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Cartagena Travel Guide

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  • 98%
    Nightlife Lovers
  • 92%
    Local Culture
  • 92%
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  • 91%
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  • 90%
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  • 90%
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  • 75%
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  • 69%
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  • Cartagena
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    + 6
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    It's a perfect vacation spot on the northern Caribbean coastline of Colombia. A historic colonial Spanish walled city that offers an old town full of life and culture combined with new town with high rise modern hotels and resorts with the best views of the city and the Caribbean Sea. Thus it makes it as one of the top vacation spots on my list.

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  • CartagenaPro 2014
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    Forget every typical American stereotype you've heard about Colombia and book a trip to Cartagena immediately. It is such a lovely city and I had an incredible time in my five nights there. First things first, Cartagena is extremely, EXTREMELY safe. I stayed in a hotel in the walled city and I never felt in danger whatsoever. The city has an awesome vibe to it, you feel like you've stepped into a time machine and entered a Spanish colony of centuries ago. Every street you walk down is lined with colorful buildings and trees. I was amazed how pretty the city was. Furthermore the food was equally impressive. My Spanish is far from fluent, so whenever I are at a restaurant I asked the waitress "que comida es tu favorita?" Which, I think translates to what is your favorite food. I never knew exactly what I was getting, but every dish I had was delicious. The one downside to Cartagena, is the beaches are not the best. However, you can take a 30 minute boat ride to some great beaches. A really great city that more Americans should visit. I flew direct from JFK which took about 4.5 hours and for $430, via JetBlue.

    And yes, everything you've heard about Colombian women is true, they are all beautiful!

    Recommended for:Adventure TravelersNightlife LoversFoodiesLocal Culture
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  • Cartagena
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    I've been in Cartagena 5 years before and stayed Hotel Costa Del Sol.Foods, rooms and activities are average.Location of hotel is super, next to beach and room's landscape is perfect as well.Room price was cheap enough for couples.If hotel is not too important for your trip i recommend this hotel to anyone.Cartagena is fantastic place and there are many thing to do.So you should not stay in a hotel there..Part of old city, Isla del Rosario, Crepes&Waffles, (Restaurant) La Popa Monastery.. are some places i can remember.People are so polite and Colombia is safe enough.You do not believe many people that say there is dangerous.I recommend Colombia to all travelers...

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  • CartagenaPro 2014
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    + 7
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    Colorful vibrant city that while being the oldest Spanish City in the New World is going through a major revival as new hotels, stores,restaurants, and bars are constantly opening up. What really blew me away is how amazing the food was...this city should be on every Foodie's list. Of note, the Walled City is full of winding streets that are not as mapped out as well as they need to be. Getsemani has quite a few cool bars and restaurants, and it's where I stayed. Bocagrande the beach area I preferred for some of the restaurants by the beach, the beach itself is just ok, though I didn't find the vendors are bad as I heard. Hit this city before it gets too overdeveloped for its own good.

    Recommended for:BackpackersFoodiesLuxury TravelersNightlife Lovers
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  • CartagenaPro 2014
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    Cartagena's old town is fascinating and filled with life and history. It can be hot. It was a lot of fun poking around all the old buildings, dashing into a bakery for a fresh pastry, enjoying a cold drink in a cafe and just soaking up the old town vibe. At the really touristy bits there are people who want to engage you in conversations (the usual: where are you from, let me show you this or that). Just politely say no thanks and move on. This really only occurred by the city gates and at the cathedral. Well worth a visit and easily done in a day.

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  • CartagenaPro 2014
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    Ahh, Cartagena. What a city. Cartagena was the port through which, in the 1600s, the Spanish loaded all the gold they stole from the Incas onto ships to set sail for the old country. The gold, of course, brought pirates and epic battles. As a result, the old city of Cartagena is surrounded by thick stone walls with turrets and cannons. Inside, there are narrow winding streets with hanging wooden balconies. The beaches are amazing, the girls are beautiful, the people are friendly, and the nightlife goes all night.

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  • CartagenaPro 2014
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    + 7
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    A genteel city on the Caribbean coast, Cartagena's old town is very safe and tourist friendly, while Getsemani covers the funky/developing beat and Boca Grande the modern, shiny consumerism one. Sophisticated, elegant, and HOT, Cartagena is worth adding to any Colombian itinerary.

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  • CartagenaPro 2014
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    Cartagena is the Latin America that you envision in your dreams. Thus, it's no surprise that Gabriel Garcia Marquez draws literary inspiration from this enticing city. Lots of old, historic colonial style buildings with great seafood. The locals always seem eager to dance and are friendly. Colombia gets a bad rap because of the drug wars, so people here are eager to reveal how great their country is. Hence, Cartagena is the best example of what Colombia has to offer.

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  • Cartagena

    Cartagena is absolutely beautiful. It's like stepping onto a romantic movie set. Horse and carriages all over, balconies fully adorned with flowers, fresh fruit, colorful buildings - stunning!

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  • Cartagena
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    The colours of Colombia’s Cartagena

    Emeralds, Bougainvillea, Tropical fruits, Blue Skies, Turquoise Seas, and Mustard Colonial Mansions, that's what I remember most of Cartagena - lot's and lot's of vibrant colours!

    Cartagena “old town” is South America's Caribbean gem (I've never stayed in the modern tourist area, Bocogrande, with its high-rise condo's), laden with conquistador history the town is a veritable museum of what life was like for those who made their riches off the precious metals that were sent from all over the America's to Spain from Cartagena. Less salubrious is its history of being a slave centre and there are many fortifications around the city that prove that Cartagena was worth protecting for its human and precious metal cargo from its European enemies.

    Just wandering around the streets is enough in this city, seeking out the beautiful mansions with their balconies dripping with flowers, the ornate churches sitting on lovely plazas and of course the marvelling at the mighty forts and the 11 km’s of walls that surround the city. The harbour front is a hive of activity with fishing boats jostling for space and freshly squeezed fruit juice stalls all lined up waiting to offer you one of their unique tropical fruit blends. In the evening hit the old town restaurants, most of which are family run, then if you are brave enough enter one of the salsa clubs and take to the dance floor, but be warned Colombians take their salsa seriously and these hotbeds of energy are not for the faint-hearted.

    Cartagena: its music, it’s fun and its history is one of my favourite destinations in Latin America even more so as one of my favourite books, Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is set there (albeit with a fictional name).

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  • Cartagena

    I traveled back and forth to Cartagena, Colombia over a period of 9 months and loved it. I was lucky work put me up in a nice hotel within the walls surrounding Cartagena.
    The whole walled city is incredible, filled with great restaurants. Try ENOTECA for the best pizza in town. Also you will find tons of dishes that have a middle eastern twist to them thanks to the middle eastern immigration...This is the land (well Baranquilla actually) where Shakira hails from.
    Hotels: I stayed at the Santa Teresa Hotel, which used to be an old convent now turned into a hotel. The rooftop pool is to die for. Try the coco limeade at the rooftop bar.

    If you can afford it, stay in a hotel within city walls. Taking a stroll along the wall, walking by Garcia Marquez' house, you can't top that.
    The other area is Boca Grande--at the time I was there, the Hilton was the top hotel in that area. You will have to use cabs to get around but they are fairly cheap.

    Only drawback: the public beaches are not so good. As a tourist you will get harassed non stop. This might have changed now. This is why a good hotel pool is key.

    Try to hit las Islas del Rosario. I got my scuba certification there. Great deal if you are in town for 2 weeks or more.

    I never felt in "danger" there. Just be aware of your surroundings and be smart. Colombians love to party so get ready for a fun time over there!

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  • Cartagena

    El castillo

    Mapa de los túneles subterráneos.
    El castillo San Felipe de Barajas fue construido por los españoles como un fortín inexpugnable, sinónimo de poder y supremacía. Su edificación tuvo un costo aproximado de 13 235 pesos colombianos y la culminación de las obras se dio en 1798, después de un arduo trabajo que duró más de tres décadas.12 La fortaleza se encuentra localizada en el cerro de San Lázaro, nombre con el que se conoció anteriormente a la fortificación. A diferencia de otras edificaciones del país, el castillo es el único monumento de Colombia declarado Patrimonio de la Humanidad por la Unesco,3 debido a su imponente y completa arquitectura colonial. Aunque fue construido hace mucho tiempo, todavía se conservan las baterías, las garitas, el aljibe, las residencias, y los túneles subterráneos que fueron utilizados como resguardo.13 Se construyeron por lo menos siete baterías:14 San Lázaro, Santa Bárbara, la Redención, San Carlos, los Apóstoles, la Cruz y el Hornabeque, todas distribuidas estratégicamente.14
    En un principio, el castillo presentaba solo ocho cañones,15 pero en 1798 la fortificación sufrió una serie de reestructuraciones y se instalaron otras cincuenta y cinco piezas para completar un máximo de sesenta y tres cañones, todos acondicionados con su propia artillería, luego de que el militar Antonio de Arévalo emprendiera las labores a mediados de 1762.6 Debido a su imponente estructura y la forma geométrica en que fue edificado, se le considera una de las más grandes obras construidas en todo el continente de América.6
    [editar]Alrededores
    Justo en frente del castillo se encuentra una estatua del almirante español Blas de Lezo, comandante militar y defensor de Cartagena de Indias en los años 1700. Otro monumento ubicado en las cercanías del castillo son «las botas viejas», un sector histórico y de gran afluencia para los turistas. Las estatuas (dos pares de zapatos) fueron erigidas en 194316 en representación del poeta colombiano Luis Carlos López,16 conocido con el apodo de El Tuerto, por el poema A mi ciudad nativa.17 A unos pocos metros se encuentra la escultura de la India Catalina, quien fuera hija de un cacique y gobernante de una tribu etnia; Catalina fue obra del escultor español Eladio Gil Zambrana.18
    [editar]Estado y conservación

    Vista externa del gramado y las murallas.
    A pesar de haber sido construido hace más de cinco siglos,1 el castillo sigue en pie y ha pasado por una serie de restauraciones a lo largo del tiempo. A mediado de los años 1990, se realizaron algunas labores para darle un mejor aspecto a la parte exterior del fortín. El Instituto Nacional de Vías (INVIAS) fue el organismo que respaldó económicamente el proyecto de restauración que presentó en aquel entonces un costo estimado de 350 000 000 de pesos.1 Los trabajos culminaron en el mes de mayo de 1996 y se posteriormente se remodelaron otros sitios históricos y culturales en el «corralito de piedra».1 En 2010, el castillo fue motivo de otra renovación por valor de 111 000 000 de pesos;19 se realizó la construcción de una aula virtual dotado de equipos y material multimedia, con la finalidad de mostrar toda la historia y los anécdotas no solo de la ciudad amurallada, sino también del propio monumento.19 Luego de un tiempo, el fortín sufrió nuevamente el abandono, y por consecuencia, el deterioro en algunas partes de su infraestructura. Ante esta nueva situación de indefensión, el gobierno de Colombia intervino en la problemática y otorgó a la sociedad de mejoras públicas su administración por medio de la ley 32 de 1924.20 Esta entidad nacional que vela por el bien de la cultura y la historia en Colombia,20 además de efectuar las labores de mantenimiento, se dio a la tarea de realizar una serie de reestructuraciones en el interior del castillo; una de las mejoras fue la edificación de un teatro que funciona actualmente.12
    Por medio de la sociedad de mejoras públicas se ha logrado el mantenimiento oportuno en varios sectores del fortín.21 Varios de los sillares que conforman el castillo han sido restaurados debido al deterioro, así como también algunos canales de desagüe y la consolidación de diversas almenas.21 Otra de las obras desarrolladas ha sido la restauración oportuna de varias grietas localizadas en las garitas y de otros trabajos de cimentación en los suelos de estas estructuras. Mientras que los espacios de las juntas se han rellenado con argamasa, un material que contiene arena, agua y óxido de calcio.21 Varias zonas donde se encuentran ubicados los parapetos también se consolidaron y gran parte de las paredes se reforzaron con pañetes debido a las imperfecciones producidas por la erosión y sedimentación eólica.21 De la misma manera que los aljibes, y las galerías se les ha realizado las labores de restauración. Finalmente a los puentes peatonales se le reemplazó gran parte de las barandillas que sirven de protección y se implementó un complejo sistema de iluminación nocturna, tanto en la parte exterior como interior del castillo.21
    A mediados del mes de mayo de 2011, la fortificación sufrió algunas remodelaciones justo en el «pie del cerro» (una esquina del castillo). Se construyó un muro de contención de concreto reforzado con poliestireno expandido de cuarenta metros de longitud. La razón principal para la construcción del muro fue la reducción de las ondas producidas por el Sistema Integrado de Transporte Masivo que tiene por ruta la Avenida Pedro de Heredia. La obra presentó una duración de quince días y fue necesaria su construcción para evitar el deterioro de los cimientos de la estructura,22 por lo que unos de los funcionarios de la empresa Transcaribe indicó: «la construcción del muro pantalla en la zona de las cimentaciones del Castillo San Felipe de Barajas garantiza el amortiguamiento del 100% de las ondas y por tanto es la solución óptima para evitar los posibles efectos negativos que pudiesen generarse con el tiempo».23
    [editar]Reconocimientos y actualidad

    Vista en las afueras del castillo.
    En 1984, la Unesco incluyó el Centro Histórico de la ciudad de Cartagena de Indias, el conjunto de sus fortificaciones y el castillo San Felipe de Barajas dentro de la lista de Patrimonio de la Humanidad.3 Desde 1990, el castillo sirvió de escenario en grandes eventos sociales y culturales ofrecidos por el gobierno de Colombia, en honor de delegaciones extranjeras en el marco de cumbres presidenciales y reuniones ministeriales como la Cumbre del Movimiento de Países No Alineados en 1995, la cumbre del Grupo de Río en 2000,24 y la VI Cumbre de las Américas en 2012, en el cual se hizo una cena de bienvenida a los diferentes jefes de estado, cancilleres, asistentes al evento y a otras personalidades y celebridades como la artista Shakira, invitada de honor.25 Según las palabras del presidente de Estados Unidos Barack Obama, la realización de la cumbre en Cartagena «es un evento espectacular».26
    Uno de los hechos distintivos del castillo es la implementación de un sistema tecnológico llamado TGS (Tour Guide Systems),27 con este sistema se busca que todos los turistas, tanto nacionales como internacionales, puedan conocer en detalle la historia y la riqueza cultural de este patrimonio del estado; la guía consta de seis idiomas: español, inglés, francés, italiano, alemán y portugués. El sistema ya se empleó en otros monumentos de la ciudad.27 Tanto la ciudad de Cartagena como su infraestructura colonial, hacen parte del patrimonio histórico y cultural de Colombia.5 La arquitectura militar de sus edificaciones también le ha valido para ser considerada una de las siete maravillas de Colombia, distinción otorgada luego de una encuesta realizada por el periódico El Tiempo.4 Obtuvo la cuarta mayor cantidad de votos, con un total de 4389, de 8421 lectores.4
    A principios del mes de junio de 2012, el castillo fue el escenario principal para la filmación de un video pornográfico, lo que generó el repudió por parte de varios funcionarios, guías turísticos y la comunidad cartagenera.28 29 30 El video presenta cuarenta minutos de duración y fue grabado por varios productores oriundos de la región caribe colombiana. La presidenta de la Sociedad de Mejoras Públicas de Cartagena rechazó este tipo de producciones al afirmar: «Repudiamos ese tipo de cosas (...) inmediatamente haremos las denuncias pertinentes».30
    [editar]Galería

    Vista panorámica

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  • Cartagena

    Take lot's of cash with you for the great deals you'll find! We found $5.00 uncut emeralds the size of golf balls. A pure silver cival war cannon for $20.00 shells, cigars, clothing, and more. Take lots of pictures...we had a blast!

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  • Cartagena

    Really pretty old town, but the sprawling mess that surrounds it is a poor and dirty. There are a ton of things to do within the walls of the old town, as well as a lot to do in the surrounding area so you won't be bored, but don't have unreal expectations when you hear it is the 'jewel of Caribbean'

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  • Cartagena

    Perhaps the most beautiful Spanish colonial city in the Americas, Cartagena combines a grubby outside with an amazing, charming, historic center. Another world emerges as the lamps light the street at night...and the military makes sure it remains very safe for tourists.

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  • CartagenaPro 2014
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    + 4
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    I did not like Cartagena because it was full of too many tourists. The main town area is full of tourist items and there are MANY non-Colombians there. You really never get to see what Colombians from Cartagena are like.

    Cartagena is nothing like the rest of Colombia. It is basically wrapped up in what tourists want to see, with high rise hotels and chain restaurants disguised as fancy restaurants. Any many painted and glossed over attraction.

    If you are adventurous, you can hit up el mercardo, where you can find lots of locals and lots of small things to buy. There are a lot of food vendors here as well to eat local favorites. Mind you this is not a very touristy like area to visit, but it is a great way to see how the locals do things and one of the few places I felt like I was in Colombia.

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  • Cartagena
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    very toristic but anyway a must in colombia, also there are a lot of full but nice beaches

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  • Cartagena
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    Colorful buildings

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  • Cartagena
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    Beautiful colonial city on the Caribbean. Lots of history, culture, and nice beaches.

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Description

Located on the northern coast of Colombia, Cartagena is easily its home country's highest drawing tourist city. This former sanctuary for escaped African-American slaves is popular year-round, thanks to its beautiful beaches and lively attitude. December is an especially busy time in Cartagena, as religious festivals close schools, prompting a huge influx of visitors. Many of the vacationers and tourists alike can be spotted enjoying a ride on the Chiva Bus. This popular way to both party and take in the sights comes complete with upbeat Caribbean music, drinks, and a positive vibe that keep the bus rocking its way throughout the city. Playa Blanca is perhaps the most popular of Cartagena’s major beaches, and it too perpetuates the festive attitude so sought after by fun-loving visitors. Like many beaches in Cartagena, Playa Blanca also comes complete with beautiful coral reefs and plenty of beachside activities. Divided into two sections, (a semi-walled off traditional section called Ciudad Amurallada and a strip of beachfront hotels known as Castillogrande) whether you are looking to party, or just enjoy the atmosphere, Cartagena is one of South America’s most fun-filled vacation ... read more
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4.5 out of 5
48 members' reviews
13,747 people visited Cartagena

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Things To Do in Cartagena

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