The Colombian capital has a bad reputation but it’s actually a colonial gem, offering parklife, people-watching, great graffiti and lots of gold
Before you arrive
Located on a high plateau at the very centre of Colombia, Bogotá is the natural gateway to this wild but wonderful country. Dating back to 1538, when it was founded by Spaniard Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, Bogotá grew slowly. But what started out as a collection of just 12 huts has transformed over the centuries into the sprawling capital of eight million inhabitants that stands today.
At the airport
Bogotá’s Eldorado International Airport is located 15km west of the city centre. This modern hub is Latin America’s third largest airport and provides an easy entry point into Colombia.
All the facilities you’d expect are present: free Wi-Fi, ATMs and currency exchange booths (though rates tend to be better in the banks of Bogotá). There is also a tourist information office though it’s often closed.
Getting into town
The best way to transfer to the city centre, particularly for those unfamiliar with Bogotá, is by taxi. In a bid to protect visitors from unscrupulous taxi drivers, there’s an official taxi counter in the baggage hall that will issue a printed estimate of the cost of your journey; this should be shown to the cabbie. Journey time to central Bogotá is 20-50 minutes depending on traffic. Late-night arrivals offer the speediest transfer time.
Special Aeropuerto buses are also available.
Other ways to arrive
Those travelling by bus from elsewhere in Colombia – or from further afield – are likely to arrive at the busy central bus station, La Terminal, close to Avenida de La Constitucion, around 5km from downtown Bogotá. You’ll find a number of restaurants, luggage storage and even shower facilities here. As with the airport, there’s a tourist information stand and an official taxi office that can help determine fares. Taxis are available outside the station.