6 Unmissable Experiences in Bogota, Colombia's compelling Capital

Posted by Crooked Compass

Eclectic, energetic, and just a little bit misunderstood, the city of Bogota is the heart of Colombia and it's dynamic and gritty capital.  Located at 2640 metres above sea level, Bogota sits nestled in the Andes and is the 4th highest capital city in the world.  Against a mountainous backdrop, the urban sprawl includes a heady mix of beautiful colonial architecture, historical landmarks, skyscrapers and shanty towns. Whether you are looking to immerse yourself in local life, visit world-class art galleries and museums, or witness intoxicating local festivities, Bogota is bound to impress. Here are 6 unmissable experiences for you to have while enjoying Colombia's compelling capital city.

Bolivar Square in Bogota, Colombia
Bolivar Square in Bogota, Colombia

Lose Yourself in La Candelaria

The cobbled streets of Bogota's beautiful historic district La Candelaria, are the perfect place to begin your exploration of Colombia.  Amongst the cobbled streets and beautiful Spanish colonial architecture, you will find some of the best museums and galleries in the city. The historic Plaza Bolivar is here, and you will also find treasures such as the Church Museum of Santa Clara, one of Bogota's oldest churches and considered by many to be its most beautiful. Currently a museum, its interior is full of detailed paintings painted mostly in gold. On the topic of gold, in La Candelaria, you will also find the Gold Museum, a giant treasure chest of glittery artifacts that cannot fail to impress. Over 55,000 pieces of gold are housed in this museum with 6000 of them on display and they include beautifully intricate carvings including the famous "Muisca Golden Raft" estimated to be from the time period between 600 and 1600AD and believed to represent the story behind the myth of El Dorado.

The vibrant colours of La Candelaria
The vibrant colours of La Candelaria

Feast Your Eyes

Whether you prefer your art hung in a gallery, painted on city walls, or even just sewn into your clothing, Bogota has you covered. Bogota has a dynamic art scene with many exciting galleries including the Museo Botero.  Fernando Botero is one of Colombia's most famous artists and known for his signature style of art called 'Boterismo' where he enlarges and exaggerates features of anything he paints. At times his artwork has been comedic, such as his take on the Mona Lisa, at other times overtly political, revolving around topics such as the violence inflicted by Colombia's drug cartels. The Museo Botero features not just his work but many other famous artists from his private collection including Picasso, Monet and Klimt.

For those who prefer their art a bit more al fresco, Bogota has an exciting street art scene.  Artists use these murals as a canvas to express themselves and communicate the story of their city, leading to artworks that are often very moving.  The streets of La Candelaria are where some of the most poignant pieces can be found, giving you a whole new insight into the experiences of its inhabitants.

Colombia's moving street art - Photo Credit: ShonEjai from Pixabay
Colombia's moving street art - Photo Credit: ShonEjai from Pixabay

Get High on Cerro de Montserrat

In the east of the city, the imposing mass of Cerro de Montserrat dominates the skyline, and is the perfect place to go for panoramic views over the city.  At 3030 metres from sea level, the vista is (quite literally) breathtaking.  This location is significant not just because of the religious site on top which is believed to be a place of miracles, but because the indigenous people noted that the sun rose from directly behind this mountain during June solstice. Aside from the church on top, there is also a park and some restaurants. To reach the peak, you can take either the cable car or funicular or for the more active, a strenuous hike is possible.  If you are finding it a tough climb, spare a thought for the pilgrims who will sometimes do this on their knees!

Monteserrat peaks in the background - Photo Credit: Megahogar via Pixabay
Monteserrat peaks in the background - Photo Credit: Megahogar via Pixabay

Join a Celebration

Bogotanos love any excuse for a celebration and so it isn't hard to time your visit with an exciting event on the festival calendar.  Just some of the festivals on offer are to celebrate film, theatre, Independence Day, Gay Pride, flowers and food. Once a year, the historic Simon Bolivar Square even gets turned into a giant moshpit as Bogota hosts South America's biggest rock festival.   For something a little less loud, if you travel in August your trip will coincide with 'kite month', where colourful and quirky kites fill the blue skies, taking advantage of the stronger winds associated with that time of year.

Meet Colombia's Peace Weavers

Colombia's story is one of incredible progression, as it forges its way from a past full of conflict into a brighter future.  The peace-weavers are a brave group of indigenous communities who have taken on the challenge to change the country for the better. These range from chocolate shop owners who allow thousands of peasant families to leave illegal coca farming behind by building a future through cocoa,  to the Tejedoras de Mampuján, a group of afro women from the Caribbean who received the National Peace Prize and started the tradition of creating woven tales of Colombia's armed conflict victims. Crooked Compass can organise for you to meet these inspiring people and see first-hand how they are changing their communities for the better.

Go underground

An incredible day trip to do from Bogota is to visit the incredible Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira. Here you can go underground in a tunnel deep inside a salt mine, to where an incredible church has been built.  The interior is dark and magnificent and includes a 50ft high illuminated cross at its centre, as well as 14 separate chapels some of which are decorated with intricate scenes carved into the rock. Still a working church that can hold 4000, this cavernous cathedral is a piece of stunning design.

Incredible Salt Church architecture - Photo Credit: Makalu via Pixabay
Incredible Salt Church architecture - Photo Credit: Makalu via Pixabay

Dreaming of exploring Colombia? Crooked Compass offers both small group tours and private touring through Colombia and Bogata, the countries beating heart. Contact our team today to make this experience yours.