Saturday, Day 1:
First head to the Botero Museum. Located right in downtown Candelaria, this free museum is a great place to start. There are over 100 works by Colombian artist Fernando Botero, as well as many other interesting painting and sculptures to peruse. We loved the larger-than-life Botero paintings, and spent about 30 minutes strolling through the place. For a bonus, it’s a beautiful building with a good view from the second floor too; from the second floor you can see a beautiful garden courtyard, and you can even see Mount Monserrate off in the distance. The museum is a nice central spot to start your weekend in Bogota.
Next, walk around the Bolivar Plaza, which is a great place to people watch. Depending on the time of day, you might find more pigeons than people. Here at the plaza, you can buy anything from street food to bubbles to bird seed to balloons. We also found it to be a great place to observe the locals looking to make a few extra pesos. While we were there, one local man was busy breaking various wine and beer bottles, making a colorful pile of glass; he then proceeded to walk across, dance upon and roll through, and even chew mouthfuls of the painful crystals. We watched this entertaining character for a good 10 minutes, and the highlight was when he grabbed two huge handfuls of broken glass and rubbed it all over his face. Quite an interesting way to earn a buck!
Next, wander into the Gold Museum. The museum hosts the country’s largest gold collection. There is a free day, which is Sunday, but we heard it was usually packed that day so we opted to pay. The entrance fee wasn’t much– 4,000 COP (Colombian pesos), which is less than $1.50 USD. With over 50,000 gold pieces, there is plenty to see–plan for about an hour of time. Our favorite was the tiny, glittering “El Dorado” boat, which represents the legend where native tribes would cover themselves with gold and gems, and then wash off all their riches in the center of the lake to give offerings to the god who lived there. There were some interesting artifacts, but overall a bit of a disappointment.
A definite must do activity is the FREE Graffiti Walking Tour. The city of Bogota showcases some of the best aerosol work from local an international artists. Each piece has a unique story behind it, so to really understand what you are seeing, The Original Bogota Graffiti Tour is the way to go. Meet your local tour guide at Parque de Los Periodistas and spend around two to three hours walking around the city and finding interesting and unusual street art. Our guide was incredibly knowledgeable about the city, the graffiti artists, the story of the artwork, etc. We learned a lot about the city, got a tour of the neighborhoods, and got some amazing photos of the artwork. If you only have time to do one thing in Bogota–this is it.
Finally, make the trek to Mount Monserrate to see the views and watch the sunset. It’s about a five minute cab ride from downtown Bogota (or a short walk if you’re up for it) and then you take the free stairs, or pay to ride Teleférico (cable car) or the Funicular (a small train), up to the top. There are spectacular views of the whole city down below. There’s also a church which you are welcome to peek inside and many restaurants and shops to enjoy. Since we went on a brisk evening, we grabbed some signature Colombian hot chocolate and cheese and ___ soup at the top. Being up above the city for the transition between sunset and the night lights twinkling and stars coming up is the perfect way to end your first day in Bogota.
Sunday, Day 2:
If you can plan your trip around being in Bogota on a Sunday, we definitely recommend it. Sundays are Bogota Ciclovia, which is when they shut down some of the main streets in La Candelaria and make them bike/pedestrian friendly. The event is every Sunday from 7am until 2pm and the streets are filled with vendors, street food, and entertainment. We saw everything from a life-sized Pikachu to drum circles to a guy selling liquid bone marrow. Wandering the busy streets, it is easy to find a nice Colombian cup of coffee, a delicious pastry or empanada for breakfast, and cheap souvenirs to bring back home. We were able to purchase new bright yellow Colombian soccer jerseys for $1.87. This Sunday happened to be the World Cup final and, although Colombia was not in it, most of the city was watching the game. We joined in the fun by heading to the nearest pub for beers, sporting our new, cheap soccer gear.
From there head over to La Puerta Falsa. Made famous by Anthony Bourdain there was always a line when we walked by. Today’s line wasn’t too daunting so we decided to stand in it. It moved fairly quickly and soon we were seated at a tiny counter upstairs to try the famous chocolate and cheese. It was a great mix of sweet and salty, and although it sounds odd, it’s actually quite delicious. We also indulged in the tamale, just like Bourdain. If the line isn’t too long, check this place out.
Next consider heading to a new part of town. We took a 30 minute Uber ride over to Usaquen to go to the Usaquen Market which cost us 15,000 pesos. This market is open from 11-4pm on Sundays. The market was about 30 stalls with handcrafts and clothing. There were a few stands selling food and beer. We stopped by the Bogota Beer Company to sample a few of their beers, which were quite delicious– one of the only craft beer places we saw in Colombia. The town around the market was cool with a huge park in the middle and many restaurants and bars nearby. There was also an indoor market area where you could shop for handmade crafts. This area of town is definitely the “hipster” area, and it was nice to see a different part of the city. Grab dinner at one of the nearby restaurants to fuel up for the next event.
To end your perfect weekend, try a round of Tejo, Colombia’s National sport. We made our way to Club de Tejo La 76, about 20 minutes outside of La Candelaria/downtown. The cost was 50,000 Colombian pesos (or $15 USD) for 1 hour of play. Read more about that adventure in our Trying Tejo article.
Overall we loved the city of Bogota. For a city with 8 million people it still felt small, manageable and welcoming. Like many big cities, you don’t want to be wandering around late at night, but with the availability of Uber, getting around at night is a breeze. We hope that you enjoy the colorful, flavorful city of Bogota as much as we did.