Bogotá has one of the world's most extensive bike-route networks, with more than 375km of separated, clearly marked bike paths called CicloRuta. Free Bogotá maps from PIT information centers show the CicloRuta paths.
In addition, about 121km of city roads are closed to traffic from 7am to 2pm on Sunday and holidays for the citywide Ciclovía, a well-run event to get Bogotá out on two wheels. You can rent a bike at Bogotá Bike Tours. Ciclovía runs along Carrera 7 all the way from La Candelaria to Usaquén – it's worth witnessing even on foot.
In addition to its TransMilenio, Bogotá's public transportation is operated by SiTP (www.sitp.gov.co) and consists mainly of servicio urbano (blue buses, nicknamed 'azules,' covering routes not served by TransMilenio), servicio complementario (orange buses; serving routes to and from nearby TransMilenio stations), servicio alimentador (green buses; serving routes to and from TransMilenio portals) and servicio troncal (red buses; basically extensions of TransMilenio lines).
Payment is by smart card, known as tarjeta tullave (www.tullaveplus.com); these can be purchased and recharged at stations and some markets/newsstands. Flat fares, regardless of distance traveled, are COP$2100 to COP$2300. Stops are marked.
There are also servicio especial buses (burgundy in color, or 'red wine' as SiTP refers to them), which serve outlying areas. Occasional older buses known as colectivos or busetas, which do not follow fixed schedules or stop at designated stops, are also seen along major thoroughfares like Carreras 7, 11 and 15 and in La Candelaria. Many of these have been granted 'provisional' status and are being integrated into the SiTP network, while others are being phased out. Fares run between COP$1450 and COP$1600 and can be paid in cash on board.
To help make sense of it all, TransmiSitp (www.movilixa.com/english) is a popular app that coordinates routes between TransMilenio and SiTP. Buses run the length and breadth of the city, usually at full speed if traffic allows.
Bogotá's impressive fleet of Korean-made yellow taxis are a safe, reliable and relatively inexpensive way of getting around. In mid-2018 the city was in the process of changing from traditional taxi meters to a digital-pricing scheme similar to those implemented by taxi apps like Uber. Not 100% popular with Bogotá's large army of taxistas, the new GPS-based app will calculate routing and fares (and probably spark an increase in prices). For those hailing taxis off the street (something you really shouldn't ever do), taxis will be required to install tablets on the passenger-side back seat to display the route and fare in advance.
Rollout of the new app was supposed to take place in stages between June and September 2018, but due to technological glitches there have been some delays. Until the changes are fully implemented, expect to see a mix of meters and apps.
Traditionally, the minimum unit fare is '50,' which equates to COP$4450. Taxi trips on Sunday and holidays, or after dark, include a COP$2000 surcharge; trips to the airport have a COP$4900 surcharge. There is a COP$700 surcharge for booking taxis.
If you're going to make a couple of trips to distant places, it may be cheaper to hire a taxi for about COP$18,500 per hour.
Don't even think about waving down a taxi in the street unless you are with a local. When you do so, you're not registered and therefore forfeit all the security measures put in place to protect you, increasing your chances of robbery exponentially. You can call numerous companies that provide radio service, such as Taxis Libres or Tax Express, but popular taxi apps Uber (www.uber.com), Tappsi (www.tappsi.co) and Cabify (www.cabify.com) are even better and eliminate the language barrier.
Some drivers, particularly in late hours, will round fares up a bit. Drivers don't often get tips.
The ambitiously named TransMilenio, modeled after a similar groundbreaking system in Curitiba, Brazil, revolutionized Bogotá's public transportation when it opened in 2000. Numerous plans and studies were made to build a metro, but after 30 years the project was buried and a decision was taken to introduce a fast urban bus service instead. Today the TransMilenio is the world's largest BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system.
The system is, in essence, a bus network masquerading as a subway. Covering 112km with a fleet of over 2000 buses, the TransMilenio has 12 lines and approximately 147 self-contained stations, which keeps things orderly and safe (and some stations have wi-fi). Buses use dedicated lanes, which keeps them free from car traffic. The service is frequent and cheap (fares run COP$2300). Generally speaking, lines run from 4:30am to midnight Monday to Saturday, 6am to 11pm Sunday, though some lines begin earlier and run later.
TransMilenio serves up to 2.2 million people daily – well over capacity – so buses get very crowded at rush hour (locals jokingly refer to it as the TransmiLLENO, which would translate to TransFULL); transfers at Av Jiménez resemble punk-rock mosh pits. TransMilenio's current plans project completion by 2031, with lines canvassing 388km. Meanwhile, Bogotá mayor Enrique Peñalosa is planning a raised railway to complement (and relieve) the system by 2022.
Fares: Tarjeta Tullave
A frequent-rider smart card, the tarjeta tullave (www.tullaveplus.com; COP$5000; rechargable up to COP$322,000), is used to enter the system. The card is sold at all portals as well as some stations; it can be recharged at all stations as well as some grocery stores, pharmacies and papelerías (stationary shops; check for locations at www.tullaveplus.com/web/public/puntos-de-recarga). It may not be worth your time if you're only visiting for a few days, but the card can be personalized (bring your passport), which means the money on it can be recouped in case of loss or theft.
If you don't have a card, you can pay the attendant, who will swipe you in with their card.
On maps posted in stations, routes are color coded, with different-numbered buses corresponding to various stops, but it's all very confusing (even for locals). The main TransMilenio lines of interest to visitors run north–south along Av Caracas between Av Jiménez and Portal del Norte stations; northwest–southeast along Av Dorado between Portal El Dorado and Universidades (access to the bus terminal and airport); and north–south along the hybrid line (part dedicated BRT, part regular city bus) introduced in 2014 along Carrera 7, which facilitates access to Chapinero, Zona Rosa and Usaquén. There are nine terminuses, but the only one of real use to travelers is the Portal del Norte. Most key north–central routes change in Calle 22, and Av Jiménez has many more transfers (sometimes involving an underground walk between neighboring stations).
It takes practice to understand which bus to take. Ruta fácil routes (numbered black routes), for example, stop at every station on a line but at faster intervals, while expresos and súper-expresos (colored letter-number-combo routes) zip along some sort of express route – leapfrogging, in confusing patterns, several stations at a time. Color-coded and numbered vagones (wagons) indicate the boarding point for particular lines within stations.
You can plan your routes online using the efficient but slightly confusing – and ad-ridden – app that locals use, TransmiSitp (www.movilixa.com/english); click your departure point and destination, as with most mapping apps.
Key routes (subject to change depending on day and time):
La Candelaria to Portal del Norte Take F23 from Museo del Oro to Av Jiménez; switch to B74 Portal del Norte (last stop).
La Candelaria to Chapinero From San Victorino, take M82 to Calle 67.
La Candelaria to Zona G Take G47 from San Victorino to Guatoque-Veraguas; switch to B72 to Av Chile.
La Candelaria to Zona Rosa Take B74 from Las Aguas or Museo del Oro; switch to B23 to Calle 85.
Portal del Norte to La Candelaria Take J72 from Portal del Norte to Av Jiménez; switch to F23 to Museo del Oro.
Chapinero to La Candelaria Take L82 from Calle 67 or Universidad La Salle to San Victorino.
Zona G to La Candelaria Take H61 from Av Chile to Tygua-San José; switch to M47 to San Victorino.
Zona Rosa to La Candelaria Take K23 from Calle 85 to Calle 57; switch to J72 to Av Jiménez.
A regular teleférico (cable car) and funicular run up Cerro de Monserrate from Monserrate Station. The funicular runs in the mornings (until noon), the cable car in the afternoons.