The vibrant city and capital of Colombia, Bogota, sits on a plateau atop the Eastern Andes. It’s a lively, cosmopolitan city and the political and economic capital of the country as well as being the national hub for entertainment, sports, culture and arts.
Bogota is also a big city. Scrap that, it’s an enormous city that spreads as far as the eye can see over the Bogotá savanna. Colombia itself is the second largest country in South America in terms of population and 10 million of those people live in the capital city.
But despite its size, Bogota is a great place for families with lots of fun things to do whether you’re visiting with teens, tweens or young children.
One of the best things about traveling to Colombia with kids is the fact that most Colombians wholeheartedly subscribe to the idea that children come first. As such, families travelling with children given preferential treatment from the moment they arrive at the international airport by way of a dedicated line for immigration.
My family is originally from Colombia and now that I have two girls, we make it a point to travel there throughout the year. Bogotá is one of our favorite destinations because there is always something new to try. Here I share why I think Bogota is the perfect place for a family holiday.
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Updated for 2023. Guest post and photos by Ana Maria.
Things to do in Bogota with kids
The best way to make the most of Colombia’s capital city is to plan your days in advance. There is a lot to do in this city but its size and traffic can make getting around a challenge if you’re not organised. This list of the best places and things to do will help you enjoy everything that the capital city has to offer.
Cerro de Monserrate
A great first stop for visitors is the mountain of Monserrate. Sitting at 3,152 meters above sea level, it is the perfect spot to get a lay of the land and take in the vastness of the city.
Getting to the top of Monserrate is very fun, too. While some people may choose to walk, if you’re visiting Bogota with children then the cable car or funicular are an easier option. One option is to take the cable car up and the funicular down – or vice versa. Both are a fun thing to do in Bogota in their own right!
Once at the top, visitors can check out the beautiful church and monastery, shop for local wares, or dine in one of the delicious restaurants.
If you happen to be there in the month of December, you will get to see the mountain top decorated with very festive and traditional Colombian Christmas lights.
Please note that the top of the mountain is paved with cobblestones and there are lots of stairs. As such, we would not recommend taking strollers. Explore on foot and bring a baby carrier, if needed!
You can get tickets to visit Monserrate via Tiqets here.
Museo del Oro (the Gold Museum)
The Museum of Gold is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Colombia and for good reason. The Museo del Oro is home to more than 55,000 pieces of gold as well as the materials from Colombia’s major pre-Hispanic cultures.
The displays – which are in Spanish and English – might be a little lost on young kids but older children and teens will find this veritable treasure chest fascinating.
The collection is exhibited according to region and themes. The third floor, for example, looks at how gold was used in ceremonies and rituals. Don’t miss the Balsa Muisca (Muisca Raft), a 19-inch-long golden boat that was found in a cave near the town of Pasca. The Raft is connected to the legend of El Dorado, a mythical tribal chief of the Muisca civilisation. The Raft is a miniature model of this Golden Man.
Also on display is the Poporo Quimbaya. Poporos were devised used to carry lime for the chewing of sacred coca leaves and this one, made from tumbaga (an alloy of gold and copper) dates back to around 300 AD. The Poporo Quimbaya has become a national symbol and even feature on Colombia’s currency.
Free tours take place at the gold museum daily.
Museo de Botero (Botero Museum)
Even the most museum-wary of kids will find the Museo Botero fun. This popular museum celebrates Fernando Botero, one of Colombia’s most famous painters. His signature style – voluminous characters, oversized people and lots of colour – is known as ‘Boterismo’. One of his most famous – and controversial – works is of the ‘Mona Lisa’ painted as a fun, big-boned version.
The museum is housed within an old palace and there is a permanent display of Botero’s paintings and sculptures as well as temporary exhibits of works by other artists.
Outside is a garden courtyard and there’s a cafe on site too.
Maloka Science Museum
The Bogota children’s museum (museo de los niños) may have closed but Science Museum is still open and is a brilliant day out for kids of all ages. Maloka is a family-friendly science and technology museum with nine different rooms, each focusing on different topics and all providing a fun hands-on experience.
There’s the Telecommunications Room where you can learn, among other things, how mobile phone works. In the City room, kids can explore how the city of Bogota grew and developed. There are also two cinemas: Cine Domo which plays films on a large domed ceiling and a 3D cinema.
If you’re looking for something to do on rainy days in Bogota then head to Monki’s Place. This three-storey house converted into a dream playground has play spaces divided by age group.
At the very top, children aged 1- to 4 years old have an amazing space to crawl, totter and run. There is even a jump space with a small trampoline and a slide perfect for little ones. Finally, there are two living rooms on each side of the room, for parents to sit, relax, and let the little ones explore.
The two lower levels are geared towards older kids and are truly a kid and preteen paradise! There are indoor soccer fields, trampolines and climbing courses, and even a Lego room where kids can let their imagination do all the work. You pay at the end of your visit based on the amount of time spent there.
Changing of the Guard in Plaza de Armas
This traditional military parade is held in the Plaza de Armas in between the Capitolio Nacional (where Congress meets) and Casa de Nariño, the presidential palace. The public parade takes place every Wednesday and Friday at 2:30 pm and Sunday at 3 pm. Make sure to arrive early for the best viewing spot.
The Casa de Nariño – previously called Carrera Palace – is also open for free 45-minute guided tours. Request for tours must be made in advance via a registration form on the website.
Parque Metropolitano Simón Bolívar
When we want to get away from shopping and indoor games and run around in green spaces then a trip to the Parque Simon Bolivar is our Bogota activity.
The Park’s official title is the Parque Metropolitano Simón Bolívar and it spans close to 113 hectares with lakes, running and cycling trails, and a great children’s playground.
In this busy metropolitan city, the Parque Simon Bolivar is the perfect oasis to stretch, run and play. For us, a great day here includes a stroll and a picnic. The best part is that it is free!
One of our most favorite days to spend in Bogotá is Sunday because of the Ciclovia. Colombians are serious about their fun, so every Sunday (and on holidays), the city of Bogota closes off some of its biggest and most important thoroughfares and encourages everyone to get outside.
Families, dogs and strollers in tow, take to the streets to run, walk, bike, and roller blade. There are even stages set up for impromptu Zumba and aerobic lessons.
Participating in the Ciclovia is free and there are plenty of police and volunteers guiding participants through intersections where cars may be crossing. There are also food and refreshment stands along the routes.
If you are looking to really get outside, take a day trip to the Finkana amusement park a short distance outside of Bogotá.
Here, visitors young and old can spend the day experiencing the sights and smells of farm living. There are educational exhibits, horse shows, organic gardens, and lots of opportunities to pet and feed the farm animals, plus much more. If you are feeling adventurous, you can milk the cows, play pony polo, and even sign up for horseback riding lessons.
The park is closed on Mondays and schedules vary depending on the month, so plan ahead. Most interactive activities are charged separately but there is still plenty to do with the general admission ticket.
If you decide to venture to Finkana, keep in mind that the weather is a bit colder as you leave the city. Also, although the park is about an hour outside the city, traffic can get especially heavy getting in and out of Bogotá on the weekends.
Another great option, also about an hour outside of Bogotá, the Restaurante La Granja offers a unique culinary experience with great atmosphere. Here, you can also check out the farm animals and participate in fun activities and arts and crafts.
Make your own pizza at Archie’s Trattoria
All the exercising is sure to make you hungry and making their own pizza is one of my kids’ favorite ways to get full and get happy. At Archie’s kids are a big deal. In addition to arts and crafts, children get their own chef to help them make their own pizza. All the way from kneading the dough to picking the ingredients, children get the full chef experience.
In addition to the pizzas and pasta dishes, Archie’s Trattoria has desserts and coffees for everyone! My daughters are especially fond of the gelatto, and I can’t say I blame them. I’m a fan, too!
Fill up on traditional Colombian treats
Perhaps our most favorite thing to do in Bogotá is to try all of the typical Colombian treats and pastries. There is a bakery or café in pretty much every corner, and most of the time, you can’t go wrong. The best thing to do is follow your nose to find the fresh baked goods!
My personal favorite since I was a little kid are the buñuelos – amazing fried, cheese dough balls of goodness that are crispy on the outside and soft as clouds on the inside.
In the same family as buñelos, our family encourages visitors to try the pandebonos (Colombian bread made with cassava starch and cheese), pandeyucas (yucca bread) and almojabanas (another soft, cheese bread). All are great with a hot coffee.
Make sure you don’t miss the traditional arepa de choclo, Colombian corn cakes filled with melted cheese and butter, or the Colombian empanadas, fried meat and potato cakes.
On the sweet side, my daughter’s favorites are the obleas, crispy, flat wafers that are topped with a variety of delicious add-ons.
Catedral de Sal
Easily visited on a day trip from Bogota is the Catedral de Sal (Salt Cathedral) at Zipaquirá, roughly a 45-minute drive away.
This incredible Salt Cathedral is located about 180m underground (600ft) and was initially created by miners to give them somewhere to pray on their work breaks. In the 1950s the cathedral was opened up to the public and it was so popular that in the early 1990s a decision was made to rebuild it.
Some 25,000 tons of rock was removed to make new tunnels creating a vast cathedral 60 metres (197 feet) below the original. Today the cathedral consist of three different levels as well as the addition of light shows, 3D movies, activities and walking paths.
Everything in the mine is crafted from salt including the floor, the walls, the sculptures and even the basilica dome, which is the only one in the world to be made entirely from salt. The Cathedral is also home to the largest ever underground cross.
Where to stay in Bogota
La Candelaria is the city’s old quarter where you’ll find Bogota’s most popular museums and attractions including the Gold Museum, Plaza Bolivar and the Botero Museum. It’s also where you’ll find beautiful buildings typical of Spanish colonial architecture as well as more modern buildings, alongside some great restaurants and colourful street art. The funicular to the hilltop of Monserrate is also easily accessed from here.
Getting to Bogota, Colombia
El Dorado International Airport (BOG) serves Bogota and is the second busiest airport in South America. It’s a hub for Avianca, the Colombian national airline. International flights fly in and out of Terminal 1. Terminal 2 is for domestic travel.
All photos courtesy of Depositphotos.com