- Bogota is a massive city in Columbia, comprised of 8 million people
- It is quickly becoming a family friendly destination and it is a very affordable city too
- Explore something unique with lots of things to do and great places to eat in this massive city … read on..
Sitting at 8,675′ elevation, Bogota is a massive city comprised of 8 million people and is the capital of the South American country, Colombia. Once known as one of the more dangerous countries in the world, Colombia has cleaned up its once dirty act and has transformed themselves from being known for the world’s most notorious drug lord, to a beautiful tourist destination filled with interesting culture, delicious food, beautiful natural landscapes, and a colorful population filled with friendly and welcoming people. While most of the tourists seem to be single travelers or couples, Bogota is starting to become a more family-friendly destination, especially for parents who want to provide their children with a cultural experience that is sure to be different than the kids who go to Hawaii or a U.S. National Parks road trip. (They’ll gain serious bragging rights to talk about when they return to school and share their holiday experience!)
Where to Stay in Bogota
Candelaria is where all the fun and action is, so if you want to be in the city, I recommend staying in a hotel or Airbnb nearby. Hotels range from $25 – $175 USD per night, and are recommended for families as hotels typically have more security for parents’ peace of mind. Airbnb is also a great option if you want to stay with a local to learn more about the city and their favorite spots. Sometimes if you’re lucky, your host may even offer to take you around or offer up their favorite restaurants!
Top Ten Things To Do in Bogota in 3 days:
- Walk Around Downtown Candelaria
Candelaria is the vibrant core of Bogota, offering colorful street art around every turned corner. Adorable alleyways are lined with local artwork, jewelry and delicious bites of Colombian food. La Candelaria is also home to most of Bogota’s wide array of museums, including the Museo Botero.
- Try Bogota’s Famous Chocolate & Quinoa Drink out of a Coconut Husk
- Visit Museo Botero
Fernando Botero is one of the most famous artist in all of Colombia. Born in Medellin, his work can be found all over the country, including at the museum dedicated to his work in Bogota. He is most well-known for his voluptuous sculptures made of bronze, which he gifted to the city of Medellin. Below is a photo of a painting by Botero – “Botero’s Mona Lisa”.
- Take a Free City Walking Tour
There are several free walking tours to choose from, so you can simply select one that fits your schedule. Ours began near the Museo Del Oro and lasted two hours. Groups range in size from ten to over 25 people. Though the tour is completely free and there are no upfront payments, the guides make their money off of tips, so at the end you are given the option to tip however much you feel the tour was worth, or however much you can afford. Usually the guides will let you know what an appropriate range is. To book a free walking tour, simply Google “free walking tours” and enter the city you are in. Signing up online in advance is usually required. Companies typically offer two or more tours; one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Tours in the morning are better when the sun isn’t so strong because it’s cooler and there are fewer people out and about.
- Visit the Museo Del Oro
Museo Del Oro is “Museum of Gold” – Bogota’s most famous museum, housing over 55,000 pieces of gold.
- Ride the Teleferico de Monserrate
The tarifas (fares) vary depending on which day you visit, but either way, this was a fun activity and we were rewarded with a great vista of the city below. I can imagine that on a sunny, crowded weekend, it would not be as pleasant, since this is a popular activity for locals as well. This is a great activity for kids, as the ride up the cable car is a lot of fun!
- Take a Graffiti Tour
Graffiti is a way of life in Bogota. It was and still continues to be, a way for locals to express themselves; to express their discontent with the corrupt government, and to speak out against the current politics. The story goes that graffiti was recently legalized due to one famous Canadian kid named Justin Bieber. Mr. Bieber was in Bogota promoting one of his songs when he had the urge to tag a wall one evening. Escorted by the police (yes, that’s how corrupt the government powers are in Colombia), he tagged a wall with the Canadian flag, only instead of the maple leaf, he painted a marijuana leaf. The following morning, his artwork was painted over, and in an uproar, the locals revolted and tagged all the walls they could. The government then had no choice but to legalize graffiti, so now there are designated areas in which locals can express themselves via street art. Below are samples of the hundreds of art and mural installations you will see in Bogota.
- Eat Like a Local and Enjoy Lunch at Dos Gatos Y Simone
This restaurant was one of the highlights of our culinary experience in all of our five weeks in South America. Mexican with a hint of Colombian flare, expect a line out the door for this joint full of locals, but know that it is completely worth it! The mint lemonade comes included with the meal and it is out of this world. We dined here for lunch.
- Bask in the Sun at Bolívar Square
- Indulge in Bogotano Fare for Dinner at La Puerta Falsa
Open since 1816, La Puerta Falsa is not just a restaurant, it is a city landmark and a place of tradition. Be prepared to enter a massive food coma upon completion of your meal.
Getting Around in Bogota
Busses are extremely cheap (and sometimes the price is negotiable in certain cities based on how full they are and what time you are traveling.) Renting a car is a great way to do things independently and avoid the tourist crowds, but busses are a much more economic option.
Be aware that if you get into a taxi without a meter (or if your taxi driver says the meter is broken), GET OUT. Ask them to start the meter or give you a set price. Look up the distance before you get into a taxi, and know an approximate cost so that you know if you’re getting ripped off. If you look like a tourist, taxi drivers will probably try to rip you off. We preferred Uber because we could see the approximate price before we accepted.
A note about Uber in Colombia: Uber is still technically illegal. Uber vehicles are not required to have a sticker indicating that they drive for Uber, like they do in the U.S. Therefore, it is important to make sure you match the license plate number with the one listed on the app so that you know you’re getting into the right vehicle. Because Uber is illegal, you must sit up front rather than in the back of the vehicle. The driver will almost always request this from you, otherwise they can get in a lot of trouble. Also, do not mention anything about riding in an Uber in public; taxi drivers are extremely hostile towards this and you could put the driver (or their vehicle) in danger of damage or violence from others who are against it.
How Much Money We Spent in Three Days in Bogota
Eating Out: $200 (food is relatively inexpensive in Colombia and you are able to find really cheap eats that will cost around $3.00 for a decent plate of local fare. You can also find higher-end food at higher prices, especially in the main eatery areas of Bogota.)
Transportation: $110 (Because we stayed outside the city, we relied on Uber to get us to and from the main part of the city, plus from the airport to our Airbnb.)
Accommodation: $75 (our Airbnb was located near La Zona Rosa, about a 35-minute Uber ride from La Candelaria. It was $25 USD per night)
Entertainment & Leisure: $40 (the only things we had to pay for, were the teleferico ($10 per person) and a tip to our city walking tour guide ($20)
PER DIEM: $141.66 per day