Ultimate Girl’s Guide to Bogota, Colombia!
I’m a HUGE fan of Colombia. But I wasn’t that excited about visiting Bogota ~ I didn’t know much about it, & heard it was dangerous. My plan was to visit for two days, then fly to Panama….but then I got deported from Panama! Sooo, I found myself back in Bogota, & at the end of the day: I’m glad I did. I didn’t know where to start exploring though, particularly as a female traveler. Which is why I’ve created this “Ultimate Girl’s Guide to Bogota,” to help you get a better understanding of the city!
Ultimate Girl’s Guide to Bogota, Colombia!
I’m organizing this “Ultimate Girl’s Guide to Bogota” into my “Top 5 Musts.” These are the activities that every traveler needs to see in Bogota…no matter what! Even if you’re just in Bogota for 48 hours, it’s still possible to do all of them (& many are in close proximity to each other). Following that, I’ll tell you where I stayed & talk about staying safe in Bogota!
Map of Bogota Highlights
Monserrate (View Point)
La Candelaria District
Plaza de Bolivar
Grafitti Tour (Parque de Los Periodistas)
Le Manoir Hotel Bogota
#1 Must = Visit the Salt Cathedral!
The Salt Cathedral, located in Zipaquira (about an hour north of Bogota), is my absolute, #1 must-see in Bogota! It’s unique, eerie, AMAZING ~ & the perfect activity to do either solo or with a group. To keep costs minimal, you can simply take an Uber ($40 US round-trip), right to the entrance of the Cathedral. Or you can take a group tour (around $90+), which may or may not include transport. Once you’re inside the Salt Cathedral, grab an audio player & take a self-guided tour through all of the Cathedral’s underground passageways. It’s an INCREDIBLE experience ~ & not so creepy that you can’t do it alone!
Entrance Fee for Salt Cathedral = $18.50
#2 Must = Climb Monseratte!
To get the best view of Bogota, you MUST climb Monserrate! Bogota is already at a high elevation, at 8,660 feet (2,640 meters). But at the top of Monserrate, you’ll be standing at 10,341 feet (3,152 meters). How do you get up there? You have three choices: 1) Walk up via a paved trail, 2) Take the funicular, or 3) Take the teleferico (cable car) up. Cable car is the most popular option ~ & also the safest, since you’re with a large group of people.
What’s up there? You’ve got Monserrate Monastery (a beautiful, white building that can be seen from all over the city), three high-end restaurants, & even food & market stalls ~ if you walk behind the Monastery. There’s also another really cool view area back there that not many people know about!
Cable Car Cost = Between $5-10 US, depending on day & time.
#3 Must = Take a Graffiti Tour!
One of the COOLEST things about Bogota is the street art!! Aka the graffiti : ) Most is concentrated in La Candelaria ~ but it can be found ALL over the city. This was a huge surprise (& delight) for me, as I took long walks around Bogota. There are many official “Graffiti Tours” that are free or inexpensive, or you can simply go to Journalist’s Park, & venture uphill towards La Candelaria for a self-guided tour.
What I really loved is that so many of the images are of striking, powerful women. It really lends to an unexpectedly empowered feeling for female travelers passing through Bogota.
#4 Must = Visit a Museum!
You’ve got museums galore in Bogota ~ it is Colombia’s capital, after all. I got lucky with a fantastic, slightly off-the-beaten path recommendation: the Museum of the National Police. Here, they house confiscated items from some of Colombia’s most notorious criminals, like Pablo Escobar. It’s fascinating! And their guides are fantastic, giving insight & knowledge into Colombia’s often violent past. I highly recommend a visit here.
Other great museums: 1) The Gold Museum (Museum del Oro) is the most popular in town, featuring gorgeous pre-Colombian artifacts; 2) Museo Botero houses famous Colombian artist & scupltor Fernando Botero’s work, along with works by Picasso, Monet, & Salvador Dali; & 3) The Colombian National Museum, the oldest & largest in Colombia ~ with over 20,000 exhibits! The building alone is worth a visit, with its impressive fortress architecture.
Most of Bogota’s museums are concentrated in La Candelaria area, close to Plaza Bolivar.
#5 Must = Dance & Drink by Park 93!
Parque 93 is a cute park surrounded on all sides by shops, restaurants (like Crepes y Waffles!), chic hotels, & bars ~ & it’s the perfect place to start your night. Nearby, is the city’s best nightlife area: Zona T (also called Zona Rosa). Both are shown on the map above, & are great drop-off points to tell your taxi driver.
If you want to dance salsa, check out La Villa’s free class on Thursday nights, or head to Salome Pagana & Galeria Café Libro if you’re already a salsa pro. For larger, more trendyvenues, try El Coq or Armando Records (with live DJ’s & music). More relaxed options include Bogota Beer Company, where you can people watch & actually hear what your friends are saying!
But is Bogota Safe??!
No “Ultimate Girl’s Guide to Bogota” would be complete without a discussion of safety. And here’s my bottom line: I would NOT recommend Bogota for the novice solo female traveler. You need to possess, in my opinion, a certain level of street smarts & confidence in order to navigate the streets of Bogota safely. That said, I felt very aware (of my surroundings) & alert in Bogota ~ but I didn’t feel unsafe. PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY here!! Stay aware of your surroundings, & use cabs or Uber (which are plentiful) to escape potentially sketchy neighborhoods.
La Candelaria (where many Bogota highlights are concentrated) is EXtremely busy during the day, & filled with people, busy cafes, & plenty of tourists. A tourist will stick out the least in La Candelaria. Many guides will tell you, though, not to walk alone in La Candelaria after 8PM. The crowds thin, & unless you’re in a busy nightlife area, it will feel more desolate. I found this to be true throughout Bogota, & don’t recommend walking alone at night.
Still Want to Go Out at Night??
So what do you do if you’re traveling solo, but still want to go out at night? I’ve got a few suggestions here. First, choose a hotel that’s near several nightlife options, so that your walk home is a few steps ~ not a mile. Options include the Click-Clack Hotel, near Parque 93 & all its many restaurants & bars. Second, you can opt to stay at a hostel in La Candelaria, like Bogota Dream Hostel. Hostels are the easiest, cheapest way to meet other travelers & find drinking companions.
Rent a Colombian Buddy!
One of the best ways to safe in Bogota is to rent a buddy! And no, I don’t mean an escort! Check out: Colombian Buddy. This brilliant service partners you with a local Colombian; they can pick you up from the airport, show you local hot spots, take you salsa dancing ~ whatever you want to do, they’ll set it up. The downside: you pay for your “buddy’s” activities/food/drink, plus a tip (amount is up to you).
But on the plus side: this is ideal for solo travelers, or even for those looking to gain insight into Colombian culture. Their reviews on Trip Advisor are 100% STELLAR. My buddy was Rainy, & he took me up Monserrate at sunset ~ which I was nervous to do on my own. It worked out perfectly, & I highly recommend them! You’ll feel like you have a friend in Colombia…
Where to Stay in Bogota
Bogota offers great value for the money in terms of accommodation. I stayed in three different hotels, all modern & chic, for between $35-50/night. In my book: that’s a WIN. Here’s where I stayed: 1) Morrison Hotel 114 (modern, quiet room & in-house restaurant), 2) Hotel Le Manoir Bogota (darling boutique hotel in quiet location), & 3) NH Bogota Urban 26 Royal (HUGE room, but noisy location). The bonus for all these hotels is they have on-site restaurants & room service ~ which is great for solo travelers who don’t want to eat out for every meal. I felt entirely safe in all three places ~ but preferred the first two.
Ultimate Girl’s Guide to Bogota, Colombia!
Thanks for reading the “Ultimate Girl’s Guide to Bogota!” I hope you’ve got a better handle on the city now, & some fabulous ideas for your visit. If you’re a solo female traveler & want to hear about other destinations in Colombia, check out the article below. And if you have any questions about your trip to Bogota, please ask me in the comments below!
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