Cartagena Travel Guide

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Centro de Convenciones

Centro de Convenciones

OSCAR CORTÉS

With just under 1 million inhabitants, Cartagena is the most popular tourist resort town in Colombia. It is divided into two main parts: the Ciudad Antigua (Old City) and the Ciudad Nueva (New City). Cartagena used to be a popular place for the privateers of the Caribbean (the most famous being Sir Francis Drake).  Accordingly,  the Spanish  invested heavily in thick walls to protect this important harbour from attacks.

The walls are over 10km long and enclose the pleasant Ciudad Antigua, built in 1533 along a beautiful Caribbean harbor. It’s very pleasant to stroll down the narrow streets and take in the stylish colonial architecture. The cathedrals and palaces face cool shady plazas, where you can buy little cups of coffee ( tinto ) and watch the world go by.

Around Cartagena some very fine beaches are to be found, where you can get a tan under the tropical sun.

Nightlife in Cartagena is quite lively, as there are a number of bars with good (Salsa) music and cheap beer. Finding a decent place to eat is never difficult, and restaurants specialize in Caribbean and creole dishes.

From Cartagena you can travel on to Bogotá, Cali, Medellín, and Santa Marta, a great old city on the coast, from which you can visit the Ciudad Perdida of the Tayrona Indians.

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If you're looking to visit Cartagena, read the following Cartagena travel guide. A historic Colombian city located on the Caribbean Coast, Cartagena boasts sandy beaches, stunning colonial architecture, a lively drinking and dining scene, and a unique atmosphere that blends laid back Caribbean attitude with Colombian cool. At night, the hot, sticky city moves to the sultry sound of salsa, while the beaches in and around the city are great to visit during the day.

The city attracts a broad range of travelers, from backpackers on a budget to vacationers on all-inclusive beach breaks at luxury hotels. Cartagena's small international airport receives flights from across Europe and North America, putting it within easy reach of many travelers. Public transport within the city is cheap and generally reliable, although the drivers' speed can take a little getting used to. The city has a well developed tourist infrastucture, with plenty of hotels, hostels and guest houses to be found for a fraction of the price of other Caribbean destinations.

Sightseeing in Cartagena

A word to the wise - Cartagena has many sights to see, and it's advisable to set your alarm early if you want to take them all in. The historic center of Cartagena is best explored on foot, and early risers can head here before things heat up too much...before heading for the beaches in the afternoon.

Safety in Cartagena

While Cartagena is not an overly dangerous city, visitors should exercise caution when visiting here. Petty theft is an all too common occurance, so take standard precautions such as keeping valuables hidden, taking registered taxis at night, avoiding overt displays of wealth and keeping an emergency stash of money in a money belt or discreet front pocket. Be cautious, but don't be paranoid, and your stay in Cartagena should be trouble free.

Eating and Drinking in Cartagena

Cartagena is a bustling city that combines a lively, cosmopolitan bar and restaurant scene with more traditional eating and drinking establishments. Many of the city's upscale hotels are home to top-end restaurants, and the majority are open to non-guests. The historic center is home to some charming restaurants serving traditional Colombian dishes as well as international cuisine, and budget visitors to Cartagena can fill up at any number of simple corner bars, where a 'plate of the day' comes accompanied by well-chilled beer and friendly chat from the locals.


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