Bogotá has over 50 museums. In addition to those reviewed, try to visit Museo de Trajes Regionales de Colombia, Calle 10 no. 6-20 (tel. 1/282-6531; http://bogotaturismo.gov.co/museo-de-trajes-regionales-de-colombia), the home of Simón Bolívar's lover, Manuelita Sáenz.
Church lovers are in for a real treat in Bogotá. The city's colonial origin means that there are some excellent, fully preserved churches in La Candelaria and El Centro Histórico. Though Bogotá's many churches may be staid on the outside, their insides are often opulent examples of colonial religious art. Those reviewed are a list of some of the best churches. Except where noted, admission is free (though donations are accepted).
Many visitors to Bogotá are here only for a few days, usually as a part of a larger trip to Colombia that might include Caribbean beaches, eco-lodge stays in the Amazon and Pacific, or colonial towns in the highlands. However, once you’ve had a taste of the city’s nightlife and cultural offerings, it’s hard to stay away, and many end up returning. There’s plenty to do for those who stay longer than a day or two and enough museums and restaurants to keep you going for weeks. Most visitors are torn between two primary areas of the city: the center and La Candelaria, and the northern suburbs. In the center and La Candelaria are most of the best museums, historic architecture, and attractions; the best restaurants, hotels, and shopping are in the north. Most visitors sightsee in the center during the day and eat and sleep in the north at night. For those with a bit more time, day trips into the countryside in Zipaquirá and Chía offer some respite from the fast pace of the city.
Created in 1539 by Bogotá’s founder, Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, the Plaza de Bolívar has changed substantially over the last 5 centuries but has remained the sentimental center of Bogotá. The square was remodeled to its current appearance in 1960 as a tribute to 150 years of independence. Plaza de Bolívar provides a good insight into the eclectic architectural styles of Bogotá: Here you’ll find the colonial-style La Casa del Florero; the 19th-century Catedral Primal, which evokes the Renaissance churches of Europe; the neoclassical Capitolio; and the palace-like Casa de Nariño. On the northern side, the Palacio de Justicia is an abrupt, monumental building with a tragic history: It has been burned down twice, first by a mob in 1948, and then by M-19 guerrillas in 1985. The statue of Simón Bolívar in the middle of the square was the first public monument in Bogotá.
The majestic Teatro Colón, Calle 10 no. 5–32 (www.teatrocolon.gov.co; tel. 1/284-7420; Transmilenio: Museo del Oro), in the heart of La Candelaria, took its present form by 1895 under the direction of Italian architect Pietro Cantini. Check out the fresco-covered foyer; the wooden, beautifully engraved boxes; and the opulent chandelier marking the center of the theater. With a five-level, 938-person capacity, the theater is home to Bogotá’s symphony orchestra and is still used for Bogotá’s most important performing arts. For tickets, call tel. 1/341-0475. Individual or group guided visits are from Tuesday to Saturday between 10am to 5pm and Sunday from 1 to 5pm. Admission is COP$4,500; COP$8,000 for character/costume tour.
At an altitude of 3,048m (10,000 ft.), the Cerro de Monserrate ★★ (www.cerromonserrate.com) offers spectacular views of Bogotá. It’s also home to two very good restaurants, decent souvenir shops, and the Santuario de Monserrate, with its 17th-century figure of a fallen Christ, which attracts hundreds of pilgrims every weekend. You can see them climbing the slopes of Monserrate to pay their homage. The top of Monserrate can be reached by cable car or funicular, beginning at Carrera 2E no. 21–48, Paseo Bolívar, Estación del Funicular (tel. 1/284-5700). The funicular costs COP$16,400 Monday to Saturday and COP$9,600 on Sundays; it runs 7:45am to 11:45pm on weekdays, 6am to 6:30pm Saturdays and Sundays. The newer teleférico (cable car) has the same price and runs from noon to midnight on Monday through Saturday and 9am to 5pm on Sunday.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.