10 Things to Do in Bogota to Get a Real Feel of the City
There are tons of things to do in Bogotá but most who visit are either on business or are just passing through and only have a few days. While some people like to exhaust themselves and visit every single museum, plaza and cathedral, I travel with a different goal in mind. When I travel the most important for me is not about how many museums I visit but about getting a good overall feel of the city, it’s people and food…without wearing myself out!
You’ve probably guessed that I’m not much of a museum and art type of gal. Honestly, I’ve been so saturated with art and century old churches in Europe, I’m ashamed to say I’ve become a bit blazé. However, I still like to see the most emblematic cultural hubs and museums of each city so as not to leave totally clueless.
I’ve already Googled top things to do in Bogotá, and have done most of them. I find some things a bit boring and overrated. Others things that are top 10 in Bogota aren’t really worth a look and if you’re coming from the U.S. or Europe, you have much better installations back home. As a result, I’ve composed my own Top 10 List of What to do in Bogota according to my type of traveling style.
1. GRAFFITI TOUR THROUGH THE CANDELARIA
In la Candelaria, you can wander aimlessly or visit with a purpose while seeing the artsy side of the neighborhood. The graffiti tour is a 2-hour walking tour, giving you a visual and interesting insight into Colombia’s political situation drawn out through urban murals while passing through the main sights of La Candelaria.
A wonderful place to get a beautiful view of the city, the mountain on Monserrate reigns Bogotá’s landscape. Enjoy the sunset and indulge in one the many delicious restaurants at the top until traffic eases down (around 8-9pm). Tip: Go by funicular to avoid trouble.
One of Colombia’s most emblematic museums, the gold museum showcases some of the most precious cultural heritage of the country.
4. DAY TRIP: TAKE THE TOURIST TRAIN OF LA SABANA TO THE SALT CATHEDRAL OR NEMOCON
The salt cathedral is actually outside of Bogotá in a city called Zipaquirá. Getting there by bus can be a drag and I personally find that tour companies take advantage of this. Book your seat in advance on the train, which departs from a well-preserved and tiny train station, taking you through the outskirts of Bogotá with ease.
5. FOOD TOUR
If you want to discover real local food and what the Bogotano diet is all about,
one of the several food tours on offer in Bogota.
6. DAY TRIP: CHINGAZA
I find this natural park particularly interesting as it is located in a páramo, an ecosystem which acts as a sponge, absorbing 70% of the water consumed in Colombia. Amazing isn’t it? Colombia has the majority of páramos in the world and the delicate ecosystems has unique flora and fauna. If you like to hike, this is a winner.
7. EAT AND HANG OUT IN ZONA G AND QUINTA CAMACHO
If you walk around in Zona G or Quinta Camacho in the evening or during the day, you’re bound to fall upon a quaint restaurant with great food and locals chatting about. In addition, their lovely neighborhoods.
8. USAQUEN SUNDAY MARKET
This is my ultimate favorite as I always find neat handmade goods and it’s a lively way to spend a Sunday afternoon. If you want to purchase Colombian artesanal goods, this is the perfect place to negotiate that beautiful mochila bag you had your eye on all the while enjoying live music and street food in the hustle and bustle of the market.
9. SPEND A DAY IN THE CLUB
This is a very typical Colombian plan amongst Colombia’s elite and something every foreigner should experience while in Colombia. Getting pampered, playing sports, or eating at the club is a great way to socialize and spend a relaxing afternoon giving you a taste into Colombian society.
PARQUE DE LA 93
WHY: If I type ‘top things to do in Bogotá’ in any search engine, Parque de la 93 always pops up. It’s not actually a park but just a square surrounded by a bunch of commercial restaurants. No big deal.
LAGUNA DE GUATAVITA
WHY: Yes, the story behind it is really nice but I feel you have to go way out of your way to see just a lake (It’s really just a lake). Plus, if you clicked on the link you just ready the story. Save yourself the trip and just Google pictures (They’re probably more impressive).
WHY: It’s nice to have on your list of ‘things to see in Bogota’ if you”re going to be here for over 2 weeks. But honestly, I’ve seen better (maybe the Singapore Botanical Gardens set my expectations through the roof). Unless you’re particularly interested in Colombian vegetation or you have a lot time on your hands and have completed my Top 10 List already.
PARQUE SIMON BOLIVAR
WHY: You can read about my picnic experience here. It’s not something I will ever repeat. Plus, I read on TripAdvisor of several tourists getting mugged there. I’m not surprised!