2 Days In Bogota; How To Make The Most Of Your Time

If you have just 2 days in Bogota, you’ll be hard-pressed to do it all. This city is huge, and there is so much to do, so we’ve created this detailed itinerary so you can do the best of the best. 

Kendall and I loved our time in Bogota.  The city has a cool energy and feels less touristy than other places like Medellin.  We were able to see some awesome museums, walk through beautiful Botanical Gardens, and taste some really unique food, all within the two days we were here. 

Where to Stay in Bogota

We researched all of the following areas and ended up deciding to stay near Parque 93.  We thought this was a good choice as there are tons of dining options, and the area is safe, but one downside is that you are further away from La Candelaria, where most tours start. 

Here’s a brief summary of all the places we looked into that are known for being good places to stay: 

  1. Parque 93/Northern Chapinero
    • Located about a 25-minute drive north of La Candelaria
    • Known for being a more upscale area, lots of dining options. 
  1. La Candelaria
    • La Candelaria is the main historic district with colonial buildings, museums, and street art.  This is where most Bogota day tours will begin. 
    • Known to be safe during the day but has more safety concerns at night.  
  2. Usaquen
    • Located 20 minutes north of Parque 93, about 40 minutes north of La Candelaria. 
    • Has an awesome market, but is further away from most tours. 

Our Hotel

Kendall and I had stayed at the Madisson Inn Luxury Hotel near Parque 93.  We usually go for more budget-friendly options like Airbnbs or hostels, but we decided on this hotel because they offered transportation to and from the airport.  

The hotel is fairly unassuming from the outside, but the beds were super comfortable, and everything was clean and organized. The included buffet-style breakfast was awesome; they had all kinds of fresh juices, fruits, soups, bread, and more.  

tourist sitting in a hotel room at the Madisson in during their 2 days in bogota
Our room at the Madisson Inn was spacious and clean

ONE NOTE: An employee will be walking around offering fresh coffee. While the breakfast is included, the coffee is not, and they will charge a small fee to your room. 

If we were to visit Bogota again, we’d probably choose an Airbnb in the same area and use Colombian Buddy transportation, as we had a great experience with them when visiting the Botanical Gardens. 

Getting Around Bogota

For airport transfers, we think the best options are either to coordinate directly with your hotel or to use Colombian Buddy (a newer company that we really like).

We coordinated our transportation ahead of time with our hotel, and our driver was waiting right at the airport exit doors with a sign with our names on it.

TIP: We think it’s always a good idea to send a WhatsApp message to your driver the morning of your pickup just to make sure that they are still planning on you and to make sure everything is clear on the price, where you will be meeting them, etc.  

Most of our drivers sent us a photo of their license plate number, which we appreciated.  This is one situation where knowing a bit of Spanish is incredibly helpful, as many of our drivers did not speak much English.

traffic in bogota

Airport taxis are also considered safe, although they tend to be more expensive.  There will be kiosks that you can walk up to and ask about the price.  

Colombian Buddy is a newer company, and they offer airport transfers, as well as transportation around Bogota for your day activities.  They also offer a ‘buddy’ service, where you pay per hour to have a local accompany you on whatever activities you would like to do during the day.  This is a great option for solo travelers or those who don’t feel comfortable navigating Bogota on their own.  

Don’t ever hail street taxis in Bogota, as these can be dangerous, even if they look legit.

The TransMilenio is Bogota’s public transportation system, and this can be a good option for those on a budget.  However, we’ve heard it’s better to stay off of public transportation at night.

Uber is considered much safer than taking a street taxi but is technically illegal.  If you decide to go with Uber, most drivers will want to meet you away from the airport and will want at least one passenger to ride in the front seat in order to avoid problems with the police.  We think it’s a better bet to go with one of the other options, especially if you don’t speak Spanish.   

And finally, the best option for getting around locally, especially if you happen to be staying near La Candelaria, is simply to walk.  Most tours start near the historical center, and this is also where you’ll find the Gold Museum and the Botero Museum. 

Day 1: Bogotá Botanical Gardens, Optional Bike Tour

On your first day in Bogota, you’ll wake up early and head straight to the Bogota Botanical Gardens.  These gardens are located about a 30-minute drive from Parque 93.  We loved these gardens and recommend them to everyone.  They are WAY less touristy than most of the other things we did while in Bogota. 

In the afternoon, you can take a bike tour in La Candelaria and then have dinner at a local restaurant.

Bogota Botanical Gardens

We loved the Bogota Botanical Gardens. It was inexpensive, beautiful, and one of the least touristy things we did during our 2 weeks in Colombia.

an indoor lake with lily pads at the Tropicario at the Bogota Botanical Gardens
The Tropicario has a beautiful little pond and all kinds of succulents and flowers.

How to Get to the Botanical Gardens

Depending on traffic, the botanical gardens are a 30ish-minute drive to the west of Parque 93.

We booked our transportation with Colombian Buddy.  Our driver sent us a picture of her license plate and arrived right on time to pick us up at the door of our hotel.  

For an extra fee (you can pay this online when booking), your driver will wait for you while you do your activity, which is what we did at the gardens. 

Bogota Botanical Gardens Entrance Hours and Admission

The Tropicario’s hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. It is closed on Mondays for maintenance. 

General Admission

  • 5.000 COP ($1.29) for nationals
  • 7.000 COP ($1.81) for foreigners

Tropicario Admission 

  • 10.000 COP ($2.58) for nationals
  • 20.000 COP ($5.16) for foreigners

General Admission and Tropicario Combo

  • 13.000 COP ($3.35) for nationals
  • 25.000 COP ($6.45) for foreigners

See updated prices at the Jardín Botanico official website (information is in the footer of the page).

Best Things to Do at the Botanical Gardens

Here’s a quick list of the things you’ll want to see while at the Botanical Gardens. We spent around two hours there and felt that this was a good amount of time. 

Visit the Lago Jardín Botanico: This is a lovely little lake surrounded by beautiful greenery.  It’s got a small waterfall and great spots for taking pictures. 

a leaf-covered lake at the bogota botanical gardens
This lake was shaded and quiet, and a great spot to take pictures

Walk through the Tropicario (atrium): We highly recommend paying for the combo ticket that includes the atrium, as this was one of our favorite parts of the gardens.  These indoor domes have all kinds of orchids, succulents, and even small ponds. 

a large succulent plant at the bogota tropicario
We loved these big cactus-like plants
a climbing vine at the bogota tropicario

Check Out the Rose Garden: this garden has a huge collection of different rose varieties.  Be sure to stop and admire the different colors and take a few photos. 

the rose garden at the Bogota Botanical Gardens
We loved looking at the different rose varieties at the Rose Garden

Take Pictures With the Bogota Sign: This big sign is similar to those in the Bogota Airport and at the top of Monserrate. 

two tourists in front of the Bogota sign at the Bogota botanical Gardens.
The Bogota sign at the Botanical Gardens

Read Up About The Formation of Colombia’s Lakes and Mountains: The plaques are in Spanish (a great excuse to practice!) and talk about the formation of Colombia’s most famous lakes and mountain ranges.  This display is located in the Tropicario.  

a display explaining the formation of Colombia's lakes and mountains.
These displays were really interesting (it does help if you can read in Spanish).

Bike Tour

Bogota is actually a super bike-friendly city, and we noticed cyclists and cool bike bridges all over the place.  Apparently, Bogota has over 540 km of bike lanes and over 16 designated bike routes. 

We weren’t actually able to go on the bike tour we had planned.  We had spent longer than planned at the Botanical Gardens and were worried about getting back to our hotel on time.

However, the bike tour we had planned on was one offered by Bogota Bike Tours.  It’s only $20 per adult, lasts four hours, and includes a stop at a local produce market.  The tour starts in La Candelaria, so you’ll want to coordinate your transportation ahead of time. 

Day 2: Full-Day Tour of Monserrate, La Candelaria, Gold Museum, and Botero Museum

Day two will be a busy one, as you’ll spend the entire day visiting all the big sites near La Candelaria, including the Gold Museum, the Botero Museum, and Monserrate.

We did a full-day private tour with Gran Colombia Tours, but you can also visit each of these sites on your own. 

Monserrate 

The Monserrate Sanctuary is a must-see while you’re in Bogota as it’s got incredible views over the city.

How Do You Get to Monserrate?

There are three options for getting to the Monserrate Sanctuary or overlook: You can hike the 3.6-mile out-and-back steep trail, take the cable car (teleférico), or take the train (funicular).  

If you want to do the hike, just plug in ‘Sendero a Monserrate’ to Google Maps which will lead you to the trailhead.

To take the cable car, plug in ‘Taquilla Teleférico Monserrate’ to get to the ticket office.  And if you would like to take the train, plug in ‘Taquilla Funicular Monserrate.’ 

view of the Monserrate teleférico cables
Our view of the Monserrate Teleférico before climbing in and heading up.

Ticket Prices

Monday-Saturday

  • Cable Car or Train: 29.500 COP (there and back)
  • One-way train/cable car ticket: 17.500 COP (if you want to hike one direction)
  • Hike: FREE

Sundays

  • Cable Car or Train: 17.500 COP (there and back)
  • One-way train/cable car ticket: 10.000 COP (if you want to hike one direction)
  • Hike: FREE

The ticket office accepts credit cards (Visa, Master, and American Express), or cash.

As you can see, Sundays are cheaper but expect a LOT more people. 

NOTE: the cable cars get pretty jam-packed full, so don’t expect to have a great window view during your ride.

When is Monserrate Open?

Monserrate is open 365 days a year according to the following schedule: 

The Monserrate Sanctuary and viewpoint

  • Monday-Saturday 6:30 am-midnight (cable car/train ticket sales end at 10:00 pm)
  • Sundays from 5:30 am-6:00 pm (cable car/train ticket sales end at 5:00 pm)
  • Holidays from 6:30 am-6:00 pm (cable car/train ticket sales end at 5:00 pm)

The Monserrate Trail (Sendero Peatonal) is open daily according to the following schedule:

  • For going UP: 5:00 am to 1:00 pm 
  • For coming back DOWN: 5:00 am to 4:00 pm

So, you have to start hiking before 1:00 pm and start coming back down before 4:00 pm, or you’ll have to take the cable car. 

Things to do at Monserrate

Visit the Monserrate Basilica, a beautiful church at the top of Monserrate with unique architecture.  

inside view of the Monserrate Basilica with its arched ceiling.
This church takes just a few minutes to walk through.

Visit the Monserrate Sanctuary: this sanctuary was built in 1538 and is another beautiful building to visit.  It’s a bit of a walk from the main Monserrate plaza, and we did not visit the Sanctuary while we were here.   

Eat at one of the restaurants or cafes: there are actually eight different dining options on top, and they serve everything from traditional Colombian dishes to pastries and more. 

And, of course, take in the views over Bogota

Overhead view of Bogota from Monserrate.
Our overhead view of Bogota from Monserrate.

La Candelaria

La Candelaria is a historic neighborhood in Bogota and another must-do while you’re here. It has cool architecture and a ton of wall murals. La Candelaria is also the main hub for most tours and is where the Gold Museum and the Botero Museum are located.  

Things to do at La Candelaria

Visit Bolivar Square (Plaza de bolivar): is the main historic plaza. You can take a picture of the statue of Simón Bolívar, and it is also a hub for street vendors if you want to do some souvenir shopping. 

tourist at the Plaza Simón Bolivar in Bogota
Kendall at the Plaza Simón Bolivar.

Visit a local market: Our tour guide took us to a cool little fruit market where we got to sample a bunch of different fruits and then try a fruit smoothie.

inside of a market building in central Bogota.
The small market we stopped at to sample different fruits and try a fruit smoothie.

Look at the wall murals and walk down the umbrella street: there is so much street art in La Candelaria, one of the reasons why we loved it. 

The colorful umbrella street in La Candelaria.
The colorful umbrella street in La Candelaria.

Sample some local coffee: La Candelaria is a hub for small cafés and restaurants.  We stopped at a local cafe and tried some freshly-pressed coffee. 

a man preparing coffee with a strainer.
Our tour included a stop at a local café with freshly made coffee.

Take a food tour: We wanted to do this but didn’t have time. True Colombian Experience offers a great tour. It’s only $40$, lasts four hours, and takes you to seven different sites to sample different Colombian dishes. 

Botero Museum 

The Botero Museum in Bogotá, Colombia, has a huge collection of the artist Fernando Botero’s iconic “chubby” art style. Kendall and I aren’t art fanatics, but we really loved this museum and thought it was super interesting. 

And the best part is that it’s completely free, so it’s definitely something you should add to your list while in the La Candelaria area. 

tourist standing next to the hand sculpture at the Botero museum in Bogota
This hand sculpture is the one piece of art that you can touch.
Botero's self family portrait at the Botero Museum in Bogota.
Botero’s version of his family portrait.

Botero Museum Hours

The Botero Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., except Tuesdays (it is closed on Tuesdays), and Sundays and holidays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 

If you aren’t already visiting with a tour group, the museum offers guided visits at certain times.  English guides are available on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 3:00 pm, and there’s no need to reserve beforehand. 

How Long To Spend At the Botero Museum?

Kendall and I spent about 45 minutes walking through the galleries and felt that this was a good amount of time.  If you are a big art fan and want to have time to look at every single work of art, we recommend spending around an hour and a half. 

The Gold Museum

The Gold Museum (El Museo de Oro) is another great one to visit. We recommend combining the Gold Museum and the Botero Museum with your activities in La Candelaria, as both are in the La Candelaria area. 

This museum has thousands of pieces of gold work from the pre-Columbian period.  We especially loved looking at the display of the chronology of gold work and the videos showing the actual gold-making process.  

a tiny, detailed gold raft at the Gold museum in Bogota.
One of the most famous pieces of goldwork at the Gold Museum is this intricate raft.

Gold Museum Hours and Admission

The Gold Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., with a last-entry time of 6:00 p.m. On Sundays and holidays, the museum is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and is closed on Mondays. 

Museum admission is 5,000 COP ($1.29) every day except Sunday.  Sundays are free for all visitors. 

End of Day 2: Try a Few More Colombian Dishes at a Local Restaurant

Here’s a quick list of some of the most popular Colombian dishes to try while you’re in Bogota.  We were able to try most of these and will have to finish off this list on our next visit!

  • Bandeja Paisa: A very big plate with white rice, red beans, ground beef, plantain, chorizo sausage, corn, pork crackling, a fried egg, an arepa, and half an avocado.  
  • Pescado Frito: Fried whole fish, we ate this multiple times on our Lost City trek, but you can also find it in Bogota.
  • Mondongo soup:  a tripe soup with vegetables and herbs.  We ate this at one of our first restaurants in Colombia; it is super flavorful and super filling.  
  • Ajiaco: a chicken and potato soup usually served with avocado and corn on the cob.  This is one that Kendall and I weren’t able to try, but it is on our list for next time.  
  • Pandebono: a gluten-free ring-shaped bread made with yuca flour and cheese. 
a dish of stuffed squash and Pandebono rings.
This dish of stuffed squash and Pandebono was one of our favorites.

3 Tips for visiting Bogota

  • Bring a jacket: the weather in Bogota can be chilly, especially up at Monserrate. 
  • Think about the altitude: Bogota is a high-altitude city, so we recommend taking it easy for the first few days (as in, don’t hike up to Monserrate on your very first day). 
  • Learn some basic Spanish: this is super helpful, especially with coordinating your transportation.

2 Days in Bogota on a Map

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