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10 Best Things to Do in Bogota, Colombia

The capital city of Colombia has so much to see and do during a visit. You don’t want to miss the highlights, so I put together this must-know list of the 10 Best Things to Do in Bogota.

We visited Bogota for a week and were overwhelmed with how many fun destinations there are to enjoy and explore. Looking back at our personal travels, these are the best places to go and experiences to enjoy during a visit to the city.

You could probably do a lot of these things to do in Bogota in one day. Almost all of the destinations are located in the popular La Candelaria neighborhood of the city. However, the walking tours take a few hours, and there is no way to enjoy more than 2 walking tours in one day. Plus, you won’t have time for other attractions.

For one day in Bogota, I highly recommend this premium private tour that will show you almost all of the destinations on this list, as well as many more surprises! You will get transportation, a guide and admission fees included. It saves a lot of stress and hassle if you are concerned about getting around Bogota safely.

1. Museo del Oro (Gold Museum)

The Museo del Oro is one of the most well-known destinations in Bogota. More than 34,000 pieces of gold create one of the most important and largest pre-Hispanic collections of gold work in the world.

Not only stunning to look at, the thousands of pieces of gold metallurgy were once used in daily life and sacred rituals of the pre-Hispanic cultures.

There are three floors of the Gold Museum. While most tourists start with the first floor and work up, we suggest going to the third floor and working your way down. After all, there is a lot to look at and you will probably not see it all. So start where the most important pieces are first.

On the third floor, you will find the celebrated poporo quimbaya. This is the piece that started the museum!

Poporo quimbaya that was the first artifact to start the Gold Museum.

Indigenous cultures used golden vessels such as this one to store lime to use during their ritual of chewing coca leaves.

Interestingly, pre-Columbian societies did not view gold as material wealth. Instead, they valued gold for religious offerings and prestige.

Another can’t-miss item in the Museo del Oro is Muisca Raft. This very small gold statue symbolizes the famous ritual that has inspired the legend of El Dorado.

The Muisca Raft in the Bogota Gold Museum.

New chieftans would coat themselves in gold dust and be put on a raft to float to the center of Guatavita lake at dawn. As the sun would rise, the sun would glisten off of their gold-dusted skin, making them glow like the sun.

This ritual is also represented in a 2-minute multi-media presentation found in the same gallery as the Muisca Raft on the third floor. The presentation can be a bit difficult to find, as it is in a circular room and the walls glide shut when the show is playing. So be sure to wait for the curved wall to open and step inside to see the gold ritual portrayed.

Helpful Tips:

  • Admission to the Museo del Oro is 4,000 Colombian pesos. That is less than $1 USD with the current conversion rate.
  • Cash only for tickets. You cannot use a credit card.
  • The museum is closed on Mondays.
  • Sundays are free admission and it is very crowded.
  • Children under 12 and adults over the age of 60 receive free admission every day.
  • A cafe and coffee bar is available inside.
  • There is a gift shop that sells gold jewelry for a unique (although, pricey) souvenir.
  • Be sure to log in to the free Wifi network at the museum and get the password. If you need to catch an Uber or otherwise use the internet later in the day, you can access the network from outside. This is one of the few public Wifi networks that you will be able to use.

2. Botero Museum

No visit to Bogota is complete without a visit to the Botero museum! Centrally located in the La Candelaria neighborhood and with free admission, there is no reason to miss it!

Fernando Botero was a local Colombian artist with a unique way of portraying his subjects. His large figures were called voluptuous without symmetry, by the artist. He never called them fat.

Inside the colonial house museum, with small rooms of artwork surrounding a courtyard, you will see colorful and imaginative paintings reimagining well-known pieces of art, as well as plenty of unique paintings and sculpture, too.

While Botero donated his 123-pieces of personal artwork to start the museum in 2000, he also donated 85-pieces from his private collection, which includes masterpieces from artists such as Monet, Picasso, Renoir and Dali.

Be sure to take time to enjoy the Cafe. It is a charming spot with delicious food, drinks and cocktails that is a great value in the city.

Helpful Tips

  • Admission to the Botero Museum is always free.
  • The museum is closed on Tuesdays.
  • A cafe is located in the courtyard.
  • There is a small gift shop at the museum with magnets, t-shirts, art books and recreations of the most famous paintings.
  • Be sure to log in to the free Wifi network at the museum and get the password. If you need to catch an Uber or otherwise use the internet later in the day, you can access the network from outside. This is one of the few public Wifi networks that you will be able to use.

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3. Free Food Tour

One of the best ways to learn about a city is through its food! And a free food tour through Beyond Colombia is a fun, safe and easy way to enjoy many of the famous Colombian foods that you don’t want to miss!

Our three-hour tour brought us to 9 different stops to taste almost a dozen foods. While the tour is free, you will pay for the foods that you decide to try. Don’t worry, though, the total cost of all foods would be $36,000 Colombian pesos (COP), which is about $9 USD.

That’s a really great value for a guided tour with enough food to fill you up!

For more information and photos of what you will eat on the food tour, check out our article on the best traditional Colombian foods to eat in Bogota.

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4. Graffiti Walking Tour

From the moment you arrive in Bogota, you will be surprised at how much graffiti art is everywhere in the city!

Colorful, bizarre and evocative street art is on every surface of the city. To fully appreciate the history of graffiti, and why it is so important in the capital, you will definitely want to take a graffiti walking tour.

I wore my KURU sneakers all day and my feet never hurt, even with hours of walking on uneven cobblestone streets!

Beyond Colombia offers free graffiti walking tours in English or Spanish. They sometimes partner with another tour company called Capital Graffiti Tours. So you could choose either tour company to book a free tour with.

We had a few people and were able to schedule a private graffiti walking tour. If you have 4 or more people, contact either tour company to ask about details for a private tour guide. We paid around $12 USD per person for a private guide, while the recommended tip for your guide on a free tour is about $10 USD. So a private tour wasn’t that much more expensive.

5. Plaza de Bolivar (Bolivar Square)

The main square in the city of Colombia is bustling with activity every day. Stand in the plaza and be surrounded by historic buildings and a church that are a part of Bogota history.

Here you will find:

  • Palace of Justice
  • Parliament of Colombia
  • Mayor’s office
  • Cathedral of Bogota
  • Museum

Every day you will find food vendors and handicrafts for sale in the square. This is also where many people bring alpacas to pose for photos with tourists.

Plaza de Bolivar is located on the walk between the Gold Museum and the Botero Museum. It is centrally located to much of what you would want to see in the La Candelaria district, so it is definitely worth stopping at. And be sure to look inside the Cathedral of Bogota.

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6. Bogota History Walking Tour

A free walking tour is a great way to get acquainted with Bogota and the significance of the buildings that you see.

We did the free walking tour with Beyond Colombia, which offers English and Spanish speaking tours for visitors from around the world.

The two-hour tour was a wealth of knowledge, explaining the history of the city and country, as well as addressing recent events such as crime and political upheavals.

During the tour you will walk to historical buildings and sites in the La Candelaria district. We also visited a market where we had complimentary tastings of chicha, a traditional Colombian drink, and a few minutes to shop.

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7. Monserrate

Monserrate is a 10, 341-foot mountain seen from throughout Bogota. On top of the mountain is the Basilica Sanctuary of Monserrate church and shrine which is considered miraculous by some.

To get to the top of the mountain, religious pilgrims walk the almost 2-mile path to the shrine.

However, the majority of visitors take either the funicular or the cable car to get to the top.

There is a sudden elevation change from the base of the Monserrate complex to the top of the mountain. Expect a 3-4,000 foot elevation change from the moment you board the funicular or cable car to when you arrive.

Once on top of the mountain, you will be rewarded with stunning views overlooking Bogota, perhaps the best views of the city.

There is also a cafe and two restaurants with terraces overlooking the city.

Enjoy the garden walk along the stations of the cross and climb the very steep hill to the church and the circa-1640 shrine of the fallen Lord of Monserrate.

Personally, I was not thrilled with my visit to Monserrate. The crowds are intense on a weekend, and being packed into a funicular with so many people that I can’t see the view is not fun for me. Once on top the mountain, the walkways and stairs are very steep, uneven and potentially dangerous to anyone without solid footing.

While the view was nice, I had an equally nice view from my room at the Hilton Bogota Corferias.

And the restaurant was a huge disappointment with the food that was served. We had ajiaco and it was not nearly as good as the soup served at La Catedral in the La Candelaria district of Bogota.

Helpful Tips:

  • Weekends are especially busy at Monserrate, where locals and visitors alike visit the church and shrine.
  • The walk ways and paths at the top of the mountain are very steep. They are also made of stones and not flat. I would not suggest visiting to anyone with mobility issues or anyone who could not handle the high elevation.
  • Walking to the top of the mountain is free. However, the path is closed on Tuesdays and only open limited hours for the rest of the week.
  • The funicular ride is easy to get to the top of the mountain, however it’s not great for the claustrophobic. People were packed into the funicular cars and could not move.
  • The funicular and the cable cars are only open for limited hours each day. The funicular generally runs in the mornings and the cable car generally runs in the afternoons. Be sure to check operating hours before scheduling a visit.
  • The funicular costs start at 6,500 Colombian pesos (COP) one way, or 12,000 COP round trip. There are discounts for people age 62 years or older.
  • The cable car costs the same as the funicular.
  • There is a large Bogota sign to take pictures with on the top.
  • Consider booking a private guided tour, with transportation from your hotel and lunch included, for the best way to appreciate Monserrate.

8. Church of San Francisco

Bogota’s oldest surviving church is a stunning juxtaposition of a dark interior and gleaming gold altarpiece. The 17th century altar is the largest and most extravagant of its kind in Colombia’s capital city.

It is free to enter Iglesia de San Francisco. And it is well worth your time to walk inside and admire the church.

Church of San Francisco is located across from Santander Park, which is the square in front of the Gold Museum. Just walk through the square and across the street and the entrance is on the side of the building.

No photos were allowed in the church.

9. Shop for Handmade Souvenirs

The streets of the La Candaleria district of Bogota are full of artisans selling their handmade crafts. A majority of the handicrafts are made with beads, such as necklaces and earrings.

Buying items from these families directly supports the sellers. And, you can get one-of-a-kind souvenirs for an inexpensive price.

For instance, I bought a hand-beaded necklace for around $11 USD. I probably bought it in the most tourist-y area of Bogota and didn’t haggle, yet I think I still got great value for the price.

My friend Debbie bought a pair of beaded earrings which cost around $5 USD.

Be sure to slow down and see the handicrafts for display on the streets of Bogota.

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10. Emerald Museum

Colombia is not only know for its gold, but also for its prized emeralds. Gemstones from Colombia are known for being a darker shade of green and greater quality than emeralds found in other parts of the world.

The Emerald Museum is a short introduction to the history and wealth of emeralds in Colombia. You will be guided on a tour through recreations of emerald mines. Both Spanish and English tours are available.

After the short introduction to the process of mining for emeralds, you will be brought into a room with lots of emeralds on display (not photos in this room). There are also two gemstone cutters working on emeralds inside this area.

After a quick photo op with an emerald mine car, you will be brought into a jewelry shop full of emerald necklaces, earrings, charms and other items made from the dark green gemstones.

Create your own emerald ring in Bogota with this unique experience of working with a jeweler to craft a unique piece of jewelry! Prices start at $100 for this rare opportunity and it must be booked ahead of time.

If you are going to the Gold Museum, then it is easy to visit the Emerald Museum, too. It is located in a building adjacent to the plaza in front of the Gold Museum. If you are standing at the entrance of the Gold Museum, the Emerald Museum is in the very tall building located to the right of the museum in front of you, close to the main road.

Helpful Tips:

  • Admission is 5,000 Colombian pesos, just over $1 USD.
  • You will be asked to show ID (either a passport or driver’s license) before entering the Emerald Museum.
  • You will need to go through a security screening process before boarding the elevators to the museum.
  • Photography is allowed in only certain areas of the museum tour.

These are the best things to do in Bogota for your first visit to the capital of Colombia. Not only will you understand the country better, but you will also develop a love and appreciation for the friendly residents of Bogota and their way of life.