Where to go

Bogota

The beating heart of the county

Undoubtedly the beating heart of the country, Bogata is an interesting place to spend a few days, wandering through the various districts and sampling a bit of modern Colombian life. Over the last decade or so the city has gone from a lawless and run down destination to one of the worlds’ emerging cities with modern transport, good food and increasing wealth.

Roughly running north to south, flanked on its eastern edge by a small range of hills, the city is a strange and sprawling mishmash of styles and cultures. As you head through the Candelaria district you will see the older pre-colonial buildings alongside the newer, post liberation construction. Further north is the more expensive la Rosa district which is where many of the modern, boutique hotels of the city have sprung up and where there is a booming restaurant and café culture.

Villa de Leyva

An interesting and quiet night away from the city is to visit the small village of Villa de Leyva, located around 2 hours away in the northern department of Boyaca. Founded in the 1500s, this sleepy town is one of Colombia’s best-preserved colonial towns and so a visit here is a step back in time to when many towns featured whitewashed walls, cobbled streets and dark green shuttering.

Zipaquira Salt Cathedral

On the northern road out to Villa de Leyva is also the opportunity to go and visit the impressive salt cathedral at Zipaquira. This was once a working salt mine and, when used, they decided to construct a small crypt for the workers to pray while still underground. Today it has been turned into something of a tourist attraction by using machinery to carve out the interior, creating vast vaulted ceilings and clever lighting on the salt to create crosses and other catholic images.

In the city itself, there are plenty of activities and locations to go and have a look at. Please see a few of our top recommendations below:

Museo del Oro

A superb museum that catalogues the South American, pre-Hispanic, love all that is gold! Located in the La Candelaria section of the city, the museum is a fantastical (and only fractional) display of all the uses for this magical metal over the years. Well worth a visit and one of the world’s best collections of gold.

Museo Botero

Situated just down the road from the Museo del Oro is the equally exceptional Botero Museum, named after one of Colombia’s most pre-eminent artists and displaying a collection of approximately 200 pieces of fine art. The list of artists include many from Fernando Botero himself alongside such European masters as Picasso, Chagall, Dali, Renoir and Matisse to name but a few. All situated in a delicately restored colonial mansion, it is, again, well worth the entrance fee.

La Candelaria District

The old heart of the city, this is still a wonderful area to while away a few hours, walking along the many cobbled streets past the myriad of multicoloured colonial buildings or just soaking up the atmosphere of the busy Plaza de Bolivar.

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    At a glance...Bogotá

  • Population: 7 million
  • Elevation: 2,600m
  • Time: GMT -5
  • Recommended time: 3 days
  • Time to visit: From December to March and mid-June to mid-August
  • Go here for: Culture, sightseeing, food and wine
  • Further reading...

  • › When to go to Colombia
  • Our recommended top hotels and lodges for Bogota:

    1. Hotel de la Opera - Location

      Hotel de la Opera

      Hotel de la Opera consists of two separates houses: One from the Colonial period of the 1800s; and the other built during the Art Deco movement in the 1940s. The result is a fascinating hybrid with centuries of history. Indeed, it is claimed that the original colonial house accommodated the... More...

      Our rating:
      5
      User rating:
      5
      Price:
      3
    2. Sofitel Bogota - Front

      Sofitel Bogota Victoria Regia

      Named after a Colombian waterlily found in the Amazon, the Sofitel shares the flower’s attributes of beauty and strength. Or so the hotel tells us! What we can say is that this 5-star property has successfully combined contemporary, French design with a Colombian influence. This is exemplified... More...

      Our rating:
      4
      User rating:
      5
      Price:
      4
    3. The Orchids - King Suite room

      The Orchids Hotel

      The Orchids Hotel is an intimate 6-bedroom property is the heart of the Candelaria neighbourhood. Dating back to 1892, the building was formerly a private home, which was restored and opened as a hotel in 2014. The neoclassic style has been embraced throughout, with each bedroom uniquely... More...

      Our rating:
      4
      User rating:
      5
      Price:
      3
    4. Four Seasons Casa Medina - Front view

      Four Seasons Casa Medina

      The Four Seasons Casa Medina offers the perfect blend of historic architecture with contemporary design. Built in 1945 and converted into a hotel in 1988, Casa Medina has the distinction of being declared a monument of culture by the Colombian Ministry of Culture. From the imposing façade that... More...

      Our rating:
      5
      User rating:
      5
      Price:
      5
    5. Casa Legado - Front

      Casa Legado

      Casa Legado feels like home. Not your actual home, but the home you wish you had! Tucked away in the peaceful, quirky district of Quinta Camacho, Casa Legado offers 7 uniquely luxurious rooms (the owner Helena, is an interior designer) all inspired by the core theme of the property – family.... More...

      Our rating:
      5
      User rating:
      5
      Price:
      4