48 hours in Bogota – Weekend Edition
Bogota In Less Than 48 Words
Bogota is the home of more than seven million people, and is the most densely populated city in Colombia. Because of its incredible ethnic diversity, with Colombians gravitating towards it from different parts of the country, the city has become a melting pot of cultures.
Monserrate (Photo Laurens Meulman)
First 24 Hours
You can fly to the multicultural city of Bogota via the El Dorado International Airport, which is located 13 kilometers west of the city center. From there, you can catch the “Aeropuerto” bus that arrives at the international arrivals terminal, and will drop you off at the Terminal de Buses by the city center. Alternatively, you can opt to take a taxi to your hotel, which will cost you around COP18,000 to COP25,000. Do remember to get a computer-printed slip at the airport exit so that you’ll not be overcharged by the taxi driver.
Bogota is the largest city in Colombia, although navigating it is fairly easy. Most tourist attractions in the city are concentrated in its historic center and at La Candelaria. One of the best and most efficient ways to travel around Bogota is via its Transmilenio bus system. You can collect valuable travel information at its tourist information office, the Instituto Distrital de Turismo y Cultura (Carrera 8 no. 9-83, 1/327-4916). It is open daily from 8 am to 6 pm.
CHECK IN: Get your bearings back at Bogota’s hotels
You can arrange for a nice place to stay in during your 48 hour visit in Bogota at one of its excellent hotels. One of the best in the city is the Hotel Casa Deco (Calle 14 No. 2-30 La Candelaria, Bogota, (057) (1) 282 8640, website). It is an Italian-style hotel with large rooms, walk-in showers, rooftop terraces, and delicious breakfast.
A nice alternative is the Embassy Suites Hotel Bogota-Rosales (Calle 70 No. 6-22, Bogota, 57-1-317-1313, website), a modern hotel with spacious suites, modern amenities, and excellent staff. You can also try out the Bogota Marriott Hotel (Av. El Dorado # 69b – 53, Bogota, 57 1 4851111, website). It is a new hotel that offers rooms with modern art décor, a nice location near restaurants, and a spa.
MONSERRATE: Let’s take a view
Perhaps one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bogota is Monserrate, a mountain located right in the city center. It rises to a height of around 3,152 meters and is usually visited by pilgrims going to the 17th century church perched atop its summit – dedicated to the “El Señor Caído” (Fallen Lord). You can also find various restaurants, souvenir shops, and tourist facilities there. However, the highlight of a trip to the mountain is, of course, enjoying the views of the city and the surrounding areas.
You can access the mountain by climbing up (popular among pilgrims). Alternatively, you can opt to ride the Teleférico de Monserrate (S.a. Carrera 2 Este, No. 21-48 Paseo Bolivar – PBX, (57) (1) 284 5700, website), which is a tourist cable car connecting the city to Monserrate. You can also catch a funicular railway train to the summit.
PLAZA DE BOLIVAR: Go on a cultural hike
You can go on a cultural hike at the Plaza de Bolivar, which serves as the main square of Bogota. It is located right in the heart of the city’s historical area, and was named after the famous South American revolutionary Simon Bolivar. In fact, you can see a statue of the historical figure there, sculpted by the Italian artist Pietro Tenerani in 1846. It has been the first public monument in Bogota. The square is also home to various other historical buildings and monuments.
One of these is the Capitolio Nacional, which serves as the seat of both houses of the Congress of Colombia. It was built in 1876, and is best known for its fresco-style mural painted by Master Santiago Martínez Delgado, which depicts Simon Bolivar in the act of exiting the Cucuta Congress after the creation of the Great Colombia. The mural is actually considered the most important of its kind in the country.
Catedral Primada de Colombia (Photo by Claudio Alvarado Solari)
There you can also see the Catedral Primada de Colombia (Carrera 7 no. 10-11, 1/341-1954, website). It is a Roman Catholic Cathedral that was built in 1807 upon the foundation of Bogota’s first church, which dates back to 1539. The cathedral is considered the biggest of its kind in Colombia, and it houses one of the largest organs in South America, as well as a collection of 17th to 18th century paintings and carvings. You can also find the tomb of the founder of Bogota, Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada. The site is open during Mondays to Saturdays from 8:30 am to 1 pm, and on Sundays from 8:30 am to 2 pm.
Another historical building to be visited in the square is the Capilla Del Sagrario (Carrera 7, in front of Plaza de Bolívar). It is a chapel that dates back to the 17th century, and is considered to be a excellent sample of colonial architecture in the city. The structure has a fusion of elements from the Mannerist, Moorish, and indigenous styles. The site is open during Mondays to Fridays from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm, and on Sundays from 4:30 to 5:30 pm. Other attractions to be found in the square include the Palace of Justice, the Lievano Building, and the Vase House.
INDEPENDENCE PARK: Relax, unwind
Independence Park (Photo by jukakupa)
You can relax and unwind at the Independence Park (Calle 26 Carreras 7 and 5, downtown Bogota), which is regarded as one of Bogotá’s most traditional parks. It was established in 1910 in commemoration of Colombia’s independence centennial, and features a landscape dominated by eucalyptus forests and neo-Classical architecture. You can also see there the District Planetarium and the Modern Art Museum.
DINNER TIME: Discover Bogota’s restaurants
You are guaranteed a delicious dinner at the restaurants available all over the city. One of the best in the city is Hamburguesas El Corral (Carrera 2, Bogota, website). It is known for its Gaucho burgers that are said to be the most delicious in town. A nice alternative is Criterion (Calle 69A No. 5-75, Bogota, (57 1) 310 13 77, website), which is an award-winning restaurant noted for its kobe beef steaks and wine selection.
Hamburguesas El Corral (Photo from Google images)
You can also try out La Fragata (Cl. 100 # 8a – 55, Bogota, 2432959, website), which specializes in a Colombian and cotemporary cuisine, with nice views and excellent service. Another is Harry Sasson (Calle 70 No. 5-57, Bogota, 321 3940, website), a quality restaurant offering delicious BBQ ribs and steaks.
Next 24 Hours
You can discover Bogota’s other tourist attractions during your next 24 hours in the city. One of them is the Quinta de Bolívar (Calle 20 no. 2-91, 1/284-6819, website), which is a house once owned by the famed revolutionary Simon Bolivar. It was donated to him in 1820 by the Nueva Granada government as a token of gratitude for his pursuit of independence. Today, it serves as a museum where you can find some of his personal belongings. The site is open during Tuesdays to Saturdays from 9 am to 5 pm, and on Sundays from 10 am to 4 pm. Admission will cost you COP3,000.
IGLESIA DE SAN FRANCISCO: Let’s go to church
You can go to church at the Iglesia de San Francisco (Carrera 7 and Avenida Jiménez, 1/341-2357), which is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city. It was once owned by the Franciscans, and is noted for its 17th century church architecture. Inside, you’ll find its lavish altar lined with gold. The site is open during weekdays from 6 am to 7:45 pm, and on weekends from 6:30 am to 7:45 pm.
Iglesia de San Francisco (Photo by zug55)
NATIONAL LIBRARY OF COLOMBIA: Let’s go read
Book lovers will definitely appreciate the National Library of Colombia (Calle 24 N° 5- 60, Bogotá, (571) 3413061, website). It is the country’s national library, and is considered to be the oldest of its kind in the Americas. It dates back to 1777, and is home to over two million volumes of manuscripts. Around 75 per cent of the library’s collections have come from donations, mostly by Colombia’s political and social leaders. The site is open during Mondays to Fridays from 8 am to 6 pm, and on Saturdays from 9 am to 2 pm.
NATIONAL MUSEUM: Have a historical experience
You can have a historical experience at the Museo Nacional de Colombia (Carrera 7 no. 28-66, Bogota, 1/334-8366, website). It is considered to be the oldest and the longest-functioning museum in the country, having been established back in 1823. Inside, you’ll find over 20,000 historical and archaeological artifacts, such as pre-Colombian tools, handicrafts, and jewelry, among others. It also houses a modern art collection and a café. The site is open during Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10 am to 6 pm, and on Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm. Admission will cost you COP3,000.
Museo Nacional de Colombia (Photo by Víctor Castelo)
OLAYA HERRERA NATIONAL PARK: Relax, unwind
You can have your cool relaxation at the Olaya Herrera National Park (Carrera 7 Calles 36 to 39, Bogota), a recreational area that covers more than 283 hectares of hills and eucalyptus, acacia, and cypress trees. It is home to a diverse collection of flora and fauna, as well as a children’s theater and various sporting venues (basketball, tennis, hockey, and football).
NIGHTLIFE: Enjoy Bogota’s vibrant nightlife scene
At night you may proceed to Bogota’s bars and clubs to have a taste of the city’s exciting nightlife. One of the most popular is Andrés Carne De Res (Calle 3 no. 11A-56, Bogota, 1/863-7880, website). It is a restaurant/club that plays crossover music and serves delicious steaks – a nice place to dance the night away.
You can also try out Punto G (Calle 94 no. 11-46, 1/616-7046), a crossover club with live music ranging from reggae to salsa, and is popular among the over-30 crowd. A nice alternative is The Bogotá Beer Company (Carrera 12 no. 83-33, 1/603-071). It is an Irish-style pub with excellent beer selections and the scintillating rock music of the 80s to 90s.
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