Bogotá has well and truly emerged from the shadow cast by civil war. This once dark city has exploded in technicolor and is now Latin America’s coolest capital. Sitting high on its perch in the Andes, Bogotá oozes pizzazz, action, culture and a unique, psychedelic glamor.
The city is packed with museums, galleries, libraries, and theaters, and its walls are adorned with some of the most original and brilliant graffiti murals you’ll find anywhere in the world.
Bogotános are warm, friendly and sophisticated; this is a city in love with bicycles, books, brilliant art and blowing apart its old reputation, a world class urban destination that is worthy of any bucket list.
To make your trip to the Colombian capital as special as possible have a read through our Bogotá recommendations and take note of your favorites in your BUCKiTDREAM planner.
Meander around the Eclectic Bohemian District of La Candelaria This vibrant area buzzes with life, the cobblestoned streets and mysterious alleys lending the area a magical air. La Candelaria is the Old Town and first neighborhood of Bogotá. Its architecture features old and ornate Spanish Colonial, Baroque and Art Deco. Culture is everywhere, from the many museums, galleries, and theaters to the spectacular street graffiti and funky local watering holes and eateries. There is so much to experience in this compact little quarter that you might want to allocate more than a day for sightseeing.
Share in the Colombian Passion for Fútbol El Campín is the smoldering cauldron of a stadium in which Bogotá’s two main soccer clubs, Santa Fe and Millonarios, play their matches. When this cauldron bubbles up, it truly is a sight (and sound) to behold. The semi-annual derby between its two local tenants creates one of world football’s wildest atmospheres.
Take a Graffiti Walking Tour Bogotá is a city covered in wonderfully creative street art. Local graffiti artists have worked under cover of darkness for decades, expressing their creativity and giving voice to subversive ideas. In recent years the authorities have realized that their local street art scene is something to be proud of and have legalized graffiti in certain areas. Since legalization, the artwork has gotten even better and stunningly creative murals now adorn permitted walls all over the city. A graffiti walking tour through La Candelaria will show you the best and most extravagant murals and even introduce you to some of the artists.
Explore Bogotá’s Art Scene Bogotá is proud of its reputation as the hottest city for arts and culture in South America right now. Bogotá has many Fine Art academies and they are churning out a new generation of world-class Colombian artists who are setting the art world alight. The city has a bunch of galleries, museums, art fairs and cultural centers. Federico Ruiz is a local art dealer who can be contacted through the excellent boutique hotel La Colina, and he offers Art Tours of Bogotá tailor-made to your specific tastes. He will even take you inside the artist’s studios. Well worth checking out.
Climb Monserrate Mountain There is a wonderful, panoramic view of the entire city of Bogotá from this 3,000-meter mountain. You can walk up or take a cable car to view the beautiful religious shrines atop the mountain dating back to the 1600s. We recommend enjoying the view with a coca tea at sunset.
Do as the Locals Do and Cycle Bogotá is an extremely cyclist-friendly city. It rivals Amsterdam for the number of people who travel on two wheels by their own steam. Cycling is one of the best ways to explore the real Bogotá and Bogotá Bike Tours offer tours of various districts with friendly and informative local guides.
Explore Colombia’s Opulent Ancient History at the Gold Museum This museum is the most popular in Bogotá and houses the largest collection of Pre-Hispanic gold work in the world. Experience Colombia’s fascinating ancient cultures through their goldwork.
Breathe Deep in the ‘Lung of the City’ Simon Bolivar Metropolitan Park is the biggest park in Bogotá and is even larger than New York’s Central Park. This beautiful green space has a large lake in which you can go paddle boating. When the weather is good, this is where Bogotánas of all walks of life come to relax and enjoy themselves.
The Botero Museum Fernando Botero is one of Colombia’s most famous artists and if you want to see why head to this museum which is situated in a renovated colonial house in La Candelaria. Most of the pieces on show are by Botero himself, but the museum also has pieces by other world-famous artists such as Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet and Henri Matisse.
Zona Rosa This is one of Bogotá’s most hip and trendy neighborhoods. It has lots of high-end restaurants, bars, clubs and boutique stores. It is also home to Chapinero, where most of Bogotá’s gay and lesbian bars are concentrated.
High-end W Bogotá Hotel is a striking and sophisticated venue that wouldn’t be out of place in Gotham City. It has a good gym and spa and its Market Kitchen restaurant serves great local and international cuisine.
Medium This charming little eco-sustainable boutique hotel in northwest Bogota, La Colina Hotel Cottage, is nestled in the Las Colinas Suba nature reserve. Packed with great art, it offers Art Tours of Bogota and boasts a unique restaurant with a wonderful outdoor clay oven.
Budget Masaya Hostel Bogotá is situated in a listed Colonial house in La Candelaria and offers comfortable, clean dorms and a fun games area where you can mingle and meet fellow travelers.
Colombia has some absolutely gorgeous national dishes that you can’t leave without trying:
Dive into a bowl of Ajiaco, a thick soup made with chicken, potatoes, corn, guac, sour cream, capers, avocado and rice.
Flip yourself an Arepa, a corn-flour based pancake, sometimes made with cheese.
Fill up on Empanadas, hot corn-flour pasties filled with meat, potato, vegetables and rice.
If you’re looking for somewhere to try a wide variety of authentic Colombian cuisine, Fulanitos is a family run restaurant in La Candelaria that serves great regional fare.
Bogotá has a host of international restaurants serving South American, North American, European and Asian cuisine. Dar Papaya in the G Zone serves delicious Peruvian-themed dishes and their steak is particularly good.
Drinks and Nightlife
Bogotá’s nightlife is really happening. The local population are friendly, extremely stylish and are super-keen to welcome outsiders to the party.
The city has trillions of small and extremely fun bars and restaurants, especially in the La Candelaria and Parque de 93 areas. Cobblestoned streets and tree-lined squares abound, with quirky little bars that are the perfect place to start a night out. Bogotá Beer Company is a microbrewery bar at Parque de 93 that serves an excellent range of delicious craft beers.
Treffen is a fun, fairy-themed bar with bubbling, neon cocktails, karaoke and board games. This cool and crazy place is in Zona Rosa.
Bogotá has some great dance clubs. Cha Cha is a club high up in the old Hilton hotel skyscraper. It plays a mix of salsa, rumba and electronica and the dance floor is always pumping until 6am. It has a beautiful interior complete with a crystal chandelier and a chill-out terrace, which is perfect for cooling down after some hectic dancing.
Aguardiente is Colombia’s national liqueur. Made with aniseed and sugarcane, this sticky shot will keep you dancing all night long.
Tips and Culture
Bogotá has a relatively fresh climate that is fairly consistent all year. Some seasons are a little wetter or a little warmer, but the average temperature always hovers in and around the late fifties.
Bogotá is extremely bike friendly and has one of the most extensive bike path networks in the world.
Buses are the main means of mass transit around the city.
Do not hail a cab as it can be dangerous. Do as the locals do and call a recognized taxi company or go to an official taxi bay at a bus station, mall, airport etc.
Muggings can happen in Bogotá, so use common sense and don’t flag taxis on the street, don’t go into dodgy-looking areas, etc. and keep your inhibitions about you even when you’re partying hard.
The Salt Cathedral, in the town of Zipaquira, about an hour outside of Bogotá is a beautiful Roman Catholic church that was carved within a salt mine 180 meters underground. This mysterious and peaceful sanctuary has to be seen to be believed.
Bogotá is a stunning and exciting city and without a doubt worth a visit. So while you explore the graffitied streets of La Candelaria or dance with the gorgeous locals at Cha Cha, why not inspire your friends by sharing you dream Bogotá experiences on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?