Top 5 Must Do's in Cartagena

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Walled City

Cartagena’s Historic Center is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best examples of colonial architecture to be found anywhere in South America. Just strolling around the streets and plazas is a pleasure in itself, but head out early for your sightseeing trip as the hot, humid climate can make things uncomfortable after around 11am. The pastel-colored terraced houses, crumbling mansions and imposing churches make great photo opportunities, but be careful to keep your camera out of sight when it is not being used.

Volcan del Totumo Mud Bbaths

Don’t miss the opportunity to get down and dirty in the name of good health. At Volcan del Totumo you can take the plunge into a volcanic mud crater, slipping and sliding around while absorbing all kinds of supposedly health-giving minerals into your skin. The baths lie around 50 minutes’ drive from Cartagena center, and there are scores of tour companies offering jeep trips out here – your hotel or hostel should be able to recommend reputable companies. A mud bath will set you back the equivalent of around $5, and it’s possible to have an indulgent mud massage for a few dollars more.

Portal de Las Dulces

Visitors with a sweet tooth should make a beeline for this square in the walled city. Here, locals gather to sell all manner of deliciously sweet treats, making good use of local ingredients such as coconut and tropical fruits. The combination of Caribbean and Colombian cultures makes this an explosion of color, scent and the babble of voices –  a real treat for all the senses.

Castillo San Felipe de Barajas

The largest Spanish fort to be found anywhere in the Americas, this dramatic structure stands on a hill to the northeast of the city. Work began on the fort in 1656 and was not finished until nearly 90 years later. Adults can take in the history of the place, children will love the opportunity to explore the fort’s underground tunnels. Entrance is the equivalent of around US$5, half price for kids.

Parque Nacional Corales del Roasario

Tiny islands, spits of beaches and mangrove swamps await visitors to this national park, which teems with exotic wildlife. The park lies around 40 kilometers from Cartagena, and there are plenty of companies offering trips out here – many including meals and accommodation. Shop around for the best deals.

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