Here’s the plan …
Population: 8 million
Money: Columbian peso (COP)
Best viewpoint: The mountaintop of Cerro de Monserrate (3,152m) offers the best views. Climb the 1,500 steps or catch the cable car. A return ticket costs COP16,400.
Health issues: None, but the city sits at 2,625m above sea level so some may experience mild altitude sickness.
First Day’s Tour
Concentrate on La Candelaria, the atmospheric old quarter, full of colonial houses built more than 300 years ago. Lose yourself in the cobbled streets and spend time people-watching, particularly in Bolivar Square, where a statue of Simon Bolivar (right, the Venezuelan leader who liberated Latin America from the Spanish in the early 19th century) stands, pride of place. Here, visit the neoclassical Catedral Primada, the city’s grandest; inside you’ll find the tomb of Gonzalo Jimenez de Guesada, who founded the city. Other notable buildings on the square include the Capitolio Nacional, built between 1847 and 1926 – work was frequently halted due to political protests.
Just up the road is the Museo Botero filled with works by great native artist Fernando Botero, famed for his rotund sculptures. Also on show are pieces by Picasso and Dali. Another museum not to be missed is the Museo del Oro (Gold Museum, corner of Carrera 5 & 16th St) which houses glistening gems and ancient archaeological finds created by the country’s indigenous peoples before the arrival of Europeans.
End the day in lively Santander Park (once known as Square of the Herbs), which is full of street entertainers and handicraft stalls.