Cartagena, Colombia: information about the city and attractions


Cartagena is a major port city in northern Colombia, and more specifically, it is the fifth largest city in the country, the center of the department of Bolivar. It was founded by Spanish settlers during the Gold Rush: it was from here that the found gold and silver were transported to Europe. Cartagena was often invaded by pirates, one of whom was the famous Englishman Francis Drake. To defend itself against the raids of the enemy, the city was well fortified, and the total length of the fortress walls was more than 11 km.

Today, residential neighborhoods are located in the southern part of the city. As in all of Colombia, Spanish is spoken in Cartagena, and most of the population is Catholic.

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Climate and Weather

Cartagena has an equatorial (subequatorial) climate. Temperatures are high all year round, and winter is no different from summer except for the amount of rainfall. The average annual temperature is +27.5 ° C. The hottest month is June, when the average air temperature is +28 °С, and the coolest month is January.

During this time, the temperature is +26 ° C. The average annual precipitation in the city is about 1000 mm. The driest months are January, February and March, when precipitation does not fall at all. The rainiest month is October.

As for water temperature, during the period from May to October it is +24 … 25 °С, during the rest time the water gets warm from +21 to +23 °С.


In the city is very rich in nature, which is greatly facilitated by the location. Especially diverse underwater world.

Here you can meet several hundred species of fish and other creatures of the marine ecosystem. For example, the coastal waters are home to many species of coral, clams, crustaceans, sponges and fish (angel fish, parrot fish, butterfly fish, surgeon fish, tuna, lutsian and many others).

There are also a large number of bird species, such as flamingos, toucans, parrots, ostriches and peacocks. Several varieties of monkeys, moose and even squirrels can be found in Cartagena.

As for the flora, despite the lack of dense tropical rainforest, it also looks rich. A large number of palm trees grow here, as well as exotic flowers that grow right in the city streets.


The center of the southern part of Cartagena is the Plaza San Pedro Claver, where the Cathedral, built between 1575 and 1602, is located. Nearby is Bolivar Square, where a monument to Colombia’s first president has been erected.

There are also some museums to visit, such as the Archaeological Museum and the Historical Museum (a former convent of the 16th century). The Palace of the Inquisition built in 1770 and the former prison of Las Bovedas of the 16th century attract a lot of tourists. Today its territory is home to many commercial facilities. If you are in this part of town, be sure to visit the Old Port and the beautiful promenade.

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The Old City is located in the north of Cartagena. Here are concentrated colonial buildings, old forts and many other buildings that remind you of the rich history of the city. Here it is worth seeing the Fortress of Cartagena Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas. The thickness of its walls reaches 12 meters, construction was carried out in the period from 1533 to 1657 years. It is in this part of the city that the oldest church, Iglesia de Santo Domingo, is located, built back in 1536.

One of the things you’ll notice while walking around the city is the cleanliness of its streets.


When it comes to food, you can enjoy Colombian cuisine in just about any café or restaurant. There is also a huge number of restaurants specializing in seafood. By the way, catering establishments are mostly concentrated in the Bocagrande recreational area, south of the Getsemani district.

Here you can grab a bite to eat at fast-food restaurants, which, oddly enough, are plentiful here. There are world-famous chain restaurants as well as small local eateries.

Traditional alcoholic drinks and cocktails are available in bars, restaurants, and cafes, of which there are many, especially in the touristy areas.


The Caribbean coast has a huge number of hotels and hotels of different classes. Here you can rent rooms with a great view from the window, for example, from the 20th floor (all hotels are high-rise and designed for a large number of guests). But in such an area rooms will cost an order of magnitude more expensive than in remote areas of the city.

Lovers of urban landscapes can rent a room or apartment right in the city center, within walking distance of major attractions. If you need a cheaper accommodation, it is recommended to settle in the youth hostel, where a large number of foreign tourists live.

Entertainment and Recreation

Nature lovers and lovers of peace and quiet should visit the National Park of the islands of Rosario and San Bernardo, which are located 40 kilometers south of Cartagena. Here you can see the picturesque beaches with white sand and listen to the sound of the sea, away from civilization.

It is here that the only underwater park in the country is located, which covers an area of 19,000 hectares. Also, one of the diving centers is located near the island of Baru, which is surrounded by beautiful coral gardens.

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Walking around the city, you will meet beautiful women in national dress, who carry huge baskets of fruit on their heads. What is interesting, they themselves always offer to take a photo with them. For a few dollars, of course.

In short, this town is the perfect place to relax in harmony with nature: it is always quiet and comfortable. Of course, in some parts of the city you can visit nightclubs and bars working late.


In the southern part of the city you can go shopping and boutiques. However, shoppers will not be thrilled with what the city has to offer. There are enough supermarkets and grocery stores here, but unfortunately there are no shopping streets. Instead, you can see large markets where you can buy everything you need inexpensively. In the Old Town there are many stores and stalls with souvenirs and traditional Colombian goods.

I must say, tourists eagerly buy up such things and do not spare money on them. On average, stores close around 8 p.m., but some close later.


Public transport in Cartagena is represented by buses and shuttle buses (the latter are usually painted red, blue or green). A fact that may surprise a European: minibuses usually run with the doors open, and there are cars without doors at all. This allows a person to easily jump into a minibus on the move.

There are a lot of ordinary cabs in the city. However, you should be careful when choosing a car and only use the services of a licensed cab.

There are few cars on the streets of Cartagena, so you can rent a passenger car and feel completely comfortable on the road. By the way, there are both local and international car rental stations.


Along with the state cell phone operators, the local operator Tigo also operates in Cartagena. SIM cards of this company can be purchased at any kiosk, store and post office. It is worth saying that the rates are quite reasonable. In the streets you can meet people with signs that say they can let you make calls from their cell phone for a small fee. But it’s easier and cheaper to connect to a mobile operator yourself. You can also use a pay phone, of which there are many in every city block.

Internet access is usually available at Internet cafes. The cost of an hour of connection is low, and the global web is now available to almost all residents of Cartagena. Free Wi-Fi access points can be found in major hotels and hotels.


In terms of security, Cartagena is one of the most peaceful places in Colombia. However, you should not neglect the basic safety rules. In crowded places it is better not to show expensive jewelry, and documents and large sums of money should preferably be kept in hotel safes.

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Going out to the beach, especially the wild, you should take care of protection against insect bites. It is better not to take off shoes on such beaches, so as not to hurt your feet. And when diving at the bottom of the sea is necessary to wear special wetsuits that can protect against the bites of some marine animals, many of whom are poisonous.

Business Climate

Cartagena is not the best place to open and run a business, especially for foreign nationals.

Real Estate

In this city, foreign tourists are very active in buying real estate. First of all, they are attracted by the good climatic conditions and the measured rhythm of life in the city. The procedure for buying real estate in Cartagena is fairly quick: the local market can meet the needs of any buyer.

In addition, foreigners and Colombians are equal in rights and opportunities regarding the purchase of real estate. To do this, you only need to find a realtor who can be fully trusted, and to prepare all necessary documents.

Tips for the tourist

The main advice that can be given to a person visiting Cartagena for the first time: be careful with some of the local population. Although it is a relatively peaceful place, and the Colombians are quite hospitable people, you should not accept “gifts” in the form of cigarettes or alcoholic beverages from them. Drug traffickers “work” all over the country, and tourists are good bait for them, so you need to be vigilant.

It is better to have special adapters for the outlets just in case: not all hotels have two types of outlets (for 110 and 220 volts).

In restaurants and cafes it is customary to leave a tip of 10% of the bill, and the maids and attendants usually leave about $1 or $2. Often service is included in the bill.



Cartagena is Colombia’s fifth largest city, located on the shores of the Caribbean Sea.

Historical Background

The city of Cartagena, Colombia was founded by the Spaniards on June 1, 1533. On this day 200 settlers led by Pedro de Gereida landed on the coast. They named the settlement Cartagena de Indias after the Spanish city of the same name.

Cartagena is Colombia’s fifth largest city, located on the shores of the Caribbean Sea.

Historical Background

The city of Cartagena, Colombia was founded by the Spaniards on June 1, 1533. On this day 200 settlers led by Pedro de Gereida landed on the coast. They named the settlement Cartagena de Indias after the Spanish city of the same name.

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Thanks to its convenient location, Cartagena began to develop rapidly and soon became one of the main ports for exporting loot from America to Spain. At one time Cartagena was even the largest city in the New World.

Streets of Cartagena

Climatic conditions

Where Cartagena is located, on the shores of the Caribbean Sea, the climate is very pleasant though quite humid. The average annual temperature is around +26 °C. Autumns are usually rainy but winters are very dry (there are occasional water shortages but hotels are usually unaffected).

Attractions in Cartagena, Colombia

Most rich in tourist spots is the Old Town. It is surrounded by ramparts, behind which have preserved architectural monuments of amazing beauty.

In general, the old town is just pleasant to walk around, especially in the morning hours, when the streets are not yet crowded with tourists. These narrow streets breathe with history and antiquity.

Of architectural monuments worth noting:

  • San Felipe Castle – built in the 17th century to protect the city from pirate attacks;
  • Plaza de la Aduana – the oldest square in the city;
  • Monument to Columbus – the great discoverer was immortalized in the Plaza de la Aduana;
  • Cathedral;
  • Church of Santa Domingo and San Pedro;
  • Palace of the Inquisition – built in the 17th century in baroque style and makes an incredible impression;
  • Santa Cruz Monastery – also built in the 17th century, it has an image of the Virgin of Candelaria.

To enjoy the panorama of the city, you should climb the hill of La Popa: no photos of Cartagena in Colombia can not convey a breathtaking view of the harbor.

The Gold Museum in Cartagena is a must-see. It has a huge collection of ancient, even Indian, gold jewelry and household items. In the Maritime Museum you can listen to a fascinating lecture that will tell the history of the development of shipping not only in Cartagena, but also in the Caribbean as a whole. The city also has a Museum of Modern Art, which presents unusual paintings by Colombian artists.

Gold Museum

The Beaches of Cartagena, Colombia

This is exactly what many people come to vacation on the coast of the Caribbean Sea here. White fine sands, beautiful views and comfortable relaxation are what the local beaches are famous for. The most popular are:

  1. Bocagrande. It is wonderfully equipped for recreation, and many hotels are located just near it. However, during the high season, Bocagrande is literally jam-packed, which is worth bearing in mind for lovers of secluded recreation. In addition, due to the influx of people the water in the sea is not particularly clean.
  2. Playa Blanca is located near Cartagena, on the Rosario Islands. It always has a much smaller number of vacationers, which allows you to enjoy the tranquil views of nature. You can reach the islands either on your own or with a guided tour.
  3. Punta Arenas and Bocachica can be found on the island of Tierrabomba. On both beaches there are small cozy restaurants where you can enjoy fresh seafood dishes.
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Given that Cartagena is a resort town and largely tourist-oriented, it is easy to find a hotel for all tastes and wallets. Those who like to be close to the sea should look for hotels in the coastal area of Bocagrande, and those who like to walk through the old streets early in the morning, it is better to settle behind the fortress walls of the old town. Here is a list of the most popular hotels in Cartagena:

  • Hotel Noi Cartagena 1860 5*;
  • Estelar Cartagena de Indias Hotel y Centro de Convenciones 5*;
  • Hyatt Regency Cartagena 5*;
  • Hotel Casa Lola 4*;
  • La Passion Hotel Boutique 4*;
  • Casa La Fe 4*;
  • Hotel Boutique La Artilleria 3*;
  • Hotel 3 Banderas 3*;
  • Casa Del Curato 3*;
  • Hotel Villa Colonial 2*.

City restaurants

Foodies in Cartagena will enjoy a feast. Local cuisine is a bright mixture of European and Latin American traditions, seasoned with a slight influence of African dishes.

The best and most famous places are in the tourist areas behind the walls of the Old Town and Bocagrande. Simple eateries can be found practically everywhere.

Restaurant in Cartagena

Shopping in Cartagena

No holiday in Cartagena, Colombia is complete without shopping. Most famous for the wonderful products of emeralds, which can be purchased in the jewelry stores of Cuitad Amuralada – the old city.

Those who are not afraid of the crowds should definitely visit the market Basurto, where you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables and taste the most local food – this is where the inhabitants of Cartagena often have a snack.

Souvenirs can be bought in Santo Domingo Square and a variety of colorful sweets are sold in Los Coches.

Market of Cartagena

How to get there?

If you look at a map, it is clear that Cartagena is located quite far from Bogota, which is in the central part of the country. However, there are no direct flights to Cartagena, so you still have to fly with connections. You can either get to Europe, and from there buy a ticket for a direct flight to Cartagena airport in Colombia, or still fly to Bogota, and then take local flights to your destination.

Cartagena airport is located 3 km from the city, and the city center is easily accessible either by cab or by municipal bus.

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