Cerro de Monserrate

Bogotá's proud symbol – and convenient point of reference – is the white-church-topped 3150m Monserrate peak. It flanks the city's east, about 1.5km from La Candelaria, and is visible from most parts across the Sabana de Bogotá (Bogotá savannah; sometimes called 'the valley'). The top has gorgeous views of the capital's 1700-sq-km sprawl. On a clear day you can even spot the symmetrical cone of Nevado del Tolima, part of the Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados volcanic range in the Cordillera Central, 135km west.

The church up top is a major mecca for pilgrims, due to its altar statue of the Señor Caído (Fallen Christ), dating from the 1650s, to which many miracles have been attributed. The church was erected after the original chapel was destroyed by an earthquake in 1917. You'll also find two restaurants (Santa Clara and San Isidro) and a cafe – make a day of it.

The steep 1500-step hike – past snack stands – to the top (60 to 90 minutes' walk) is open from 5am (closed Tuesday). It's a popular weekend jaunt for bogotanos; on weekdays it used to be dangerous, as thefts occurred all too regularly, but an increase in police presence in recent years has curbed that considerably. If you're traveling solo or don't feel like walking, the regular teleférico (cable car) and funicular alternate schedules up the mountain from Monserrate Station. Generally, the funicular goes before noon (3pm on Saturday), the cable car after.

The funicular base station is a 20-minute walk up from the Iglesia de las Aguas (along the brick walkways with the fountains – up past the Universidad de los Andes), at the northeastern edge of La Candelaria. Safety along this route has also improved, although you're still best advised to make the trip at weekends, particularly in the morning, when many pilgrims are about.