7 REASONS TO VISIT BOGOTA
Bogota, Colombia. Lots of people, big buildings and busy roads. It’s just another capital city, right? Wrong! Bogota is welcoming, engaging and draped in charm. The population is a mix of white and blue collared workers, artistic street performers and young families. There’s a vibrancy and energy in the air that just can’t be explained. For such a big city with so many people, Bogota somehow makes you feel so connected to it all. Here is how to get the best out of Bogota.
How to get there
From Medellin – The bus will take 10 hours and cost 60-70,000 COP (£16.20-£18.90). A 1 hour flight can be found for 92,500 COP (£25)
From Cali – The bus will take 10 hours and cost 60-70,000 COP (£16.20-£18.90). A 1 hour flight can be found for 222,000 COP (£60)
Things to do in Bogota #1 – Take a free walking tour
You will find variations of these tours across most major South American cities and they are a great way to get to know the area. Leaving twice daily (usually morning and afternoon) these tours will give you real taste of the city and you’ll discover some hidden gems along the way. Bogota has amazing street food and street art and both can be experienced in full with free walking tours also. Whilst the tours are free, don’t forget to tip your guide.
Things to do in Bogota #2 – View the city from Mount Monserrate
Visible from pretty much all parts the city is Mount Monserrate. Sitting at 3,200 metres above sea level, this sacred hill serves up delightful views of the city. Full of families strolling around after visiting the church there is a warm and friendly atmosphere here. You’ll find the entrance near Barrio La Paz and you can either take the stairs to the top, which will take you about an hour. Or, there is a teleferico (cable car) and a train. Both of which cost 10,000 COP (£2.70) or 6,000 COP (£1.62) on Sundays.
Things to do in Bogota #3 – Check out the Botero gallery
Fernando Botero is a Colombian artist and sculptor famed for his signature painting style, Boterismo. Botero depicts people in a comical and curvaceous manner which some suggest is a form of political criticism. The Botero gallery is located on Calle 11 in the La Candelaria neighbourhood and showcases a large collection of paintings. Admission is completely free.
Things to do in Bogota #4 – Explore La Candelaria
This colourful, bohemian-style neighbourhood is the life and soul of downtown Bogota. Full of quaint little bars and cafes, cobbled streets and and authentic style off street art, La Candelaria has a very big appeal to travellers and local students. In addition to the artisanal crafts shops and food vendors, you will also find Plaza Bolivar and many museums to see you through the day.
Things to do in Bogota #5 – Hit the markets
There are markets pretty much everywhere you look in Bogota. Flea markets, food markets and clothes markets. Pretty much any type of market you can think of, Bogota has it. The pick of the bunch for us is Mercado de las Pulgas. Found on Calle 24 and only open on Sundays, this market has all kinds of weird and wonderful things up for grabs. Clothes, collectibles and souvenirs and, when you get tired, the front left corner is full of delicious, local specialities for you to try. Come out the market, turn right and head down Carrera 7 on your left for a few extra miles of unadulterated, markety goodness.
Things to do in Bogota #6 – Be amazed at the Gold Museum
The Museo del Oro (gold museum) is one of the most visited in the entire country. This is one of the most fascinating museums we have ever been to and contains over 55,000 items on display. The museum has artefacts including tools and materials used in the excavation and design of gold dating back hundreds of years. You will also learn about the ceremonial and ritualistic traditions involving gold over the years. Very fascinating stuff. You’ll find the museum where Carrera 6 meets Calle 16 in La Candelaria. Admission is 4,000 COP (£1.10) and free on Sundays.
Things to do in Bogota #7 – Take in the magic of the Salt Cathedral
The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira is an underground Roman Catholic Church built 200 metres underground in the tunnels of a salt mine. Located in Zapaquira, about 20 km outside of Bogota, this sanctuary is made up of 14 chapels connected by tunnels. Tours run from Bogota and start at around 55,000 COP (£14.90).
Where to stay in Bogota
? Hostel recommendation ? – Swiss Hostal Martinik
When in Bogota, you’ll want to stay in La Candelaria and there is no better place than Swiss Hostal Martinik. Right in the centre of it all, this hostel offers a chilled out vibe and is definitely our top pick for Bogota. Set in a 300+ year old building there are a number of spacious common areas and, with 13 rooms, there is a great atmosphere. Its charismatic owner, Sophie, has done wonders since buying the property and it’s easy to see why this hostel ranks amongst Bogota’s best on hostelworld. The hostel works with a company called ‘safe tourism’ to ensure their guests have the best possible stay.
Where to go next
Salento – This adorable little town is famed for its scenic beauty, coffee farms and freakishly tall palm trees. A bus from Bogota will take 10 hours and cost around 40,000 COP (£10.80)