Colombia’s capital is a pulsing city with seemingly no end to its thriving culture and speedy development. With mountains peering over you from every angle, you are never too far from nature, but urban sprawl has become an ever-present reality in this dynamic city. Getting out of the city limits isn’t much of a fuss though. There are tons of things to do in Bogota, but outside of the city you can indulge in magnificent hikes, drink your fill of the best Colombian coffee, and see the country’s charming countryside. Here are some of the best day trips from Bogota to feed your adventurous spirit.
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The Best Places to Visit near Bogota as a Day Trip
When it comes to looking for the best day trips from Bogota you’ll want to take into account the distance and the time of travel to your chosen Bogota day trip. Here are the places we recommend visiting as a day from Bogota.
Take a Day Trip to Monserrate from Bogota
Monserrate is essentially the perfect day trip near Bogota thanks to its balance of history and nature offering something for everyone. The sanctuary is perched high on a hill above the city and can be seen from almost anywhere. The two-mile path up to the top is the sight of a deeply spiritual pilgrimage that has been happening for close to 500 years.
Hiking to the top is by far the most recommended as you can soak in the panoramic views on your own time. For a faster, less strenuous journey to the top, there is a cable car and funicular that are equally pleasurable.
Once at the top, the Basilica Sanctuary of Monserrate stands waiting. Inside the church, you can marvel at the poignant sculptures, the most notable of which is the statue of the fallen Lord of Monserrate. Behind the church, you can roam around the charismatic plaza where locals are selling an array of crafts and foods.
The gardens at Monserrate are another treat, leading the way to the Well of Wishes. If your wish is to see the most breathtaking view of the city illuminated at night, it has already come true! Stay after sunset and take the cable car down for the best views. You can always opt for a private tour of Monserrate along with a hearty traditional lunch to make sure you don’t miss a thing. This super Monserrate tour, not only makes sure that you don’t miss the key sights of Monserrate, but that you’ll learn the history too.
The Zipaquirá Salt Cathedral
Many attractions in Colombia pay homage to the country’s strong Catholic roots and visiting churches might not be everyone’s cup of tea. But the Zipaquirá Salt Cathedral is an absolute architectural marvel and you don’t need to be religious to appreciate it. It draws visitors for both its religious significance as well as its unique setting and story. The salt cathedral is just that, a Catholic cavern nearly 200m underground in an old salt mine.
Effigies like Stations of the Cross and Archangel Gabriel stand guard, all carved from the mineral-rich rocks. More than two centuries ago, miners excavated millions of tons of salty rock and left behind this network of tunnels and caverns. A special treat is experiencing the choir chiming in during mass as their voices bounce off the purple illuminated walls. You can visit independently, but save time and transport hassles and take a full Zipaquirá Salt Cathedral tour of the mines to learn more about the impressive structure and age-old mining industry.
Visit Villa de Leyva from Bogota
One of the longer day trips from Bogota is a three-hour ride to the Villa de Leyva northeast of the city. Villa de Leyva is a quaint old town with a rich paleontological legacy and the largest plaza in all of Colombia, Plaza Mayor. It is an impressive 14,000 square feet! This awesome day trip from Bogota to Villa de Leyva is a great way to visit.
At the Paleontological Museum, visitors are reminded of the region’s prehistoric past as they browse through the fascinating fossil exhibitions. Evidence of the ancient Muisca civilization is also prevalent, giving a captivating look into Colombia’s past. If you’d like to spend more time in Leyva, then here’s our guide on the best things to do there.
Colombia is certainly more famed for its coffee than wine, but Ain Karim winery in Villa de Leyva has established a prominent presence in the wine scene and is the perfect place to spend an afternoon.
Pozos Azules just outside of the town is a fascinating example of man vs. nature. A series of man-made pools have been colored a vivid azure hue due to the mineral deposits in the rich soil around them, making for quite a remarkable scene.
The hills outside of the town are also home to the Infiernito Archaeological Site which was a Muisca solar observatory and still has stone fertility sculptures decorating the area. A guided tour of Villa de Leyva from Bogota will also take you to the nearby town of Ráquira where you can stroll through the charming old town. Take this day trip from Bogota to Villa de Leyva now!
If you’re reading this on public WiFi and plan to book a trip, a walking tour, or accommodation, then check out my guide to the best VPNs for Colombia and why (and how you should protect your personal login details).
Hike the Laguna de Guatavita from Bogota
For decades, fortune seekers have searched long and hard for the lost city of Eldorado. Legend has it that this is the location of the lost city of gold but that is yet to be proven (or disproven!). Guatavita Lagoon is where ancient civilizations made offerings to the goddess of water, Chie, but today this spectacular location is a treasure in itself.
The hike is moderate with some elevation gain and rocky terrain. It is only a total of four km and worth every step. It is still unknown how the crater was formed, but the most likely explanation is that it is a sinkhole that formed due to the destruction of salt deposits over time.
The tranquility at the top of the mystical lagoon is simply haunting. If you are crunched for time, you can combine this hike with a trip to the Zipaquirá Salt Cathedral to avoid driving the same road twice.
Explore the El Paraiso Commune near Bogota
On the southern outskirts of Bogota, you will find the most colorful neighborhood in the city, strewn across the sides of the green hills. The brightly colored houses of El Paraiso can be reached by cable car, affording you a bird’s eye view of the impressive street art below. Take a walking tour through the network of avenues, doubling as urban galleries. Also, try some local snacks and delicacies along the way, to get a true taste of Colombia.
Community leaders and activists have dedicated their lives to these streets, uplifting the community to what it is today. Thus, they make the best tour guides to give you an inside look at the dynamics of the community.
Take a Coffee Tasting Day Trip from Bogota
No trip to Colombia is complete without an in-depth look into the country’s legendary coffee industry. Taking a walk in the shoes of a local farmer is one of the most fascinating things to do in Bogota, Colombia.
Deep in the mountains outside the city, organic coffee farms boast thousands of plants, being cared for and harvested by dedicated local farmers. They open their lives to visitors to see their day-to-day routines that result in a delicious cup o’ Joe on your breakfast table.
If the weather is favorable, you can even get the chance to plant your very own coffee tree after seeing how these valuable beans are hand-picked. Join a tour that offers a scrumptious local lunch after a morning in the fields to get the full Colombian experience.
Hike the Chicaque Forest near Bogota
One of the most popular things to do near Bogota is the unmissable trip to Chicaque Forest. Truly immerse yourself in the natural splendor of Colombia by taking a hike through this abundant landscape. The untouched forest is bursting with life, from the nippy hummingbird to the sluggish sloth. This is a cloud forest, nestled in the saddles of the mountains where low-level clouds constantly float through the canopy.
The forest is valued for its wealth of fauna and flora that can be discovered through more than 20km of scenic hiking trails. The forest also offers horseback riding and bird watching at an extra cost but exploring the lush forest on your own is equally as rewarding.
There is also a 340-foot zip-line for those who want to live their Tarzan fantasy and a treetop platform reached by rope ladder if heights don’t phase you. There is no need for a private guide but this fabulous tour will make sure you get to and from the forest with ease. See your options for hiking Chicaque Forest here.
Where to Stay in Bogota
There are a host of places to stay in Bogota – here’s our pick of the luxury places to stay in Bogota, mid-range places to stay in Bogota, and budget accommodation in Bogota.
Candelaria House Boutique, Bogota: The Candelaria House Boutique is located in the Centro Historico district in Bogota. This plush Bogota hotel’s units include a sitting area, flat-screen TV, a patio, a dining table, a private bathroom, a terrace, and a heating system (and trust me, you’re at altitude, you’ll like the heating!!) Bogota’s Candelaria House Boutique Hotel has a sun terrace and a garden area and provides free WiFi throughout. The Candelaria House Boutique Hotel is a fabulously comfortable top hotel in Bogota and you can see room availability here.
Arche Noah Boutique Hostel, Bogota: The Arche Noah Boutique Hostel is also located in the Centro Historico Bogota. Bogota’s Arche Noah Boutique Hostel units include a terrace a patio, and a shared bathroom with either a shower or a bath. There are also shared computers and a shared lounge. This mid-range hostel also hosts a class about local cultures, cycling and walking tours, and a gaming room. Here at the Arche Noah Boutique Hostel, you’ll also find a picnic area, sun terrace, barbeque facilities, and a garden. The Arche Noah Boutique Hostel is especially great for groups, so if you’re visiting Bogota as a group, this hostel is highly recommended. There’s more on this mid-range Bogota hostel’s room rates and availability here.
Ulucaho Hostel, Bogota: The Ulucaho Hostel is located in Candelaria, the historic center of Bogota. This budget Bogota hostel has rooms and dorms with shared or private bathrooms, a shared kitchen, free toiletries, and a patio. This great value Bogota hostel also has a snack bar, a picnic area, a public bath, a garden area, and a solarium. The Bogota Ulucaho Hostel has laundry services, and is a super laid-back place to stay in Bogota. Check out Ulucaho Hostel’s room rates and availability here.
Travel Tips for Exploring Colombia
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- Book accommodation in Colombia with Booking.com and Hostelworld
Final Words on the Best Day Trips from Bogota Colombia
Bogota itself is a brilliant destination with no shortage of tourist value and there are some amazing things to do in Bogota. But the concrete jungle can feel daunting at times and a breather in nature might just be what you need. Day trips from Bogota are very manageable with tons of forested areas within an hour’s drive from the city. There are also plenty of villages offering a ton of historical treasures going way back to pre-Colombian times. Taking day trips from Bogota will give you the unique opportunity to learn from knowledgeable local guides and experience the essence of this vibrant country.
With thanks to the author of this article, Alyssa Manuel
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