Bogota is not Colombia's most popular destination with Medellin and Cartagena pulling most of the tourism. Don't let the ignorant international world do the comparing for you. Bogota is absolutely beautiful. This underrated city has over 7 million inhabitants, which is a hell of a lot considering New York City has over 8 million. So let me help you, whether I've visually persuaded you (scroll, scroll, scroll) or you have a connecting flight in Bogota and need a couple things to do, here are four things you MUST do in this culturally rich city.
If you can book a half-day city tour, absolutely do it. Walk by the government buildings, the same center where Pablo Escobar stepped foot in. Your mind will widen and knowledge will fill in indulgently as they spill politics, scandals, wonder, and insight behind Colombia as a country and Bogota as the center of it all. The buildings have history and soul. And if you'd like, buy some corn from the ladies at the square and feed the pigeons. Take a photo of the pigeons eating from your hand! Don't forget to stop and shop handcrafted (literally being crafted right in front of you) goods and yes, haggle, haggle, haggle. Always suggest 50-70% of the price that they ask for as suggested by our tour guides. But don't worry if you pay full price because the pesos to a dollar conversion is so cheap. I spent only $400 the entire 5 day trip. Yes, you heard me correctly. I suggest a half-day city tour because you must take time to explore on your own, get lost (reasonably), and maybe run into a llama.
For the cost of FUH-REE nighty-nine, you can take a two and a half graffiti tour around Bogota's City Center. Yes, you heard that correctly. Coming from graffiti's capital, New York City, I didn't think I could see any better. Boy, was I wrong! The graffiti tour was by far my favorite part of the entire trip. I was and still am inspired by the minds behind this often dangerous artistic venture. Colombia is the only country that legalized and now regulates graffiti. In fact, the country has decided that graffiti is a cultural practice, not a criminal one. The street artists and the community have an unwritten code, an unwritten sense of respect. Bogota Graffiti is the company that lead us around the city, step by step, and introduced us to some of the most popular and opinionated artists in the world. I encourage you, beg you, to take the chance to take the tour and open your mind up to the graffiti world.
You can not leave Bogota without visiting the Museo Del Oro also known as the Gold Museum. It's hard to believe that they just put that much gold all at one place. Yes, I did consider how I could possibly steal a piece home (okay...I'm just kidding, kinda.) Walk through it just to say you did and definitely take the time to stand in the enclosed Shaman room. It is quite an immersive experience. The other museum I would highly recommend is Museo Botero. It has work from Picasso to, of course, one of the most respected Colombian artist today, Botero. With over 100 pieces he had personally donated, the museum is a humorous yet clever yet heart-pulling yet awing experience all in one. The two story building is gorgeous with a fountain that is too pretty to look at and a back patio that is connected to a cafe with the best chicken wrap and thirst-quenching beers.
Last but not least, take a cable car ride up the Monserrate Hill for one of the most riveting views of the city. The greatest part about this hill is that it isn't succumbed by tourism tacky get-ups. A church rests on this hill and next to it are several restaurants. We arrived up the hill during sunset and had a French dinner. When we walked out, we were absolutely stunned by the evening view. The view is magical. When I was up there, I felt small, proud to be alive, hanging out several thousand feet from the buzzing city below me. And yes, the air is much thinner there so don't freak out. It will go away. Just enjoy the amazing view in front of you and all around you.