The mountain of Cerro de Monserrate rises over downtown Bogotá, dominating the skyline of Colombia‘s capital. A church high up on the mountain is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, while taking in the view from the summit is a must-do tourist activity. Here’s our ultimate guide.
Monserrate has been considered an important sacred place since before the arrival of the Spanish: the local Muisca indigenous people called the mountain quijicha caca, or ‘grandmother’s foot’, and considered it important to their religious traditions, due to the fact that the sun rises directly behind the mountain during the solstice in June. This is visible from the modern Plaza Bolivar and is thought to be why the first cathedral of the city was constructed there.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
During the colonial period a religious group known as the Brotherhood of Vera Cruz asked for permission to build a small religious retreat on the top of the mountain, which they named after the Morena Virgin of Montserrat, near Barcelona. Over time, the saint statue which had been the principal religious attraction of Monserrate was replaced in significance by El Señor Caído(‘The Fallen Lord’), a figure of Jesus which has been removed from its cross. The shrine of El Señor Caído remains the principal reason for believers to visit the church of Monserrate today.
Today the mountain and church have become an important destination for tourists and pilgrims – some of whom even crawl up on their knees! – and getting up to the top is easier than ever: in 1929 a funicular railway route was opened, and a few decades later, in 1955, the city inaugurated the cable car route.
As all of downtown and south Bogotá, and large sections of the north, are visible from the top of Monserrate, it is a hugely popular place to visit to enjoy unparalleled views over the city, particularly at sunset. There are several different ways to reach the top of the mountain, including by cable car, funicular railway, and on foot.
Cable car: The cable car operates from Monday to Sunday (excluding Monday holidays) and costs up to 20,000 COP (US$6.67) for a return journey – except on Sundays when the costs drops to 11,000 COP (US$3.67).
Funicular railway: The funicular railway operates between Tuesday and Sunday, and is operational on holidays, unlike the cable car. The costs are the same as taking the cable car, with similar discounts on Sundays, and for people over 62-years-old. Both journeys are short, although the cable car offers more spectacular views on the way up. Exact prices – as well as any changes to opening hours – can be found on the Monserrate website.
On foot: Hiking to the top of the mountain is another option for visitors. It’s not a hike for the faint-hearted: the church sits at 3,150 meters (10,335 feet) above sea level – a gain of some 400 meters (1,312 feet) in altitude from the starting point. It takes roughly an hour, but it’s worth giving yourself plenty of time for the hike, not only for the difficulty of the altitude but also to enjoy the nature along the trail. Walking the trail is free, and the path is open every day (apart from Tuesdays when it’s closed), between 5am-1pm to go up, and 5am-4pm to come back down.
A popular option is to take transport to the top, and then walk down – regardless of how you choose to visit Monserrate, it’s up there with the best tourist attractions in Bogotá and is one of the city’s unmissable sights.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.