Bogota is commonly known as the city that is 2,600 meters closer to the stars. It sits on a plateau of the Andean Mountain Range, which explains its predominantly cold weather. However, as you will discover, it is possible to experience a wide variety of temperatures in a single day – from rainy to sunny and cold again – so make sure to layer up as you set yourself to explore this incredible city. In addition, it is a modern metropolis that offers you culture, gastronomy, and beauty. This capital city will surprise and captivate you. To ensure you have an unforgettable time, we have chosen the best things to do in Bogotá and identified what are some of the best day trips to take while visiting Colombia’s capital.
Things to do in Downtown Bogotá
Get ready, once in Bogotá, you won’t want to miss a thing. Your first stop should be to visit the historical and cultural heritage of this capital city. Monserrate is a religious sanctuary and will be your chance to take the best panoramic photograph of the city. To reach the top, you can take a funicular (15 minutes), cable car (15 minutes), or hike (about 1 hour depending on your physical fitness). Then, you should visit Casa Museo Quinta de Bolívar, a small, but very enriching museum, which was once the home of Colombia’s liberator, Simón Bolivar.
From la Quinta de Bolívar, we recommend walking through the street commonly known as eje ambiental until you reach 7th street. In fact, we recommend you take advantage of the rest of your time in downtown Bogotá for walking and taking advantage of the pedestrian streets or renting a bike through the BiciCo app. On your way, you will be able to appreciate several higher education institutions and the country’s Central Bank (Banco de la República). As well as Café Pasaje, which is one of the city’s most traditional spots. It has been there since the 40’s and one of the meeting points for renown politicians, artists, and writers. Make sure to visit the presidential home, Palacio de Nariño, located in Plaza de Bolívar in the lovely neighborhood La Candelaria.
Museo del Oro holds the world’s most important pre-Hispanic gold collection, Museo de Botero exhibits 208 works of the famous artist and sculptor, Fernando Botero, and Casa Museo de la Moneda, takes you through the Colombian history of coin minting and money production. All three are mandatory stops you will hold dear to your heart forever. If you are interested in religious colonial architecture, La Catedral Primada is one of the city’s largest churches and it holds the remains of the city’s founder, Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada. Legend has it that at San Francisco Church there is a statue of Jesus that grows real hair as a result of a miracle. Other options include the Church of San Agustín and Santa Clara Church Museum.
Finally, all this sightseeing will surely awaken your appetite and luckily there are several classic and delish spots for you and your family. Some that are noteworthy include: El Envigadeño, Antigua Santafé, La Puerta Falsa, El Gato Gris, and Casa Vieja.
Things to do in Zona Rosa in Bogotá
One of the most popular places in Bogotá is Zona Rosa, where you will find a little bit of everything. If you are a shopaholic, you can choose from three malls: El Retiro, Andino, and Atlantis Plaza. El Retiro mall targets high-end shoppers through upscale boutiques and top fashion brands. Here you will also find Andrés DC and El Techo restaurants. The former is a unique Colombian experience, while the latter offers a Mexican cuisine, including Mariachis at midnight.
You will find Hard Rock Cafe Bogotá in Atlantis and Andino has an addictive and colorful Lego Store you will find almost impossible to leave. If you are a movie-buff, these two malls also have great movie theaters. But your shopping opportunities go beyond these malls, 82nd street is completely covered with high-end stores, as well as other more eclectic businesses, including tattoo studios and specific clothing brands like Hugo Boss and Stradivarius.
La Zona T is a pedestrian street lined with restaurants and bars. It is one of the trendiest areas in the city, whether during the day or night. Across the street from Andino shopping mall, you will find high-end restaurants such as Balzac and the city’s best martinis in Pravda or The Irish Pub. At one end, you will also find popular nightclubs, like for example 440, which plays live music, from vallenato to electronic.
Things to do in Usaquén
Usaquén is a neighborhood in the north of Bogotá characterized for its colonial feel and abundant restaurants and bars. It was once part of a grand hacienda. Amazingly, that hacienda was transformed into a mall called Hacienda Santa Barbara, where you can continue shopping to your heart’s desire.
However, Usaquén has kept its vintage and bohemian feel throughout the years. Some restaurants worth mentioning are Amarti, La Mar, Patagonia, and La Tienda del Café. You can also find the art house cinema, Cinema Paraíso. It is especially known for its flea market on Sundays, so don’t miss the opportunity to buy unique and beautifully created crafts, which include from jewelry to art and furniture. You will enjoy walking through this neighborhood’s stone streets.
Things to do in Parque de la 93
Here you will also find an agglomeration of restaurants and bars, but it’s differentiating factor is that it is an actual park, so before or after your meal, you can walk and sit on the grass and enjoy watching families and pets playing around. Some restaurants worth mentioning include La Xarcutería, Corral Gourmet, La Taquería, Crepes & Waffles, and Pesquera Jaramillo.
Places to Visit near Bogotá
You are probably wondering what are some great day trips you can take from Bogotá. We’ve identified some of these exciting and unforgettable day trips you can take, which exacerbate just how special is this city.
- On Sundays, Colombian families traditionally take day trips to have lunch outside of Bogotá to enjoy quality time with loved ones, escape the routine and city pace, and get in touch with nature, while enjoying the best meal of their lives. Some places you can enjoy with your family and friends include El Tambor, Andres Carne de Res Chía, Corral Gourmet Campestre, El Portico, Isla Morada, and La Granja.
- You have the option of visiting two breath-taking salt mines at 1.5 hours from Bogotá. Nemecón is the salt mine where the Antonio Banderas movie, Los 33, was filmed and La Catedral de Sal de Zipaquirá is the salt mine converted into a religious sanctuary by its miners.
- Visit the most interesting Arqueological Park Piedras del Tunjo en Facatativá, where you will see indigenous paintings on enormous rocks, only 1 hour from Bogotá.
- You will love the tranquil and green landscape when witnessing the sacred Laguna de Guatavita, located two hours away from Bogota, this Chibcha (native Indian tribe) lake where the ritual of el Dorado was born, used to introduce new caciques, the leaders of this Indian tribe
- Two hours from Bogotá, you can go camping, fishing, and mountain biking at the Environmental Park Embalse del Neusa.
- For rock climbers, you will find paradise and different levels of difficulty in Suesca, only 1.5 hours away from Bogotá.
- Chicaque Natural Park offers eco-hikes, bird watching. horseback riding, rope climbing, camping, and zip-lining for all you nature and extreme sports lovers. This cloud forest is only 30 min from Bogotá.
- At Adventure Park La Chorrera you will see a waterfall that seems to originate in the clouds that is just astonishing. Sitting on a cloud forest, this natural haven, which is only 45 minutes from Bogotá, offers bird watching and ecotourism activities, including extreme sports such as rappel and canopy.
- You can find rejuvenating hot water springs in Paipa (3 hours from Bogotá), Choachi (1.5 hours from Bogotá), Tabio (1 hour from Bogotá), and Tocaima (3 hours from Bogotá).
If you’re looking for weekend trips from Bogotá, we recommend:
- Going to Anapoima, Melgar a Girardot, where you can enjoy the warm weather, soak up some sun and relax by the pool with family and friends.
- Quaint and lovely Villa de Leyva will become your favorite place on the earth, offering you a small colonial town with amazing gastronomy and the best weather. Here you can visit a vineyard, an ostrich farm, a dinosaur fossil, and purchase amazing crafts.
- Nearly 80% of Bogota’s water comes from Chingaza National Park. This natural reserve offers you the chance to do some eco-hiking and glimpse Andean condors and, if you are lucky, spectacled bears, which are an endangered species.
You will be surprised by Bogotá’s heritage and cosmopolitan gastronomy and nightlife. Come and witness its magical realism and attest to the beauty of Colombia. It is hard to believe that you will not find something to your liking, be it cultural or natural. We are hoping this will be your first of many visits to this amazing capital city that leave you enchanted.
Book your stay now at any Hilton Hotel: Hilton Bogotá; Hilton Bogotá Corferias, Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Bogotá-Calle 100, Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Bogotá-Parque 93, Hampton by Hilton Bogotá-Usaquen, Hilton Garden Inn Bogotá Airport, Hampton by Hilton Bogotá Airport, and Embassy Suites Bogotá Rosales.