becomes evident why the Spanish invaded the country for these resources). It's fascinating to learn how certain pieces were used for rituals and ceremonies by the indigenous populations at the time.
The Museo del Oro is truly a standout in the city and not to be missed. Sundays tend to be very busy as entry is free. While the exhibits have descriptions in both English and Spanish, we suggest purchasing the audio guide for a deeper insight into the pieces and their history.
The Museo del Oro is open Tuesday through Saturday (9 am - 7 pm) and Sunday (10 am - 5 pm) and is closed Mondays. Entry is around $1 USD, with free entry every Sunday.
5. Climb Monserrate
Now we'll go from hundreds of feet underneath Bogotá to thousands of feet above the city! Monserrate towers a staggering 10,000 feet over Bogotá. At the top, one can both enjoy panoramic views of the city and learn more about the most visited sanctuary in Bogotá.
But first, how do you get to the top? There are a few options: the funicular, the cable car, or walking (although walking does come with its perks). The 1.5-mile walk takes about an hour, and along the way, you'll pass by beautiful sculptures and flowers.
At the top, you'll find the Basilica Sanctuary of Monserrate, which is also worth checking out regardless of religious beliefs. Be sure to find its unique display of the Stations of the Cross, made up of large, bronze statues. Plan your visit in advance as weekends can get busy when mass is in session.
The funicular runs Monday - Saturday (6:30am - 11:30am) and Sunday (5:30am - 4:30pm). The cable car runs Monday - Saturday (12pm - 11:30pm) and Sunday (10am-4:30pm). Both options are just over $5 USD. The walking path is open daily (5 am - 1 pm), and there is no fee to walk the trail.
6. See Bogotá Street Art and Graffiti
Wandering through Bogotá, you'll be struck by the bountiful and beautiful amount of street art. Many of the pieces symbolize social and political defiance or reference historical events. Without understanding the context and background of this art, you may be curious about its significance.
To better understand the graffiti scene, I recommend taking a tour with Bogotá Graffiti Tours. In operation since 2011, these tour guides provide a fully-immersive urban experience.
Your insightful guide will provide the backstory of various street art pieces on your tour as you walk through different neighborhoods. These tours are a great way to blend exploring the city while also educating yourself on the history of Bogotá from a local's perspective.
Bogotá Graffiti tours are offered daily at 10 am and are donation-based, and they also offer private tours. Make a reservation online in advance.
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