Once regarded as unsafe for tourists, Bogotá has established itself as one of the most exciting and culturally diverse cities in South America. The friendly residents of the Colombian capital, and an excellent culinary scene, only add to the intoxicating atmosphere this city exudes. Here’s our pick of what to see and where to go.
Pondering a trip to Bogotá? Let Culture Trip’s local insider show you the best bits (and some lesser-known spots) on a guided walking tour as part of our exclusive eight-day Colombian Andes adventure.
Cerro Monserrate, or Monserrate Mountain, rises 10,341ft (3,152m) above sea level and overlooks the city, providing spectacular views, day or night. On top of the mountain, there is a historic church and shrine dedicated to El Señor Caído (the Fallen Lord), and since its consecration in the 17th century, many have hiked the mountain as a pilgrimage to offer prayers and sacrifices to the shrine. There are also a few restaurants and bars at the top, easily accessible by aerial tram or funicular. Check the weather forecast and head up on a clear night for panoramic views of Bogotá after dark.
You might be wondering why you’d need a tour to see graffiti that is ultimately found all over the city. But in this tour, you’ll visit the murals of some of Bogotá’s most celebrated street artists, who depict powerful representations of the city’s culture, its struggles and people. All tours take place in English, with private ones available in Spanish or German. This excursion is a wonderful way to get to know the urban environment and culture of Bogotá. Though there is no fee, it’s customary to offer a donation.
The Botanical Garden of Bogotá is the biggest and most diverse in Colombia, featuring flora from every climate and region of the country, and you can easily spend the entire day exploring it. The peace and tranquility within the lush green walls will make you forget about the buzzing metropolis outside. You’ll have a chance to see some of the 130,000 plant species that are native to the country, along with the many endemic plant species that prosper in the region’s ecosystems. Known for its beautiful orchids, the botanical garden has a display dedicated to the delicate flowers.
Visiting Bogotá’s most historic and beautiful neighborhood is like taking a walk through the Spanish-colonial era. Almost every building has a wooden balcony that looks out onto busy streets, with elaborate doors and entryways painted in bold, bright colors. There are many museums, libraries, universities and restaurants in the area, too, each with a unique history and architecture. Head to the Botero Museum to view artwork from one of Colombia’s most celebrated artists, or visit one of the many restaurants that still embrace colonial architecture.
If you’ve been to the Museo del Oro, follow it up with a visit to Lake Guatavita. It’s the site of the legend of El Dorado and holds significant importance in Colombia’s history. Many artefacts on display at the Museo del Oro were discovered and excavated at the lake, including the museum’s most famous piece, the Muisca raft. Though the lake isn’t in the city, it’s easily accessible by car, but it’s best to find an experienced guide through your hotel or travel agent. Experiencing the fascinating legend and history of this sacred place will be one of the more memorable parts of your trip.
This tour is a must for coffee lovers. Colombia is known for producing some of the best coffee in the world, as its high altitude, cool climate and fertile soil make the perfect environment for the growth of high-quality beans. The excursion will take you from Bogotá and into the mountainous regions surrounding the city where you’ll tour a beautiful family farm, surrounded by lush vegetation and friendly people. It covers all the bases, from growing and harvesting to roasting and brewing. At the end of the tour, you’ll sample some of the best freshly ground coffee you’ve ever tasted.