Football and cycling are the two main sports that catch the interest of Colombians nowadays, and while in the former the competition results are not always spectacular, in the latter the country has a tradition of world and regional champions. Nairo Quintana is the latest Colombian long-distance cyclist to win gold medals in world competitions and, as one of the sportspeople with a wide fan base across the country, he was quick to become one of the role models of the young generation.
The performance of the Colombian national football team in the international tournaments is sometimes disappointing, but nevertheless Colombians remain loyal to their selección. On game days, many bars organize football nights or afternoons even on working days, and it is not unusual to see a large share of people wearing the official yellow T-shirt.
Take extra cautions on game days, as unfortunately, the Colombians' passion for their teams may turn violent. Two decades on, the country still remembers the dark day when player Andres Escobar was murdered because of an own-goal that took his country out of the 1994 World Championships.
In Bogotá, the two main football clubs are Santa Fe and Millonarios, each with its own distinctive color, so make no mistake when dressing up on the day of a football match.
Other sports where Colombia occasionally has good competition results are athletics, rugby, squash, boxing or motorsport, though they are far from being in the spotlight.
The only major stadium of the Colombian capital, Estadio Nemesio Camacho, also known as El Campín, is located along the Cra 30. Inaugurated in 1938, it has a total capacity of around 36.000 seats and it regularly hosts the local competitions and tournaments.
Due to its altitude at above 2600 meters (8660 ft) above sea level, there are few major sporting events that take place in the city.
The most important athletic event is the yearly Bogota Half-Marathon, organized every August, that attracts thousands of runners from the country and abroad, as well as world-class athletes.
The Club Colombia Golf Championship takes place in February, and though it is for a restricted audience, it features top players from all around the globe.
Occasionally, local cycling tournaments are also organized in the city and its surroundings.
Bogota may be high up in the mountains, but you should not let that deter you from exercising. Once your body gets used to the altitude, there are plenty of options for physical activities, both indoor and outdoor, to keep you in good shape.
Ciclovia, a pioneer initiative that has started in 1974 and has been since implemented by various cities on the planet, is now a tradition in the Colombian capital. Every Sunday and public holiday, major avenues of the city are closed, totally or partially, for motorized traffic between 7 am and 2 pm, and thousands of cyclists and pedestrians take to the streets.
Cycling is not the only sport that is popular on a Ciclovia. With a wide range of side events such as free dancing, aerobics or yoga open classes, the Ciclovia is a perfect place for sports of all kinds. Many people use the avenues for jogging, skateboarding, rollerblading and similar activities.
At determined times during the year, the night version of the event, Ciclovia Nocturna, is also popular on specific days. Check out updates and routes on the Ciclovia official website.
Cycling is big in Bogota, and you are guaranteed to develop a fitness level that will make exercising in lower altitude feel like a peace of cake. On Saturdays and Sundays, large numbers of cyclists take the roads out of the city towards the neighbouring villages. Roads are not closed for regular traffic, though, and if you take the busiest ones you may find yourself breathing the exhaust of all trucks and cars that surpass you.
A popular route is the road to La Calera, a steep ascent of around 600 meters, along the mountain range that borders the city to the East.
In the heart of the Colombian Andes, Bogota is ideal for hiking. There are a wide variety of trails both near the city and outside, and many combine physical exercise with scenic views. However, keep in mind that most trails inside or close to the city have serious security problems, and it is advisable to walk them either in large groups or accompanied by the Police. Moreover, trails that are outside of Natural Parks or Reservations are rarely marked, and you run the risk of getting lost if you adventure out on your own.
There are many hiking groups in Bogota that organize Sunday hikes, and they are mainly run as travel agencies, so the prices may add up if you are a regular hiker.
Some of the hiking routes that are accessible and safe without the use of a guide or a group:
Swimming pools are not very popular in chilly Bogota. Instead, many locals prefer heading out to the hot-climate regions just a few hours´ drive from the capital, where there are dozens of water parks and outdoor swimming pools that are less expensive.
Nevertheless, the capital still has a reasonable offer of heated swimming pools, some of which are public, whereas the others are more exclusive private pools that require a membership.
While the fitness culture is not as strong as in other South American cities, Bogota has many gyms and fitness centers for all budgets. Most neighborhoods have at least a gym, though many don't have websites. Many offer a variety of classes, from cross-fit to zumba, aerobics, pilates, to more conventional personal training sessions. Pay is usually per subscription, either monthly, bi-anually or annually, and prices depend a lot on the quality and location but may be up to 100 usd per month.