Bogotá is a big, intimidating mosaic of a city. Your life-changing experience of it will only be limited by your budget, and a willingness to ask yourself one simple question:
Por qué no?
Look at the top 3 Bogotá things to do on TripAdvisor: Botero Museum, Gold Museum & Monserrate. Now ask anyone who lives in and loves Bogotá. Chances are they have only been to those places once, and will recommend those activities as an excuse to just get out explore. They’re great places to visit for a short stay in Bogotá, but they are not the big reason more and more foreigners have fallen in love with the city.
That is the purpose of this guide, to provide enough reasons and weird ideas to make you ask yourself ¨por qué no?¨ (as I have done here since 2009) and step out into the Bogotá wilderness with an open mind.
Things to Do – Get the Real Feel of the Capital.
Put on your old jeans, get a minimum of 2 people (the more the better) together and jump in a taxi. Free to play as long as you are buying extremely well-priced beers. Colombian version of bowling. Recklessly throwing metal hockey pucks at packets of gunpowder next to other Colombians doing the same thing. Great spot, conveniently located a few minutes walk from one of the best nightlife areas (Zona Rosa). Industrialized version of tejo.
- Tejo de la 76 – (Google Map Link). Great spot, conveniently located a few minutes walk from one of the best nightlife areas (Zona Rosa). Industrialized version of tejo.
- El Viejo Pacho (Google Map Link)As authentic of a tejo experience as you can get. You won’t find well-to-do Bogotanos at this tejo place made from recycled farm materials.
- Join a Tejo Tour.
There is an impressive music scene in Bogotá. The marketing for those gigs, not so impressive. Word of mouth and Facebook will give you whispers of an interesting drum show, a free cumbia/Systema Solar/Bomba Estereo concert, or whatever it may be. Follow your instincts, and ask your newfound friends. These places are known for putting on interesting live gigs: scene in Bogotá.
The marketing for those gigs, not so impressive. Word of mouth and Facebook will give you whispers of an interesting drum show, a free cumbia/Systema Solar/Bomba Estereo concert, or whatever it may be. Follow your instincts, and ask your newfound friends. These places are known for putting on interesting live gigs:
- Casa 9-69. Great bar/restaurant with live gigs. Perfect spot to meet your Tinder date.
- Latin Power: On a grungy alley off Avenida Caracas, this alternative place can get surprisingly rammed and gets in some edgy acts.
- La Negra– High energy, afro-cumbia style music and live shows.
- El Bembe– High voltage live Salsa music.
- Matik-matik– Independant bar built in a garage with live alternative music, jazz and rock.
- Storyville Jazz Cafe in El Soledad – Live events on Friday nights.
- El Bandido Bistro– A Strong contender for EAT & DRINK sections as well. Check out their live music schedule at night. Interesting blues/jazz acts.
- Check here for a schedule of upcoming bands in Bogotá.
- Cuban Jazz Cafe, Live Latin music, focused on the Carribean.
I love motorcycle travel because you dive into new towns with new smells, and have experiences that would be missed in a bus or a plane. The same thing applies to Bogotá, do yourself a favor and run a random errand or find a coffee shop and hit the streets. Great walking areas in Bogotá that you don’t need to specify exactly what to do:
- Centro. Dense area of Museums and Plazas. Another great time to walk centro is at dusk around the weekend, along the 7ma. Buskers, artists, guinea pig races, street food, random personalities are everywhere. *Handy tip*:When visiting Plaza Bolivar, there is a grain shop off the south corner of the plaza towards Cra 10. They sell bulk corn (not the overpriced tiny packets) and you can buy a full shopping bag straight from the source to get all the damn pigeons in your photo.
- Carrera 13, running south from Plaza Lourdes.
- Chapinero Alto – Between Calle 53 and Calle 72, Between Carrera 3 and Carrera 7. Budding entrepreneurs, organic food shops, a mix of victorian and colonial architecture make this a hilly but surprising place to explore.
- Candelaria. Blink and you might miss a gem of a spot. Play football with the locals, experiment in the bakery, look for a flea market. The hunt is the best part.
- San Victorino, west of centro. Keep an eye on your pockets and take a stroll through the hustle n bustle world of downtown vendors. Very close by, don’t miss used book alley.
A good rule of thumb for eating out in Bogotá: Try something new for lunch, try something known for dinner. Bogotá lunch deals are some of the best value in the world and are ubiquitous.
Three-course meals can be had for under $5 USD. Walk an interesting area and look for whiteboards, chalkboards and men in aprons waving you in. For dinner, try from the smorgasbord of new restaurants putting Bogotá on the culinary radar. Zona G (Harry Sasson, La Fama BBQ, Sumo Sushi), La Macarena (La Jugueteria), Quinta Camacho (La Herencia,Don Bogotá,69 Gauchos) and the Zona Rosa (14 Inkas, Gigi’s Wine Market, La Xarcutería) are good places to start.
Want to try authentic Colombian Food? Head to Doña Elvira in Galerias or Las Cazuelas de Abuela in Chapinero (Both are located on ourChapinero Google Map). Hands down the best bandeja paisa in Bogotá is served at El Envigadeño in Centro. Looking for more inspiration? Take a peak of these restaurant lists here, here and here, and here if you are on a budget. Real foodies must take a trip to the produce hub of Bogotá, Paloquemao. Find all types of strange & delicious produce or hunt down the 10 healthiest foods in Latin America. Get a taxi there and walk around, or take aPaloquemao food tour. Make sure to grab brunch in Masa o Fratelli.Tapas? Go to Salvo Patria or Nueve or Rin Rin in Chapinero Alto.
Zona T, Parque 93, Zona G, are great places to go for a drink. On quieter nights, these are reliable places to socialize. You’ll meet likeminded people and have predictable service. If you like a story to go with your drink try these spots:
- Bar Doña Ceci – Grab a cheap tequila shot and bring coins for the jukebox to put on your favorite bon Jovi song.
- BBC Bodegas – New on the scene. No frills version of the famous Bogota Beer Company chain. Locations aren’t well listed online, but keep an eye open for these to stop in for a top value pitcher.
- Apache Bar – Located on the top floor of the Click Clack Hotel. Put on your fancy pants and sip on a delicious watermelon cocktail or a whiskey with a view. Like views? Also grab a drink at Centrico (stunning city views).
- Find a tienda (mini-store) – A cheeky option and favorite amongst expats.Ideally you want a tienda with large beer fridges, jukebox, a rowdy group with a table of empty beer bottles, as small as possible bathrooms (under the staircase bathrooms are best), a spirited shopkeeper, fixed seating that is a tad too cramped, and an assorted snack cabinet to fuel the session. Don’t be surprised when a marathon drinking session with mates (new & old) comes to $25.
- Andres DC – If you only go here once, save it for a Thursday – Saturday night and go big. Be prepared to drop some dime, but I promise you won’t experience anything else like it. They have a location in Chia which is harder to get to logistically, but worth it.
- More ideas: Off2Colombia has an excellent write-up on Bogotá’s bars and clubs, so no need for me to do it again.
- Craft Beer Scene: An institutional presence in the craft beer scene is Bogotá Beer Company, consistent and decent. For more home-grown flavours head over to La Estatua Roja and try their terrifyingly dark AK-47 or Chelarte for a earnest selection of tasty beers. If you are up in North Bogota head to Cervezeria Moonshine. If you are in Salitre, head to the Britannia Pub for a Sierra del Tigre pint.
- Chorro de Quevedo – Pick up a bottle of something special and head to the Chorro de Quevedo on a Friday afternoon for a cheeky drink and soak up the atmosphere!
- Cocktails? Head over to Huerta for hand-crafted cocktails. Mai Tai for Cocktails (& Sushi all you can eat on Wednesdays),
- *Bogotá Hangover Cure*: Go to the closest Drogeria or Tienda and ask for a ¨BonFiest¨. Go to the nearest Panaderia (Bakery) and order a Caldo (Beef Rib Soup). Mix Bonfiest with water and drink the caldo. Thank me when you feel awesome after 20 minutes.
Don’t forget you are in the country with the best coffee in the world. A new wave of coffee shops have started capitalizing on this. Here are the best places to go in Bogotá for a cup.
- Amor Perfecto – Full of Barista champs in a quiet Chapinero Alto neighborhood.
- Azahar – Creative Coffee shop out of a refurbished shipping container near Parque 93.
- Juan Valdez – The national coffee associations own brand. If you just go to one, go to the Juan Valdez Origins in Zona G with region specific blends and varieties of filters.
- CX Speakeasy – New kid on the block with a diverse and healthy menu in a superb location.
- Varietale – They take the milling of the beans into their own hands. New and serious player on the coffee scene.
- Devotion – A coffee experts cafe, with 1800s style decor, attached to the Hilton Hotel.
- Bourbon Coffee Roasters – With coffee brought in from neighboring regions, they know how to execute the perfect expresso.
- Cafe Cultor – Adjacent to a co-working space, in a recycled shipping container, with a fixie bicycle locked up outside, served by a barista with a moustache, this the best coffee before anyone knew it was the best.
- Brot Bakery & Cafe – Go for the coffee, stay for the bread. Divine.
Bogotá has a ridiculous amount of festivals. Wine & Food, Film, Theatre, Yoga, Vegetarian, Jazz, LGBT, Salsa, Rock, Art etc. The best ones will get to you by word of mouth, but the rest of the time check what’s going on here, here or here. Many of them in Bogotá are free, and then larger ones like Estero Picnic are held just outside the city. It does take some investigation as there is still no definitive list anywhere.
Experiences are always more palpable when they are shared, especially in an eclectic city like Bogotá. Talk to everyone, the weirder the better.
Go to Gringo Tuesdays or Dame tu Lengua, Or Wednesday Speakeasy (La Candelaria) language exchange events, find a football game, go to dance classes with an alternative & fun twist, put together a tejo team, go network at Internations or Bogota Entrepreneurs Society, go to a Pop-up dinner, learn a new sport or hobby, host a party at your place or recruit people from your hotel/hostel to join a random mission, go speed dating, go on an adventure with Bogota & Beyondor other tours.
Have a big night out
If you get an invitation from a local Colombian to some kind of live event, performance or party in a place you have never heard of, ask yourself ´Por qué no?´ and do it. This is hands down the best way to have a memorable night in Bogotá.
Many consider the nightlife the best part of Bogotá. If you don’t like dancing you will miss out on half of the fun of Colombia. Get over it – as a foreigner, locals will expect your skills are sub-par, and don’t actually care. For you it’s a win-win. Your creativity and anything close to rhythm will score you points. Here are the best places to get loose, follow them on facebook to look out for special events:
- Armando Records– Different environments, frequent guest acts. a safe bet for heading out in Zona Rosa.clubs-bars-Chapinero-Bogota-Furnished-Apartment-Rentals.
- Gringo Tuesdays– The biggest mid-week party in Bogotá. Get there early for a language exchange session that warms up into an all out party.
- Treffen– Grab a group and head to Treffen for Karaoke. A Chapinero-esque version of Andres DC.
- Theatron– Largest LGBT club in South America, with 7 clubs in 1. Fun for open-minded people of all persuasions and costs around $40000 COP for all-you-can-drink access.
- A new player in the electronic scene in Chapinero, Video Club is ultra-trendy.
- LaTora 4 Brazos– Fun club in the center of Chapinero.
- Baum– Trendy all-night electronic club. Bring your shades. Octava is the new kid on the block, in Chapinero Bajo.
- El Goce Pagano – La Candelaria– Ready for the big leagues? They play traditional music, mostly salsa, merengue, bachata etc. Love salsa? Head to the ultra-traditional Galeria Cafe Libro for live events and lesson. Here are 5 more salsa bars.
Bogotá has an incredible culturalscene. Bogota has 58 museums, over 150 art galleries, 33 library networks, 45 stage theatres, 75 sports and attraction parks, and over 150 national monuments. Find out more theatre information.
- The BAT – Bogotá Anglo Theatre. An entertaining and fascinatingly peculiar array of English spoken productions.
- Slam Poetry, Stand-Up Comedy, Theatre – Check what is happening at A Seis Manos.
- See whats on exhibit in the Museo Nacional de Colombia.
- Cinephiles must go to Cine Tonala and Cinema Paraiso cafe & bar in Usaquen.
- Take a wander around some of the top Art Galleries inSan Felipe.Take a look at these top 10 contemporary art galleries.
- Concerts and fascinating talks at Biblioteca Luis Angel Arango in La Candelaria.
- Teatro Libre – Chapinero and Candelaria locations. Mix it up and check the program.
- Find some significant architectural buildings around the city .Here are 10 to get you started.
- Take a look through the Police Museum, Escobar’s old motorbike and other pieces of the turbulent history of Colombia.
- Casa Museo Jorge Eliecer Gaitán – Fill your brain with historical political and legal understanding of Colombia. This museum is in the house of an extremely significant political figure.
Ciclovia to Usaquen Markets on a Sunday
Rent a bicycle and join the crowds of Colombians whizzing along the Septima. Take the chance to get a perspective of the city that is just too crowded with cars to enjoy during the week. Get in adventure mode. If you´re lucky, Bogota & Beyond will be running events on the day, scavenger hunts and photo challenges with locals and travellers. If you get hungry, stop in a larger hotel to take advantage of a buffet brunch. If you are adventurous take ciclovia south from Centro and get a feel for Bogotá life outside of the safer, more international zones of the north.
Get out of town
You are in a capital city on a mountain. Get out of town to understand where you are.
Take the train to visit an underground church at the Zipaquira Salt Mine, spend a day gazing at Lake Guatavita or other national parks, make a friend with a holiday finca or hire your own, Stroll through cobblestone Villa de Leyva, Rock climbing in Suesca, Golf, Go-Karting,Paintball.Take a dip in the healing hotsprings of Choachi, or take a hike to the Chorrera Waterfall. Head out to La Calera early for the farmers market, then to visit Chingaza NationalPark, El Siberia – The ghost town, the hummingbird observatory and and be sure to make time for a Colombian BBQ Picada at El Tambor.
Catch the sunset with a fancy cocktail on the way back at the Mirador La Calera, as you cross back into Bogotá over the mountains. Want a more adventurous daytrip? Head to Tobia for rafting/kayaking/abseiling/rock climbing.
Take a tour
Go on these but don’t rely exclusively on them to get involved in a real experience.
- Bogotá Graffiti Tour – Founded by an Australian graffiti artist Crisp, get a feel for the urban, political, cultural landscape walking through La Candelaria.
- Bogota Bike Tour – One of the most efficient ways to get around Candelaria/Downtown and get an excellent feel for the area.
- Bogota & Beyond. Get some extremely fun & unique experiences inside & out of Bogotá.
- Beyond Colombia free Walking Tour – The best way to get a feel for La Candelaria and the landmarks that define downtown.
- Andes Eco Tours – National Park and Eco Day trips from Bogotá.
- Bogota Pass – A good selection of introductory tours.
- Horse Riding & Hiking Tours.
- Emerald Tours – Colombia produces the most emeralds in the world.
- Bogotá Pub Crawl – Find some like-minded drinking companion and take a nightlife tour.
Still considering what to do in Bogotá? You are insatiable. Accept one of these random missions
- Go rent a boat to pedal around the Lake in Parque Simon Bolivar
- Serve – Lend a hand at a foundation for the under-privileged.
- Check out the program at the Bogotá Planetarium, laser shows and frequent constellation shows.
- Go to the fun, but rather tame Bogota water park.
- Take a 1 hour trip over the mountain to Chicaque national park, impressive views and full blown nature.
- Earn some pocket money with your circus skills and perform at a traffic light.
- Go to Restrepo and find someone to make you custom shoes, go here to get a custom leather jacket or shoes, hunt down a tailor for an affordable custom suit.
- Track down a Chiva, jump on board. Bring aguardiente. Locally organized ones are better!
- Watch a national football game. There is probably a game on en El Campin Stadium.
- Play Futbol 5. Join this Facebook group and sign up for a game.
- Go to Caracas Avenue and Calle 53 to recruit a vanload of Mariachis to liven up any of the other plans mentioned.
- Go bird-watching and flower smelling at the Bogota Botanic Gardens.
- Be literate. Bogotá has one of the largest library networks in the world. Visit Biblioteca Publica Virgilio Barco, a library near Parque Simon Bolivar.
- Take a short hike up the Bogotá hills along the Quebrada la Vieja. Feel the hum of the city from above!
- Go to Adventure World amusement park.
- Go register yourself at lots of casting agencies. You might find yourself on the set of narcos as a DEA agent.
- Ask around for a Billares/Pool Table club. They are hidden everywhere.
- On a Sunday, go to the most curious of Flea Markets.
- Take a cemetery tour, or 4 other scary plans for the horror seekers.
- Go for a free Yoga Session in Parque Virrey.
- Find a lover to take to Parque de Los Novios.
- Check for upcoming activities & events: Civico, Vive.In and upcoming festivals at BogotaTurismo.
Plan your trip
1 Day in Bogota Planner
Go to this 1 day stay in Bogotá TripAdvisor list which is pretty decent or open your Lonely Planet and pick 1-2 activities near to where you are staying. This guide is probably not for you. Reserve more time next trip!
3 Days in Bogotá Planner
Routine plays a big role in the city. Visiting mid-week? Don’t expect big nights out, instead target cultural events, theatre, unique cafes & restaurants, museums. If you are arriving for the weekend, look for more live events, ciclovia, parties, flea markets etc.
7 days in Bogotá
Day 1 – La Candelaria, a quaint, colonial historic district, Gold and Botero Art Museums, world-famous emerald district, exquisite churches and museums, Plaza Bolivar, eccentric boutiques, cafes and restaurants. Bogota Bike Tour if you want to go into express mode. Cable car to Monserrate for sunset and ajiaco a dizzying 500 meters above Bogotá. Bogota Bike Tour if you want to go into express mode. Cable car to Monserrate for sunset and ajiaco a dizzying 500 meters above Bogotá.
Day 2 – Breakfast in a gourmet panaderia (Bakery) with a tinto (Coffee) or hot chocolate and cheese if you are feeling game. Lunch in La Macarena, a bohemian restaurant district with local and a broad mix of international cuisine. Walk down to the Museo National to see an excellent collection of archaelogical artefacts, or the current exhibition. Get some sunshine by a walk through Parque Nacional, or grab a relaxing afternoon tinto in ParkWay. It’s Tuesday night, head to La Villa for the free language exchange that turns into a cross-cultural party.
Day 3 – More sightseeing in La Candelaria – visit the Palacio de San Carlos at Calle 10 and the Biblioteca Luis Angel Arango at Calle 11 – check listings for free classical concerts in the grand concert hall here. Nearby, the Donacion Botero Museum has an art collection that includes works by Picasso, Monet and Dali. Check out why Bogota is at the top of the street art scene with the Bogota Graffiti tour. Have lunch or dinner at Cafe Pasaje, at Cra 6, which sits on a picturesque square and is a great spot for relaxed eating and drinking.
Day 4 – Day trip to the surrounding areas of beautiful high-mountain terrain around Bogotá. Head to Lake Guatavita and learn of the pre-Columbian sacred folklore. Spend the afternoon touring the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira, an 8000m² underground church inside a Salt mine.
Day 5 – Start of the day with a short hike called Quebrada de la Vieja. A 45 minute walk through jungle and creeks that rewards you with a viewpoint overlooking the humming cityscape below. Meander down the creek until you get to Zona G, the world-class Gastronomic Zone of Bogotá. Filled with restaurants, wine bars and international pastry shops, your palate will be pleased! It’s Friday, head over to Zona T for some afternoon shopping and later spend the evening at the eccentric Andres de Res DC restaurant that defines the Colombian passion for food and dancing. There are few cities that rival Bogotá for its feverish love of nightlife and a good old fashioned rumba!
Day 6 – Spend the morning walking around Parque de la 93. Grab a traditional caldo if your head is sore from the night before. Later on, an ice cream in Parque Virrey. Head over to the Botanical Gardens or check listings to see which of the hundreds fairs or festivals is currently happening. Stop by a Tejo court and have some cold ones. Enjoy dinner in Gaira, a lively restaurant/bar owned by Colombian Latin Pop/rock star Juanes. Bogotá has famous nightlife, try some aguardiente and dance!
Day 7 – Enjoy the Sunday morning markets of Usaquen (rent a bicycle for ciclovia to get there), browsing artesanels and crafts from traditional groups all over Colombia, followed by an delicious lunch overlooking the cobblestone streets.