I’m still a little unsure how I feel about Bogota. It’s undeniably a beautiful city with a fascinating history, but I just wasn’t able to fully enjoy it as I felt a little unsafe there. I wonder if I should have loosened up a bit more, but I do think it’s important to trust your gut – I felt totally relaxed everywhere else I visited in Colombia but there was something about the vibe in Bogota that had me spooked. With that said, it’s a very cool city and if you’re heading to Colombia you should definitely visit and make your mind up for yourself. I only stayed for a few days, but here are some of the best things to do in Bogota that’ll help you get to know the city in no time.
1. Take the cable car up Monserrate
Visiting the church at the top of Monserrate hill is high on every traveller’s to do list in Bogota. And while the church is beautiful, it’s really all about the incredible views of the city from the summit and the insane cable car journey up. If you’re afraid of heights, don’t look down – the ride is sickeningly steep and my knees were buckling! It’s so worth it when you reach the top though, and staying to watch the sun set over Bogota is out of this world. Just be warned that the altitude can get intense – Bogota is 2600 metres above sea level as it is so climbing another 500m up Monserrate can be a bit dizzying! Tickets for the cable car cost 14,000 pesos (£3.50).
2. Explore La Candelaria neighbourhood
La Candelaria is the part of Bogota I stayed in and my favourite part of the city. It’s full of character with colourful cobbled streets, the most amazing street art everywhere and cool bohemian shops. There are a few museums and galleries here but just strolling around La Candelaria, soaking up its artsy vibe and drinking Colombian coffee will be enough to steal your heart. I loved it here, but it’s definitely best explored during the day.
3. Take a walking tour
If you have limited time in a city I always recommend doing one of these to get some insider tips. We did one around La Candelaria and it was super interesting getting to learn the stories behind the neighbourhood’s famous buildings and iconic works of street art. Our guide also took us around local cafes and markets where we got to try coca leaf tea (to help with altitude sickness) and exotic fruits. This is a great thing to do if you’re a solo traveller in Bogota, as we met some lovely people who we ended up connecting with in different parts of Colombia throughout our trip! Tours are free, but guides rely on your tips, so don’t be tight.
The police in Bogota are cray and decided to shut our tour down halfway through. We all secretly arranged with our guide to meet up with her at a different location later to continue on – bizarre experience!
4. Discover Bogota by bike
If you want to see more of the city than your own two feet can manage, sign up to a Bogota bike tour. It’ll get you away from the tourist-heavy areas and allow you to safely explore some areas that you might not feel comfortable to visit alone. Plus, it’s loads of fun! Tours last a few hours and cost 40,000 pesos – about £10.
5. Take a salsa lesson
Cali may be its official Colombian home, but the spirit of salsa can be felt all over the country. Throw yourself headfirst into local culture (and have a laugh while doing it) by taking a salsa class. Lessons aren’t hard to find, just ask your hostel reception to point you in the right direction. The hostel I stayed at, Masaya in La Candelaria (fantastic place BTW), had free classes on in the evenings which were perfect for beginners – everyone was just as rubbish as each other, nobody took themselves too seriously and there was no pressure.
6. Party in Zona Rosa
This is another cool part of Bogota that’s worth a visit as it’s the place to party, with plenty of clubs, bars and restaurants. It’s much more modern and swanky than La Candelaria but doesn’t have as much personality, though it is considered much safer to go out at night here which is a big pro when choosing where to stay. There’s also an area called El Chapinero within Zona Rosa which has a lot of LGBT friendly bars.
7. Visit Museo Botero
This was my favourite museum in Bogota – go here to admire the work of legendary Colombian painter and sculptor Fernando Botero who’s known for depicting people with large, exaggerated bodies and features that look adorable AF (I’m no art critic okay). Museo Botero has an impressive collection of his works, including his world famous adaptation of the Mona Lisa who looks much friendlier than the original…
8. Eat at La Puerta Falsa
For the perfect introduction to Colombian cuisine, hunt out a little restaurant called La Puerta Falsa near Plaza Bolivar. I was tipped off about this place by my walking tour guide, so you know it’s legit. It’s a really casual spot that serves authentic, traditional Colombian dishes. You MUST order the chocolate completo – that’s cheese, bread and hot chocolate, a typical Colombian snack. You put the bread in the cheese and dip it in the chocolate till it melts… a very strange but unique Colombian combo! I’ll let you make your own mind up about this one 😉.
Those are my picks of the best things to do in Colombia – have you got any more tips? Let me know in the comments!