Cartagena is a wonderful city in the north part of Colombia. It is really easy to fall in love with Cartagena and the places to visit in this city. The sunset view is so romantic, the sea water so clear, the history so strong, and the people so warmth. To get the full experience of this Colombian city and visit the main places you will need a few days.
The Cartagena experience
City Tour in Traditional Chiva
These are a wooden made bus original from Colombia, that goes around the main parts of the city. The tour starts from Bocagrande, the modern part of the city, surrounded by water you are able to see the Caribbean sea on one side, and on the other, there’s the bay. After that, the tour continues to Manga to watch one of the fortresses that were built to keep the city secure from invasion by sea. Then there is the San Felipe Castle, with a guided tour where you’ll learn about the history of planning the security in Cartagena on the Colonial days. The architecture is just so wonderful and was thought at a specific way in order to watch the city from the outside. The tour ends up with a nice walking tour of the Old town, where you will be able to see all the main Squares and Churches as a Catholic society. This part of the city is all surrounded by a great rock wall where every street is only a block and has its own name and story.
Chiva Rumbera: The Party Bus
Another way to watch the city by night is the Chiva Rumbera, on this bus, you get to pass through the main places while drinking Aguardiente, a typical alcoholic beverage of Colombia, listen to salsa live music inside the bus! Yes, there is a band playing live music and cheering the wheeled party. By the end of the tour, all the Chivas gather up next to an important sculpture called “Old boots” to share some typical Fritos
and go to a discotheque to enjoy and dance at Latin rhythm with the Colombia locals.
Walking around The Old Town
There are some places to visit and walk around in old town, every one of them has their own beauty. The colors of the streets are amazing and represent what a cheerful city Cartagena is. If you want to take a great postal picture, then the best place to walk around is definitely San Diego streets, a hood inside Old Town. You’ll just be amazed by their windows, doors, and balconies.
Another great place to walk by is Getsemaní, a more bohemian district that used to be separated from the city center, it was only connected by the entrance on the clock tower. This hood has really colorful streets with a lot of urban art and graffiti. At night you can go to “Trinidad Square” where you will find a lot of locals and foreigners sarin time, music and beers. Don’t miss “Michael Jackson” and “Shakira” imitators who are really funny and will make your day with their occurrences!
Tour by bike
Another nice way to go around the Old city center is by bike. You can rent one in almost any tourism agency. They are good to go for an hour and it is an easy way to move from one place to another. Just be careful since Cartagena streets could be confusing and the roads are not specially made for bikes, remember to follow the direction of the cars, and always wear the safety elements.
Visit the Paradisiac Beaches
This island used to be part of Cartagena City, however, nowadays it is only connected by bridges. In this island, there is the public beach of Playa Blanca. A very crowded beach where you can rent umbrella, chairs, buy food, drinks, crafts and even get massages!
The Rosario Islands
This is an archipelago you can go by yacht from Cartagena city, named like that because the 27 Islands that form the archipelago have a rosarium (prayer beads) shape. To go to any of them you have to take a tour that departs from the pier at 8:30 it is a one hour trip and the return to Cartagena city is around 15:30. A full day spent on the beach so you can do snorkel, scuba diving, go to the reef and of course have some rest and take the sunbath in divine place!
This island is located ten minutes away from Cartagena. To get there you will need to take a boat from Bocagrande for a very cheap price, then you arrive at the part of the island called Bocachica. This island has its own town in top part at the center. You can practice some activities like downhill to cross from one part to the other. In this island, you can visit the San Fernando fortress with a great history about how Cartagena was protected on the colonial times.
It is a very nice place to visit without having to go too far away from Cartagena.
Other places to visit while in Cartagena
The history of Palenque goes back to the colonial years in which African labor was used to build the walls of the city. Their customs and culture still remain in this city. The palenqueras
are really happy women who walk around carrying a nest of fruit in their heads, they wear really cheerful dresses.
The National Aviary
The national aviary is also located in the Barú Island. Once there you can follow the tour through the place and get to watch a great diversity of birds, but also fauna, and flora.
Extra tip on the experience
Do not forget to enjoy the view, as this Colombian city is very close to the equatorial line, you can enjoy a really bright moon and stars by nite, a beautiful colorful sunset, a tropical weather that sometimes could be overwhelming. You will feel the warmth from the locals that would want to help you in any opportunity that they have.