Bogotá was our first stop on our Colombia itinerary. In February of 2020, we packed up all our stuff in San Francisco, left our corporate jobs, and set off on what was supposed to be a year of traveling around the world before we decided where we wanted to settle down (whoops!).
Turns out, Colombia was the only international stop we made on that trip, but it was worth every second. We loved Colombia, and Bogotá was a great starting point to give us the context and foundation we needed to truly appreciate the other areas we visited in this beautiful and diverse country. This guide to spending 3 days in Bogotá, Colombia, is almost entirely based on our own experience, and includes all of our favorite discoveries from exploring the city.
In general, I would say that Bogotá exceeded our low expectations. We had heard from other people that it’s not the most exciting city. And while we’d agree that that’s true, at least in part, it is also a massive city, which means it has a diversity of things to do, see, eat, and drink that is basically unmatched in Colombia outside of places like Cartagena and Medellin.
Is it the most exciting city in the world? Nope.
Is it worth a visit for a couple of days? We think yes.
Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post, like hotel links, are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, we make a little bit of money if you click through and book. That being said, we would never recommend something to you that we don’t stand behind 100%.
Where to Stay in Bogotá
The answer to the question of where to stay in Bogotá is going to shape your experience in the city. Bogotá is HUGE. Gigantic. Massive. Take your pick of adjectives. It can take forever to get from place to place within the city.
Most travelers head straight for La Candelaria, which is probably best if you’re on a tight budget, or have limited time (e.g. 24 hours) in Bogotá.
But with more than a day or two, we highly, highly recommend that you stay in Chapinero. Specifically, Quinta Camacho, since Chapinero is a pretty big area in its own right.
We stayed at Aurora Hostel, which is right in the heart of all the action in Chapinero, and loved it. We’ll stay there again when we get around to making it back to Bogotá. Super friendly staff, a great breakfast to start the day off right (arepas, eggs, and coffee), and comfy rooms – choose from private or dorm-style – make this boutique hostel a no brainer for budget-conscious travelers who still want a stylish, comfortable place to stay.
A good alternative would be Selina Chapinero, another sleek and affordable hostel.
As far as hotels go, Bogotá has a nearly unlimited number of options for you to choose from. We like (but didn’t personally stay at):
- Mika Suites
- Hotel bh La Quinta (love their hotel in Parque 93 too)
- The Click Clack Hotel (in Parque 93, just to the north of Quinta Camacho)
3 Days in Bogotá: A Complete Bogotá Itinerary
Let’s get down to the details that are going to help you plan an incredible visit to Bogotá. Below, you’ll find a day by day Bogotá itinerary, complete with specific recommendations on things to do, eat, see, and drink. All based on our own experience exploring Bogotá, which was our first stop on our six week long Colombian adventure.
The first thing you need to know is that Bogotá is absolutely massive. It’s dense, sprawling, and it can be hard to get around and navigate. In general, you’ll be spending most of your time in two specific areas: La Candelaria and Chapinero.
Day 1: Downtown and La Candelaria (aka Tourist Day)
Spend your first day checking off the most touristy sights that the city has to offer. Then you’ll have two full days to spend exploring the more off the beaten path parts of the city, where you’ll find fewer tourists.
Morning: Walking Tour with Beyond Colombia
On our first day in a new city, we almost always try to start with a walking tour to get a feel for the city, and start to get the lay of the land. Plus, the local guide leading the walking tour is usually a good resource for tips and tricks to make the most of the rest of your time.
So, on the first day of your time in Bogotá, start off with a free walking tour with Beyond Colombia.
Remember – “free” is kind of a misnomer. You still need to tip your guide, who often live off of your tips. I think we tipped our guide, Ana, a Bogotá native who was super knowledgeable about Colombia’s complicated history, something like 25,000 COP (~$8 USD).
We really, really enjoyed the free War and Peace tour, which served as an amazing introduction to our time in Colombia. Learn all about the ongoing conflict, where it started, how it has progressed, and where it’s going, while also seeing many of the main sights in downtown Bogotá, like Plaza de Bolívar and Parque de Los Periodistas. Our guide, Ana, who grew up in Bogotá, was fantastic.
Details for the War and Peace Tour: Meet in front of the Museo del Oro – look for red umbrellas – Monday to Friday at 10am for a three hour walking tour that ends near Plaza de Bolívar. Only offered in English.
Your tour will leave you near the main square in Bogotá, which is a perfect place to grab lunch. Head to nearby La Puerta Falsa, one of the most traditional restaurants in the city, and order the Ajiaco, a stew made of chicken, potato, and corn in a thin savory broth, and a Colombian tamale or three. It’s also a good place to try a “chocolate completo” which is hot chocolate with cheese and bread.
If you’re vegetarian, or La Puerta Falsa just doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, head to nearby Quinua y Amaranto in the heart of La Candelaria, which is where we decided to eat. It’s a great lunch spot, with a menu del día that features exactly one choice for each of your three courses, soup, a main course, plus, a dessert!
Museo Del Oro
To be completely honest, we weren’t too sure whether or not we were going to like this or not. It turns out, it’s super cool!
There’s a ton of gold pieces here, all with explanations about their origins and history surrounding the mining of gold in the region. Definitely get the guided audio tour for 8,000 COP (~$2 USD), which will give you a more immersive experience. Plan on spending a couple hours learning about the pre-Columbian cultures in the region.
Details for visiting Museo del Oro: 4,000 COP (~$1 USD). 9am – 5pm Tues – Sat, 10am – 5pm Sundays. Closed Mondays, free admission on Sundays.
Day 2: Monserrate and Paloquemao Market
On your second day in Bogotá, you’ll spend the morning getting a workout in by hiking to the top of Monserrate before heading to the biggest market in the city to try all sorts of fruits with a local guide.
That big hill you see towering above Bogotá? That’s Monserrate. From the top, you’ll have sweeping views over Bogotá, which will show you how truly gigantic Colombia’s capital really is.
To get to the top, you can either hike up, or take the funicular (basically a cross between a cable car and a tram).
The hike up to the top isn’t particularly easy – it’s roughly a mile, and you climb nearly 2,000 feet! You are at 8,000 feet of elevation, which is definitely going to make it even harder. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen and take it slow. If you don’t think hiking up is a good idea, you could take the funicular up to the top, and walk back down.
Once at the top, spend some time admiring the views, the church, and wander over to the shops and restaurants at the north end of the complex to get a well-deserved snack before heading back down.
Note: The trail to get to Monserrate is only open from 5am to 1pm – it is not safe to do this hike in the evening. During the morning, there are plenty of people going up and down, and a police presence at the bottom and along the trail, so it’s safe to do. If you want to go to Monserrate in the afternoon or evening, you have to take the funicular up and down.
Details for Visiting Monserrate: The funicular costs 21,000 COP for a round trip ticket, or 12,000 COP for a one way, if you decide to hike up and ride down (or vice versa). It’s significantly cheaper on Sunday, but that brings TONS of people, which is decidedly less enjoyable, in our opinion.
Paloquemao Market: A Guided Fruit Tour
Paloquemao was a highlight of our trip to Bogotá, and the local guide was the icing on the cake.
Over the course of our travels, we’ve learned that while we love going to local markets and exploring, we don’t really have any idea where to start. Generally, we’ll walk in, walk around for a bit, and leave without really engaging with the people or produce there. It can be super overwhelming when we don’t know what we’re doing or looking for.
Colombia is a country that produces every kind of fruit under the sun, from strawberries to passionfruit. But if we’re being honest, we didn’t even know where to start to try some of the bounty of fresh produce available.
Enter Sylvia, our local guide for our guided fruit tour in Bogotá. We got lucky enough to have it just be the three of us, and she took us on a whirlwind of exotic fruits, stories, and culture that we still talk about to this day. We tried every different kind of passionfruit, dragonfruit, new varieties of lime that we’d never seen, and so much more.
And it was all stuff that we would have looked at and admired without trying if we hadn’t been with a local who knew what was up.
Plus, it was really cool to see the relationships that Sylvia, a college student doing this tour as a side gig, had forged with the vendors at the market. One man was intent on learning and practicing his English so he could transition into the service industry at a restaurant, so we had a brief conversation about a fruit that apparently has lots of sexual benefits, particularly for men.
We highly, highly recommend this tour while you’re in Bogotá. Click here to check out reviews, prices, and book it.
Evening in Chapinero
Head to Chapinero for the evening to enjoy dinner and drinks.
For dinner, here are three options:
- Insurgentes Taco Bar: I mean, you know we love tacos and mezcal after our multiple long trips to Mexico City.
- Deraiz: A great plant-based restaurant that is saving the planet one plant-based burger at a time.
- Mini-Mal: Taking inspiration from traditional Colombian cuisine and ingredients with a modern, global twist. Get the fish in lulo sauce – lulo is a sour fruit that makes excellent juice, and in this case, sauce. They’re big on sourcing and using local ingredients as much as humanly possible.
For a post-dinner drink, this neighborhood is packed with tons of options for you to choose from.
- For beer, head to either El Mono Bandido, a brewery with a great outdoor patio, or Bogotá Beer Company, which seems to have a location on every corner, kind of like Starbucks in the US.
- For cocktails, go to Huerta, which is across the street from Aurora Hostel. Gringo Cantina is a good choice too, for Mexican-inspired drinks and food (though for food, we’d go to Insurgentes above).
Day 3: Coffee, Parque 93 and Usaquén
On your last day, head north to Usaquén to explore the cobblestone streets and great food and drinks that became our favorite spot in Bogotá.
One thing to note here: if you’re in town on a weekend, definitely make the trip up to Usaquén on Sunday, when the incredible flea market takes over the main street in the area, filling it with vendors selling everything from handmade jewelry to coffee. It’s worth a visit either way, but it’s even better on Sunday.
Coffee Lovers, Rejoice!
Make the morning of your last day in Bogotá a relaxing one and grab some of the best coffee in Bogotá, which is conveniently located in the area you’re staying in, at least if you took our advice.
Our favorite place was Cafe Cultor, which is where we met Alysha’s local friend on the day we arrived in Bogotá. We were DEAD TIRED, but still managed to enjoy the coffee and conversation.
A close second would be Amor Perfecto, which is just a few blocks west.
You’ll be heading north later today, and near Parque 93 is the coffee shop that allegedly started the specialty coffee scene in Bogotá – Azahar 93. With its great coffee, greenery-filled interior patio, and buzzing ambiance, it would be a great choice for your morning coffee. The neighborhood surrounding it is worth a visit too – particularly the best bookstore in Bogotá, Librería Lerner.
To get up to Usaquén, which is about 20 minutes north of Chapinero, take a taxi or the T13 bus up Carrera 7.
The best thing to do in Usaquén is wander. The cobblestone streets are super romantic, and the neighborhood is packed with places to eat and drink to your heart’s content.
Here are some of our favorites.
Colo Coffee has a BEAUTIFUL location in the heart of Usaquén (everyday, 8:30am – 10pm) – it’s like walking into a coffee jungle. Not only do they serve some of the best coffee in Bogotá, but the ambiance couldn’t be better. You’ll find all sorts of coffee options, including pour over and espresso-based drinks, and even some juices and teas for non-coffee drinkers like Alysha. We could have spent all day soaking up the ambiance, but we had to move on.
Alysha loves ice cream, so Orso Heladeria was high on our list. It’s handcrafted ice cream made with high quality ingredients and traditional Italian recipes. They have a location in Usaquén, along with many others around the city.
Abasto was probably the best meal we ate in Bogotá. We went for brunch-ish, around 11am on a Sunday, and it was PACKED with Colombian families enjoying their sunny weekend morning. It was also recommended to us by a friend of Alysha’s who lives in Bogotá, which is how it showed up on our radar. It’s a great spot for a casual sit-down lunch while you’re in the area.
The Bogotá Beer Company location in Usaquén has cider! I have Celiac Disease, which means I need to eat gluten free (here’s my gluten free guide to Bogotá), and beer is DEFINITELY not gluten free. But I managed to track down literally the only cider in Bogotá, which I was super happy about. It’s called Golden Lion Cider, and it was great. Apparently the popularity of cider is on the rise in Colombia!
Getting to Bogotá
You’ll land at El Dorado International Airport, the third busiest airport in Latin America, which is barely in the city of Bogotá, which sprawls out endlessly (as you’ll see from the top of Monserrate, if you make it up there).
The bus system failed us for getting to Chapinero, and we decided to take a cab. That’s exactly what we’d recommend for you too. To grab a taxi from the airport, go to the kiosk in the arrival terminal after you pass through security and tell them where you’re going. It might be helpful here to have the address of your hotel or Airbnb pulled up so you can show it to them. It’s a flat fee into the city from the airport, and they’ll hand you a receipt and you’ll head outside and they’ll direct you into a cab.
Definitely make sure to use the authorized cabs, which involve talking to the people at the kiosk and getting a receipt in advance.
Getting Around Bogotá
The public transportation system in Colombia’s capital is more than a little confusing. There’s like 17 different types of TransMilenio buses to choose from, all going to basically the same place.
But once you understand it, it’s actually super efficient and reliable. Here’s a better guide to public transportation in Bogotá than we could ever put together.
We also used apps like Beat (and Uber, though it’s very unclear whether or not it’s technically legal) to get around.
Safety Tip: Under no circumstances should you take a taxi off the street, especially at night. Use apps like Uber and Beat, a local alternative, instead.
Despite the “meh” reviews we’d gotten on Bogotá from friends and other travelers, we enjoyed it. We probably wouldn’t go back to Colombia specifically for Bogotá, but we think it’s worth a visit. There’s something about a city high up in the mountains that’s attractive to us, and Bogotá has plenty of things to do, see, and eat to keep you busy for a couple of days before you move on deeper into Colombia.
Planning a trip to Colombia? Don’t miss our other Colombia travel guides that we’ve written to help you plan your trip. They’re all based on our experiences in the beautiful and diverse country that is Colombia.
- 3 Days in Bogotá, Colombia: A Perfect Bogotá Itinerary
- Where To Stay In Medellin, Colombia: A Complete Guide
- Where To Stay In Cartagena, Colombia: Best Places To Stay
- 2 Weeks in Colombia: How to Plan Your Colombia Itinerary
- The 5 Best Places to Visit in Colombia: South America’s Best Kept Secrets
- Where to Stay in Bogotá, Colombia: The 4 Best Places to Stay