A Traveler’s Guide to Bogotá, Colombia
Bogotá is the capital city of Colombia, the country right at the end of Central America and the beginning of South America.
Colombia is a nation with a rich history and fascinating culture, and its capital is the place that better reflects all of that.
Keep reading to learn more about Bogotá, Colombia, its history, location, and other interesting facts.
I will also introduce you to my top five things to do in Bogotá, plus a selection of the most attractive cultural events taking place in the city.
Bogotá, Distrito Capital (D.C.) is the capital city of Colombia, a Latin American country located on the northern end of South America. Due to its strategic location, Colombia is considered as the “bridge” between Central and South America.
In the interior of Colombia, Bogotá is located on a high plateau called the Bogotá savanna, which is part of the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, one of the northernmost mountain systems of the Eastern Cordillera of the Andes.
In this Bogotá Colombia map you can appreciate in red the exact location of Distrito Capital and the overall location of Colombia in South America.
Brief History of Bogotá
Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada founded Bogotá in 1538 and named it Santa Fé.
In 1550 it became the capital of the New Kingdom of Granada, and it stayed like that until 1819 when Colombia achieved its independence from Spain.
It was then renamed Bogotá by South American liberator Simon Bolivar.
Throughout all its existence, Bogotá has always been the capital city of the kingdom, viceroyalty, or country to which it belongs.
During the 20th and 21st centuries, it has evolved into one of the most vibrant Latin American cities.
Interesting Facts About Bogotá
Let’s learn some important details and interesting facts about Bogotá, Colombia.
Bogotá is the 5th largest city in Latin America with a population of nearly 8 million people.
The weather in Bogotá Colombia varies from 44ºF (7ºC) to 66ºF (19ºC) during the year, very rarely going below 37ºF (3ºC) or above 70ºF (21ºC).
The Bogotá Colombia currency is the Colombian peso. $1USD equals $4010 Colombian pesos.
The Bogotá Colombia time is five hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (UTC-5) and it doesn’t have daylight savings time or any other time changes during the year.
The Bogotá Colombia flag was adopted in 1952, but its origins go back to 1810 during the Independence War.
Why Should You Visit Bogotá, Colombia?
There are many reasons to visit this bustling Latin American city, as it has become a fashion hotspot, a cultural capital, and a must-see tourist destination.
However, if you need a particular reason, how about the fact that this might be the city where people speak the best Spanish in the world?
What to Do in Bogotá Colombia
Being a modern capital, Bogotá, Colombia has lots of interesting and varied things to do for visitors and locals alike. Here’s my Top 5:
1. Visit the Botero Museum
After “100 Years of Solitude” author, Gabriel García Márquez, and pop singer Shakira, Fernando Botero may be the most famous Colombian alive.
This Colombian painter became one of the “hottest names in art” when he started painting “fat people.” Every character in his paintings or sculptures is fat, creating a whole new Botero universe where everybody is, well, fatty.
The Botero Museum opened its doors 20 years ago and is home to the largest collection of Botero artworks in the world. Entrance is free of charge.
2. Have a Picnic in Park 93
This beautiful park is located at 93rd street (hence the name) just north of Bogotá’s popular Zona Rosa.
Think of a Colombian Central Park, with lots of grassy areas perfect for making a picnic and enjoying a day in the outdoors. It’s also one of the favorite places in Bogotá for concerts and cultural events, check out its website to plan your visit in advance.
3. Discover the Colombian Cuisine
Colombian cuisine is a delicious expression of the diversity-rich Colombian culture.
Colombia is a country with many historical influences coming from the variety of indigenous peoples inhabiting the region, obviously the Spanish culture is dominant, but it also has seen the influx of African, English, and French immigrants.
This cultural melting pot has created a fascinating cuisine that’s better enjoyed in the high end restaurants of the Zona T and Zona G of the city.
4. Visit the Gold Museum
When Spanish conquistadors were exploring South America in the 16th century, they were hoping to find El Dorado, a mythical city made of gold.
Although they never found something like that, they did discover a rich continent full of extraordinary cultures and their creative artistic expressions made in gold. The Gold Museum has over 34,000 gold pieces from different ages in the history of Colombia. A truly impressive museum that’s well-worth a visit.
5. Explore Monserrate Hill
On top of Monserrate Hill, at about 3,172 meters above sea level, you can find the sanctuary of Monserrate, a traditional site of pilgrimage and home to the image of the Fallen Lord of Monserrate.
You can climb the hill by foot or hop on the quaint cable car that offers some of the most amazing views over Bogotá.
Cultural Events Taking Place in Bogotá, Colombia
Bogotá is a vibrant city full of cultural events all year long.
Depending on your tastes and likes you can plan your visit to attend the Bogotá Carnival during the month of August, the Rock al Parque festival of rock music that takes place at Simón Bolívar Metropolitan Park in November, or the Bogotá Summer Festival that runs during the whole month of August.
Visit Bogotá, Colombia and Practice Your Spanish
Bogotá is a city that’s full of attractions and deserves a few days to really get to know it and make the most of your visit.
You can plan your trip to attend one of its attractive cultural events, or just visit it any time of the year and get lost in its several museums, parks, and restaurants.
Remember that speaking Spanish makes traveling to Latin American cities such as Bogotá, Colombia, much easier. It facilitates your communication with the locals and allows you to better understand their culture, and make the most of your visit.
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