With the improving security situation in Colombia and the recent signing of the peace agreement with the FARC, Bogota has become THE place to visit in South America! Many people only spend a few days in the capital before moving on, so we’ve put together a list of fun things to do in Bogota which might convince you to extend your stay!
1. Discover the real Colombia in Bogota’s hidden art galleries
Most people will have the Botero Museum in the Candelaria at the top of their list of things to do in Bogota – and it’s definitely worth a look. But if you want to see art that is really representative of modern-day Colombia, head over to the Gabriel García Marquez cultural center, just down the street from the Botero Museum, which has a whole range of art on display from Colombia’s up-and-coming artists. Alternatively, visit the El Dorado gallery in Bogota’s La Macarena neighbourhood, for art installations that really tell a story.
2. Join the Bogota Graffiti Tour and learn all about Bogota’s Street Art scene
Of all the Bogota tours that I’ve done, the Bogota Graffiti Tour was by far the best! You won’t just learn about Bogota’s most famous street artists and their stunning street art; the tour also takes you through La Candelaria, the beautiful historical center of Bogota. So effectively you get two tours for the price of one!
3. Day trips from Bogota: escape ‘the big smoke’ for a day
Once you’ve done all the Bogota tours on your list, why not venture further afield? Andes Ecotours offers some excellent day trips from Bogota – visit a coffee farm, the high-altitude páramos (which will make you feel like you’re on another planet), or go bird-watching. They have something for everyone!
4. Go on a coffee-tasting tour!
If you’ve been on a coffee farm tour then the Bogota coffee shop tour is a great one to follow it! Learn about the art and science behind making an excellent cup of coffee (including a tour of a coffee lab!). I even tried a type of coffee that I thought tasted like tea – which suited my English taste-buds!
5. Grab a bike and enjoy Sundays and ciclovia
Every Sunday in Bogota, the main roads close to cars and are reserved exclusively for walkers, cyclists, skaters, skateboarders etc! Hire a bike from the Bogota Bike Tours shop and take one of their Bogota tours, or explore the traffic-free streets by yourself without having to worry about being knocked over by a taxi!
6. Pick up a bargain at one of Bogota’s markets
From Bogota’s artisanal markets to the Sunday flea markets, you’ll surely find a souvenir for everyone who’s expecting one back home! Just remember to bargain hard – the vendors will always pitch higher to tourists! If you’re still working on your conversational Spanish, bring a calculator and a pen and paper to facilitate the communication process!
7. Find a great viewpoint and admire the views
Most people who visit Bogota will go up to Monserrate, either by cable car or on the funicular train. The altitude up there might leave you feeling light-headed and gasping for breath, but the views are definitely worth it! Alternatively, head to the 48th floor of the Colpatria tower, the tallest building in Bogota, and enjoy the 360° view!
8. Go to a theme park and let the kid inside you out to play!
Looking for fun things to do in Bogota? Maybe you’re travelling with kids, in which case a visit to one of Bogota’s theme parks is a must! Check out Salitre Mágico or Mundo Aventura, and enjoy being thrown around by roller-coasters or scared out of your wits in the Haunted House!
9. Take a stroll in the park
Bogota may seem like a bit of an urban jungle to the untrained eye; but if you know where to look, you’ll find the most wonderful green spaces with incredible views! There’s Simón Bolivar park, the Botanical Garden, and the Virgilio Barco Park in Salitre; Parque Mirador de los Nevados in Suba (with a stunning view of distant snow-capped mountains if you go early enough); or why not play a game of tennis in the National Park in the International Centre?
10. Sample Bogota’s cuisine
There’s a famous saying that goes a little something like this: when in Bogota, eat like the Bogotanos do! This means: a lump of cheese dipped in hot chocolate; a bowl of ajiaco (which will warm and fill you up on a chilly day in Bogota – and here’s how to eat ajiaco) and if you’re feeling adventurous, buy a packet of hormigas culonas (big-a*sed ants!) from the street! People say they’re a delicacy in Santander (but honestly, I wouldn’t believe everything people tell you!).
11. Head over to Chocolate Heaven in La Macarena
If you visit Bogota, I highly recommend a visit to La Chocolatería in Bogota’s bohemian La Macarena neighbourhood for a divinely tasty experience! Here you’ll find handmade, artisanal chocolate (I recommend the gingerbread-flavoured chocolate!) and on a chilly evening, sit back and let the comforting warmth of one of their hot chocolates engulf you!
12. Try all the fruit you never heard of before
Visit Bogota and you’ll discover a whole range of exotic fruits that you’ve never heard of before! One of the more unique things to do in Bogota is to visit the market in Paloquemao, where you’ll be able to sample lulo, granadilla, pitaya (dragon-fruit), uchuva, curuba, the tomate de árbol (“tree tomato!”) and a whole lot more. Truly a foodie’s paradise!
13. Be entertained by the street artists on the Carrera 7
From the Presidential Palace on 7th street all the way up to the International Centre on 26th street, 7th avenue (known locally as ‘la séptima’ or Carrera 7) is a completely pedestrianized zone. Exit the Candelaria onto la séptima and head north at a leisurely pace. Be entertained by madmen throwing their shirtless torsos onto broken glass, by Michael Jackson reincarnated and guinea-pig racing (which you can bet money on!).
14. Get a cheap haircut and mani-pedi!
You’ve been on all the Bogota tours and now you want a bit of pampering. The good news is that Bogotanos take such pride in their appearance that there are usually two to three beauty salons on each block in Bogota, which keeps the prices down! Get a gorgeous manicure and hairstyle for $10 – 20 dollars before you head out to party the night away!
15. Shake it to some salsa beats!
Dance the night away at Bogota’s top salsa clubs: check out Galeria Café Libro, El Goce Pagano and Son Salomé, which were recommended to me by a salsa teacher here! You’ll have such a great night out!
16. Party at Theatron
If you’re looking for both a gay-straight-friendly club and a place that doesn’t play salsa the whole night, Theatrón in Bogota’s student district of Chapinero is a great place to party! It’s a huge venue with about five different [huge] rooms playing music from rock and pop to R’n’B and Latin beats. At Theatrón, there’s something for everyone!
17. Play the most explosive sport in the world
Type tejo into Google maps, select your preferred venue and head out for a beer and a literally explosive evening! I’m still not sure I have a strong grasp of the rules (and as the idea is to play drunk, I doubt many of the players do either!) but in a nutshell, it involves throwing metal discs from a distance at little packets of gunpowder on a metal ring; if you hit the target, you get points (and an explosion!). Undoubtedly one of the most bizarre but fun things to do in Bogota; end your trip with a bang!
Do you plan to visit Bogota soon? Which of the things on this list do you want to try?
Do you live in Colombia? What are your favorite things to do in Bogota?
Let us know in the comments section below!