Introduction to Bogota
Bogotá is built on a huge mountain platform, surrounded by beautiful green mountains and is home to a charming historical center. With people coming from all corners of the country, this capital city is as diverse as the entire country.
Colombia´s capital is surrounded by cool Andean peaks and, to give you an impression of its size, it consists of approximately 1,000 neighborhoods, each adding a different angle to this lively metropolis. The city is located in the center of the country at 8,660ft (2,640m) above sea level. With people coming from all corners of the country, this capital city is as diverse as the entire country.
Bogotá´s placed among the major gastronomic capitals of Latin America and several of these excellent restaurants are located in the Zona Rosa which is made up of two main parts: la Zona T and Parque 93. Both of these areas are filled with boutique hotels and the best restaurants and bars in the city, a great place to spend your afternoon sipping a cocktail, having a nice meal or hopping in and out the shopping malls that are nearby. This Zona Rosa is also one of the most secure and safe zones in Bogota.
What not to miss in Bogota
La Candelaria is the historic center of Bogotá, and the city’s principal destination for tourists. Home to the country’s top museums, the Government Palaces, and beautiful old colonial buildings along narrow cobblestone streets…it’s a must see.
The Gold Museum
The Gold Museum is located in the heart of the city and it shows an extraordinary collection of pre-Hispanic goldwork. The museum holds the largest collection of gold in the world and the museum itself is a beautiful building.
You can reach the top of Monserrate Mountain which dominates the city center of Bogota by taking a cable car to the top. Before the cable car was built, thousands of pilgrims used to walk up the mountain on a poorly paved road.
City Tour by Bike
With 215 miles (346km) of bike paths in Bogota (the largest bike path network in Latin America!), you can set out on this half day tour which will introduce you the highlights of this amazing city.
The museum houses a large collection of works donated by the Colombian artist Fernando Botero known for his round, ample images of people and animals.
As Plaza Bolivar is placed in the middle of the city center, this is the perfect place to start exploring La Candelaria. Surrounding the plaza (square) there are various buildings of interest: Casa de Nariño (Presidential Palace), the official residence of the Colombian President.
Casa de Moneda
This museum, now dedicated to a big collection of coins and banknotes, once was the first mint of golden coins. In 1621, Alonso Turrillo de Yebra received royal ordinances for the artisanal making of golden coins using the first gold machines of America.
La Zona T (Zona Rosa) & Parque 93
La Zona T (Zona Rosa) and Parque 93 are two of the most popular zones to have a drink or a relaxed dinner. While La Zona T, or the so called Zona Rosa, is filled with cocktail and beer bars, lounges and exclusive clubs, those looking for a romantic dinner can eat until their heart’s content in Parque 93.
Once a small village, this town that is now part of the city lends its name to the indigenous communities that lived in the region until 1539. Usaquén still has all the aspects of a small and quiet village with its beautiful main square surrounded by colonial buildings. The streets are filled with all kinds of romantic and good quality restaurants.
Zipaquira Salt Cathedral
Zipaquira’s Salt Cathedral is about 31 miles (50km) north of Bogota and was carved out of a working salt mine. The Cathedral is reached by a series of tunnels and at its deepest point is 590ft (180m) below ground. There are 14 small chapels in the Cathedral with images that represent the Stations of the Cross (Via Crucis).
This Andean crater lake was formed in the center of an old volcano after it had become inactive and had cooled down. This lovely lake is surrounded by beautiful mountains and was used as a ritual center by the Muisca people as it is widely thought to be the basis for the legend of El Dorado.
What you need to know
When to go
In general all year long is good to visit Bogota. The best time to visit Bogota is probably during the driest weather which encompasses the months from December to March. It’s also a great time to take the funicular up to the top of Monserrate for the view. The peak tourist season in Bogota is July and August due to the city’s famous Bogota Carnival. The average high temperature during this time is 66°F (19°C). Bogota. The wet season in Bogota is from April to July although it can rain any time of the year. Due to its proximity to the equator the weather is always fluctuating and therefore, carrying a raincoat and an umbrella is must.
How to get there
Bogota is accessible by plane through the El Dorado Airport, which is about 8 miles (13km) away from the city center and it’s where international flights arrive.
Buses arriving in Bogotá drop you off in the main bus terminal, Terminal de Buses, or at El Portal del Norte, depending on the bus company and where you are arriving from. Almost every city in Colombia has a bus service to Bogotá.
Where to stay
As with every big capital city, Bogota has a wide range of options in accommodation, so you should have no problem in finding a place to feel comfortable. The world’s most well known five-star hotel chains and small boutique hotels can be found in the Zona Rosa. Most budget establishments are located in La Candelaria and in the center.
Getting around Bogota is possible by Transmilenio which is Bogotá’s decade-old bus system that runs on its own road lane and is one of the fastest and cheapest ways to get around. The Transmilenio map takes some time to understand how the system works. You can also get around the city on the hundreds if not thousands of buses. You should keep an eye on your possessions while taking such transport as pickpockets and muggings do occur.
Taxis are cheap, safer, and a preferable mode of transport – private taxis should be called by telephone as they are more trustworthy. Many travelers choose to get around Bogota this way in order to avoid the confusing bus and Transmilenio system.