My girlfriends came down to visit me in Colombia this month and I was eager to show them a good time in my newly (and indefinitely) adopted homeland. While most of our time would be spent on the beach, we’d planned to spend our first 24 hours in Bogota. Hoping to start our trip off on a high note, I rigorously researched and planned a jam-packed Bogota itinerary.
We had a fabulous time. Now I’m sharing this itinerary for 24 hours in Bogota with you so hopefully you and your friends can have as good of a time as we did.
24 Hours in Bogota
08:00 – Cerro de Montserrate
With its incredible views of Bogota’s skyline, there’s no better way to start your 24 hours in Bogota than atop iconic Cerro de Montserrate, right in the center of town.
The hill is sacred to the indigenous Muisca people, who called it Quijcha Caca, or grandmother’s foot. Then the Spanish arrived in the late 1500s, introduced Catholicism, gave the “Grandmother’s Foot” name the boot, and built Montserrate Sanctuary atop it.
Ever since, it’s been a popular pilgrimage for the local Bogotans.
You and your friends can hit two birds with one stone by combining touristing with exercise and doing a pilgrimage yourselves. Climbing the 400 meters elevation to the top of Montserrate will take you around an hour, depending on your fitness level and ability to cope with the elevation (3,152 meters above sea level).
I’m ashamed to admit it, but when my friends and I visited, we cheated. We took the easy way up: the funicular.
Our excuse for taking the funicular up and down (11,000 COP / 4 USD each way) is that we had less than 5 hours sleep and one of us was half-injured. If you too have a bunch of excuses, go early to avoid lines, especially on half-priced Sundays.
I really do highly recommend the hike, though.
11:00 – Brunch in La Macarena
After climbing Montserrate, take a five minute taxi to the bohemian neighborhood called La Macarena to treat yourselves to a delicious brunch at Azimos.
Azimos is a healthy, somewhat hipster café restaurant serving up traditional and non-traditional Colombian food.
While you’ll be there at brunch time, if you only have 24 hours in Bogota it would be a shame not to try a Colombian breakfast. I recommend the Desayuno Santander, a vegetarian and tofu tamale served with small plate of cheese, a bread basket, freshly squeezed orange juice and a chocolate con queso (hot chocolate with cheese inside!). Their coffee is also very good.
If you’re looking for some edible gifts (or if you’re somehow still hungry), the front of the restaurant sells locally made coffee, chocolate, and other snacks.
After Azimos, enjoy the small shops in La Macarena along Carerra 4a, such as Lachoco Latera Chocolateria and the local natural food store next door.
14:00 – Free Walking Tour by Beyond Colombia
Our guide Hector did an amazing job making every piece of information interesting and easy to digest. The tour itself lasted about 3 hours and took us approximately 2 km around the historic centre and La Calendaria. We learned a very brief but important overview of Colombia and Bogota’s history, and about the various monuments and buildings.
Did you know how Justin Beiber was a catalyst in the graffiti movement not only in Bogota, but in all of Colombia? Well you’ll have to take the tour to find out.
Passing through La Calendaria, a neighborhood full of student-packed and colorful hostels, cafes, and bars, we stopped in one of them to try some chicha, the local fermented drink made from corn. Chicha reminded us of a creamier kombucha with little bits of corn. Not our favourite drink, but we had to try it.
We also popped into the Botero Museum near the end of the tour. There we had the opportunity to see some of the famous Colombian artist’s best work and better appreciate the small details in his paintings.
Although we didn’t do the tour ourselves, we’ve also heard good things about a fairly new free walking tour, Heroes Tour. It offers a condensed but informative 80 year history lesson on Colombia, while visiting lesser known parts of Bogota.
17:00 – Happy Hour at Bogota Beer Company
Following the tour, it’s time to rest your feet and grab a pint of local Bogotan beer at The Bogota Beer Company. The brewery has multiple bars throughout Bogota but I suggest going to the one in La Macarena which is only a 5 minute taxi ride away from the last stop on the walking tour.
As we’d determined in our Colombian beer blind taste test, BBC’s beer isn’t the very best, but the vibe at the bar is cool with plenty of friendly locals.
Not into beer? There are plenty of small restaurants and wine bars including La Taperia on Carerra 4a.
20:00 – Dinner at Mini Mal
If you’re interested in trying some elevated Colombian food, Mini Mal is the place. This unpretentious restaurant is located on a quiet street in El Chapinero neighbourhood (10 minute taxi from La Macarena), and their food is amazing.
We ordered entirely seafood dishes and recommend them all. Our favorites were probably the seafood starter on coconut crisps and the eel ceviche. Yes, eel ceviche.
Make a reservation because Mini Mal is tiny and fills up quick.
22:00 – Dancing at Salsa Camara
No 24 hours in Bogota is complete without a little salsa dancing.
We ended up at a tiny bar, Salsa Camara, which was full of locals Bogotans ranging from age 20 to 60. The vibe was cool, staff was friendly, and drinks were cheap. We sipped on aguardiente, or “guaro,” the local anise flavored alcohol and local beer for 4,000 COP ($1.50 USD) and attempted to dance salsa as best we could.
If Salsa Camara sounds too spicy for you, Andres DC is a famous Bogota club that a few people we met recommended.
Wherever you end up, make sure you bring your dancing shoes. And don’t let the Colombians intimidate you as they’re almost always willing to lend a hand and teach you the basics.
Where to Stay in Bogota?
If you decide to follow this itinerary for 24 hours in Bogota, I suggest you book a hotel or Airbnb in La Macarena neighborhood, which is safe, bohemian and close to all the sights.