Cartagena: The Heroic of Colombian tourism

Cartagena de Indias, National Heritage of Colombia (1959) and World Heritage Site (UNESCO, 1984), is a historical city whose main economic activity is tourism. The high temperatures of the Walled City have never been an impediment for tourists to stroll through its streets full of history, romance and beauty.

Among its main attractions is the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas (Fort of San Felipe de Barajas) located in the Cerro San Lazaro (San Lazaro Hill). Its construction was carried out between the years 1536 - 1657 during the Spanish colonial era. Considered one of the seven wonders of Colombia (2007) and declared a World Heritage Site in 1984 by UNESCO along with the historic center of Cartagena, also known as the Walled City. The Colombian Ministry of Culture recognizes it as Colombia's historical and cultural heritage. Similarly, the walls of Cartagena stand out among the main attractions of “La Heroica” (Cartagena acquired this name after becoming the first province to obtain its independence from Spain). These walls greet lots of tourists who enter the city each year. Its construction began in September 1614 and ended two centuries later.

Due to the large flow of visitors, the city has a large number of accommodations, restaurants, museums, tour operators, bars, craft shops, cafes, among others, although the most characteristic of Cartagena are the so-called "palenqueras". These women dress each day in colorful costumes, they place a large tray of fruits or typical Colombian sweets on their heads and thus they walk through the streets of Cartagena crying out loud that they sell: "cocadaaaaa", "alegriaaa", "enyucado". You can take a photo with them, they will gladly give your camera a smile in exchange for a tip.

Another peculiarity of Cartagena tourism is the carriage rides that take you through the entire old city of Cartagena while they tell you the history of the monuments you see along the way. It is advisable to take this guided tour at night, which, in my opinion, is when Cartagena comes to life. Cartagena nightlife attracts many itinerant artists who often display their skills surrounded by a large circle of spectators. Whether they dance, imitate, sing or make a theatrical performance, you will find them in the busiest squares enlivening the Cartagena night.

Squares and Parks of Cartagena

  • Plaza San Pedro Claver

  • Plaza de La Aduana

  • Plaza de los Coches (in this plaza you will find the “Portal de los Dulces” where you can buy all kinds of typical Colombian sweets)

  • Plaza de Bolivar

  • Plaza Fernandez Madrid

  • Plaza Santo Domingo (in this square you will find the fat Gertrudis (Gertrude), famous sculpture (650 kilos) made by the plastic artist Botero, it is said that by touching her breasts you attract good luck in love and a long lasting relationship with your couple)

  • Plaza de Armas

  • Plaza de La Merced

  • Plaza de la Santisima Trinidad

  • Plaza del Estudiante

  • Plazoleta de San Francisco

  • Plaza de San Diego

  • Camellon de Los Martires

  • Apolo Park

  • Centennial Park

If you are a lover of the sea, in Cartagena there are several beach options:

  • Isla Baru or Baru island (one of the best known and recommended beaches in this area is Playa Blanca at 1 hour 15 minutes, approximately, from Cartagena by car)

  • Marbella

  • Bocagrande

  • Playa Cartagena

  • Boquilla

  • El Laguito

  • Castillogrande

  • Manzanillo beach

  • Crespo

  • Punta Canoas

  • Blas El Teso beach

Beaches with access by sea (boat)

  • Isla Mucura or Mucura island (it is part of the San Bernardo archipelago (10 Colombian coastal islands: Boqueron, Palma, Panda, Mangle, Ceycen, Cabruna, Tintinpan, Maravilla, Mucura and Islote de Santa Cruz, an artificial islet, all located in the Gulf of Morrosquillo in the Caribbean Sea))

  • Islas del Rosario or Rosario Islands (27 islands 35km from Cartagena)

  • Tierra Bomba Island (Punta Arena and Playa Linda beaches recommended)

  • Punta Norte beach (archipelago of San Bernardo)

  • Playa Azul

  • Tintipan island (archipelago of San Bernardo)

  • Cholon island

  • Boca Chica beach

Cartagena is excellent to spend a honeymoon, go with your friends, or to celebrate your wedding anniversary, or go with your family on vacation. Just put on comfortable shoes, a hat, glasses, sunscreen and walk through the beautiful streets of Cartagena admiring its squares full of abundant vegetation and the balconies adorned with lush flowers.

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