Too often the bustling Colombian capital of Bogota gets a bad rap with travel websites and travelers. We certainly disagree. The best part about a city like Bogota this that there is so much life there – there is so much to see, eat and do. Bogota is one of those places that you can walk until you find something interesting. To give you just a taste of what the city has to offer, we put together this Bogota Travel Guide.
Bogota Travel Guide
With over 7 million people, Bogota is the 3rd largest city in all of South America behind Sao Paolo and Lima. With a ton of people in one place, this means there are a ton of options from food, to hiking, to tours to occupy multiple days. Most people start their Colombia adventure here and for good reason. Although it’s impossible to tackle a city this large in one post, our Bogota Travel Guide will let you know what we enjoyed to help you plan your time!
Things To Do
Bogota was the first stop in our South America journey and we arrived with little to no knowledge of the city. We were shocked to learn there is a steep hike to a church and market on a hill that overlooks all of Bogota within walking distance of the La Candelaria neighborhood (more on Bogota’s neighborhoods in the Where to Stay section below).
Don’t fool yourself, this hike is tough! It’s mostly stairs and just about straight up for about an hour. Also, Bogota itself is at over 1.5 miles above sea level and the end of the hike is a just about 2 miles up. Be sure to drink water and take plenty of breaks!
The views from the top were absolutely spectacular as you get a birds-eye view of how big a city of 7+ million people really is!
You do have the option to take a gondola but if you’re a fan of this blog, the choice between paying for a ride versus a free hike is a no-brainer.
Bogota Bike Tour
Bogota is huge so one of the best ways to see a lot of the city in a couple hours is by bike! We highly recommend the Bogota Bike Tours in the La Candelaria neighborhood. We got to visit multiple neighborhoods, learn about Colombian history, taste coffee, try local Colombian fruits, and even play tejo – a game that involves gunpowder and explosions!
The tour takes about 4 hours. Ours started at 4PM, but be sure to ask about the start times, as they have multiple everyday. The fruit tasting was free, though you pay for any coffee or beer from the tejo place. The cost of the tour was 40000 pesos ($12 USD) per person and we paid 10000 pesos ($3 USD) for coffee and beer along the way.
Not going to lie, almost wrote this one first. The Botero Museum is awesome! I didn’t know I was into art until we walked into the Botero Museum in Bogota! The sculpture and artwork range from interesting to downright hilarious. I found myself pretty much running from room to room to see what I would find next! And the best part is the museum is completely free. Block out an hour to explore!
Usaquen Street Market
If you have never been to a South America Street market before, the Usaquen street market (also called Mercado de las Pulgas de Usaquen) is worth the experience. You’ll find rows of street vendors pretty much all selling something different (this is very unique for South American Street Markets…). You’ll see a million things that can’t fit in your backpack but maybe you can pick up that natural soap you keep running out of. If you have been to a South American street market before, this is a South American street market and not a must-visit.
The market is only open on Sunday. If you go, try to find the stand selling cakes. Their tres leches is out of this world!
There are tons of tours that you can take to learn more about Bogota. A popular choice is to take a Bogota graffiti tour to learn more about the city’s history through street art. Another tour that people enjoyed was called Breaking Borders. This town take you to an area of Bogota that used to be very dangerous but has turned around in recent years to show you the transformation the city is undergoing!
How to Get There
To get you Bogota you will like take a flight from your home country. If you are already in Colombia, you can fly there either from the colorful and fun metropolis of Medellin or the muggy and hot Cartagena. Busing from either Medellin and Cartagena is an option, but we’ve heard horrible stories about the ride and the cost of a bus versus a flight is similar.
Where to Stay
Bogota is broken up into neighborhoods. The three most popular locations for tourist are La Candelaria, El Chapinero, and Zona Rosa. We stayed in both La Candelaria and El Chapinero and did not stay in Zona Rosa due to the higher cost.
La Candelaria is the neighborhood in Bogota closest to most of the tourist attractions. You’re walking distance from Bogota Bike Tours, Montserrate and the Botero Museum. Although you’re close to the main tourist attractions, there are not a lot of places to go walk to at night in La Candelaria. We never had any issue in Bogota or Colombia in generally safey-wise, but do not be survived to see armed military personnel on street corners of La Candelaria day and night. If you go out to dinner or the bars, expect to take a taxi there and back.
It is the recommended spot for most people on their first trip to the city. Plus, it also has an incredible hostel.
Fernweh Photography Hostel
The Fernweh Photography Hostel was one of our favorite hostels that we stayed at in South America. The common room has a sun light, hammocks and a large communal table which makes it a great place to make new friends, the Wifi worked great and the facilities were clean. They also had brochures in their common room for tons of tours and activities. They are how we learned about Bogota Bike Tours!
What does Fern-weh mean you ask? It’s a German word that roughly translates to the opposite of homesickness – a desire to be traveling and exploring. Literally the perfect name for a hostel.
Chapinero is the hip and cool part of town. It has the trendy restaurants and coffee shops and it is a great place to spend some time after doing the tours in and around La Candelaria. Restaurant recomendations coming in the Where To Eat section below!
Republica Hostel is a good place to stay if you want to go to Chapinero. The location is great, the hostel is clean and a popular place for travelers to hang out.
Where to Eat
Like Medellin, Bogota has some of the best coffee and food that you’ll find in Colombia. Word is starting to get out about the great food scene here as Eater has written numerous articles about Bogota’s great restaurants. Here were a couple of our favorites:
Restaurante Fulanitos (La Candelaria)
Restaurante Fulanitos is a delicious spot for lunch located just a couple blocks away from Fern-weh hostel. The food was very good and the views over Bogota were even better.
Cafe de La Peña Pasteleria Francesa (La Candelaria)
La Peña Pasteleria Francesa had some of the best pastries that we found in all of Colombia. Perfect for that afternoon coffee and sweet fix. My favorite pastry was their take on an almond croissant.
La Puerta Falsa (La Candelaria)
Colombian’s are super excited about their potato soup called Ajiaco and La Puerto Falsa is a great place to try it. Ajiaco is made with a bunch of different types of potatoes, chicken and corn. It is super hearty. Like super hearty. One is enough to share between two people.
Mini Mal (Chapinero)
We stopped by Mini Mal on our way to the airport and only had time to try two small plates and a drink. Everything was incredible and we wished we had had more time to try more.
If you’re looking to treat yourself (you should, you deserve it), then a great place to go is Bruto. Michelle swears by their octopus, loves their carpaccio, and says it was her favorite meal in Bogota! Expect to pay about 70,000 pesos ($20 USD) per person.
Salvo Patria (Chapinero)
We also had an incredible meal at Salvo Patria. It’s a really cool neighborhood restaurant where you can find interesting takes on Colombian cuisine. Every dish we ordered was delicious, especially the vegetarian dishes. It’s more on the pricey side for a backpacker budget, but definitely worth it if you’re a foodie. You can expect to pay around 50,000 ($15 USD) pesos per person.
Don’t just take our word for it, Eater wrote an article calling Salvo Patria the coolest neighborhood restaurant in the world!
Hearty and heavy Colombian food can leave you craving vegetables. This is where Cosechas comes in. Cosechas is a juice and smoothie shop perfect to satisfy your healthy food cravings. The best part is the smoothies only cost about 7000 pesos ($2 USD) and Cosechas has tons of locations and it’s not just in Bogota!
Where to Go Next
Medellin – Medellin is an absolutely must for any Colombia itinerary and it is just a short flight from Bogota. We put together a Medellin Travel Guide to help you navigate Colombia’s other metropolis!
Zona Cafetera – No trip to Colombia is complete without a visit to the Colombian Zona Cafetera. You will fly into Armenia and your home base will either be Salento or Filandia. Check out our Which Should You Visit post to figure out which town is best for you!
Cali – Is your travel not complete without learning some new skills? If so, you must hop on a short flight to Cali and learn to salsa dance. Check out our Cali Travel Guide for more!
There you have it, our Bogota Travel Guide! From us to you, happy adventuring!
- All prices are current as of September 2019.
- The exchange rate when we visited was 3,400 Colombian pesos to 1 USD.