The crown jewel of Colombia, Cartagena is one of the most utterly romantic, enchanting and perfectly preserved colonial cities in Latin America. With its cobbled streets, ornate churches and majestically eroded forts, Cartagena transfers you back in time and seduces you with its beauty.
Nestled on the Caribbean coast, the old city of Cartagena is extraordinarily well preserved and one of the country’s major allures. Totally enclosed by a series of forts and Las Murallas, (thick stone walls) that were built to protect the city from its invading buccaneers, the old city is beautifully atmospheric. Given UNESCO World Heritage status, within the old walls resides a maze of cobbled alleys, leafy plazas and carved wooden balconies overflowing with brightly coloured bougainvillea.
Restored convents and colonial buildings house a number of museums that provide a glimpse into Cartagena’s past, displaying everything from religious arts to pre-Colombian ceramics and pre-Hispanic gold. The Palace Inquisition is a hauntingly interesting experience, where instruments of torture from Cartagena’s colonial days are displayed. Beautifully decorated churches are scattered around the city, and handicraft markets line the streets, selling vibrantly coloured paintings, coconut carved jewellery and panama style straw hats.
Aimlessly wandering around is the best way to soak up the history and charm the city exudes; mix with locals as they seek shade in the leafy-green plazas, cool down from the glistening sun in a quirky café or waltz around the city on a horse-drawn carriage. Come afternoon, plazas are blissfully alive as street performers entertain, jazz bands fill the air with a pulsating beat and local vendors create a banquet of varying delicacies such as empanadas (meat/cheese pastries), arepas (fried maize dough with a fried egg )and maize cheese balls.
Outside of the old town, a number of day trips can be enjoyed. The archipelago of Isla Del Rosario is a short boat ride away and is made up of idyllic islands, surrounded by coral reef and warm-turquoise waters. The sugar-sand beach of Playa Grande on Baru Island, entices visitors with its swaying palms and snorkelling opportunities.
Cartagena offers the perfect blend of relaxation and exploration. Former convents and colonial mansions have been beautifully restored into luxury boutique hotels, and an array of fine dining and cocktail bars are dotted around the city. To experience the best of this colonial gem, call us to hear about our favourite places, from the best seafood haunt, to our favourite hotel, let us arrange the perfect trip for you.
Please read our blog to find out about our top five things to do in Colombia.