To avoid any ambiguity about where this is headed Bogotá, Colombia is awfully cool. I’ll be honest. We really only went to Colombia for the cheap airfare, but as it turns out Bogotá is a city where no wall is without mural, beer comes cheap, and the surrounding landscape can help you forget you’re in a city at all. Those who have loved the grittiness of San Francisco or Madrid will find themselves captivated by this South American city. There are loads of fun things to do in Bogotá and it’s well worth adding to your South American itinerary.
From La Candelaria Bogotá’s major attractions like Museo del Oro, the Teleférico de Monserratte, and Plaza de Bolivar are accessible by just a short walk. After the sunset, happy hours kick off at divey bars tucked along Calle 12B. The tab for too many bottles drunk is tallied up by a collection of bottle caps, only counted when it’s time to pay up. You can shop among endless stalls of San Andresito or eat inspired dishes at one of the city’s new gourmet restaurants. The lush mountainsides of Monserrate and Guadalupe tower over the city, providing a verdant backdrop to what would normally just be concrete sprawl.
We loved it, and we hope that you will too. Whether you’ve got some time to spare in Bogotá or are just passing through, here are the best things to do in Bogotá.
The Very Best Things to do in Bogotá:
1. Explore urban art on a street art tour
Street art has always been our favorite thing to seek out in a new city and Bogotá has a whole lot of it. If you’d like to get an idea of cultural influences and the city’s complex social issues, this is one of the best ways to do it. Run by an Australian street artist, check out Bogota Graffiti Tours for a comprehensive overview of Bogota’s best murals and most influential artists. Tip: Bogotá Graffiti runs a tour departing daily from Plaza de Periodistas at 10:00am. Looking for something else? There are plenty more tours in Bogotá worth taking.
Dig street art? Us too! Check out all of our posts on street art.
2. Make mis-steaks at Andrés Carne de Res
South American nightlife is next level, so I have to throw a bar into the mix. Or is it a steakhouse? Theme park?
Sitting about 23km outside of the city, a night out at Andrés Carne de Res is worth every kilometer. The restaurant sprawls 3 square miles and is one of the very best things to do in Bogotá at night. On any decent Saturday, you’ll find yourself with a packed house. With 11 dining areas, gaudy decor, and several dance floors, this place is more of a beer-slinging treehouse than a bar. Filled with lighted signs, quirky murals, and costumed waiters, going to Andrés Carne de Res is not only a right of passage, but one of Colombia’s most quintessential travel experiences. Tip: If you’d rather not brave the trip outside of Bogotá alone, hop on the party bus from Sue Hostal every Saturday. For 30,000 COP (2015), you’ll get round trip transit, entry into Andrés, and lots of deadly cocktails en route to the bar.
3. See everything golden at Museo del Oro
The Museo del Oro is far more interesting than your standard museum. With over 55,000 artifacts, Museo del Oro features the largest collection of pre-hispanic gold in the world. As you move from one floor to the next, you’ll experience the changing design of gold throughout the ages and learn about the social and symbolic implications that metals had on South America’s history. With several floors of excavated relics, interactive exhibits, and well signed collections, this Bogotá experience is worth it’s weight in… well, you get the point. Tip: Save this trip for a rainy day! Bogotá has a lot of them.
4. Bike it out at La Ciclovía
If you happen to be in Bogotá on Sunday, you can skip out on church and hit the Ciclovia instead. Head to where Carrera 7 intersects with Rio San Francisco for one of the most awesome Sunday Streets you’ve ever seen. From 7am-2pm, large stretches of the city are closed off to traffic, and you can hop on a bike or a pair of always-cool roller skates to explore the city. Vendors come out selling everythin from the delightful (cut mangos with salt on a stick!) to the crass (flash drives preloaded with pornography). You’ll probably see the grim reaper break dancing or a spray painted mime doing his thing, which is really just another Sunday in Bogotá. Tip: Check out a map of the city’s best biking below.
Like biking? Find out more about biking in South America.
5. Experience local industry
Turns out Colombians are exceptional at a lot of things. Interested in learning a bit more about local industry? Wander around La Candelería to experience a glimpse of Colombian artistry. You can also try your hand at making notebooks at Ricardo Corazon de Papel, taste chicha, check out the local street art, or experience real cacao at Cacao & Cacao.
6. Take the teleférico de Montserrat for city views
Many of South America’s cities boast a teleférico – a gondola that scales the mountainous sides of the city. Bogotá’s teleférico climbs 3,152m up Montserrat, and will drop you at a high-altitude church offering spectacular views of the city. Scared of heights? You can also get up the mountain by funicular, a tram that runs the same route. Tip: Tickets cost between $3-6 depending on the number of trips you plan to take, timing, and day of the week. Go on Sunday for the cheapest rates.
Heading to Ecuador? You might be interested in hiking from the teleférico in Quito.
7. Eat the street
Forget your allergies, aversions, and ethical leanings for a moment, and eat everything you can get your hands on. From streetside arepas, to unconquerable menu del dias, to perfectly snackable plantain chips, eating is one of the best things to do in Colombia. While Colombian cuisine is not widely available in other parts of the world, there are some pretty unique flavor profiles you won’t want to miss. Tip: Most restaurants will have a menu del día. It functions as a fixed price menu so you’ll get soup, a plato (meat, salad, beans, french fries, fried plantain, and an arepa) and drink for a fraction of the individual price.
Like to eat? Read more about street food in South America!
8. Grab a beer at Bogotá Beer Company
Any beer enthusiast will tire of the light and weak Aguila within days of arriving in Colombia. That’s where Bogotá Beer Company comes in. Albeit a shortlist, the menu offers porters, ales and IPAs. Grab a table at happy hour to see young Colombians bailing from work for cheap craft beer and surprisingly expensive pizzas.
Cheers! Read more about drinking beer around the world!
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solosophieJune 12, 2016 at 7:01 pm
Lovely photos. The street art looks great!
Taylor RecordJune 14, 2016 at 11:12 pm
Thanks so much, Sophie! The street art is definitely one of the city’s best features. Have you been to Colombia?
resolucion de conflictosJune 22, 2016 at 10:44 pm
Great Citi and Great travel exoperience through the streets of Bogota.
Jitaditya NarzarySeptember 5, 2016 at 7:10 am
Hey these are some lovely examples of street photographys… the graffities are awesome!!!
Taylor RecordSeptember 11, 2016 at 4:48 pm
Thanks, Jitaditya! Bogotá does have some pretty incredible street art. Do you have any favorite street art cities?
Rick EllisonSeptember 24, 2016 at 10:36 am
If you love Bogota…..wait til you travel around the rest of the country! It is absolutely beautiful and the people and the food will blow you away! #loveColombia!
Taylor RecordSeptember 28, 2016 at 11:44 pm
We’re so sad to have missed the north! Where do you recommend, Rick?
Rick EllisonSeptember 29, 2016 at 2:30 am
If you like Bigota…you will absolutely love Medellin …..but I love getting out of the big cities……but I’m fortunate to have family who are Colombian and they have spoiled me by taking me around to small towns and untapped oasis. Villa de Leyva, Anolaima, Mariquita, Santa Marta, Cartagena, Pereira and and awesome trip to Leticia….in the Amazon!
GhbJanuary 19, 2020 at 1:41 am
Colombia’s street didn’t is NOT popusas that is Salvadoran food Colombians eat Arepas!
Taylor RecordJanuary 22, 2020 at 9:35 pm
My mistake! We did have papusas once, but arepas were more common for sure. Just made the update, thanks for catching!