Must see attractions in Bogotá Region

  • Top ChoiceSights in Bogotá

    Museo del Oro

    Bogotá's most famous museum and one of the most fascinating in South America, the Gold Museum contains more than 55,000 pieces of gold and other materials from all of Colombia's major pre-Hispanic cultures. The collection is laid out in logical, thematic rooms over three floors; descriptions are in Spanish and English. Second-floor exhibits break down findings by region, with descriptions of how pieces were used. There are lots of mixed animals rendered in gold (eg jaguar-frog, human-eagle); note the female figurines indicating how women of the Zenú in the pre-Columbian north played important roles in worship. The 3rd-floor 'Offering' room exhibits explain how gold was used in ceremonies and rituals. Some of the displayed tunjos (gold offerings, usually figurines depicting various aspects of social life) were thrown into the Laguna de Guatavita; the most famous one, found near the town of Pasca in 1969, is the unlabeled gold boat called the Balsa Muisca. It's uncertain how old it is, as generally only gold pieces that include other materials can be carbon dated. There's more to understanding the stories than the descriptions can convey, so try taking a free one-hour tour (11am and 4pm Tuesday through Saturday; in Spanish and English) – tours vary the part of the museum to be highlighted. Audio guides (COP$8000) are available in Spanish, English, French and Portuguese. The museum gets exceedingly busy on Sunday, when entry is free.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Bogotá

    Museo Botero

    Even if you've never heard of Fernando Botero, you'll probably recognize some of his highly distinctive paintings of oversized (read: chubby) characters, including dodgy dictators, fleet-footed dancers, dogs and birds. Colombia’s most famous living artist is also a prolific sculptor and his curvaceous bronze statues display equally generous girth. The museum, which belongs to the Banco de la República de Colombia, was founded in 2000 when Botero donated more than 100 of his own works, along with 85 from his personal collection of other artists' work – a haul that includes pieces by Picasso, Monet, Matisse and Klimt. The painter curated the museum himself. Botero paintings to look out for include a parody of Di Vinci’s Mona Lisa (1978), the wonderfully intimate Pareja Bailando (1987) and the haunting studies of Colombia’s drug-cartel violence in the 1980s and '90s. Audio guides (COP$10,000) in English, French and Spanish are available from the museum complex's main entrance on Calle 11. Other than that, there’s no cost.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Bogotá

    Iglesia de San Francisco

    Built between 1557 and 1621, the Church of San Francisco is Bogotá's oldest surviving church. In the atmospherically dark interior, with its extravagant pews and steady trickle of praying pilgrims, your eye is immediately drawn to the gilded, U-shaped 17th-century altarpiece, the largest and most elaborate of its kind in the capital.

  • Sights in Bogotá

    Plaza de Bolívar

    The usual place to start discovering Bogotá is the giant concrete Plaza de Bolívar, the heart of the original town. What it lacks in green foliage it makes up for in grandiosity. In the middle of the square is a bronze statue of Simón Bolívar (cast in 1846), the work of Italian artist Pietro Tenerani. This was the city's first public monument. In the center of the square are flocks of pigeons that dive-bomb anyone within 50m – a hat is a good idea.

  • Sights in Bogotá

    Colección de Arte

    Most of Banco de la República's permanent art collection, which features 800 pieces by 250 different artists spread over 16 exhibition halls at two addresses, is reached via elaborate staircases within the same museum complex as Casa de Moneda and Museo Botero. The collection has been reorganized into five time periods spanning the 15th century to modern day, each separately curated. The collection's contemporary art exhibition is located inside Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango on Calle 12. Most of it sticks with modern splashes of oils by Colombian artists, including giant figurative paintings by Luis Caballero (1943–95) on the first floor. A bit at odds with the rest are the two first-floor halls toward the east, which focus on 17th- and 18th-century religious objects, including two extraordinary custodias (monstrances). The largest was made of 4902g of pure gold encrusted with 1485 emeralds, one sapphire, 13 rubies, 28 diamonds, 168 amethysts, one topaz and 62 pearls. But who's counting?

  • Sights in Bogotá

    Casa de Nariño

    On the south side of Plaza de Bolívar, beyond the Capitolio Nacional and reached via Carreras 8 or 7, this is Colombia's neoclassical presidential building, where the country's leader lives and works. To visit, you'll need to email or go to the website and scroll down to 'Visitas Casa de Nariño' under 'Servicios a la Ciudadanía'. No permission is needed to watch the changing of the presidential guard – best seen from the east side – held at 3:30pm Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. The building is named for Antonio Nariño, a colonial figure with ideas of independence and who secretly translated France's human-rights laws into Spanish – and went to jail for it, a couple of times. In 1948 the building was damaged during El Bogotazo riots and only restored in 1979. Register in advance for 45-minutes tours at 9am, 10:30am, 2:30pm and 4pm during the week; 2:30pm and 4pm on Saturday; and 3pm and 4pm on Sunday. Note: guards around the president's palace stand at barriers on Carreras 7 and 8. It's OK to pass them, just show the contents of your bag and stay clear of the fence-side sidewalks.

  • Sights in Bogotá

    Museo Nacional

    Housed in the expansive, Greek-cross-shaped building called El Panóptico (designed as a prison by English architect Thomas Reed in 1874), the Museo Nacional explores Colombia's past via archeology, history, ethnology and art. The collection is spread across 17 galleries that will eventually be themed by floor – the museum is undergoing a major modernization that will last through to 2023. The first two galleries, Memoria y Nación and Tierra como Recurso, are open and present a strikingly modern contrast to the whitewashed walls and dated galleries elsewhere in the museum. On the 3rd floor, room 16 gives the best sense of prison life – with old cells now presenting various exhibits. The first on the right centers on Jorge Gaitán, the populist leader whose 1948 assassination set off the Bogotazo violence – and, coincidentally, delayed the opening of this museum. Afterward, check out the lovely gardens and their pleasant glass Juan Valdez cafe. There are many good eating options on nearby Calle 29bis.

  • Sights in Bogotá

    Museo Santa Clara

    One of Bogotá's most richly decorated churches, the Santa Clara is also its oldest (along with Iglesia de San Francisco). Deconsecrated in 1968, it was acquired by the government and is now run as a museum, with paintings by some of Colombia's most revered baroque artists. The church was once part of an adjoining Franciscan convent that was demolished in the early 20th century. Built between 1629 and 1674, the single-nave construction features a barrel vault coated in golden floral motifs that looks down over walls entirely covered by 148 paintings and sculptures of saints. Interactive panels are available in Spanish, English, French and Portuguese.

  • Sights in Bogotá

    Museo Militar

    This two-floor museum is run by military guys in fatigues, and features playful models sporting the history of military uniforms (note the 'antiterrorist' outfit and the insane diving suit); a Korean War room; and a courtyard of artillery and aircraft including a presidential helicopter. Newer, postpeace agreement installations have been added, including a timeline of Colombia's armed conflict and Alex Sastoque's Metamorfosis, a copper AK-47 turned shovel, an idea – converting a tool of destruction into a tool of creation – which has come to symbolize the end of civil war in Colombia. ID required.

  • Sights in Bogotá

    Casa Museo Quinta de Bolívar

    Bringing a bit of the country into the middle of high-rise Bogotá, this lovely historic home–museum is set in a garden at the foot of the Cerro de Monserrate. The mansion was built in 1800 and donated to Simón Bolívar in 1820 in gratitude for his liberating services. Bolívar spent 423 days here over nine years. Rooms are filled with period pieces, including the liberator's sword. Less is said about its later days as a psychiatric institution. There are English- and Spanish-language audio guides for COP$2000, and guided tours in English on Wednesday at 11am.

  • Sights in Bogotá

    Plazoleta del Chorro de Quevedo

    No one agrees exactly where present-day Bogotá was founded – some say by the Catedral Primada on the Plaza de Bolívar; others say here, in this wee plaza lined with cafes, a small white church and many boho street vendors (or hacky-sack players). It's a cute spot at any time of day, but particularly as dark comes – when students pour onto the scene – in the narrow, funnel-like alley leading past pocket-sized bars just north. On Friday afternoon (at 5pm) there are Spanish storyteller sessions – well worth a visit for the atmosphere.

  • Sights in Bogotá

    Museo Histórico Policial

    This surprisingly worthwhile museum not only gets you inside the lovely ex-HQ (built in 1923) of Bogotá's police force, but gives you 45 minutes or so of contact time with English-speaking,18-year-old local guides who are serving a one-year compulsory service with the police (interesting tales to be heard). The best parts otherwise follow cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar's demise in 1993 – his Harley Davidson (a gift to a cousin) and his personal Bernardelli pocket pistol, otherwise known as his 'second wife.'

  • Sights in Bogotá

    Teatro Colón

    The Teatro Colón, with its adorable Italian-style facade, has had various names since its birth in 1792; this latest version opened as Teatro Nacional in 1892 and was designed by Italian architect Pietro Cantini. Its lavish interiors reopened mid-2014 after it underwent a six-year makeover. The theater hosts concerts, opera, ballet, plays – and even electronica DJ sets. Tours are available in Spanish only at 3pm on Wednesday and Thursday and noon and 3pm Saturday (COP$8000).

  • Sights in Bogotá

    Casa de Moneda

    This historic museum inside the Banco de la República complex houses the Colección Numismática as well as the Colección de Arte. The former exhibit starts with pre-Columbian exchanges of pots and lead chronologically to misshapen coins, the introduction of a centralized bank in 1880, and the making of the cute tree art on the current 500 peso coin in the late 1990s.

  • Sights in Bogotá

    Capitolio Nacional

    On the southern side of the plaza stands this neoclassical seat of congress. It was begun in 1847 but, due to numerous political uprisings, not completed until 1926. Its square-facing facade was built by English architect Thomas Reed. To take a free three-hour tour, email at least a week ahead; otherwise, you can wander around the stone courtyard.

  • Sights in Bogotá

    Mirador Torre Colpatria

    From the 48th-floor outside deck of the Colpatria Tower you can catch a superb view of the bullring, backed by office buildings and the mountains – there are also fine 360-degree vistas across the city. The 162m-high skyscraper was Colombia's tallest building from 1979 until 2016, when it was usurped by the 246m BD Bacatá tower. Expect queues.

  • Sights in Bogotá

    Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Lourdes

    First of its kind in Bogotá, construction on this neo-Gothic church began in 1875. Its monumental architecture and stained-glass windows designed by German artist Walter Wolf Wasserhouen make it one of the most representative symbols of the city. It was declared a minor basilica by the Vatican in 2015.

  • Sights in Bogotá

    Plaza Central de Usaquén

    It's best coming on Sunday for the flea market (Mercado de las Pulgas; from 9am to 5:30pm).

  • Sights in Bogotá

    La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de La Candelaria

    This Catholic church was built in 1686 and houses a collection of important religious artworks from the colonial era. Originally built in colonial style, many of its interior and exterior monastery features were removed at the end of the 19th-century when reforms were introduced. It was one of three monastic complexes saved from destruction during the early 20th century, along with Las Aguas and San Ignacio. In 1975 the church was declared a National Monument due to its historical, cultural and architectural significance.

  • Sights in Bogotá

    Parque Metropolitano Simón Bolívar

    At 360 hectares, the Parque Metropolitano Simón Bolívar is slightly larger than New York's Central Park, something that more than a few of the weekend draw of 200,000 local park-goers like to point out. It's a pleasant spot, with lakes, bike paths and walkways, public libraries, stadiums, and many events, including the beloved Rock al Parque. Simón Bolívar station on the TransMilenio's E line is at the eastern end of the park (at Av Ciudad de Quito and Calle 64).