Bogotá Things to Do Tips by richiecdisc Top 5 Page for this destination
Bogotá Things to Do: 204 reviews and 452 photos
colorful balconies abound
As with many charming colonial towns in Colombia, Bogota is no stranger to balconies. Enclosed or open, these often intricately carved of wood structures add a true flair to an already colorful collection of colonial buildings and are great fodder for photographic outings. Walking around early in the morning, you not only have a great chance to stumble across some great ones but also will enjoy the city at its most peaceful. Though we saw many we liked, we especially loved these green ones set off well against their orange background but if you walk around Bogota on your own one morning you're bound to find favorites of your own.
the easily missed courtyard is gorgeous
The Museo Nacional houses a fine collection of Colombian artifacts and though only in Spanish is easy enough to follow due to its chronological order with a few 1500 year old mummies thrown in for good measure. If your time in Bogota is short, this might not be a must see as it is a bit out-of-the-way, between La Candelaria and Zona Rosa, but if you have time and in particular are in town on a Sunday, it is worth stopping in. Since it is on Carrera 7 and this street is closed to traffic on Sundays, it is a much more enjoyable walk and you can snack the whole way there making the time go by quickly. You also see locals doing the same and many of them going into the museum too as it is free on Sundays too.
Address: Carrea 7 No 28-66
La Iglesia de San Francisco
The oldest of Bogota's many churches is La Iglesia de San Francisco which took nearly 65 years to complete between 1557 and 1621. Close to the Museo del Oro it demands at least a cursory visit to see its incredible 17th century gilded altarpiece, by far not only Bogota's largest but most intricate. Unless you are planning on attending mass you might not spend much more time as they are literally in session there on an hourly basis from opening till closing.
Similar in exterior style with a gorgeous stone facade, La Iglesia la Tercera is just up the street from it and is worth taking a peek for its elaborately carved in wood altars and ceiling in an otherwise plain white setting. It is a much more peaceful place of contemplation than its neighbor as well.
Directions: Corner of Av Jimenez and Carrera 7
stunning B&Ws made our second visit memorable
Museo de Art del Banco de la Republica. Now, that's a mouthful and a surprising one too. Connected to the the Botero Museum by a labyrinth of courtyards, it is also easily accessible by an entrance near the Juan Valdez location likely to draw your attention if heading to see the Botero collection. This little gem should not be missed as it is also free and houses a nice collection in its Arte Coleccion section. Colombian artist Luis Caballero is prominently as well as some lovely large landscapes depicting some of the country's gorgeous nature.
We revisited this on our second pass through Bogota and there was an amazing exhibition of B&W photography which we thoroughly enjoyed and was also free.
Directions: Part of the Botero complex
it would have been a nice climb
The walk up to Monterrate peak may be for pilgrims but it was also high on my list of things to do in Bogota not only to catch a glimpse of the sprawling metropolis (not to mention the Catholic fervor) but also to get in a bit of high altitude training in preparation of our upcoming trek in El Cocuy National Park. I worried that it would not come to be due to knife-point muggings that mar the otherwise straight forward hike. Little did I know that this would be the least of my worries as on arrival I was told by no other than Platypus guru German Escobar that the hike was closed due to landslides that left the trail not passable. Sure, we could have taken the cable car up for the bird's eye view but that wasn't the point and besides paying $7-10 for the privilege went against my better judgement and budget conscience mentality. I would see better views from much higher altitudes later but for the time being Monterrate was one reason to perhaps one day return to Bogota. Yes, the lure of a 60 minute 1500 step hike to over 3000 meters is strong.
Of course, you can see the white chapel atop the peak from just about anywhere in the city and though its famed statue of the Fallen Christ dates to the 1650s the original housing was destroyed by an earthquake in 1917.
Address: Av. circunvalar, Cll. 18
if you like gold, this is your place
Ah, the lure of gold. Botero is free but gold, baby, never is. Yes, the price is an extortionate by Colombian standards $2 but for it you get to gaze at more gold than you even knew existed. More than fifty-five thousand pieces of it and other rare artifacts dot this admittedly impressive museum that is not only Bogota's but probably Colombia's most popular. You could literally spend all day in here though personally I was bored after two hours. Yes, even in the face of all that gold, I had to cry “no mas.” Maybe I should have opted for the audio English tour since all signs are in Spanish but paying another $3 seemed like highway robbery when they were already housing all this gold and I knew I could have a couple Club Colombia's for the same money.
Address: Calle 16 No. 5-41
classic Botero & heaps of it
The Botero Museum is one of Bogota's great intrigues. So very obviously one of the capital's biggest attractions, it is hard to fathom why its entrance is free. Even without the artist's considerable works of art, the building alone with its all too charming courtyard would warrant inspection. Add to that perhaps the greatest collection of Botero paintings and sculptures on the planet and even the casual art fan will consider it a can't miss attraction. Set in one of Bogota’s most beautiful colonial buildings, the famed “fat” works by Botero take on a surreal aspect when inspected as such a large group. It's as if suddenly the fat figures are run-of-the-mill everyday life and in modern society one could say that just might be the case. No matter, his insightful depictions of Colombian life are at the very least intriguing and even if the museum was empty, it would be worth lingering in its drop dead gorgeous courtyard or taking refuge from the brutal mid-day sun under one of its verandas. Chuck in a few Picassos, Monets, Renoirs and even one crazy ass sculpture by Dali and you have a world class exhibit, and free no less.
Address: Calle 11 no. 4-41
even nicer inside but no photos allowed
Easily overlooked, La Iglesia de la Candelaria should not be missed. If you are staying in La Candelaria, you are likely to walk by it on your way to Plaza de Boliva. It's golden exterior will certainly draw your attention if you are doing this walk in early morning light when its impressive facade is aglow. The key is to go beyond the admittedly gorgeous cover as this is one book whose cover is only the beginning. The interior is one of Bogota's most stunning with some of the most intricate woodwork of any church in town. Unfortunately, photography is not permitted and there is someone always on guard to make sure you are not tempted by its beauty. Take a seat in one of the empty pews and soak in its majesty. That much is free and worth not only making the stop for but taking a deep breath too.
Address: Corner of Calle 11 & Carrera 4
an impressive cathedral
The obvious highlight of Plaza de Bolivar is Catedral Primada. The largest of Bogota's churches has a storied past of destruction be it by poor construction or earthquake but what stands today dates only back to 1807. That said, it does give an idea of what the square would have looked like before its more modern additions. The neoclassical facade is impressive but belies a relatively austere if beguiling interior. Don't come expecting a museum piece church. This is South America and churches are very much still in use. Masses are very regular and people praying non-stop. The adjacent Capilla del Sagrario has much to see within but has unusual and somewhat confusing opening hours so we never made it inside.
Directions: In Plaza De Bolivar
and so it is Christmas
Plaza De Bolivar is the hub of sightseeing in Bogota and is likely your first port of call. Though not the most beautiful square in South America or even Colombia for that matter, it does have its charms especially during the Christmas season when a large somewhat hideously colorful plastic Christmas tree is erected. The saving grace of this monument is the people's obvious affection for it which renders it a somehow touching Christmas ornament. Unfortunately, many of the Colonial buildings that one lined the square have been replaced by a hodgepodge of various styles which do not altogether mesh together. That said, the square like the city reflects Colombia well: a place full of traditions and old world ways but also very much reaching for the future and placing itself very much in the modern world.
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