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Cartagena - Old Town - r.g. photo

Cartagena is a gorgeous city, and it’s well worth spending four or five days here. We only had two days, unfortunately, but it was enough to fall in love with this little jewel box of a town. There are many excellent hotels offering high-quality service in the old town within the city walls (Hotel Bantú, Hotel Alfiz, Hotel Ananda). The downtown area isn’t very big, and you can easily walk around it within a couple of hours, but it’s still worth paying for a horse-and-buggy ride around the city in the evening. There are many beautiful churches, and almost every building is painted a different color. The Museum of the Inquisition is also interesting. In many places they play salsa or cumbia in the evening, and on the weekends you’ll find lots of fun dancing venues. On the old city walls is the famous Café des Mar, where you can admire the view out over the sea and the beautiful sunset with a good cocktail or some fresh fruit juice.

Opposite the city’s emblematic clock tower you’ll find the Portal del Dulce, where small shops sell local sweets, fruit-and-coconut-flavored snacks and other goodies. It’s definitely worth trying the fried seafood specialties of the small restaurants, which are usually served with coconut-flavored rice or fried plantain (patacones). As part of a half-day program it’s possible to hike up to the fortress of San Felipe, which once defended Cartagena Bay from marauding pirates. Since 1984, the fortress and the city walls have been UNESCO world heritage sites! If there’s still time after visiting the hills around the city, then it’s worth taking a daytrip to nearby Barú, where the sea is a beautiful deep blue.


v.g. photo


If you could only visit one South American city, I’d recommend Cartagena. For me this was perhaps the most beautiful and colorful city, and its character is really characteristic of South America. The color, music and rhythm of the old town, the openness of the locals and the bright houses with their balconies and big inner courtyards all testify to the life and energy of this city on the Caribbean coast.”


Practicals

Transport

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Cartagena - bus - crowd - r.g. photo

Cartagena - tourist bus - r.g. photo

Cartagena - tourist bus - r.g. photo

Cartagena - Old Town - a lot of taxis - l.n. photo

Food

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Cartagena - Old Town - cafe - Susanne photo

Shopping

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Cartagena - fruitsellers - v.g. photo

Cartagena - fruitseller - r.g. photo

Cartagena - jewelry - r.g. photo

Fun

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Cartagena - Old Town by night - r.g. photo

Cartagena - Getsamani - r.g. photo

Cartagena - cafe terrace - r.g. photo

Cartagena - Mona Lisa pub - Susanne photo

Others

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Background

Cartagena - Old Town - a Botero sculpture - Susanne photo

Destination in brief

Population (in 2020):  952,000

Average net monthly salary (in 2020): 420 USD  (Colombia's average: 310 USD)

Geography

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Cartagena - sloth with baby in a city park - v.g. photo

History

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Cartagena - Getsamani - Plaza de la Trinidad - bronze sculptures of independence heroes - v.g. photo

Nowadays

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Cartagena - Bocagrande - ,, Cartagena’s mini-Miami"- r.g. photo

Attractions

Old Town

Cartagena - Plaza de San Pedro Claver with Iglesia de San Pedro Claver, a church&convent -v.g. photo

Cartagena - Old Town - Susanne photo

Cartagena - Old Town - Susanne photo

Cartagena - Old Town by night - r.g. photo

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Cartagena - Castillo San Felipe - r.g. photo

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