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Bogotá, as the largest city and the capital of Colombia, can be an expensive city to visit. In fact, Colombia as a whole isn’t as cheap a place as many travellers believe. However, with a budget of $50 there’s plenty that you can do in Bogotá and still feel that you’ve made the most of the city. So here’s how to spend a day – and a night – in Bogotá with only $50 in your pocket.
At the current exchange rate, $50 is the equivalent of around 150,000 COP, so you have a fairly generous budget that should allow you to sleep, eat and see plenty of the sights. This is naturally an itinerary with a budget traveller in mind, but if you substitute the accommodation for something a little more high-end, the rest of this advice still holds true. Bogotá can be as expensive as you make it, but it’s perfectly possible to enjoy a jam-packed day in the Colombian capital without too much cash.
For starters, you will need somewhere to sleep. With the budget you have, it’s best to stay in the La Candelaria neighbourhood and opt for a dorm bed in a backpacker hostel. This means that you won’t need to waste budget money on taxis, as the best attractions will be within walking distance, and you can save money on your bed for the night. Bogotá boasts some excellent hostels, but top picks include Fernweh Photography Hostel and Masaya Hostel. The average cost of a decent dorm in Bogotá is around 40,000 COP (US$14) per night, so budget for that.
Now your bed for the night is sorted, what is there to do in Bogotá that is within your budget and leaves you with some money for food?
The good news is that most of Bogotá’s best activities are cheap or free. You can start off your morning with a quick visit to the Botero Museum, a lovely collection of Botero’s best paintings, as well as some from his private collection. The best part? It’s totally free to get in, and definitely one of the top things to see in the city.
Next stop, the Journalist’s Park for the 10am Bogotá Graffiti Tour . This two-and-a-half hour tour is a great way to get a sense of the history and culture of Colombia, and you will enjoy seeing some amazing street art at the same time. It’s technically free, but the recommended tip is around 25,000 COP (US$9). Don’t be stingy: you can easily afford this and stay within budget.
By the time the tour is done, you will be ready for lunch. Walk up to the Mercado La Concordia, where you can get an excellent and fresh menu of the day including soup, main course and juice for as little as 10,000 COP (US$3.50) and sometimes even less. It’s a hearty, filling meal, and you will save plenty of cash so that you can still enjoy a tasty local Colombian coffee just around the corner at Juan Valdez Cafe.
Next stop: the Gold Museum. Bogotá’s Museo del Oro is famous for its amazing collection of pre-Columbian gold artefacts, and it also is extremely cheap to visit: entry costs just 3,000 COP (US$1). You can easily spend a couple of hours enjoying the many exhibits and marvelling at the incredible craftsmanship of the pieces on display. It’s a great chance to learn about Colombian history and culture and see some cool gold works at a great price.
You still have a big chunk of your budget left, so it’s on to Monserrate. If you really want to save some extra cash, maybe for drinks later, then just buy a ticket up the mountain and opt to walk back down. You have until 4pm to walk down, so you might have to sacrifice a little time at the top. However, you still have plenty of budget left, so if you opt to take the cable car up and down it will cost you a total of 20,000 COP or US$7 (unless it’s Sunday, in which case it’s just 12,000 COP or US$4).
The evening is approaching by this time. Up until now, you have spent a maximum grand total of around 100,000 COP (US$36) and your bed for the night is paid for. You still have a good third of your budget to play with, so make sure you don’t scrimp on dinner. There are some really nice places around La Candelaria, so pick somewhere that sounds good and don’t worry too much about the bill. There’s still money left for some cold beers at the hostel, and that’s your day done.
So there you have it: one full day and a night in Bogotá; some excellent and diverse activities enjoyed; three meals eaten, and the total spent? No more than $50. Enjoy!