Bogota, Colombia: A Vibrant Capital City
Home to more than 8 million people, Bogota, Colombia is nestled along the Andes Mountain Range. The capital city sits 2,640 meters, or 8,660 feet, above sea level. Due to its high altitude, visitors should take a day or two to get acclimated before doing strenuous activities like hiking or sports. Bogota was founded in 1538 and still retains its historical charm in areas such as La Candelaria. Aside from being historically significant, Bogota is also known for its arts, gastronomy and culture. Explore this vibrant capital and take day trips from Bogota while visiting Colombia.
Places to Visit in Bogota
Monserrate – Located 3,152 meters, or 10,341 feet, above sea level, this towering mountain provides spectacular views of Bogota. Visitors can make their way to the top on foot, by train or by cable car. A beautiful church, restaurants and small shops sit on the top of this religious site.
Gold Museum – With more than 55,000 pieces of gold on display, this museum showcases shiny artefacts from Colombia’s indigenous cultures. Learn how these pieces were created and about their significance. Temporary exhibits are also common. The Gold Museum is closed on Mondays.
Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira – The small town of Zipaquira is famous for the Salt Cathedral now built inside a network of monumental chambers and tunnels that were left behind when commercial mining operations stopped. This cathedral is unlike any other in the world and is located about 50 kilometers, or 30 miles, from Bogota.
Usaquen Flea Market – Find unique pieces of art, handicrafts and souvenirs at this market located in a charming part of Bogota. Desserts and Colombian treats are also sold here. After shopping and visiting different booths, have lunch at one of the many nearby restaurants.
Botero Museum – This free museum houses the work of famous Colombian artist Fernando Botero. Known for producing paintings and sculptures that feature “chubby” subjects, Botero is cherished in Colombian culture because of his unique work. This museum also features works from other artists.
Top Things to Do in Bogota
Walk through La Candelaria – La Candelaira is Bogota’s historic district. Featuring Spanish colonial buildings, museums and a big square called Plaza Bolivar, visitors can spend hours meandering through this area that seems to be frozen in time.
Enjoy a Cup of Colombian Coffee – A trip to Bogota isn’t complete without trying some of Colombia’s world famous coffee. While there are many vendors selling small, plastic cups of coffee on the street, we recommend enjoying a fresh cup of Joe in a cafe.
Sample Exotic Fruits – Paloquemao Market is the ideal place to try many exotic Colombian fruits such as lulo, granadilla, guanabana, mangostino and more. Many visitors have never even seen these delicious fruits and a lot of people also enjoy them blended into a smoothie.
Try Ajiaco – Bogota is the best city to try this hardy Colombian soup. Made with three types of potatoes, guasca leaves, chicken and corn, Ajiaco will be sure to warm the belly on a chilly day. Most Bogotanos eat this soup with a side of rice and a slice of avocado.
Learn Some Spanish – Colombia in general is a great country to learn Spanish, but Bogota is the perfect city to practice your conversational skills because people from Bogota generally speak very neutral Spanish and are patient and welcoming to foreigners.
Bogota Travel Information
August is a great time to visit Colombia’s capital. Founded in 1538, Bogota celebrates its birthday on August 6. Visitors can expect several events in La Candelaria to mark the occasion. The Summer Festival is also celebrated during the second week of August.
While visiting Bogota, be sure to try Ajiaco, a popular regional soup made from potatoes, chicken and corn. Tamles, corn paste mixed with chickpeas and vegetables and wrapped in banana leaves, are also popular in Bogota. Be sure to also try arepas (corn patties), empanadas (fried meat or cheese pockets) and a layered dessert called milhojas.
The weather in Bogota is known for being unpredictable. The sky could be clear and blue, then the next hour it can be pouring down rain. It’s best to always carry a jacket and umbrella while exploring Bogota. The average temperature in Bogota is 15°C, or 58°F. March is the warmest month, while December is the coolest. October normally sees the most rain.
Bogota is located in the centre of the country and is often where international flights arrive and depart. El Dorado International Airport (BOG) is located in the western part of the city. It’s best to fly into Bogota since the city is surrounded by curvy roads because of the Andes Mountains.
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