Pedalling the peaks of Bogota
When you arrive in Bogota, first take time to get used to the altitude - it is 2,640 metres above sea level. This urban jungle of eight million inhabitants is perched high on a plateau in the Andes and behind the sprawl of buildings, rise dizzyingly high mountain peaks. After spending two days slowly acclimatising, you are ready to explore the city like a local. With a windcheater or poncho in your backpack (the weather is often unpredictable in the Colombian capital), get on your bike and pedal around the cobbled streets of La Candeleria, the historic quarter of Bogota.
If your sense of direction leaves a lot to be desired, why not book a guided tour? Your hotel reception will be able to suggest a bike rental agency. Some of them have bilingual English-Spanish guides to accompany you on easy-going tours lasting four or five hours. Everyone cycles at their own pace on flat terrain and there are regular stops to take in the pure air of this high-altitude city.
In search of history and hidden gems
Your tour sets off from vibrant Plaza San Diego, a good starting point to explore the city centre. As you pass through La Candeleria, slow the pace down so you can take in the sites of the colonial era, such as the charming Chorro de Quevedo square. Stop off at San Francisco church and discover its hidden treasure, a high altar dating back to the seventeenth century. Not far from here, you can visit the Botero museum dedicated to the famous artist of the same name.
This tour also takes you to places usually off the tourist track, such as the Paloquemao fruit market. In this former railway warehouse with its riot of colours, you can enjoy the exotic taste of tropical fruits you never knew existed.
A short ride later, you will reach the Central Cemetery of Bogota, classified as a historic monument. This is perhaps a fitting time to hear all about the national heroes, poets and former Colombian presidents who are buried here. In this way, you will also learn something about Colombia's troubled past.
San Francisco church (Iglesia de San Francisco)
Avenida Jimenez de Quesada No. 7-10
Botero museum (Museo Botero)
Calle 11 No. 4-41
Paloquemao fruit market (Plaza de Mercado de Paloquemao)
Calle 19 No. 25-04,
+57 1 7426664
Central Cemetery of Bogota (Cementerio central de Bogotá)
Carrera 20 No. 3780,
+57 1 2693141
Tours on the theme of graffiti and coffee
After this introductory tour of the city, hop on your wheels again for a graffiti bike tour. In recent years, the walls of Bogota have undergone a transformation, giving free rein to the unbridled creativity of its street artists. On this tour, you will discover giant murals mixing urban aesthetics and social messages. You will learn to recognise the artists hiding behind their aliases, some of whom are paid by the council to make the city a prettier place.
Another cycle route will be of interest to coffee lovers. Pedal your way to discover Colombia's black gold. In historic coffee houses, such as Casa Galería or Arte y Pasión, you will sample coffees from the various coffee-producing regions. You will learn about the roasting techniques before moving on to a practical session where you get to roast some beans yourself. After getting your fill of caffeine, it is an easy ride to a coffee laboratory where you will learn how the best varieties are selected to create the unique tastes so beloved of bogotanos. The Coffee Fanatic's Bike Tour organised by Bogota Bike Tours is exactly what the name suggests. Follow the guide and the aroma of Colombia's best coffees.
Carrera 2 No.12b-92
Callejón del Embudo,
+57 1 3425225
Arte y Pasión
Calle 16 No. 7-76
Bogota Bike Tours
Carrera 3 No. 12-72,
+57 312 5020554