I was fascinated by Bogota, wasn’t fully aware of what to expect after landing and how safe will greet us Colombia. Bogota is the capital of Colombia with a population over 7 million inhabitants. It is also the third-largest city in South America and one of the most beautiful places on this continent.
Bogotá's amazing architecture.
The old buildings’ architecture and city murals enrich Bogota with an artistic touch. The city landscape offers lots to explore and most street corners are filled with country’s history. Journey to Colombia will be associated with a totally different culture, fantastic nightlife, and small cafes lifestyle. It’s not possible to get bored for a second on a Colombian land. What’s more, Bogota lies in a valley between the Guadalupe and Montserrat mountains, which offers an opportunity for spectacular views of the city.
Once you landed in Bogota – acclimatization is key!
Bogota lies at the elevation of 2640 metres, which is a bit of a hight. This is the fourth highest capital in the world. If you came from a much lower altitude you need to allow your body to aclimatize properly. There is no solution to skip this process, time is the only factor that makes your body acclimatize naturally. If you take things easy it would allow you to enjoy all the facilities of your trip, otherwise, you may feel fatigued.
How to acclimatize properly? Well, don’t even try to climb Monserate on the first or second day of your stay in Bogota. Take long slow walks exploring Bogota’s streets which are rather up or down, so that would be already exercising. You will feel the difference in the air, as the level of oxygen is much lower. Drink plenty of water – hydration is key at higher altitudes. Try not to drink too much alcohol, although drinks in local bars are tempting as hell 🙂 You might also not feel hungry but don’t forget to eat! Food intake is very important on hights.
Is Bogota the capital of Colombia safe?
Remaining friendly to local people is key to be able to feel good on the streets of Bogota. The safety question needs to go first as almost everyone wonders is Colombia safe for travelers. There is no one answer to that, it all depends on how you behave, where you stay and what attitude you present. Colombian authorities made the capital of Colombia – Bogota much safer for travelers over the last few years. Unless you don’t show off with your thick wallet or lens camera, you should be safe. I guess the real danger is pickpocketing, but let’s be honest – this is a much less violent crime than any other.
Pickpocketing in Colombia
The biggest risk is that you could stay without your money, phone or your belongins. Try to keep your cards separate from your wallet or at least in two different places. Always keep 50-100$ separately in your luggage together with 2x copies of your passport (saw a few girls keeping them in socks while weraing shoes, which is a quite smart idea). In case you are robbed you will always have small money for a taxi or to live the next 3-4 days. We were robbed in a public bus in Quito (Ecuador). They are magicians! You won’t even have a clue when and how it happens! They will get your wallet whenever you have it and you won’t even notice.
Top things to do in Bogota, Colombia
1. La Candelaria
The amazing historical part of the city. The district is full of local restaurants, bars and small squares where the artistic side is very visible. Often live music takes over the scene of the cobblestone streets of La Candelaria. The old colonial buildings are fascinating.
2. The Gold Museum
Museo del Oro with a free entry on Sundays. This is one of the most visited places in Bogota. The museum has a collection of over 50 000 gold artifacts crafted in pre-Colombian times. It takes 10 minutes to walk from La Candelaria to get to the museum. General apid entry apart from Sundays is 4000 pesos.
3. Climbing Monserrate mountain in Bogota
As mentioned above, do not try to climb Monserrate on the first day after arrival, let your body acclimatize properly first. There are two options to get to the top – you can hike or use the easy way – take a cable car. Buy your tickets at the gate. Of course hiking Monserrate is adventurous but is tiring. We were well acclimatized and it was still difficult to walk up the hill as it is pretty steep. Can you imagine some people are climbing the hill on their knees?
There is a white Sanctuary on the top of the mountain and you’ll be surprised with the amount of crowd 🙂 You will even find a restaurant although the prices are pretty high comparing to delicious local food in downtown. Cerro de Monserrate is a safe place, there are many street markets on the way but it’s much cheaper to buy water in the city 🙂
4. Plaza Bolivar
Fantastic building where the Colombia’s Palace of Justice, the Capitol Building and the Cathedral of Bogotá is located.
5. Choachi Waterfall (590m)
One of the highest cascades in South America.
6. Explore murals in Bogota
Bogota is a mecca for street artists! These are one of the most amazing graffiti I have seen in my life. La Candelaria is a district where you can explore painted walls. You can join free street art tour of Bogota Graffiti Tour. It starts from Parque de Los Periodistas. Reservations are mandatory in recent covid times, due to the limited number of people that can join the group. You will be amazed how talented people are there in South America.
7. Flee market
8. Try cultural food tour
9. Visit Santuario Nuestra Señora del Carmen
One of the most amazing Sanctuaries I’ve seen in South America, a unique, gothic style church.