Bogota is an incredible city you should visit at least once. It’s very different to most of capital cities in the world also because we are not used to getting prepared for a ‘city’ before traveling. And this is what you should be doing before landing in Bogota. Prepare for the altitude and several other things that are waiting for you there! Colombia is the country with the fourth-highest capital – Bogota at the elevation of 2640 m. That means if you plan to be very active from the start you may feel the altitude sickness. Symptoms at this altitude are very mild but you might feel slightly more tired, sleepy, as the air is thinner and brain slows down due to lack of oxygen above 2500 metres. Some travelers arriving in Bogota will not notice it at all. What I would say take it easy, acclimatize at least 2-3 days before you hike Monserrate /biggest mistake most travelers do, they hike the mountain straight away and sometimes the consequences are unpleasant/. There is no easy way to short-circuit the process of acclimatizing. Bogota is a city of ups and downs, there are almost no flat streets. So this will give you enough fitness for the first few days. You may use taxis instead of walking, as the only thing that will let you acclimatize is TIME.
Is Bogota safe?
Well, a lot of people say Bogota is not a safe city, bla bla… And which European capital city is safe?? Warsaw only I guess, where I come from. 😉 Colombia in total is not the safest country you can travel to /especially south of the country/ but once you are careful and behave normally everything should be all right. Just don’t look scared all the time, that will only attract robbers. Pickpocketing is very common in Colombia. So take small money with you and don’t despair of being robbed. It’s just money! It happens to a lot of tourist and it’s should not be a reason to cry and overthink. We were robbed and at the end we laughed about it, as you have no f****ng clue when it happens 😉 Like NO clue! 20$, an ID and a credit card were gone and so what? Block the card /they won’t be able to use it anyway, there is a name on the card so that would be suspicious and they need a pin/. One thing here – you should always have at least 2x copies of your passport hidden somewhere in your luggage. In case your passport is stolen it’s easier to identify yourself at the police station. Police are visible on streets and they will react in case of any danger. They are well aware of pickpocketing but don’t think you’ll get back your stuff. Generally do not show your valuable belongings. Although Bogota is safe for travelers there is a small risk to be attacked. I was told that when I was carrying my big camera around my neck. That was a bit dangerous. But mobiles or small camera have became so popular and accesible these times that it’s nothing valuable today.
City Transport – buy a local travel card, it’s very easy to buy and charge and then you can freely use a public transport (sometimes impossible to find shops on Sunday).
Top attractions to visit in Bogota.
- La Candelaria – amazing historical part of Bogota with cobblestoned streets and colourful colonial-style buildings. Great place to stay and eat, there’s plenty of local restaurants.
- Climb Monserrate Mountain, 3150 m! – just not on a first day. This is really a tough walk, although I was well acclimatized. I can’t believe some people climb the top on their knees.. The view is magnificent. It’s hard to believe how big Bogota is, you only realize it when you look from the top. There’s a small white church on the top and couple of overprized restaurants.
- Santuario Nuestra Señora del Carmen – one of the most amazing Sanctuaries I’ve seen in South America, a unique, gothic style church.
- Museo del Oro – great piece of history, free entry on Sundays. It’s 10 minutes walk from Candelaria and they have the greatest grilled buttered corn. It’s the best museum you can visit in the city, the exhibition is impressive, there are 3 floors and the museum is well organized.
- Plaza Bolivar – You can’t miss this square with a Capitol Building and the Cathedral of Bogota.
- Salt Sanctuary – located deep underground in a salt mine.
- Street art/graffiti tour – walk the streets of Bogota, there’s nothing better than exploring the place by walking. You’ll get to see real street life scenery, small cafes with best Mojito I’ve had in my life! Street graffiti pictures the city walls.
- Choachi waterfall (590m) – one of the highest cascades in South America. Beautiful countryside, great hills and the view point of the waterfall La Chorrera.
- Free city tours – ask for information in your hostel.
- Flee market
- Bike tours
- Cultural food tour.