So you’re travelling to Bogotá — smart choice! This guide will give you everything you need to know about Bogotá travel, from getting to and from the airport and around the city, to the best books to read before you go, to the cool local spots you should check out.
Public transit: The Transmilenio public transit system is available from the airport to anywhere in the city. It runs from 5:30am to 11pm on weekdays, and until 10pm on weekends. You can buy tickets from the cashier at the airport.
Taxi: Alternately, you can get a taxi to and from the airport. Taxis are metered, and there should be a list of prices in the taxi. Still, make sure that the driver turns the meter on, and verify the price before you leave. Prices from the airport to the inner city centre range from about COP 3,600 to 35,000 (USD 2–17). Note that during evening hours, and on Sundays and public holidays, there may be an additional fee of COP 1,700 (USD 1).
If you’re heading from downtown to the airport, it’s best not to just hail one off the street. Instead, use an app such as Tappsi or Easy Taxi or ask the hotel to call one. Also, be sure you’re using a yellow-coloured taxi.
Public Transit: The Transmilenio is available throughout the downtown and is cheap to use. Tickets range from COP 1,400 to 1,700 (approximately USD 1) and can be bought from the cashier from 5:30am to 11pm on weekdays and until 10pm on weekends.
Taxi: Metered, yellow taxis are an option for travelling around the city with fares starting at COP 3,600 (approximately USD 2). There should be a list of prices in the taxi, but it’s still recommended that you check the meter is turned on, and that you confirm the price before you leave or pay. Note that during evening hours, and on Sundays and public holidays, there may be an additional fee of COP 1,700 (USD 1).
Walking: It’s safe to walk around the city, but as with any destination, be aware of your surroundings and stay away from any neighbourhoods that seem dodgy.
The best way to see a city is to take to the streets with your own feet — especially in a place like Bogotá, which is where the concept of “Sunday Streets” or “Open Streets” originated. On Sundays and public holidays, Bogotá participates in Ciclovia, an urban experience in which designated streets are closed to motorized vehicles, only permitting pedestrians and cyclists. If you’re in town on a Sunday or holiday, be sure to check it out; you’re likely to see street musicians performing, as well as come across plenty of food and juice stalls to keep you sustained as you wander. Best part? It’s free, no tickets needed, and you’ll be experiencing an event that’s influenced cities around the world.
For those in search of art and culture, a visit to A Seis Manos is recommended. This cultural hub hosts events showcasing art, dance, literature, theatre, film, music, and more, and is also home to a restaurant and bar. Entrance to the space varies with events, ranging from free to about COP 25,000 or USD 12. To find event listings, check out their (Spanish-only) Facebook page.
When the weather’s nice, experience some live music outdoors at one of Bogotá’s many festivals. Events vary (check the season’s line-up here), but they’re all free and take place in the biggest park in Bogotá.
For a taste of Bogotá before you go, watch the movie La Estrategia del Caracol. This film is a masterpiece of Colombian cinema and was mainly shot in downtown Bogotá (perfect for seeing some sites before you arrive). This drama with an unexpected twist shows the positivism of Colombian people and how even in the worst situation, there is always a way out.
Get your dancing feet ready with one of Colombia’s most famous faces: Shakira. Other artists to check out for great, jazzy, distinctly Colombian sounds include Monsieur Periné, La-33, and Bomba Estereo.
If you want some reading for the plane, we have to recommend the classic 100 Años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude) by Gabriel García Márquez. It’s not only one of the most loved books of all time (more than 30 million copies have been sold!), but it also offers up a critical (and magical) interpretation of Colombian history.
For tips on things to do while you’re in town, read the Civico publication. It’s in Spanish (have your dictionary handy), but will offer up your definitive list for what’s going on.