Bogota: A day in La Candelaria with just FREE attractions

We arrived in Bogota at night after spending a whole day on different airports. This morning we got up early to work (the digital nomadic life is great, but not always easy), then we left in the morning to stroll through the city. As we are staying in the district La Candelaria, which is the city center, we decided to visit the main attractions here, which are among the main ones in Bogota. We explored everything on foot and we didn’t have to spend one cent to visit all these places. Now we will give you our itinerary with only free attractions in La Candelaria, Bogota.

Hostal Cosu: creative coffee
Hostal Cosu: creative coffee

Before we started walking around, of course we had to eat breakfast. We found a super cute restaurant very close to our accommodation, all decorated with reused materials. Hostal Cosu offers different salads, pastries, coffees, sandwiches and breakfast combos, with very reasonable prices. My combo with a huge cup of hot chocolate, toast, butter and marmalade cost 4,000 COP, something around 1,15 Euro.

Then we went to the church of La Candelaria, a colonial building from 1703, which is declared as a National Monument. In the same street as the church there are the Botero Museum and the House of La Moneda (Casa de la Moneda). The two museums are located in a single building. You can see an impressive collection.

Botero Museum. In the background paintings by Miró and Picasso
Botero Museum

I recommend to start with Casa de La Moneda, because it shows a little bit of Colombia’s history (Nuevo Reino de Granada) and Bogota (Santa Fe) through the collection. In the same building you will also find art collections of several Colombian artists, that show the diverse styles throughout the years. However, the most valuable pieces of this part of the museum are shown in the room of colonial custodies, which is protected by vault doors, as they keep original religious pieces, made of lots of gold, precious stones, diamonds and pearls.

The Botero Museum is undoubtedly the most famous and one of the most important ones in Bogota. There are more than 100 pieces by the main Colombian artist, Fernando Botero, donated by himself, as well as paintings by some of the world’s most important artists such as Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Juan Miró, Salvador Dali, Claude Monet and others. I wrote a post just about this museum as well.

National Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora del Carmen
National Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora del Carmen

In the street perpendicular to the building of Casa de la Moneda (Carrera 5) is the National Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora del Carmen. A beautiful church from the outside and inside. But you have to keep an eye on the opening hours as it opens and closes many times a day. We went on a time when it was closed, but the cleaning lady let us have a peek. 😊

Going back to Calle 11, where Casa de La Moneda is, walking further down you will see the Gabriel Garcia Márquez Cultural Center, and going even further you will arrive to Plaza Bolívar, where the Primada Cathedral is located, and next to it the Chapel of the Sacred , the Justice Palace, the National Capitol, the Archbishop’s Palace and the Liévano Palace, the Bogota City Hall.

Primada Cathedral

Behind the Capitol is the Nariño Palace, the official residence of the president, but the access was closed due to a protest. We only saw the back part of it, where right in front is the San Agustín Cloister, a church that we also visited.

We had lunch in a restaurant in the city center. A menu for only 8,500 COP, about 2,40 Euros, with a soup as an entree, a main course (there were two options), juice and a dessert.

After lunch, we went shopping for some things we needed such as a SIM card or an adapter. Afterwards, we went to the Gold Museum (which is in La Candelaria, but it isn’t for free), but then we discovered that we had left our camera in the restaurant (a lot of emotions already on the first day). We ran back to the restaurant for several blocks and when we got there we were so happy knowing that they had kept the camera. In this moment we decided to finish our day so nothing else will happen. hehe

Being orientated in La Candelaria is very easy, as the streets are distributed by numbers. And, in addition to many attractions, there are many old and colorful mansions, several beautiful graffiti, restaurants and shops.

Despite the many recommendations to be careful, it seemed very safe, at least during the day (at night it gets weirder), there were many policemen and even army. However, there were reinforcements because of a protest and a military event in the Cathedral.

As you can see, our first day in Bogota was super productive, cheap and wonderful.

Translate to English by Juliane Boll