Colombia’s heaving capital is cradled between impressive mountains on every side, far above sea level, and is, without a doubt, the fastest growing and most developed city in the nation.
Bogota is a melting pot of different cultures – as a result, there are a huge number of attractions hidden within the urban sprawl that lure in visitors and entertain locals to no end.
From a thriving underground art scene and the best nightlife in the country to museums bursting with colonial history, Bogota is a world-class destination for the intrepid traveler.
However, even the most seasoned city-dwellers find themselves desperate for a break from the endless expanse of brick and concrete.
Luckily, the areas surrounding Bogota are more than accommodating.
With waterfalls, national parks and deserts, Colombia’s irresistible natural attractions are on Bogota’s doorstep.
Let’s explore the best day trips from Bogota:
1. Zipaquira and Nemocon
More commonly known as the Salt Cathedral, the Zipaquira mine is an enormous underground salt cavern almost 200-meters below ground.
The awe-inspiring structure dates back to pre-Colombian cultures and was used as a place of worship before transitioning into a Catholic monument.
Marvel at the towering religious effigies carved by artists out of the very rock itself as you wander amongst the monolithic caverns.
You’ll also have a chance to explore the quaint but beautiful colonial town of Zipaquira after your underground adventure, where you’ll find beloved historic buildings shoulder to shoulder with charming street markets.
Recommended tour: From Bogotá: Zipaquirá Salt Cathedral Guided Tour
Colombia is renowned for its world-class coffee, so what better way to escape city life than with a day trip to a famous local coffee producing hacienda? The small but beautiful town of Fusagasugá is home to the Hacienda Coloma, an enchanting coffee plant surrounded by tropical plants and nature, where you can go and learn about the process from start to finish.
Observe everything from the cultivation methods to the roasting of the beans and, of course, enjoy a cup of some of the finest coffee in the country.
Related tour: Bogotá: 5-Hour Coffee Masters Tour
3. Lake Guatavita
Steeped in indigenous legend, Lake Guatavita is an unimaginably pristine lake to the northeast of Bogota that is famous for its link to the story of El Dorado.
Supposedly, the legend of the lost city of gold was first conceived around the lake, where priests would make offerings and carry out important ceremonies.
Aside from fascinating stories, you’ll also be treated to jaw-dropping views of the Tomine Reservoir and have the chance to visit the pretty colonial town of Guatavita itself.
Available tour: Private Guatavita El Dorado legends tour from Bogotá
4. La Chorrera Falls
Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful natural escapes from the city, La Chorrera Waterfall is, in fact, the highest waterfall with multiple steps in the entire country.
Arriving is half the adventure, with a somewhat taxing but incredibly rewarding hike through some of Colombia’s most gorgeous cloud forest.
Strolling through the light fog of the jungle and soaking in the sights of the falls, you’ll be amazed that this awe-inspiring natural phenomenon is a mere two hours from the heaving city center.
The drive up there will also grant you a completely new perspective of the region surrounding Bogota, as the high-rise buildings are replaced with tiny rural communities and mountaintop plains.
Suggested tour: Private La Chorrera Adventure Park Tour
5. East Hills Hike
Of all the impressive mountain ranges that cradle the city, the most popular, beautiful and accessible are those lying to the east.
The East Hills provide some excellent hiking routes that can be completed in a number of hours and give visitors the chance to discover some of the unique flora and fauna around Bogota that are invisible from the city.
The summit also offers truly breathtaking views of the city that give you an idea of just how enormous it is.
Book online: Bogota East Hills Hike
For the perfect combination of history and nature, look no further than Monserrate.
The mountainous landscape overlooks the historical district of La Candelaria in Bogota.
You can either ascend the 10,000 feet in a cable car or on a hiking trail.
Weather permitting, the hiking trail is recommended, as it gives you the chance to stop and marvel at the stunning views.
Once you reach the top, you’ll have the chance to explore one of the most significant pilgrimage churches in the country that boasts panoramic vistas of the city below.
Recommended tour: Monserrate Sanctuary Tour
7. Tequendama Falls
A worthy day trip for those interested in preserving natural habitats, the Tequendama Falls have been a source of debate and concern for many years.
Though beautiful, they are fed by a contaminated section of the Bogota River and are currently observed by a number of conservation projects.
The vast, rocky gorge can be reached from the busy city in less than an hour and is steeped in history.
From indigenous stories to a hotel that’s become a museum, there is much more to the Tequendama Falls than meets the eye.
Suggested tour: Tequendama Falls and Coffee Hacienda Day Trip from Bogotá
8. Villa De Leyva
When it comes to pre-Colombian civilizations, Villa de Leyva is a hotbed of fascinating history and information.
Only three hours bus ride from Bogota, the town is near various archaeological sites that consistently spit up evidence of the ancient Muisca civilization which are exhibited to the public.
The Plaza Mayor is also a charmingly quaint place to sit and sip a cold beer once you’ve had a look around.
Full day tour (13 hours): Zipaquirá Salt Cathedral & Villa de Leyva Tour
9. Chicaque Nature Park
Possibly the best day trip for nature lovers, and by far the most wildly contrasting environment to the concrete jungle of the capital, Chicaque Nature Park is an unmissable destination for anyone with a few days in Bogota.
A mere two hours south of the capital, the nature park boasts an unimaginable range of biodiversity, housed in between the rugged forests and waterfalls of the region’s countryside.
Intersected by over 20-kilometers of trails, hikers delight in watching the vast array of tropical animals that live here, from sloths, and eagles to gorgeous hummingbirds.
Popular tour: Chicaque Full-Day Trip from Bogotá
10. El Jardin Encantado
A world away from the colder mountainous landscapes to the east, El Jardin Encantado can be found in the pleasantly sunny town of San Francisco in the west, not far from the bustling city.
The attraction itself is an enchanting series of little gardens that have been feeding up to as many as 10 distinct species of hummingbird over the years.
Though you can spot them in the wild, it’s a truly magical experience to observe them in such numbers in this gorgeous setting.
The town of San Francisco itself is also a joy to wander around and soak in the warm rays.
Easily the most highly recommended coffee destination in Colombia, right after the famous Eje Cafetero region, Tibacuy is an absolute treat for coffee enthusiasts, nature lovers and history buffs all rolled into one.
Nestled in the Quinini Hills, Tibacuy is a cultural mecca for coffee lovers; the tours operated here give people the opportunity to learn about environmentally friendly coffee as well as sample the most delicious blends.
Those interested in indigenous history will also be awed by the various petroglyphs scattered around the region.
12. Chingaza National Park
Known as one of the largest páramos in Colombia, Chingaza National Park is an otherworldly series of high-altitude plains spanning over 76,600 hectares.
It provides Bogota with an astounding 80 percent of its drinking water.
Bearing a remarkable resemblance to the Scottish Highlands, Chingaza National Park is filled with glacial lakes, streams, and a stunning range of biodiversity.
Hikers who come here can look forward to not only enjoying gorgeous views as they walk between valleys but also seeing all manner of rare flora and fauna.
Around three hours from the hectic pace of life in Colombia, you’ll find one of the most charming and historically significant Andean towns in the region.
Guaduas is surrounded by pretty valleys and filled with enchanting cobblestone streets that snake around a beautiful colonial church and wonderfully quaint square.
The pueblo is also where a Colombian female independence hero was born, known as Policarpa Salvarietta – you can still spot her to this day on the 10,000 peso note.
Widely hailed as one of the best outdoor adventure destinations in Colombia, Suesca is a mountainous region that lies around an hour north of Bogota.
Here you’ll find an adrenaline lover’s paradise, with everything from mountain biking to white-water rafting on offer – perfect for those who want a little excitement to spice up the daily routine of city life.
What Suesca is best known for, however, is its rock-climbing.
Huge sections of sandstone cliffs provide the ideal conditions for everyone from novices to pros to work up a sweat dangling high above the ground.
15. Tatacoa Desert
Though it takes a lengthy six hours to get here from Bogota, the Tatacoa Desert is one of Colombia’s most astonishing natural wonders.
If you feel like you’re short on time there, you can always camp out under the stars for the night.
The enormous desert is, in fact, a dry tropical forest and looks like something straight out of a Western flick.
Back-dropped by mist-clad mountaintops, the desert is a world-class destination for stargazing and you can easily spend hours here admiring the jaw-dropping views.