Located at 2,640 meters (8,660 ft) above sea level in the Colombian Andes region, Bogotá is not only Colombia’s capital city, it’s also the country’s culinary and cultural capital. With a host of highly acclaimed restaurants and some of the best museums in the world, a trip to Bogotá will have a little something for everyone. When you’re planning your trip to Bogotá, I think the minimum amount of time you should spend in the city is at least three days. This will allow you to tick off La Candelaria, Monserrate, Museo del Oro, and enjoy some great meals. We spent a week in Bogotá, but took about 3-4 day trips outside the city to places like Laguna de Guatavita and the Salt Cathedral.
Day 1: La Candelaria
On your first day, do yourself a favor and take it easy. You don’t want to give yourself altitude sickness by pushing yourself too hard! Head to La Candelaria and bask in the pigeon glory at Plaza Bolivar. In colonial times, this was the center of the city, where Friday markets and executions took place. Now, it’s a bustling plaza with food carts and street performers.
After you’re done with the plaza, head over to Museo Botero, which features the artwork and collections of the most accomplished Colombian artist, Medellin-born Fernando Botero. I’m a huge fan of his work – there’s just something amazing about chubby cats and pudgy fruit!
Right next door to Museo Botero is the Colección de Arte del Banco de la República, which is free to visit, and offers 14 galleries highlighting Colombian art from the 17th century to present day. Round up your day with a visit to La Puerta Falsa for their famous ajiaco.
Day 2: Avenida Jiménez
On your second day, visit the world-renowned Museo del Oro. Admission is super affordable at 4,000 COP, or $1 USD. You can rent an English audio guide for 8,000 COP, which I highly recommend. The museum tells the history of how and why the native peoples of Colombia created their intricate and detailed gold pieces and jewelry. They also have a lot of pieces from the local natives that aren’t gold, which I thought was super interesting.
After the museum, head over to Galeria Artesanal de Colombia, which is just across the street. This indoor market sells local Colombian crafts and souvenirs. The cost is a bit more than the shops and street vendors in La Candeleria, but I feel that the souvenirs available here are of higher quality. If you’re looking for miniature Botero replicas, this is the place for you!
Your last stop of the day is Cerro de Monserrate. To get to the top, take a funicular tramway or the teleférico (cable car). You can also hike up, but it is a bit challenging – especially for those of us who come from places with much lower elevation. At the top of mountain is a white chapel, the Santuario de Monserrate, and an alley with souvenirs and small restaurants. We tried to time our visit with sunset, but unfortunately the clouds were not cooperating that day. Have a sunset dinner at Restaurante Casa San Isidro, where you can pay 80,000 COP for a patio seat. If you make a reservation, they’ll help you buy your teleférico tickets!
Day 3: Northern Bogotá
On your last day in the city, hear to northern Bogotá for breakfast in Usaquén. The area around Usaquén Park has a ton of great local restaurants, but I highly recommend that you have some empanadas and arepas at Abasto. If you’re in Bogotá on a Sunday, the Usaquén Flea Market bring the entire neighborhood to life. After walking through the flea market, have a coffee break at Colo Coffee Roasters.
Spend the rest of your afternoon doing some more shopping at Bogotá’s triangle of shopping malls – Centro Andino, Atlantis Plaza, and El Retiro. The area where the shopping malls are located is super safe and we enjoyed walking around all the stores – they have one of my favorite stores, Stradivarius.
Finish your day by dining at one of Bogotá’s acclaimed fine-dining restaurants. If it’s in your budget, I highly, highly recommend Leo, which aims to celebrate Colombia’s biodiversity by sharing local and unique ingredients with diners.