Want to visit a wondrous place that will get you 8660 feet closer to the stars? In that case, Santa Fe de Bogotá is the place for you. It sits on the Andean mountains in the heart of Colombia. Filled with history, this cosmopolitan Latin American capital is vibrant, artistic and breathes culture with breezy sophistication. It also is a fun city that offers much to every type of tourist, including those traveling with kids.
Why Bogotá Must Be on Your Bucket List
As a matter of fact, Bogotá should be on every family travel international bucket list. Like a Phoenix, the entire country is experiencing a re-birth after putting to rest years of violence. So much so, that for a second year in the row, the Huffington Post reveals Colombia is the happiest country on earth! After years of visiting this beautiful city, I have no doubt that there has never been a better time to visit Bogotá, and here are my suggestions on what to hit if you are visiting with your children.
What to Do in Bogota – Centro Historico
After a three hour flight from Miami to Bogotá, I landed in the city of my youth with a four and six year-old plus a husband in tow. I couldn’t wait to show the boys the places I used to visit on school field trips. I started out with the area called “El Centro”, the historic downtown of Bogotá.
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El Palacio de Nariño
Make a point to stop by the Presidential Palace or Palacio de Nariño. The boys were mesmerized by the colorful change of the guard, and the exaggerated movements of the soldiers handling the giant flag. The military band is loud and amplifies the emotion of it all. Available only Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 4:30 pm. El Palacio de Nariño sits on a beautiful red brick ample square where the kids chased pigeons to their heart’s content.
Casa del Florero
Next, we stopped at “La Casa del Florero” House of the Vase, The colonial home where the movement for independence from Spain begun over a well planned seemingly innocent fight over a broken vase. A tour of this house gave us a feel for how the people lived in the 1800’s in Bogotá, and gave insight as to why independence was sought.
Casa de la Moneda
One of our family’s favorite visits was just across the street, at the country’s mint museum where there is a hands-on experience for kids to make pretend money. A few blocks away, the national library and the Botero Museum await you.
The Botero Museum is a great art stop, but beware that there are plenty of giant nudes hanging in the halls of the colonial house that keeps this amazing collection. I love how the minds of children work and relate to the world. When we were admiring the artwork with my four-year-old, he pointed at the nude lady giving her back to the artist and exclaimed: “mom, is she about to get a shot in her bum?” Yes, they do notice the nudes! I was all smiles at how the kids were starting to appreciate art: via their own experiences.
Museo del Oro
I highly recommend a stop at the Museo del Oro – Gold Museum where the legend of El Dorado will dazzle you with the brilliant collection of fabulous pre-Hispanic golden artifacts. Here you will marvel at the workmanship of exquisite gold pieces like breastplates, masks, pendants, earrings, vase-like items called poporos among others. The best discovery for me in this museum is a small exhibition room that is intended to give you a feel for the importance of gold as a religious experience for the ancient natives. As you enter the room, the walls are covered with white panels. When the doors are bolted shut, light go out entirely and slowly come back to life. The dimmed lights allow a majestic collection of tens of thousands gold figurines to glimmer back at you. I couldn’t help but ponder on how rich the country was in its pre-Hispanic time.
High above the city a unique stop is a visit to Monserrate, which towers over the city center. The best way to get from the city to Monserrate, is using el telefrico, a gondola that takes you up the mountain. The children find this ride very exciting, but just keep an eye for anyone getting worried about heights.
Once you are up above in Monserrate, look down at the city for breathtaking views. After a short visit to the big church that tops Monserrate, we enjoyed some local food for lunch at San Isidro. The kids had a kick out of a cup of hot chocolate Colombian style because they were encouraged to dunk their cheese into the hot chocolate mix and allow it to melt. Then they had to fish it out of their cups and eat it! Can you say yummmmmm?
Other points of interest might be the planetarium, theater for children venues which are abundant or the local theme park – El Salitre for carnival-like rides, bike trails and water bike pedaling. The city has plenty of parks where children can play happily for hours, so try a picnic at el Parque del Chico, or take a stroll by el Parque de la 93.
What to Pack for Bogota
The city can offer your very laid back experiences as well as black-tie events non-stop. Traveling with family usually means the first type of laid back attire is in order. At an average 55°F, the sun shines strong when it comes out so expect to shed your jacket at some point. You should also prepare for rainy days while visiting this capital city. to Stay away from shorts because of the weather itself. Light jackets and sweaters will do. Pack your best walking shoes and comfortable outfits. Most people will wear a light scarf as a fashion statement, and no one uses gloves or hats because it really doesn’t get that cold that you need them.
You Will Want to Come Back!
It is hard to do everything Bogota has to offer in a few days, but it is easy to fall in love and make plans to come back. The pull of this vibrant capital city will be mesmerizing and more amazing yet will be the memories you will be making with your family as you explore and discover together.
The kids are always sharing their discoveries of Bogotá and are already asking what more can we go back visit. I am planning on the Botanical Museum, exposing them to opera or zarzuela at the Teatro Colon, and taking them for equestrian fun to the Country Club where Polo fans gather weekly.
Let’s get packing! What will you want to visit first?
See you in Bogotá friends!
Read the moving story on a Traveling Moms’s journey to Colombia to adopt her daughter.