Capital cities often get a bad reputation but I really enjoyed my time in Bogota and felt there was enough to offer to spend at least a few days there!
This is a guest post by Sophie from @sophiefern.travels
Sophie is currently backpacking through Latin America and shares budget travel tips on her Instagram.
She’s environmentally conscious, using public transport and maintaining a meat-free diet as she goes, and gives honest reviews of traveller hotspots as well as exploring off the beaten path locations too.
Read Sophie’s Top 5 Things to do in Bogota, Colombia below 👇
1. Walking food tour
Cost: price of food (approx. COP$35,000) + tips
This is a great first activity when you arrive to Bogota. We went with VE Mundo tours and learned so much about the history of Bogota and Colombia whilst trying lots of local delicacies.
You make about eight stops and pay for what you eat/drink at each place which I thought was a great idea so you could pick and choose what you fancied. There were plenty of vegetarian options so don’t worry if you’re not a meat-eater!
Warning: it is a long tour (about 4-5 hours) so wear comfortable shoes, bring a water bottle and do have a snack beforehand as the first few stops you’re only trying small snacks/drinks.
Easily the most entertaining art gallery I’ve visited, Botero’s style is to make everyday objects and people out of proportion and chubby. His works vary from a rotund version of the Mona Lisa to a comically beachball-esque violin. This gallery also contains works from the likes of Picasso, Salvador Dali and Monet which were pretty amazing to see at no cost.
Cost: A one-way journey cost COP$12,000 and a return cost COP$21,000.
A religious site on a hill overlooking the city, Montserrate provides a great viewpoint and is a nice spot to sit with a coffee and a snack. You can either walk up (it’s steep but if you’re looking for some exercise, this is a good way to get some in!) or take the cable car or funicular rail. It wasn’t totally clear when we arrived but the cable car and funicular seem to run on different days so you take whichever is open at the time instead of choosing.
Cost: COP$4,000 or free on Sundays
Due to its large mining industry, there is a gold museum in nearly every large town in Colombia and Bogota’s is well-renowned for a reason. With the largest collection of pre-hispanic gold in the world, there’s a lot in here to wow you. Exhibits are in Spanish and English and you can easily fill a few hours here so make sure you’re well-fed and full of energy before you go in!
5. Day trip to Catedral de Sal
Cost: COP$77,500 for entry, plus COP$6,000 extra for an optional salt mine tour.
This fascinating religious site is built underground into a functioning salt mine and lies a couple of hours north of Bogota. Although a fairly steep entry cost on a backpacker budget, I’d say this is a must-see if you’re in the area.
Miners built this cathedral over just three years and it begins with a display of stone-carved crosses whilst the audio guide talks you through the story of Christ and the creation of the cathedral. The finale of the audio tour is at the main cathedral which houses the largest underground cross in the world and it’s pretty breath-taking. At regular intervals, a light show (accompanied by dramatic music) is projected onto this huge cross – definitely hang around to make sure you see this!
Your ticket also includes a short film viewing which was informative (and unintentionally comical at points), viewing ‘El Espejo’ – a beautiful mirror-like body of water that reflects the salt ceiling and a train out of the cathedral at the end.
On top of the COP$77,500 entry, we opted to pay COP$6,000 extra for a salt mine tour. These run at half past every hour and involve a tour of the mine from a miner. We got to explore some narrow tunnels (helmets and head torches provided!) and had a go at chipping some salt with a pickaxe.
How to get there?
This was the trickiest part of the day but I’ve included a breakdown below.
Head to Portal del Norte in Bogota. You can do this on the transmilenio metrobus or take an Uber. The transmilenio is notoriously quite sketchy so I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re solo. An Uber is easy enough but you then have to pay COP$2650 to enter the station (this would be the fee for your metrobus which is what most people catch once they enter the station but the bus to the Salt Cathedral is different so is an additional fee).
Take the bus from Portal del Norte to Zipaquira. This costs COP$7000, runs regularly and you pay for the ticket once on the bus. Once in Zipaquira, it’s a 15 minute walk to the Salt Cathedral.
The journey took about 2.5 hours in total so I’d recommend going early and returning to Bogota before the evening rush hour otherwise you’ll be sat in traffic for a long time.