In September 2014 I spent two weeks in Bogota, the capital of Colombia. Below is a list of my favourite things to do in Bogota. Halfway through writing the list I realised all the activities were free. #Bonus Enjoy!
1. Casa de Nariño
I think it’s incredible that you can tour the Colombian president’s house, Casa de Nariño, for free. It’s a gorgeous building inside and out. I also think it’s extremely generous that they provide such an informative tour, which last 45 minutes, and is conducted in English or Spanish. You have to book in advance, they recommend 30 days, however I managed to get a spot booking only 7 days ahead. More information here: http://wsp.presidencia.gov.co/dapre/atencion/Paginas/visita-casa-narino.aspx
2. Changing of the Presidential Guards
In the court yard of the presidential house you can see the changing of the guards. It takes places at 4pm on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. It last approximately 30 minutes. There are between 50 to 100 guards involved. Some playing instruments, some holding guns, some marching. It’s amazing.
2. Museo Nacional de Colombia
This is my favourite museum because it has a bit of everything. The history of Colombia’s colonisation, independence, indigenous populations and famous artists. Also, there is some international art and a bursting programme of activities including talks and musical performances. They also give free tours in Spanish and English. http://www.museonacional.gov.co/Paginas/default.aspx
This is one of three mountain view points in Bogota. You can walk up (free) or take the train/cable car (cost). Walking takes between 30 to 60 minutes. My personal best was 36 minutes. It’s very good exercise! In regards to safety, I felt safe walking alone as they were other people walking and lots of police dotted along the path. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monserrate
4. Sightseeing walking tour
The Bogota Tourism Institute runs an excellent walking tour around central Bogota. The tour is conducted twice a day, Monday to Friday, takes
approximately 2 hours and is in English. http://www.bogotaturismo.gov.co/en/tourist-information-place-pit
5. Museo Botero, Museo de Arte del Banco de la República and Casa de Moneda
These three museums are next to each other. They share court yards and corridors so you can walk freely between them. My favourite was Museo de Arte del Banco de la República because it housed a wide variety of Colombian and international art. http://www.banrepcultural.org
6. Museo Histórico Policía
This museum contains many interesting artefacts and is set in a beautiful building. When you arrive you are offered a tour in English or Spanish. http://www.bogotaturismo.gov.co/en/national-police-historical-museum
7. Museo Militar de Colombia
There are no tours of this museum, however there are lots of friendly staff about waiting to answer questions. As you’d expect there are lots of guns, uniforms, badges, models, statues, swords, and photos. Information is in Spanish, with some English. http://www.bogotaturismo.gov.co/en/colombian-military-museum
8. Graffiti – free/tip
Bogota is decorated with lots of graffiti. You can easily walk around and admire it by yourself. However, if you want to know more about the history of graffiti and graffiti artists in Bogota and the different types of street art take the Bogota Graffiti Tour. It’s called a ‘free’ tour but you are expected to tip at the end. http://bogotagraffiti.com
9. Plaza de Bolívar
It’s lovely to sit in this plaza and watch children ride llamas (I’m gutted I’m too big) and people chase pigeons. It’s also lovely to look at buildings such as National Capitol, and visit the surrounding churches. Plaza de Bolívar also hosts many events, including political, religious, musical, and even an exercise class on Sundays! http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bol%C3%ADvar_Square
10. Parque Simón Bolívar
This is the largest park in Bogota. It contains lakes with boat/canoe rental, water fountains, picnic benches/huts, BBQ pits, and beautiful vegetation. It also hosts music events.
If you’re staying in La Candelaria the park is a little far out. Walk on the wild side and use the TransMilenio bus service to get there. The staff at the stations are willing to help and buses are a great way to see the city. http://www.transmilenio.gov.co/en