Day Trips in Bogota

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Bogota is an exhilarating city, and the high altitude combined with the fast pace of life can leave locals and visitors in need of some rest and relaxation. Happily, the city is within easy reach of a number of scenic spots, where it´s possible to kick back, relax, and enjoy the slower pace of life.

Villa de Leiva

This beautiful, tranquil mountain town lies less than 200km from Bogota and is easily reached by bus from the city´s main bus station. The whitewashed town square, relaxed ambiance and picturesque colonial buildings are far from what most people call to mind when they picture Colombia, and this is a wonderful place to just get away from it all. Abundant guest houses, restaurants and a scattering of bars mean that visitors often end up spending more time here than originally intended. Prices tend to be comparable with Bogota itself, but unlike the big city there is plenty of opportunity to just grab a bottle of Sangria, stock up on picnic goodies at the supermarket, and relax by the square with a makeshift picnic. The surrounding countryside is ideal for exploring on foot, bicycle or horseback. Plaza Mayor is a beautiful hotel at the heart of the town, and offers luxurious accommodation for those who can afford it, while Posada La Villa de Alcala, at Cra 9, is a pleasant, good value spot that´s popular with families. There are also a couple of campsites just outside the town.

Guatavita

This small town, located less than 80km from Bogota, is a popular spot for upper middle class Bogatanos looking for a weekend escape from the city. Again, it is easily reached by bus from Bogota, but there is less charm to the town itself than 18th Century Villa de Leiva. The real draw here is the Laguna de Guatavita, a beautiful lake surrounded in myth and mystery, that is a perfect place for fishing, walking, or just relaxing and taking in the view. There are several guesthouses in the town, ranging from basic and budget-friendly to upscale boutique hotels. On arrival at the bus station, guest house owners will approach with promotional leaflets - it´s fine to shop around for the best deals.

Tunja

Around 135 km from Bogota en-route to Villa de Leiva, this unassuming town is actually the capital of the Boyaca Department. The main reason to visit is the fine colonial architecture, including some extremely well-preserved churches and an impressive cathedral. The town also has an historical significance - less than 20km from here is the spot where liberator Bolivar led his troops in the famous battle of Boyaca. Many buses require passengers to change here on the way to Villa de Leiva, and it´s worth setting aside a day and night to explore the historic town. There´s a good value guest house, Hosteria San Carlos, at Cra 11, and numerous others dotted around the town. Take taxis at night, this town is a little edgier than nearby Villa de Leiva.

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