Best things to do in Bogota – Candelaria
Candelaria Walking Tour – One of the best things to do in Candelaria
There are so many fun things to do in Bogota! When you visit Colombia you must visit the historic area of Candalaria – the historic neighborhood in Bogota. There is so much to see!
One of the best things to do in Bogota is to see Candalaria.
Street Vendors selling:
corn to feed the pigeons
Museum of Botero
Museum of Gold
Super cool everywhere but especially in the Comuna 13 area
The Church of Our Lady of Carmen
Plaza Bolivar is a huge open area surrounded by amazing architecture.
La Candelaria is the 17th locality of Bogota and is the old city. There is so much to see and enjoy here.
There is always a but, right?
This area of Bogota is one where you need to be a little more careful than usual. If you have showy camera equipment, jewelry or have your iPhone out the whole time (and who doesn’t) you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled to avoid pickpockets.
Don’t worry about pickpockets, getting lost, or accidentally finding yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Instead, choose a tour. A tour guide will keep you out of harm’s way and be able to answer all of your questions, too. With a guide you won’t need to worry about much in Bogota but the weather! DO worry about rain. Bogota has the CRAZIEST weather and it changes on a dime. A cheap poncho will save your life here for sure! Always carry one for each person when you travel to Bogota.
We love a walking tour at the beginning of a trip. It gives us an overview of the city and the main attractions but even better than that it gives you a very knowledgeable source to answer all your groups’ questions. Even in our small family of four, we cover a wide area of interests. For example, my son wants the date for everything and is extremely interested in history. I can only gather so much information to give himbefore a trip. It is great to hand over the reins for that amazing amount of information.
We chose Bogota Pass‘ 3-hour walking tour of Candelaria and it was so much fun.
Our guide, Alejandro, spoke perfect English as he was a former English teacher. His knowledge was impressive as we peppered him with questions from a wide variety of categories. We discussed the educational system of Bogota in relation to English language acquisition, indigenous peoples, the history of Bogota, food, weather, flowers and a million other things.
The Bogota Pass office is right around the corner from the Gold Museum which is the perfect place to get started. They can help you with the best things to do in Bogota. They have a long list of tour options!
We loved the street art!
Street art is definitely one of the best things to see in Bogota and an important part of Candelaria. You’ll see fantastic examples of graffiti as you walk the area. Alejandro explained the evolution of a street artist – often from simple tags to more elaborate tags and then on to murals. A lot of street artists hold full-time professional positions. One popular street artist is an art professor at the local university.
Walk the unique street called ‘the funnel’.
Wander the Calle del Embrudo ‘the funnel’ is a neat experience. The uneven cobblestones in the street, street art, dogs playing with plastic water bottles (just like our new puppy does! Aw!) and wonderful sights and smells coming out of the doorways are so wonderful. It is here we tried coca tea.
Try the local cure for altitude sickness.
Before you ask “Is this same coca leaf as in cocaine?” Well, yes, yes it is. As freaky as it sounds the tea is weak and free of alkaloids that would give you a numbing sensation, which is how dentists use it, or a high, like cocaine. Instead, it is a very ‘organic’ tasting tea which helps with altitude sickness. **
By organic I mean it tastes like grass.** The coca tea drink is even safe for kids and mine aged 12 and 14) drank it.
What are the symptoms of altitude sickness?
If you aren’t used to the high altitude of Bogota, you’ll feel the effects immediately. Symptoms include a headache, shortness of breath, nausea, and dizziness. Though you’ll feel tired, it will be hard to sleep as well.
What is happening to your body when you are at high altitude?
At high elevation, the air is ‘thin’ and contains lower oxygen than it does at sea level. So, your body has to work harder to get enough oxygen out of the air. Be sure to give yourself a slower pace than normal so you can get enough rest.
Did it help with altitude sickness?
We all had a mild headache and fatigue the morning of our tour. It was the first day on our trip and going from living at 700 feet elevation in Texas to the 8660 feet elevation of Bogota was a BIG shock to our systems. We only drank a little of the tea each so we couldn’t really tell whether or not it helped. But I figure if generations of Colombians and Peruvians, who drink it also, use it faithfully, they probably know something we don’t.
I’m biased from the very beginning because I love exploring art with my kids. In my humble opinion, art is interesting. It isn’t necessarily something I think is pretty or want to hang in my house but it is always interesting.
Artists create to make a statement. They want their audience to feel something, to think something, to stop for a moment. Botero’s work is larger than life. Everything is large, bigger than life! I especially enjoyed his parody of the Mona Lisa.
So, of course, we were anxious to see the artwork of Colombian’s most famous artist!
Need information about how to visit a museum with kids? I have all you need right here:
How to Visit Museums with Kids
Try chucula – a local snack.
What would a tour of any area be without a snack? Everyone knows vacation calories don’t count, right and you can always diet when you get home.
We stopped at the very colorful Casa Galeria coffee shop and bakery. I love anything colorful so I was immediately taken with this delightful decor. We were here to specifically try a local specialty – Chucula.
Chucula looks like hot chocolate and smells absolutely heavenly – like the most wonderful hot chocolate EVER! But, it isn’t your ordinary hot chocolate by any stretch. My husband loved it and I thought it tasted like chocolate covered dirt.
Even though chocolate makes anything taste better…in this case..not so much.
What is in the Colombian specialty Chucula?
Along with the interesting chucula we had a few snacks.
My daughter tried the cheesecake which she deemed delicious and fluffier than what we’ve had at home in the US.
The carrot cake was delicious – not as sweet as what I’ve had before but wonderful and it had large pieces of carrots. It was so moist and totally worth the calories. Thank heavens hear it doesn’t have any nuts. My son and I both have tree nut allergies (read about how we manage to travel with allergies) and have to be very careful.
I saved the best treat we tried for last! My favorite snack from this experience was called envueltos. It looks like a tamale but it is very moist and very sweet and I totally wish I had one RIGHT NOW!
It looks like a regular tamale. If you’ve had a tamale you know it is a savory dish and this was a dessert. So at first bite, it seemed odd because you were expecting something totally different. Like that feeling you get when you take a sip of Sprite and discover it is water. LOL!
Recipe for Envueltos –
I am not a great cook, but I do like to bring home one recipe from each trip. This time I fell in love with these envueltos and wanted to recreate them at home. I’ve seen lots of recipes but none are as sweet as the ones I had in Colombia. Apparently, you can make Envueltos with cabbage and just corn, sugar, and salt, but the ones we had in Bogota had cheese as well. I’m determined to locate the same recipe and when I do, I’ll post it right here!
Our Lady of Carmen Church
One of the things I was really looking forward to seeing during our Candelaria walking tour was the candy cane striped church – Our Lady of Carmen (Nuestra Senora del Carmen) and was thrilled to see it. Photos do NOT do it justice. In my opinion – this was the TOP sight on the list of the best things to do in Bogota!
It looks like a giant gingerbread house right out of a fairy tale and you can not appreciate its incredible aura by just a photograph! This grande, very large church was built between 1926-1938 by Giovanni Buscaglione in the Gothic style. The outside is further decorated in the Byzantine and Arabic style.
You just HAVE to see it!
It was declared a Colombian national monument in 1993 because of the spectacular design that combines Arab influences and Gothic elements.
Santuario Nuestra Senora del Carmen
Cra. 5 #8-36
+57 1 3420972
Plaza Bolivar is a wide-open plaza ringed with government buildings. It is interesting that they are done in many different architectural styles.
The real fun of the plaza, especially if you have traveled with the kids, are the zillions, millions, and gazillions of pigeons. Purchase corn for $1 US. I’m not so sure the pigeons even like corn that much but they sure like the sprinkles (sugar maybe) he vendors toss as they walk away. So much fun! The birds swarm around and kids love it.
My son and I count pigeons whenever we travel. We were up to 43 pigeons spotted when we rounded the corner to Plaza Boliver and saw approximately 8 million pigeons. We just gave up counting that that moment! LOL!
The Candelaria area is a fun and fascinating place and wonderful to explore with children.
The 100 + current indigenous tribes make wonderful handicrafts and as you explore areas of Bogota you’ll see examples for sale. We saw a small market and enjoyed exploring the options. As my husband is a geologist so we are lovers of rocks, crystals, and fossils. My daughter found an example of copal, also called Colombian Amber, and my son loved the quartz crystals.
I think I found the most interesting handicraft ever. These animals are put on either a ceramic base or one made of sawdust and the feathers or fur are cantaloupe seeds. I bought one for the fridge but mainly I bought one in exchange for the lovely conversation, the photos and the best use of ‘garbage’ I’ve ever seen!
You’ll be walking a lot and will need good travel shoes and socks to have happy feet. EVERYONE in the whole group needs happy feet or everyone will suffer. If you have one person with blisters or aching feet they’ll slow you down, complain and be miserable.
Anyone will benefit from a Bogota Pass tour, they have a long list of tours for all the best things to do in Bogota, but most especially non-Spanish speakers. Feel safe as you walk around, see the sights and ask all the questions you can think of. We enjoyed the Candalaria walking tour and so will you!
Calle 16 No 4-67 Oficina 11
Edificio Hotel Continental
Phone (1) 7 44 38 97
Whats app (+57) 321 482 05 37
Read before you go! Getting ready for a trip means learning a little about the destination! It gets everyone more interested and on board! One of the very best things you can do to get your kids ready for any trip is to read before you go. Make it a part of story time to learn about your upcoming trip. I’ve already made a list of kids books to choose from!
The weather in Bogota is a moving target. Wondering what to pack? Learn from our experience!
COMING SOON – How to Pack for a Visit to Colombia
We loved our trip to Colombia – Bogota, Medellin, and Cartegena!
Natalie, The Educational Tourist