Bogotá is a huge city – 1,775 square kilometers to be exact! Eight million residents and thousands of visitors are moving throughout Bogotá each day. It can be hectic and confusing, but this article will help to arm you with a few apps that will make getting around the city a bit easier!
The first thing that you will want to do is get acclimated a bit with the city. The mountains are to the east, so as long as you can see the mountains you should be able to figure out what direction you are facing or going! For example, if the mountains are to your right, you are facing north.
Streets are mostly “calles” and “carreras.” Calles run east to west and get larger as you travel north. Carreras run north to south and get larger as you travel west, starting with Carrera 1 right next to the mountains. Addresses are in the format of Calle 82 #12-21. The first number tells you the street number and the second number tells you the nearest cross street, so this address would be on Calle 82 between Carreras 12-13.
With knowledge of how the streets are set up and the apps listed below, you will be able to get out and explore the whole city! We recommend checking out neighborhoods in the north of the city as well as the more popular La Candelaria and city center. For more information on the city and where to stay head on over to “Places to Visit And Stay Near Bogotá.”
Moovit is a public transportation app that is available in many destinations around the world. I like this app for public transportation because it tends to be a bit more reliable than the public transportation information on Google Maps and is easy to use. For information on how to use Bogotá’s public transportation, read our article “Basics for Transportation in Bogotá.”
When you open the app there is a search bar that says “Where do you want to go?” You type in the name of the business or the address and the start will automatically be from your current location. You can also change the starting point if you are looking up directions for later. The app will offer suggested routes starting with the fastest option. Click on the option that best suits you to see detailed instructions.
From the Suggested Routes page you can also click “Edit” in the top-right corner which will give you more options. On the left under your destinations you will see a clock icon that says “Now” next to it. If you click on that you can choose from leave now, set your departure time, set desired arrival time, and last lines for today. Just be careful if you choose “set desired arrival time” as the buses typically are not running exactly on schedule – give yourself some extra time! You can also click on “Options” from the edit page and choose your route type (best route, least walking, least transfers) and transit type (SITP bus or Transmilenio).
Unfortunately, it is not available offline, so you will need an internet connection (If you want to know how to get a SIM card click here) to access information. You can, however, search your route while online and keep the app open, and it will still work even if you lose connection, as long as you have your selected route open.
I love Google Maps because you can view maps offline and it offers directions for driving, public transportation, walking, and Uber can be accessed through it.
Downloading Google Maps is always a number one priority when I am visiting a new city. To download a map open the app and click on the three lines in the top-left corner, and select “Offline maps” from the menu. At the bottom where it says “Download an offline map” you can choose from local to download the map where you currently are, or custom map to choose a location yourself.
It is important to zoom all the way in when downloading a map, otherwise details such as some street names and businesses will not appear when you are offline. Like I mentioned above, Bogotá is huge, so you will likely have to have two to three Bogotá maps downloaded in order to have every area you need. Note that when you are using downloaded maps offline the only type of directions available are driving directions.
Information on public transport is also available on Google Maps (online only). After you search for directions, click the train, which is the second icon, and you will be supplied with various options for public transportation. Google Maps typically works just fine, but I have had a few encounters when a bus line or schedule was changed and Google Maps did not have the updated information.
Maps.Me is another great option for using downloaded maps offline. Like the others, it has its pros and cons. What I love about Maps.me is that you can download much larger sections of a map – usually there are only two to three maps for an entire country!
To use offline open the app, click on the three lines in the bottom-right hand corner, and select “Download Maps” from the menu. Search “Bogotá” or “Colombia” (which is split into north, east and west, Bogotá being in the “west” map) and click on the download arrow button to the left of the map you need.
The great thing about offline maps for Maps.me is that you can access not only driving direction but walking direction as well. Like Moovit and Google Maps, public transport information is only available online. One thing that you want to be careful of when using this app is direction times, as they are almost always incorrect. For example, Maps.me will tell you a 30-minute drive will take 10 and a that an eight-minute walk will take 15!
You might be wondering why you would need both Google Maps and Maps.me. I like having both because sometimes one has more detail, especially regarding businesses, than the other. For example, you might find a restaurant on Maps.me that is not on Google Maps or vice versa. Furthermore, Maps.me has offline walking directions, which is not available on Google Maps, and that you can access Uber from Google Maps, which is not available on Maps.me. Therefore, having both is a great way to ensure you have all of the best information possible!
If you search the app store for “SITP” you will see two local app options, “Transmilenio y Sitp” and “TransMi App.” These are both designed just for Bogotá’s public transportation. I used TransMi App for a short period of time, but found Moovit to be much easier to navigate, especially since these apps are in Spanish.
There are plenty of apps to choose from, but the three listed above have proven the most useful during my time here in Bogotá. Do you have any apps that you loving using to get around the city? Share them with us in the comments!
For more information on Bogotá make sure you read “5 Apps You Need to Have if You Live in Bogotá” and the rest of our articles on the blog!