Visiting Cartagena, Colombia offers you an experience rich in history and beauty. Founded in 1533, the city once was the largest port in the Caribbean. You can spend weeks planning what to do in Cartagena. To start you off, below are the five top attractions in the city.
Visit the Old City
Cartagena’s Old City accurately reflects the city’s centuries-old history and traditions. The walled city, at the heart of the Old City, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Colombians take great pride in showing off the well-preserved origins of their town.
Colonial styles still persist in most buildings. You can stay in the Old City, or even in the walled city, although these stunning accommodations come with a premium price. Your room will likely feature stone or brick construction and colonial period pieces. After a fire destroyed the original city, wood construction was prohibited.
The Old City offers world-class restaurants and Cartagena’s famous street vendors. A wide variety of fruit and other culinary delights await you. You can also take a picture of the Palenquera, the ladies famous for balancing fruit bowls on their heads. You will need to pay for these pictures, but the cost is low, and the memory priceless.
The Choco Museo
After visiting the pricey Old City, spring for the free entrance to the Choco Museo. Here, you can learn about the history of the chocolate and cocoa industries in Colombia. You can also taste their many free samples!
For a reasonable price, you can take part in the Chocolate Workshop. You will learn about the planning and preparation process. You can even try your hand at making your own chocolate! After the class enjoy chocolate and cocoa drinks as you relive the experience of making your own goodies.
Your visit to Colombia must include opportunities to experience the fantastic weather and beautiful water. Located a little over an hour from the Walled City, the white sand and blue waters of Playa Blanca will not disappoint.
Reasonably priced transport will service your trips out and back. This allows you to make the beach a day trip from Cartagena. Staying at the beach would require you to travel back and forth to Cartagena to visit the many attractions, resulting in too much time in transit.
The island has restaurants and bars to satisfy your hunger and thirst. You should eat in the establishments rather than from the vendors on the beach.
Take in the views of the Caribbean Sea while you relax in the sand. When the day is over, return to Cartagena for a world-class dinner.
Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas
Built by the Spanish at the top of a hill overlooking Cartagena, the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas protected Cartagena from invasion. The original building started in 1536. In 1657, the Spanish improved and expanded the fort.
Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas featured prominently in several European wars, enduring assaults by both the French and the British. The castle features a triangular shape, giving the batteries a wider field of fire. Because of its location at the top of the hill, visitors will have a slight uphill walk after they enter the grounds.
The UN declared Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. It occasionally hosts functions for foreign diplomats and cultural events.
Located on the other side of Cartagena from the Old City, many describe the Mercado Bazurto as “the real Cartagena.” Others describe it as smelly, noisy, and confusing. Quite a few people leaving glowing reviews highly recommended a tour guide for the market.
The Mercado Bazurto features foods of all types. You can buy local fish, fruit and other delicacies. You can watch the merchants prepare the food for sale as you browse. Several top chefs supposedly shop here to plan their meals.
In addition to fresh food, the market offers a variety of booths offering prepared food. You can try authentic Colombian treats that you may not find in upscale restaurants. Treat yourself to food that you otherwise may not have sought out.
The Mercado Bazurto also offers non-food items, such as books and electronics. Plan to spend a large portion of your day here, as the wares are plentiful.
You should have no problem planning your trip to Cartagena. When deciding what to do in Cartagena, seek out the beauty, history, and the magnificent culture. You will have a delightful experience.