The Colombian capital city is a huge place, full of world-class restaurants, museums, galleries and cultural events. However, being the capital, Bogotá can sometimes be quite expensive to enjoy. Don’t worry though, because there are also plenty of excellent activities you can enjoy that are 100% free. So here are the top 10 things to do for free in Bogotá.
The Botero Museum
This fantastic museum dedicated to the paintings and sculptures of Colombia’s most famous artist, Fernando Botero, is completely free to visit and located in the heart of the popular La Candelaria neighborhood. You can easily spend an enjoyable couple of hours exploring Botero’s art – as well as other pieces from the artist’s private collection – without spending a penny.
Every Sunday hundreds of kilometers of roads are closed to traffic throughout Bogotá allowing locals and tourists alike to cycle, rollerblade, walk their dogs, or simply take a car-free stroll around the metropolis. There are street vendors and markets set up along the way, and the best part is that the ciclovia is 100% free.
Hike up Monserrate
Monserrate Church sits on a mountain overlooking Bogotá and is easily the most spectacular viewpoint over the vast city – you can take a cable car or funicular railway to get to the top, but you have to pay for those. If you’re looking to save on those costs then you can hike the trail up the mountain instead. It’s tough going at altitude, but the exercise is great, the views are beautiful and it costs zero pesos.
The National Museum of Colombia
This exhaustive museum – located in a former prison building – is one of Colombia’s best, with exhibitions of art and culture from throughout Colombia’s history, as well as guest exhibits and concerts. It also costs nothing to visit the National Museum so you can explore Colombian culture for as long as you like for free.
Usaquen Sunday Market
The pretty north Bogotá neighborhood of Usaquen hosts a weekly craft market every Sunday and it’s an extremely popular place for tourists to go for lunch or to buy souvenirs. However, there’s also loads of live music in the streets, and lovely stalls to browse so if your budget is tight you can still enjoy Usaquen for free on a Sunday.
The Gold Museum (on a Sunday)
The Museo del Oro – or Gold Museum – is one of the best in Colombia, and contains tens of thousands of beautiful Indigenous gold artifacts. During the week it costs a fairly meager 4,000 COP (about US$1.50) to enter, but it’s free on Sundays, so if your budget is really tight then plan to visit that day.
Tour the Casa de Nariño
There aren’t many places where you can actually go on a tour of the presidential palace, but you can visit the Casa de Nariño – the home of Colombia’s president – on free tours organized by the palace administration. You are recommended to apply about a month in advance via their website, but the 45-minute guided tour (in English or Spanish) is free of charge.
Simon Bolivar Park
Bogotá’s largest park is a great place to spend a day relaxing and enjoying some fresh air and nature in the heart of the city. There’s a large lake, nice walking trails through the woods and large lawns where you can enjoy a picnic. There’s also no entrance fee so anyone can simply go to Simon Bolivar Park and enjoy the ambience without it costing them a dime.
Attend a music festival
There are numerous free music festivals organized in Bogotá throughout the year: the popular Al Parque series of festivals being the most notable. There’s Rock in the Park, Jazz in the Park, Hip-Hop in the Park, Opera in the Park, and Colombia in the Park (which focuses on traditional Colombian music). They are all totally free and attract a great mix of local and international artists.
Explore La Candelaria
Bogotá’s historical old town is a maze of cobbled streets, old colonial buildings, and fascinating history and culture. It also has a modern touch and is home to some excellent street art and open-air exhibitions, not to mention a lively and buzzing atmosphere. It’s free to wander the streets of La Candelaria too, and it’s easy to spend a great day there simply exploring for yourself.