Last Updated on March 7, 2023
The city of Bogotá has to be one of the most lively cities in Columbia. It is a city of contrasts, culture, and diversity. This multicultural city stands out with over 50 museums to visit and countless other attractions. Here are our 10 best things to do when in Columbia’s capital city, Bogotá.
1. Take in the Greenery of Parque Simón Bolívar
The Simón Bolívar Park is the green lung of the city of Bogotá. This park has an extensive amount of green areas and thick vegetation surrounding it. It is the biggest park in the city.
You can find three different playground zones for kids, a beautiful big lake, the main square where concerts are held occasionally, bicycle paths, food stalls, public restrooms, and even a church.
It’s the perfect spot to hang out on a weekend, whether you want to rent a boat or a bike, you want to take a stroll in the park or just a breath of fresh air.
Apart from that, you should definitely check out the schedule of this park on what concerts are on during the time of your visit. If you’re not big on concerts then you can check some of their weekly free activities like aerobics, yoga lessons, bicycle tours or running clubs.
2. Pay a Visit to Museum Botero
Museum Botero has to be on top of your list of places to visit when in Bogotá. Named after artist Fernando Botero, who is considered to be the father of the worldwide plus-size movement.
The museum itself is an old church building that is open to the public at no charge.
The museum features famous pieces of art by Fernando Botero himself along with work from other artists that he collected along the way. The art at the museum does well when it comes to presenting the country of Colombia in a myriad of ways, some disturbing, some cheerfully colorful.
Also feel free to take as many pictures as you would like, as long as your flash isn’t enabled. There are souvenir shops nearby as well, perfect for those tourists who would like to take home a little bit of the city with them.
3. Enjoy the Scenery From Monserrate Mountain
Everybody should give Cerro De Monserrate a visit to just witness the breathtaking view, with 3200 meters high, you can see the whole city like it is on the palm of your hands.
There are multiple ways to get up the mountain: you can take a cable car, a funicular or walk your way up almost 2000 steps. Although you can spot several guards patrolling the area, theft is commonly reported so please make sure you are not alone on the walk-up especially with your valuable belongings.
Apart from an amazing view on top of the mountain, you can also find a famous statue of El Señor Caido; it was made to represent Jesus Christ when he was taken off the cross. In fact, this mountain has been a place of pilgrimage ever since the 1600s up until today. There are also lots of cafes, souvenir shop and even a park that you can hang out at.
4. Head over to Paloquemao Market
Street vendors are a common sight in Columbia, but the Paloquemao market takes street markets to a whole new level. The market itself is divided into sections: fruits, vegetables, meat, and flowers.
Head over to get a glimpse of what everyday life is for the people living there and experience a little bit of Colombian street market tradition that has been around since 1946.
There is simply nothing that you cannot find when at the market and be sure to give bargaining a go. Never be so quick to accept first prices as quoted, bargaining when it comes to prices has been the norm when at street markets in Columbia.
5. Unwind at Bogotá Botanical Garden
Should you ever feel like you need to escape the city’s hustle and bustle, then head over to the Bogotá Botanical Garden. The garden was first opened in 1955 to honor botanist Jose Celestino Mutis.
The garden spans about 19 hectares which have about 18,000 plants on display. Don’t forget to visit the garden’s own greenhouse that is dedicated to the preservation of various kinds of aromatic and medicinal plants. Another worthy mention is to spend some time admiring the tall oak trees through the Andean forest.
Last but not least, be sure to spend some time in the rose garden, with over 70 different types of roses available in the garden. Regardless of whether you are coming to experience the diversity of Colombia’s flora and fauna, or just for a picnic by the lake, Bogotá Botanical Garden is definitely worth your time.
6. Go Explore 93 Park
93 Park is one of the most popular locations for both tourists and locals alike. Located right at the heart of Bogotá, the park is surrounded by restaurants, nightlife, and outdoor activities.
Locals are usually here on picnics and long walks, so it’s a perfect place to head over when it comes to getting to know the local people and their respective cultures.
93 park is also home to numerous festivals and art installations all year round.
It’s best to research a little bit before deciding to head over to see if there are any local events that may be of interest to you. Once the sun has set, be sure to head over to one of the many bars that are around the area.
Bardor Bar is a very popular local establishment that Columbian actors and models often frequent.
7. Shop Away at Usaquén Flea Market
If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the busy city then Usaquén is the neighborhood to be in. Although Usaquén was a separate town on its own and became a part of Bogotá only in the 1950s, it still managed to maintain its own identity.
As you walk down the flea market of Usaquén, talented artists will serenade your walk with their lovely music while you shop around for Colombia’s traditional gifts.
You can find a huge variety of handmade jewelry, clothes, toys, religious painting, rugs, antiques and of course delicious Colombian tidbits to munch on while you browse for souvenirs.
Also, make sure you work on your negotiation skills before you begin shopping. It’s common to bargain in these kinds of flea markets and don’t feel the need to settle for something you’re not comfortable with, we are sure there will be another shop that is willing to give away for your asking price instead.
At the end of the day. be sure to make a couple of local friends and enjoy your day at the Usaquén Flea Market.
8. Discover Gold at Museo del Oro
Museo Del Oro is not only the best museum in Colombia but known to be the most important gold museum in the world because it holds the largest collection of gold artifacts in the world.
It contains thousands of native gold artifacts that guarantee to make you fall in love with gold. It has over 50,000 artifacts that were crafted by artisans in pre-Columbian cultures.
Apart from the gold artifacts, Museo Del Oro also has stone, wood, shell, pottery, and textile objects on display. Most of the things in the museum are not just an artifact but it holds sacred value to the indigenous communities.
This is a way you can truly learn about the Colombian culture before the arrival and the influence of the Spanish. Not to worry, bilingual descriptions in Spanish and English are implemented to further your understanding. On an important note – the entry fee is free every Sunday so you may want to plan your trip accordingly.
9. Seek Blessings in Sanctuary of Our Lady of Carmen
Built-in the late 1920s is Santuario Nuestra Señora del Carmen also known as The National Shrine Of Our Lady Of Carmen, a gothic church situated in La Candelaria.
Towering over the neighborhood of La Candelaria, this church cannot be missed for its distinguishing characteristics. The church has red and white stripes both inside and outside of the building making it seem like a giant candy cane.
Influenced by gothic style, the church is acknowledged for Byzantine and Moorish touches and also stands out almost 60 meters tall gracefully within the backdrop of the colonial neighborhood.
10. Be Amazed By The Beauty Of Santa Clara Museum
If you only had enough time to visit just one house of worship throughout your time at Bogotá, then make sure that it is the museum of Santa Clara. It’s easy to overlook this beautiful stone and brick building. It is located opposite of Bogotá’s Parliament building.
The museum itself was built in 1647, with oil paints from wall to wall and glittering ceiling to floor altarpieces.
Whilst it is no longer a church today, the museum provides for a little insight into the lives of nuns who lived very secluded lives back in the day. This museum is a work of art and is a must-go when visiting the city of Bogotá.
You will find Bogotá to be complicated, ever-growing and at times even overwhelming. It can get chaotic but there’s more to Bogotá than meets the eye. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the city, weirdly you’ll find peace by exploring what this city has to offer.