Orange buildings at sunset in Bogota, Colombia

How to spend One Day in Bogota

Mark Stewart Destinations 1 Comment

Alright, so you’ve arrived in Bogota. Perhaps this is the beginning of your Colombian adventure and have just flown in or are passing through and have a layover in Bogota. Maybe this leg of your journey is coming to an end and you’ve just taken the night bus from Salento. Whatever your reason for coming, even if it’s only to spend one day in Bogota, give yourself a pat on the back – it was a great idea!

We visited this amazing city at the end of our time in Latin America. As such, we were running low on time. Although we didn’t have much time to explore as much as wanted, we managed to get in a few great experiences.

So if like us, when you find yourself in Colombia’s capital, and you’re pressed for time, don’t worry. Here are the best things to do in Bogota that you can easily do in one day!

A bright street with colourful buildings. Skyscrapers of downtown Bogota in the back.
Big, Beautiful Bogota. Get it all in!

What to Do with One Day in Bogota

Start with Breakfast

First things first, get some breakfast. Now, because most people won’t stray too far from their accommodation to fuel up, I won’t get into specifics. These suggestions are typical Colombian breakfasts and will be easy to find almost anywhere in Bogota.

Try an Arepa…

With egg, or cheese; or egg and cheese… you get the idea. I caution even saying ‘breakfast sandwich’ because it isn’t, but it’s the closest comparison I can make. Thin, usually crispy corn dough is either fried or grilled and stuffed with butter, cheese, eggs, avocado, and other tasty options.

… or a Colombian Tamale

Famous throughout Latin America and dating back several thousand years, tamales are a staple you can’t skip. Varying throughout the region, they all feature some form of masa (corn flour) dough, filled with meat and vegetables, and steamed in a banana leaf.

You’ll find tamales in restaurants and small street side carts all around the city. Enjoy with some freshly squeezed juice or some powerful Colombian coffee – or make things easy and go for both!

Absolute Must: The Bogota Graffiti Tour

Latin America has some outstanding displays of street art, and Colombia stands strong as one of the best. Bogota itself boasts the biggest graffiti scene in the country and artists from around the world flock here to leave their colourful marks.

While there are several walking tours you can take part in while visiting the city, if you only have time for one, make it the graffiti tour. The guides are well versed in street art culture and have a vast amount of knowledge regarding the local scene.

You’ll not only see some brilliant works around central Bogota but also learn the stories behind some of the pieces – both artistic and profoundly political. It is also a great way to see the city and get some background on Bogota. This is the BEST Tour in Bogota, and is a must do if you only have one day in Bogota.

It’s a popular tour, so we definitely recommend booking ahead, as it does fill up!

Bogota Graffiti Tour: A staircase in a park, brightly coloured in intricate graffiti
The Bogota Graffiti tour is a must when visiting

Grab a quick snack

Just a little bonus tip if you opt for the graffiti tour, you’ve gotta make the most of your day in Bogota after all. At the end of the tour, you’ll be on a street with a little restaurant with a window on the sidewalk. This window sells these delicious cheese arepas that make for a perfect snack before heading on to your next activity!

Take in some Great Views of Bogota

An interesting part of Bogota’s landscape is the mountain range that rises abruptly right on the edge of downtown. One of these mountains is Monserrate and offers spectacular views of the city.

To get to the cathedral atop the mountain you have three options. First is the cable car; and similar to the ones in Medellin, it’s a quick an efficient way to reach the summit. Second is the funicular. A little slower than the cable car, the funicular is a much more interesting ride. A small railcar designed specifically for the often impossibly steep tracks, climbs the mountainside through forests and tunnels along the way.

Timetables tend to vary depending on the day of the week. Mondays and holidays tend to be the wildcard. The cost of a round-trip ticket for both is around 20,000 COP.

You can also hike to the top of Monserrate. Though understand that it is a fairly steep climb, and there have been reports of bandits. So if you choose to hike Monserrate, do so in a group if possible.
An overhead view of the congested city of Bogota

For views like this, head up to the top of Monserrate
Photo: Raul Cuellar

Shopping in La Candaleria

Aside from the many shopping malls and higher-end stores around town, you’ll find some great gems in La Candaleria. Chances are you’ll be staying in this part of town, but if not, head over and explore a little!

Being a more tourist-oriented area, there are plenty of options for typical Colombian souvenirs, but there’s so much more to offer. Seeing as it’s also a hub for university students and artists, there are a lot of hip shops selling custom art, clothing, jewellery and other interesting pieces.

Try Chicha

This local brew packs a solid punch. Chicha is an alcoholic beverage of unknown potency made from fermented corn flavoured with fruits and occasionally spices.

While there doesn’t seem to be any set regulation on the stuff, or how it’s produced, you never really seem to know what you’re getting. That being said, it’s definitely worth giving it a go.

We tried this atomic-coloured chicha at an artisan market in La Candaleria. Each brew was produced from different coloured corn. This stuff is incredibly tart and has a powerful kick of sweetness, so do yourself a favour and give it a sample before buying a whole bottle. I don’t want to think about the hangover this stuff would bring.

Bogota Drinks: Two plastic cups, one filled with a bright blue liquid, the other bright red. One day in Bogota, try chicha.
Chicha. Be careful with this stuff!

Lunch – Pork

Without question, the best Colombian food we ate while in town was at Jacinta-lechona. Typical to the area around Bogota, lechona is not vegan-friendly. All of the meat from within a pig is chopped up and mixed with onions, spices and rice, then stuffed back into the pig and roasted.

The filling is so incredibly rich, steamed from the natural pork juices, and the slices of skin are perfectly crisp. Jacinta-lechona only serves this one item, and offers a simple vinegar-onion sauce that cuts through the richness perfectly.

If you only have one day in Bogota, it’s totally understandable if you can’t make it to this specific restaurant. But you can find lechona in stalls all over the city. There are a few great spots along Calle 19 in La Candelaria; just look for the whole roasted pig on display!

A small cardboard tray filled with meat and rice. Two pieces of crispy pig skin are on top.
I’m salivating as I write this. Lechona is truly one of the tastiest snacks I’ve ever had

Wind Down with a Colombian Classic

Finally, finish your visit to Bogota off the same as we did, with a steaming glass of hot chocolate, with bunuelo and a slice of cheese.

On our final afternoon, just prior to grabbing an Uber to the airport, we finally picked up something we’d heard about throughout our time in Colombia. Though it sounds more like a morning dish, it’s typically eaten as a light snack in the afternoon, often on the way home from work.

We popped into Reposteria Cafe, near where we were staying, and it was hardly what we’d consider a ‘light snack’. Shortly after ordering, we were each presented with a slice of fresh cheese as thick as a piece of toast, a bunuello the size of a softball, and a pint glass of outstanding hot chocolate.

Though I can’t speak for the portion size everywhere else, this typical Colombian snack can be found at cafe’s all around Bogota.

A table with mugs of hot chocolate, pastries, and cheese
Just a ‘light snack’ they said…

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About the Author

Mark Stewart

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Mark is a multi-passionate creative with a fascination for getting the most out of the human experience. While he isn't chasing adventures around the globe as a travel journalist and photographer, he works as a freelance writer, private chef and web developer.

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