10 Things To Do and See in Bogotá, Colombia

Bogotá is full of fascinating architecture, history and activities
Bogotá is full of fascinating architecture, history and activities | © Edwin Remsberg / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Nabila Khouri
19 June 2020

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.

Museo del Oro

Museum
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Gold museum, Museo del Oro, in Bogota, Columbia
© Friedrich Stark / Alamy Stock Photo
Museo del Oro, the Gold Museum, is perhaps the most famous museum in Bogotá and Colombia. It has one of the most spectacular exhibits of pre-hispanic art, culture and tradition ever displayed. More than 55,000 pieces of gold artefacts – most of which were discovered and excavated in Colombia – rest inside the museum, with descriptions and historical facts about each one in both Spanish and English. An hour isn’t nearly enough to tour this spectacular place. Guided tours and recordings are also available for an extra cost. The Spanish-colonial neighborhood of La Candelaria is a few blocks away for those interested.

Museo Botero

Museum
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Courtyard of Botero Museum, Bogota, Colombia
© Lucas Vallecillos / Alamy Stock Photo
Fernando Botero is one of Colombia’s most famous artists, known for his unique style that depicts people and animals with large, exaggerated and voluminous features. Even if you aren’t that interested in art, you’ll find Botero’s work lighthearted and unlike anything you’ve seen before. His style is now called “Boterismo,” and his work adorns some of the biggest galleries from Paris to New York. Along with Botero’s work, you’ll see pieces by Dalí, Degas and Picasso. The museum is set in a beautiful Spanish-colonial home in the heart of La Candelaria. If these aren’t enough reasons to visit, admission to the museum is also free.

Cerro Monserrate

Natural Feature
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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.

Bogotá Graffiti Tour

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.

Andrés Carne de Res

Restaurant, Steakhouse, European, $$$
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Pork arepas with guacamole
© Bobby Coutu / Getty Images
Located just north of the city limits in the town of Chía, Andrés Carne de Res is more than a restaurant and bar; it’s an experience that every visitor to Bogotá should not miss. It seats 2,000 people on any given night and somehow manages to do it in spectacular fashion. The walls of eclectic decor and the wild events and parties it hosts make it the perfect place for anyone hoping to enjoy Bogotá’s nightlife. Here, you’ll be treated to delicious food, excellent service and fantastic entertainment.

Jardín Botánico de Bogotá

Botanical Garden
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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.

La Candelaria

Historical Landmark
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BOGOTA, COLOMBIA - January 01, 2020: Wall covered with graffiti at La Candelaria in Bogota, Colombia.
© Sonja Novak / Alamy Stock Photo

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 architecture and history. 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 the colonial architecture.

Santuario Nuestra Señora del Carmen

Church
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Among the most beautiful and historic Catholic churches in Bogotá, the Santuario Nuestra Señora del Carmen is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Located in La Candelaria, it was consecrated in 1938 and is known for its Gothic, Florentine style. The red and white horizontal stripes that line the inside and outside are mesmerizing, and the elaborately painted interior is equally spectacular. Unlike most cathedrals, there isn’t as much gold as there is red, blue and white.

Laguna de Guatavita

Natural Feature
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© Chris Bell / Culture Trip

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.

Take a Colombian coffee tour with Andes EcoTours

Forest
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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.

These recommendations were updated on June 19, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.