This colorful colonial Caribbean city is sweltering hot and full of energy and it is one of the hottest tourist destinations in Colombia. A popular Caribbean cruise port, it is busiest during the December holidays and the holy week when Colombians go on vacation. The main attractions of the city include the Bocagrade, a strip of hotels, clubs and restaurants along the beach – and the colonial walled city with its colourfully painted buildings. The historic old town is surrounded by 500 year old forts and walls from the Spanish colonial times.
So what is there to do in Cartagena? Here are five ideas of what you can enjoy during your visit:
1. Walk Along the City Walls
The Old Town of Cartagena is surrounded by Las Murallas, which are thick walls that are built to protect the city from its enemies. They were built during the end of the 16th century after Francis Drake’s attack and they took two hundred years to construct because they were repeatedly damaged by storms and pirate attacks. They were finished in 1796 and they are still in amazingly good shape – so take a stroll along the walls and admire the views of the city.
2. Dance the Night Away at Café Havana
Café Havana is a bar that will take you back to Cuba in the 1950s, with a wonderfully retro vibe, wooden-panelled walls, strong drinks and live salsa music. Spend the evening learning how to move your hips to the sensual rhythm of salsa and getting tipsy on some Caribbean rum.
3. Admire the Santo Domingo Church
Santo Domingo is the oldest church in the city, built in 1539. The original succumbed to fire but was rebuilt in 1552. The interior is impressive, with a lofty ceiling and the figure of Christ carved in wood within the elaborate altar. The floor is paved with old tombstones that date back to the 19th century. There is a 20 minute self-guided audio tour available if you are interested in the history of the church.
4. Take a Trip to Islas del Rosario
Islas del Rosario are a set of paradise-like tropical islands off the coast of Cartagena and there are many options for boat tours from the city. The tour will usually include a visit to the aquarium, lunch and a few hours of relaxation at Playa Blanca. These islands have a great variety of underwater life, so they are a prime destination for snorkelling and scuba diving.
5. Watch the Sunset at Café del Mar
Although the cocktails at Café del Mar are quite pricey, they are worth it for the amazing view you will enjoy while perched along the western wall. Show up around 5:30pm and watch the sky turn shades of pastel pink and purple as the sun sinks slowly into the ocean.
After enjoying these five great activities in Cartagena, Colombia you are sure to fall in love with this beautiful Caribbean port.
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