Bogota, Colombia travel guide and things to do: 10 must-do highlights

THE ONE NEIGHBOURHOOD

La Candelaria is Bogota's historic heart and you can still see the Spanish influence in the crumbling colonial mansions lining its cobblestoned streets. It's also where you'll find many of the city's best museums, attractions and budget accommodation (it's a popular backpacker hangout). Once a little unpredictable after dark, the district has been transformed by a proliferation of colourful street art and it's well worth joining the free Bogota Graffiti Tour to find out more. See bogotagraffiti.com

THE ONE HOTEL

Bogota has all the usual high-end chains, such as W, Four Seasons and JW Marriott, but for something a little edgier, check out the funky 60-room Click Clack Hotel. Located in an upmarket neighbourhood near the restaurant and the nightlife centre of Zona Rosa, the hotel has an achingly cool industrial interior, a 50s-themed rooftop burger bar and a cosy basement restaurant. See clickclackhotel.com

THE ONE MUSEUM

Containing more than 34,000 gold artefacts plus another 20,000 in bone, stone, ceramic and textile, the Gold Museum showcases the extraordinary craftmanship of Colombia's pre-Hispanic civilisations. Beautifully displayed over three floors, the collection highlights gold's importance across all facets of society, including religion, politics and shamanism. Like many museums in the city, entrance is free on Sundays. See banrepcultural.org

THE ONE RESTAURANT

Chef Leonor Espinosa has collected a swag of awards for her innovative use of lesser-known Colombian ingredients at her eponymous restaurant, Leo. During its standout 12-course tasting menu, you can expect to sample fried Amazonian ants, broths made from yucca and all manner of exotic rainforest fruits. Her sommelier daughter, Laura, has created an equally adventurous drinks selection, including a vermouth made from fermented cocoa beans and a martini containing Pacific sea water. See restauranteleo.com

THE ONE VIEW

Dominating Bogota's skyline, the 3152-metre-high Monserrate hill offers the best views of the city's sprawling suburbs. Access is via funicular, cable car or by foot (a punishing 1500-step climb at altitude) and at the top you'll find a church, a souvenir market and a smattering of restaurants. Thanks to an altar statue of Senor Caido (Fallen Christ), the church is a popular pilgrimage destination, with devotees often making the challenging ascent on their knees. See cerromonserrate.com

THE ONE TOUR

Feeling intrepid? Bogota Bike Tours offers a four-hour guided cycle that passes through a red-light district, visits a boutique coffee producer and includes a fruit tasting at a local market. The tour concludes with a game of Tejo, Colombia's beer-fuelled national sport, which involves hurling metal discs at gunpowder-filled targets. Bogota's traffic can be hideous, but providing you're confident on a bike, it's the best – and certainly the most adventurous – way to see the city. See bogotabiketours.com

THE ONE SQUARE

Flanked by Bogota Cathedral, the National Capitol and the Palace of Justice (which was famously destroyed during a siege between the guerrilla group M-19 and the military in 1985), Bolivar Square is the grandest and most important civic space in the city. It's particularly appealing on a Sunday morning when the surrounding streets are closed to traffic and the area is reclaimed by pedestrians and cyclists.

THE ONE EXCURSION

An underground salt mine that's been converted into a spectacular subterranean cathedral is the main drawcard in Zipaquira, a city located 45 kilometres north of Bogota. However, the cute tourist train that goes there on weekends is also part of the appeal. After an enthusiastic musical send-off, it trundles through the city's outer suburbs with live bands and street food vendors wandering between the carriages. See turistren.com.co

THE ONE MARKET

Short of heading to the Amazon, the best way to appreciate Colombia's extraordinary floral diversity is to visit Paloquemao, Bogota's largest farmer's market. Stroll around its chaotic maze of stalls and you'll be confronted with a dizzying array of exotic fruits and vegetables, plus an equally staggering selection of fresh flowers (Colombia is one of the world's biggest exporters of roses). For an in-depth guided tour with tastings, sign up for an excursion with Bogota Foodie. See bogotafoodie.com

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ONE MORE THING

Don't be put off by Crepes & Waffles' fast food facade, the Colombian chain not only serves delicious crepes, waffles and salads (the Nutella-filled waffle with banana and ice cream is life-changing), but it also has an unexpectedly altruistic heart – almost all of its employees are single mothers. See crepesywaffles.com.co

Rob McFarland was a guest of G Adventures, who together with National Geographic Journeys offer a nine-day trip from Bogota to Cartagena via Medellin. See gadventures.com.au

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