The number of foreign visitors to Colombia has been increasing every year with Bogotá receiving more foreign visitors than any other city in the country.
In 2014 Colombia saw the biggest foreign tourist growth in several years, with the country experiencing growth of 14% compared to 2013. In the first quarter of 2015, foreign tourism growth to Colombia has increased even more with arrivals of 540,120 foreigners who are not residents in the quarter, which is an increase of 17.9% compared to the first quarter of 2014.
The most popular city for foreigners to arrive in Colombia is Colombia’s capital and largest city, Bogotá, which has a metro population of about 14 million. In the first quarter of 2015, according to Colombia’s trade ministry, 64.3% of the foreign visitors to Colombia arrived in Bogotá, compared to 8.4% in Cartagena and 7.1% in Medellín.
However considering that Bogotá is a big connection city with many flights to other cities in Colombia, some foreign visitors may be connecting in Bogotá to go to other cities in the country. But we believe a majority of the foreign tourists that arrive in Bogotá with plans to visit another city in the country spend at least a few days in Bogotá with its many tourist attractions and its vibrant restaurant scene and nightlife.
In 2013, Bogotá reportedly surpassed 1 million international tourists for the first time. In addition to foreign tourists, Bogotá receives about 7 million domestic tourists from other cities in Colombia each year.
The Bogotá Airport
Bogota’s El Dorado International Airport is among the world’s 50 busiest airport in terms of passenger traffic. It is the third busiest passenger airport in Latin America and as the largest airport in Colombia it serves as the main international and domestic air gateway in Colombia. Over 20 airlines have direct international flights from other countries into El Dorado airport making Bogotá the most well connected city in Colombia.
From the U.S. it is possible to fly directly to Bogotá from Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale, Houston-Intercontinental, Miami, Newark, New York-JFK, Orlando and Washington-Dulles. From Europe there are direct flights to Bogotá from Amsterdam, Barcelona, Frankfurt, Lisbon, London-Heathrow, Madrid and Paris. In addition there are direct flights to Bogotá from many cities in Latin America.
New Airline Flights to Bogotá
The airlines are catching on to the growing tourism in Bogotá and have been adding flights. KLM recently started direct flights from Amsterdam to Bogotá and Cali in Colombia and Avianca is starting daily service between Bogotá and London beginning in July. The additional international flights provide many options for connections to additional cities in Europe with both Amsterdam and London being major connection hubs.
On July 1, Avianca will start direct flights between Bogotá and Los Angeles. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is a major airport that provides the ability to connect to 87 domestic destinations in the U.S. as well as 69 international destinations in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, and Oceania.
Bogotá Tourism Introduction
Bogotá is often referred to as the ‘Athens of South America’ with 58 museums, over 150 art galleries, 33 library networks, 45 stage theaters, 75 sports and attraction parks, and over 150 national monuments. As the largest city in Colombia, Bogotá has a tremendous number to tourist sites and restaurants as well as a lively nightlife. The city also has well over 500 hotels including a number of hotels from the top global hotel chains.
Three of the top tourist sites in the Bogotá area include Monserrate, Museo de Oro (Gold Museum) and the Zipaquira Salt Cathedral, which we plan to look at in more detail in an article next week. Other top tourist spots in Bogotá include Museo Botero, Jardin Botanico Jose Celestino Mutis, Iglesia de San Francisco and Museo National.
Bogotá is experiencing a restaurant boom that has attracted a long list of international chefs and a growing number a world-class restaurants. We already looked at Zona G, which is one of Bogota’s up-and-coming fine dining destinations with a number of boutique restaurants. The city has a number of additional popular restaurant locations including Parque 93, Zona Rosa, Usaquén and La Candelaria.
For the nightlife in Bogotá, Zona Rosa is a prime nightclub district in the city with a number of the hottest clubs in the city. Nightlife in the Zona Rosa area ranges from cozy pubs serving handcrafted beers like the laid-back Bogota Beer Company, to a number of trendy dance clubs that go all night long. Chapinero is another popular nightlife area that we looked at recently. La Candelaria is an additional nightlife area in the city where you can mingle with local students, bohemians and artists, but care should be taken at night in the La Candelaria neighborhood.
The Bottom Line
We expect that Bogotá will remain the most popular foreign tourist entry point into Colombia with continued strong Bogotá tourism growth expected over the next several years.
We plan to look at popular tourist spots in Bogotá, the restaurant scene in the city and nightlife in Bogota in more detail as well as several additional topics in an ongoing series about Bogotá on this website over the next few months.