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  • Writer's pictureDanae Bianco

What to do in 3 days in Bogota

Updated: Mar 15

First time in Bogota? Here's everything you need to know to enjoy the biggest Colombian city.


Catedral Primada de Colombia, Bogota, Plaza de Bolivar. Colonial Arquitecture.
Catedral Primada de Colombia

In early 2022 we went for the first time to Colombia and started our trip on the country's capital, Bogotá.


Despite being located very close to the equator, Bogotá is at an altitude of 2,600 meters (8,530 feet), which gives it a mild climate all year round. We were there in January (technically winter, because Bogotá, despite being located in South America, is in the northern hemisphere) and the temperature was really pleasant, sun and mild heat during the day, and a nice chill in early mornings and at night.


 

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WHAT TO DO IN 3 (or 2) DAYS IN BOGOTA


- Parque de la 93


The first day in Bogotá involved arriving in the city, going to our hotel - we stayed at Hotel Estellar Parque de La 93, which by the name you can guess it is really close to Parque de la 93, in the north part of the city. That afternoon we explored the surrounds, an area of Bogota filled with nice restaurants, bars and shops.


We had lunch, ice cream, sipped some local coffee, at the ubiquitous Juan Valdez (I would say it's the Colombian equivalent of Starbucks - although there is Starbucks there, including one there at Parque de la 93) but also at a local coffee shop (Azahar Café), we toasted the beginning of the trip with a local beer, kids enjoyed the playground at Parque de La 93 and then the hotel pool (which had a beautiful view of the city). In other words, we were on vacation mode - no commitments, no stress. The real trip was about to begin the following day.


Plaza de Bolivar, Bogota, Colombia. People in a square on a cloudy day
Plaza de Bolivar, Bogota

- La Candelaria


The next day, we explored the historic area of the city, in La Candelaria neighborhood. Get ready to walk: there's a lot of cool stuff around there. We went by uber and it was absolutely fine. It was Sunday, there was no traffic and the streets in that area seemed to be relatively empty. I believe that on weekdays it may be much more crowded.


We did everything on foot, the area is flat and really interesting to walk. You can also join a guided walking tour.


Plaza de Bolivar is the main square in Bogotá, where Congress and Supreme Court are located, as well as the beautiful Cathedral (Catedral Primada de Colombia) and other historical and government buildings. The construction of the Cathedral began in 1807 and was completed in 1823.


There are many street vendors in the region, especially in front of the Cathedral, selling everything: food, handicrafts, hot air balloons, souvenirs, trinkets in general. I suggest trying the mango with lemon and salt - it may seem a little strange, but it's delicious.


From there, following Calle 11, you will find Gabriel Garcia Marquez Cultural Center and Botero Museum, in addition to the Independence Museum, Luis Angel Arango Library and churches and other historic buildings.


(1) e (2) Botero; (3) Miró; (4) Museo Botero inner courtyard


- Museo Botero


Museo Botero is a must see. It is located in a set of colonial houses and is maintained by the Banco de la Republica de Colombia.


In the year 2000, the artist Fernando Botero - the one that paints the "chubby" - donated a collection of 123 works by himself and 85 by international artists - among them Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Pissaro, Edgar Degas , Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Toulousse Lautrec, Joan Miró, Francis Bacon, Alexander Calder, Gustav Klimt, Giacometti and other artists from the 19th century onwards.


Admission is free and the visit is very pleasant. Botero's works are simple and, at the same time, absolutely interesting - the reinterpretations of famous works are fun, besides the animals, all very chubby and with priceless expressions, and even the fruits are chubby.


The rooms are organized around the inner courtyard in a historic house, in a very friendly and easy to appreciate way. It is a small and very well-organized museum, you can enjoy each room at your own pace, and even so visit everything in a few hours, without stress and without crowds (at least when we were there, it was far from crowded).


The cafe attached to the museum is great.



- Centro Cultural Gabriel Garcia Márques


We also stopped by the Gabriel Garcia Márques Cultural Center – as a fan of the writer, I confess that I expected more from the place. When we went, there were no exhibitions or events, perhaps because of restrictions then still in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The on-site bookstore is excellent, with a good supply of books in English and other languages, and the upstairs terrace is pleasant for a break while watching the street go by. There is also a branch of the ubiquitous Café Juan Valdez.



- Museo del Oro


From the Botero Museum or the Gabriel Garcia Marques Cultural Center, it is a few blocks walk to Museo del Oro (Gold Museum). Another mandatory stop on your visit to Bogotá, the Gold Museum presents the history, culture and art of the pre-Columbian peoples of the region.


The amount of gold pieces is impressive, as well as countless pieces in other materials such as silver, ceramics, stone, bone, shell and textiles, from different times, cultures and peoples who inhabited the region that is present Colombia. It is very well organized and signposted in Spanish and English.



One of the most impressive pieces in the museum is the "Balsa Muisca de las Ofrendas", which is considered the symbol of the legend of "El Dorado". The panels in the room tell this legend, which deals with the investiture of local chiefs enshrined in rituals with naked bodies bathed in gold dust and precious stones thrown into the lake. It's worth stopping for a few minutes to read the story.


Next to the Gold Museum there are several shops selling typical Colombian products and some cafes.


(1) learning about coffee production process; (2) us on our bikes; (3) Museo Nacional - we didn't get to know it; (4) cycling along one of the avenues that on Sundays and holidays is closed to cars and free for bicycles and pedestrians


- Bogota Bike tour


On our third day in Bogotá, we had planned to go to Catedral de Sal (more on that later) but we changed our plans and decided to take the opportunity to get to know the city a little more, in a fun way, and which proved to be perfect: a bike tour of Bogota.


We did it with Bogota Bike Tours, (other options can be found here) our guide was Michel, a super nice guy, excellent biker and enlightened person, he taught us about the history of the country and the city, he explained to us how Bogotá is organized spatially and socially, and we were able to discuss country’s social situation and current politics and its challenges. Really a tour that was worth it in all aspects.


We made several stops during the tour. In some of them for our guide explained about the city, the buildings and historical events that took place there, there were lots of stops to eat! First in the Parque Nacional, then at an ice cream shop with regional flavors, then in the market for local fruit tasting - one more delicious than the other, needless to say we returned to the hotel with a bag full of them. The market we stopped at was Plaza de Mercado de Las Nieves, but the biggest and best known is Paloquemao.


The last stop – and the most awaited by adults :-) was at a local coffee shop, where we got to know the whole process of roasting, grinding and preparing real Colombian coffee - by that time, the space in our backpack was already scarce, but we managed to include a few pounds of coffee, of course.


Although our kids (then aged 9 and 10) know how to ride a bike, we were unsure if they would keep in a group tour, so we opted for a private tour. It all went really well and was excellent, but it would have been really cool to do it in a group and have the opportunity to meet other people.


We took the tour on a Monday, but it was a national holiday and, as happens on Sundays, several streets were closed to cars and free to pedestrians and cyclists, many people enjoying the day outdoors. If you can take the tour on a Sunday/holiday there is this advantage.



- Other things to do in Bogota


After the bike tour, we had planned to go up to Montserrat (since the departure and arrival point of the bike tour is in La Candelaria, relatively close to the funicular station that takes you up the hill), but kids were tired, backpack was heavy with all we had bought during bike tour, we were all hungry, so we decided to leave Montserrat for our next Bogota visit.


We were told that it is really worth going up, you can go by funicular, cable car or hiking along a trail of approx. 2.5km and 500 meters gain in altitude - it is recommended to do the hike only on weekends or holidays. In addition to the incredible views of the city, up there you will find Iglesia de Montserrat, restaurants and craft shops.



What to do around Bogota (day-trips)



- Catedral de Sal de Zipaquirá - Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá


On our last day in Bogotá, we had planned to go to Catedral de Sal de Zipaquirá, but we ended up opting for the bike tour.


As the name suggests, it is a cathedral made entirely of salt. It was built in what were once underground salt mines, at a depth of 180m and is now one of the most visited tourist attractions in the country. If you are thinking about visiting Zipaquirá, it is about 50 km from Bogotá, with easy access by bus, train, car or tours.


It seems to be a really fascinating place, even for those who are not interested in religious tourism, and if we had an extra day in Bogotá this tour would certainly be our destination.



- Villa de Leyva


Villa de Leyva is a colonial town about 160km north of Bogotá. It is known for its white colonial buildings and cobblestone alleys. Founded in 1572, it had its heyday in the 17th century and since then has remained practically untouched, and now it is considered one of the best examples of colonial architecture in the country. Today the city basically lives on tourism and is one of the favorite destinations for Bogotanos on weekends.


It is possible to visit it on day tours from Bogotá, but depending on the traffic it can take more than 3 hours to get there, which seemed quite tiring to me - there are organized day-tours that could be a good option, since you won't need to do the driving. You can also stay there, there are several accommodation options.


La Casa Del Arbol Hotel Boutique Villa de Leyva is an amazing option, right by the historic part of town. However, if you are on a strict budget, Posada La Rioja and Casa Cantabria Hotel seem like great options with excellent locations.


You can check rates and availability here:





(1) La Candelaria; (2) playground at Parque de La 93


Where to stay in Bogota


Our proposal for the days there was to enjoy the city and the local life. We wanted to know what it's like to live in the city, moving away from the typically tourist areas. After researching on the internet, we decided on the northern area of the city - Chapineiro, Chicó and Parque de la 93.


We stayed at Hotel Estellar Parque de la 93. Close to several restaurants, bars, shops and cafes, in a very nice neighborhood. In a way, it reminds a lot of the region we live in, but with different airs. You know that feeling, of feeling at home, but in another country?


From what we could see, that area concentrates more business tourism (although, at the beginning of 2022 - when we were there - this type of tourism was still really low) and the higher income local resident. In other words, it’s far from a portrait of the country's ordinary reality, but not an uninteresting place to visit and stay.


Overall, we loved it. It was perfect for what we were looking for: to relax and enjoy the city with tranquility.


If you prefer to stay in the historic central area, a very popular area with tourists is the La Candelaria neighborhood. One option I saw in this area and it seemed good to me is Hotel Casa Deco.


 Check rates and availability here:






(1) Museo Botero inner courtyard; (2) Botero; (3) Museo del Oro


What and where to eat in Bogota


Bogotá is a cosmopolitan city, with restaurants for all tastes and budgets, so I imagine that you, like us, will have great gastronomic experiences there.


Street food is a must in Bogotá: arepas, tamales, patacones, it's worth stopping at the food stalls, whether downtown or in a park, and trying everything!


And the fruits!! There is so much variety of fruits, some known or similar to what we are used to, others completely different - and delicious. From what I remember, we tried granadilla, yellow pitaya, lulo, tomate de arbol, guanabana, mangostino, feijoa, uchuva, zapote, curuba, besides some more usual fruits, such as carambola, mango, passion fruit, strawberry, piña (pineapple), banana and avocado.


A typical dish of the country, found in all regional or traditional restaurants, is the “bandeja paisa” (paisa tray) - a plate usually with rice, beans, fried egg, pantacones, chicken or beef sausage, avocado and pork rinds. Another characteristic dish of the city is ajiaco, a soup with corn, chicken, avocado and other vegetables.


In the central region of the city, there are several restaurants, snack bars, bars, stalls. In other words, there will be no shortage of options to eat. We went to a very simple restaurant, close to Plaza de Bolivar, nothing noteworthy and whose name I don't remember.


What I can recommend are the restaurants we went to in the Parque de la 93 area- besides these, there are many others around there that looked pretty good:


- Corona view Bogota

- Crepes & Waffles Parque de la 93

- La Diva, Calle 93 Bogota

- La Lucha Sangucheria Criolla 93

- Chef Burger Park 93

- Cacio & Pepe



How to get to Bogota, and how to get around


Avianca is the main Colombian air carrier, connecting the city with major destinations in the USA, Europe and South America. We went from São Paulo to Bogotá on a direct Avianca flight and had a great experience. From the airport to the hotel we took a taxi, pre-booked directly with our hotel.


We got around the city by Uber or taxi, also working fine.


And this is what we suggest you if you have 3 (or more) days in Bogota and around! Hope you liked our ideas and if you have any question, please comment below and don't forget to follow us on social media:


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