If you’re planning a visit to Colombia, here are the top 5 things to do with kids in Bogota, as decided by my 3.5 year olds.
Colombia is becoming a popular tourist destination, both for the foodie and beach lover. Once considered a dangerous and crime-ridden country, over the past few years it has turned around (in most areas) and is making itself known as an up-and-coming destination.
While most travellers think of the coffee plantations around Medellin or the beaches and coastline of Cartagena, many of those flights require a stopover in Bogotá. Why not make a stop and experience the capital?
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Bogotá is the capital of Colombia, located high in the Andes mountains of South America. It’s the third highest capital city, after Lima, Peru and La Paz, Bolivia. It’s also very convenient to get to, as many airlines from the United States and Canada fly directly to Bogotá. (3.5 from Miami, 6 hours from Toronto).
And while Bogotá has many worthwhile and acclaimed museums and cultural attractions – the Museo del Oro, Museo Nacional, Museo Botero to name a few – they’re not that interesting for kids, especially younger kids.
I don’t typically plan a lot of things before a trip, but I do like to have a few things in mind, especially kid-friendly things! But when I started to look up things to do with kids in Bogota, I couldn’t find much!
So as decided by my 3.5 year old, here are the top 5 things to do with kids in Bogotá, Colombia.
5 Best Things to Do with Kids in Bogota
1. Visit Simón Bolívar Metropolitan Park
This was one of the best things to do with kids in Bogota! Known as Parque Metropolitano Simón Bolívar, the park is actually a series of connecting green spaces, totaling an area that is bigger than New York City’s Central Park.
Along with the amazing amount of grass, trails and multiple playground areas, there is also a large lake.
In the summer there are paddleboats and other water activities available.
Although we were there in March and the water activities were not available, there were still some adventurous people using the lake to paddleboard.
We had brought some snacks and spent a good part of the day exploring the different playgrounds and walking the trails around the lake. There was a restaurant and several food stands at the park so you could easily spend a whole day here.
2. Take a Taxi
Another similarity to New York City was the yellow taxis. Everywhere!
I have never seen so many taxis in a city, and they were almost always occupied.
Contrary to some things I had heard and read prior to arriving – whether it was how dangerous and risky the drivers were, or how the taxi drivers would take you on long, extended rides around the city – fortunately, we didn’t experience any of this!
We always had safe and reliable rides and pretty inexpensive! (Although pre-baby, I would NEVER have taken a taxi, preferring to walk everywhere, no matter the distance. But with two boys and a stroller, taxis it was).
Hailing a taxi from the airport is easy. Right outside the main terminal is the taxi queue.
Most of the taxis are registered, but to avoid any scams you can book your trip at any of the prepaid taxi counters inside the airport. There is a surcharge for any taxis going to or from the airport, as well as a surcharge for after dark.
All in all, the taxis we took were quite clean and safe. The drivers were pretty friendly and went out of their way to help.
(On our first taxi from the airport, we didn’t realize that addresses in Bogotá had 3 numbers, so I had only written down a partial address. Lesson learned. After driving around and trying to find our hotel in the dark, our driver pulled over at another hotel and asked another hotel to look up our address, finally delivering us to our hotel. All for about $COP35000!)
We used taxis to get to and from Simón Bolívar Park, from our hotel to downtown and to and from the airport.
Each and every time we had a different driver, and every ride was a great experience.
Most of the drivers didn’t speak any English but were still friendly. My guys loved riding in the taxis, as we don’t often do that at home. They made sure I included them in our Top 5 things to do with kids in Bogota!
3. Spend Time at Simón Bolívar Square
What is a visit to a cultural capital without spending some time chasing the pigeons?
Simón Bolívar Square is located in the centre of the city and the main point of reference in the historical area of the city.
As with the main square in any major city, it functions as a general meeting place, for both locals and tourists. It’s an important symbol of the city, surrounded by buildings such as the Palacio Liévano, the Capitol, and the Cathedral.
Vendors roam the square selling snacks for both people and the pigeons. For a few pesos you can buy a bag of seed and throw it on the ground for the pigeons.
My guys loved running throughout the square, chasing the pigeons, and just generally having fun!
As I sat and watched them, I thought how this is probably a basic rite of passage for any kid outside of North America. And how much fun it looked! (I kind of wished I was young enough that I could join them without too many weird looks!)
4. Try Ajiaco
I had heard that Ajiaco was THE thing to try in Bogota. As I’m mostly vegetarian (I’m not against meat, I just don’t eat it often), I was a little hesitant to try this soup but wow, am I glad I did!
Served in a gorgeous, deep bowl, Ajiaco is a creamy yellow colour, with half a cob of corn resting in the soup.
On the side is a plate of garnishes including rice, capers, avocado and cream.
The portions definitely weren’t small and I’m glad that was all we ordered (although the meals at other tables looked really good too!). It was absolutely delicious!
We found a restaurant called La Puerta Falsa (thanks Lonely Planet) near Simon Bolivar Square. It’s a small restaurant so we had to wait a few minutes for a spot but it was worth it.
This soup is definitely an experience!
(My son still asks about going back to Bogotá so he can have more chicken soup!)
5. Visit Monserrate
Monserrate is a large hill that dominates the eastern side of the city.
At 3150m high, it is visible from almost everywhere in the city – and in the valley that Bogota lies in – and makes a convenient reference point.
Perched on the peak is a white church that you can see from almost any spot in the city. The church itself is a major pilgrimage destination and a popular place for local families to visit on Sundays.
To get to the top, you can either climb the 1500 steps or take the funicular or cable car. The funicular runs all day but the cable car only operates in the afternoon. Round trip price was COP$12000 (either cable car or funicular).
We’d been advised not to take a stroller (which was smart advice!) but that meant we had to walk 1.5km from downtown to the funicular entrance. The boys did okay but they were getting a little tired by the time we arrived at the entrance and I couldn’t imagine climbing the steps, especially when you’re standing at the bottom and realizing how high the peak really was!
(I’d also been warned about the safety of climbing the steps, but police presence has increased recently and as the number of people visiting on Sundays is high, it’s the safest day to climb).
The highlight for the boys was riding the funicular up the mountain! The ride was about 5 minutes long and the boys loved every minute of it.
We were looking forward to taking the cable car back down although after arriving at the top, we discovered that the cable car was out of service that day and we had to take the funicular back down. Which explains why the line was so long!
(We waited in this line that twisted and turned, so you kept thinking you were almost to the front and then discovered it was only another turn in the line, for just over 2 hours. Not an easy thing with 2 three year olds!).
But the highlight for me was the absolutely amazing views from the top. It’s literally a view of the entire city and suburbs of the capital. Even the best photos can’t quite capture the view!
Other Things to Do with Kids in Bogota
If you are travelling with older children, you might also enjoy visiting the Gold Museum, or Museo del Oro. It’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Colombia, with over 34, 000 pieces of gold!
Divercity is an indoor playground in the Centro Comercial Santa Fé shopping mall. Kids under 12 can try out different careers and pretend to be firefighters, run a restaurant or drive a car. It’s a great option for cold or rainy days in Bogota.
Another great place to explore with kids is the Kids Museum, or Museo de los Ninos. Rather than an indoor museum, the Kids Museum is actually a large outdoor playground with lots of different areas of play equipment. Unfortunately we heard about this place on our last day in Bogota so we weren’t able to visit, but we’ve put it on our list for next time!
Have you been to Bogota? If not, what are you waiting for! If you have any other recommendations for things to do with kids in Bogota, let us know in the comments below.
We visited Bogota and Cartagena during out time in Colombia and highly recommend both places!
You can read our post on Kid-Friendly things to do in Cartagena here.
For other family travel ideas, be sure to check our destinations page or these family friendly itineraries for some more inspiration: