The city of Bogota is still a hidden gem, especially for visitors from foreign countries. This dynamic, bustling city is a charming place to explore with its vibrant cultural scene, fascinating museums, excellent restaurants, and pulsing nightlife.
When visiting Bogota, you should not miss out on a short escape to the imposing Monserrate Hill at 3152 m (10,341 ft) above sea level. The funicular and cable car stations that take you there are not far from the “La Candelaria District,” Bogota's old town. Weather permitting, from Monserrate you can observe one of the best sunsets in the city.
The Monserrate Hill has always been a heavily visited destination by locals and visitors alike. The main attraction for the local population is the Monserrate Sanctuary, located not far from the funicular and cable car mountain-top stations.
The funicular was built in 1929, facilitating the journey from the city to the Sanctuary on Monserrate Hill. Before the funicular existed, the trip from the city to the Sanctuary was arduous and complicated.
In 1962, the Empresa Funicular de Bogota modernized the funicular by replacing the old machines with stronger and faster ones. Larger railcars were added that could transport more people up and down the hill. The new railcar could transport 25 passengers seated and 57 passengers standing. These railcars from 1962 are still in use today.
The funicular crosses two bridges on the way to the top, one that is 3.8 meters and the other 50 meters in length. On the mountainside, the journey ends after the funicular passes through a 252-meter-long tunnel to the mountain station. A restored original funicular car is on display just outside the valley station.
Because of the large number of passengers traveling daily to Monserrate Hill, the Empresa Funicular de Bogota decided to install a cable car in addition to the funicular railway. The cable car was inaugurated in 1955.
The cable car was an enormous success from the beginning. Passengers have an excellent view over the city and its surroundings from the large windows. The two cabins can transport up to 40 passengers each. The gondolas cover 880 m (2887 ft) in just 7 minutes from the valley to the mountain station.
Visit the La Candelaria District in the afternoon and finish before sunset at Monserrate Hill. The dining options at the top range from inexpensive eateries to fancy restaurants with international cuisine. Check beforehand with the restaurant to ensure that the cable car or funicular is running that night.
If you must choose between the cable car and the funicular, choose the cable car, as the views are spectacular. The Funicular travels through the forest and a tunnel, so with it you won't see much of the city during the trip.
Note that fewer people visit Monserrate during the afternoon. In my opinion, the late afternoon is the best time to go up, as you can watch the city of Bogota begin to light up for the evening and, with a bit of luck, you may see a spectacular sunset over the city. The Funicular and Aerial Tramway runs from 6:30 a.m. – 11:30 p.m. from Monday to Saturday, and on Sunday from 5:30 AM – 5:30 PM. When you purchase tickets, be sure to ask when the last funicular or cable car returns to the city.
We visit the Monserrate Hill during our Tour: "Coffee & Rum in Colombia and Panama."