So prolific is the graffiti scene in the city of Bogota that even Justin Bieber tagged a wall here, dropping a Canadian maple and marijuana leaf beside a tribute to his dead hamster back in 2013. Go deep on the stories told on these walls with a graffiti tour hosted by the artists themselves and those directly involved in the scene. Uncovering this urban art scene offers an insight into the country’s politics, persona and deep-rooted culture.
Climb the Monserrate Hill
A 17th century church stands some 3000 metres above the sea on Monserrate Hill, which dominates the Colombian capital. The land itself was considered sacred to the indigenous Muisca people, and remains one of the most important and visited Bogota attractions. While many enjoy the hike to Monserrate’s summit, an aerial tramway and funicular or also available. However you ascend you’ll be welcomed by sprawling vistas, cafes and souvenir shops, as well as the atmospheric environment of many pilgrims and travellers.
Explore the Neighborhood of La Candelaria
Art-deco, colonial and baroque architecture of old homes, buildings and churches come together in perfect harmony in the historic old town of La Candelaria. With Bogota supposedly established as the Colombian capital here in La Candelaria’s Plaza del Chorro de Quevedo in 1538, the area holds no shortage of cultural significance. Stumble past artworks by Monet and Picasso at Botero Museum, admire more than a million books at Luis Angel Arango Library, and walk through the coloured cobblestone street of Calle del Embudo.
Pay a visit to a salt cathedral
Travel almost an hour out of the city to visit the unfathomable Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá. Here, a Roman Catholic church has been built some 200-metres into the ground within the tunnels of a salt mine, of which the salt dates back some 250 million years. The church is part of a wider Salt Park where visitors can learn about sustainable mining, mineralogy and geology. Dark and mysterious, with ornate details carved into halite rock, it’s not surprising the cathedral attracts some 3,000 visitors each Sunday.
Visit the Santamaria Bullring
Traditional Spanish bullfighting still continues in Bogota, despite heated community debate and a 4 year ban that ended in 2017. The building itself is an impressive brick arena of Moorish architecture built in 1931, which deserves a visit even if you don’t approve of its traditional use. Capable of holding just short of 15,000 people, it is occasionally used for other entertainment purposes and sporting events, such as the Davis Cup tennis tournament, and has grown to become an important national monument.
Stroll through Simon Bolivar Metropolitan Park on a sunny day (any day)
Find a sunny Bogota day to slide into the divine greenspace of Simon Bolivar Metropolitan Park. Found in the district of Teusaquillo, the park’s main drawcard is a peaceful lake where canoes and paddle-boards are available for hire. Beyond the luscious outdoor areas filled with locals and travellers, the park spans to include; Salitre amusement park; an aquatic centre featuring 3 swimming pools; a sports complex; and a coliseum where many jovial community events and festivals are held. A must do when visiting Bogota, Colombia.
Things to do in Bogota
Rock al Parque
A free festival held every year since 1995, Rock al Parque is a celebration of rock music that attracts almost half a million revellers. Taking place in Simón Bolívar Metropolitan Park, it is one of the most important events on the calendar of Latin American music festivals.
Carnaval de Barranquilla
Dubbed the second largest carnival in the world, trumped only by Rio de Janeiro, Bogota’s Carnaval de Barranquilla is a festival extravaganza worth going to great lengths to be a part of. Colour, smiles, and sparkles line the streets, making it one of the most exciting things to do in Bogota.
Ibero-American Theatre Festival
Declared one of the biggest performing arts festivals in the world, the biannual Ibero-American Theatre Festival takes attendees on a journey of emotions and excitement. Classical performance works are teamed with contemporary dance, circus, music, puppetry, pantomime for a week in March, drawing in entertainers and drama admirers from across the globe.
Estéreo Picnic Festival
Huge international acts of the alternative music scene gravitate to Bogota for the annual Estéreo Picnic Festival, often called the Glastonbury of Latin America. With names like Kasabian, Florence and the Machine and Snoop Dogg appearing on the line-up, this Colombian festival is not to be missed.
Top 4 Festivals in Bogota
Though the most famous Bogota festival is Carnaval de Barranquilla, a banquet of other cultural and lively events take place in this city throughout the year. Expect to find both the biggest performing arts festivals in the world and the Glastonbury of Latin America here.
Attracting more visitors than almost any other activity in the country, Bogota’s Gold Museum is a must visit when in the city. It contains the biggest collection of gold artifacts in the world, along with other pottery pieces, shells and metal alloys.
Attracting around 1000 visitors every day, the Botero Museum is an important art collection of Latin America. Found in a charming colonial mansion in Bogota’s neighbourhood of La Candelaria, it is an essential element of Bogota travel that won’t cost you a single peso.
National Museum of Colombia
History, art and culture collide at the National Museum of Colombia found in downtown Bogota. Over 20,000 pieces tell the unique stories of the country, including archeology and ethnography significant items that date back as far as 10,000 BC.
Bogotá Museum of Modern Art
After stepping back in time at the National Museum of Colombia, a visit to the Bogotá Museum of Modern Art will offer balance and perspective. Here, visitors can find contemporary works by many of the country’s most respected artists, all housed in an impressive red-brick building designed by architect Rogelio Salmona.
Casa de Moneda de Colombia
The Casa de Moneda de Colombia is a mint that was founded in 1621, now standing as a museum of Colombian currency. Exhibiting over 1,700 pieces, the site holds historic significance, being the first place to make gold coins on the continent of America.
Top 5 Museums in Bogota
Start at the biggest collection of gold artifacts in the world before progressing to an important art collection in a charming colonial mansion. Then it’s on to 20,000 pieces of archeology and ethnography dating back to 10,000 BC. You best leave plenty of space in your schedule for this museum lineup.
If it’s a hearty meal you are looking for in Bogota, look no further than a Bandeja Paisa. A platter of food featuring the likes of red beans, rice, chorizo, egg, plantain, and avocado, this dish will keep you satisfied for hours.
Best eaten at Comedorcito Paisa, Carrera 13 #94A-26, Local 5, Edifico Unión 94
Colombians tend to do breakfast like a king, evidence perfectly by the typical morning dish of tamales. The dish varies considerably across the country, but usually consists of a rice or corn dough with various meats, vegetables, eggs and chickpeas, all wrapped up in plantain leaf and steamed until well-cooked.
Best eaten at Auténticos Tamales Tolimenses Donde Carlos, l. 28 Sur #13 42
Colombian breaded pork cutlets, known locally as ‘chuleta valluna’, are a popular feature on many restaurants across the country. Commonly served with a side of salad, plantains, yuca, beans or rice, the simple dish is best tried at Restaurante Fulanitos when in Bogota.
Best eaten at Restaurante Fulanitos, 61, Cra. 3 #8
A trip to Colombia is scarcely complete without a cup of freshly brewed coffee beans. Sample your morning pick me up at Cafe Cultor in the neighbourhood of Chapinero. Found in a recycled shipping container, this cafe supports farmers who work in conflicted areas of the country, and also support and educate on fair trade sustainable and organic coffee farming.
Best eaten at Cafe Cultor, Calle 69 #6-20
Rare native fruits
The diverse climate of Colombia makes it home to numerous exotic fruits, many of which are native and rarely found anywhere else. Try the prickly green soursop of guanábana, the sweet and sour tomato looking fruit of lulo, and the obscure looking yellow and green papayuela.
Best eaten at Paloquemao, Plaza de Mercado Paloquemao
Food in Bogota
Exotic fruits, freshly brewed fair trade coffee, and breakfasts of red beans, chorizo, egg, and plantain. A voyage to Bogota is a surprising culinary experience. Explore all pockets of the city and experiment with unknown words - exciting tastes and cultural experiences await you.