Cartagena is a port city on Colombia’s Carribbean coast, boasting colorful buildings, a rich history and plenty of things to see and do. Here’s a list of the top sights and activities in the city.
Located in the heart of Cartagena, this walled city, protected by a fortress, was once used to shelter the city from pirates and storms. Within this small sector you will find an incredible array of bars, restaurants, shops and some beautiful (and rather expensive) hotels. Despite it being filled with tourists pretty much all year round, this historic corner of the city has not lost its charm.
Playa Blanca is undoubtedly one of Colombia’s most beautiful beaches. Located on Baru island, it is 45 minutes by boat from Cartagena port, or around a two-hour car journey from the main city. Crystal-clear waters lap the perfectly white sand and visitors have the option to spend a day relaxing on this incredible beach or, should that not be enough, you can also stay over night. Come for the day and make the most of some delicious fresh fish served alongside coconut rice. Stay the night and you can appreciate the beach in complete stillness and silence once all the day trippers leave. Either way, a visit to this beach is a must for anyone spending more than a day in Cartagena.
A night spent on a chiva (party bus) is a very Colombian activity – expect live musicians playing Vallenato, an open bar with local liquor and a lot of dancing. While the party starts on the bus, you’ll then be dropped off at various bars around the city, ending in a larger club where your chiva will leave you to dance the night away. Most of the hostels in the city arrange chiva tours, and for those travelling alone this is a great way to meet new people. Just make sure you’re ready to have fun!
Café Havana is the place to be if you like listening or dancing to salsa music. Even if you’ve never danced it in your life, it’s still worth heading to the city’s cultural and party center, Getsemani, to try out this Cuban-style bar. Café Havana draws a mixed crowd of locals and expats and welcomes talented live salsa bands who keep the crowd entertained until the early hours. Even if you’ve two left feet, head on down for some perfectly mixed cocktails, enjoy the music and watch others take to the dance floor.
La Boquilla is a fishing village on the outskirts of Cartagena. What it lacks in aesthetics it makes up for in character and authenticity, as this is the beach favored by local cartageneros. If you head down on a weekend you’ll find it heaving with Cartagena residents who have come to kick back, sip some beer and sunbathe. The food on offer is fantastic, you can feast on some freshly caught fish and try the local delicacy arroz con coco (rice with coconut).