Cartagena is a typical Spanish city with a very interesting fate, its history began in ancient times. To this day, the sloping shores of the Cartagena Bay are home to dozens of ships, and the city itself is an amazing concentration of many historical sites and ruins of the ancient Roman period. However, Cartagena does not live alone in the past. Gorgeous resort area, mild and warm climate, clean picturesque sandy beaches, well warmed sea, allowing you to swim from March to November – everything is here to attract travelers from all over Europe.
In addition to architectural attractions, Cartagena is also home to the wonderful beaches of the Islas del Rosario islands, Playa Blanca, Bocagrande, La Boquillla and Tierra Bomba Island.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN CARTAGENA
• Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas a castle that peers over the city
• Mercado de Bazurto is a food market that sells everything from fresh fruit to cooked turtle.
• Party on a chiva, which is a very Colombian party bus with live music, open bar and lots of dancing
• To rejoice that in the courtyard of the 21st century, at the Palace of the Inquisition.
• Relax on the white sand beach of Playa Blanca.
• Take a tour to Palenque, the first freed slave town in the Americas
• Visit the main attraction of Cartagena is the picturesque Old City behind the walls, which can be reached through the main entrance located in the Clock Tower. There are a lot of narrow colonial streets with “postcard” mansions, majestic squares and a large number of historical sights.
• Watch the monuments of religious architecture – the majestic Cathedral, the church of Santo Domingo and San Pedro, as well as a large number of medieval churches and temples in the heart of the Old City.
• Another pearl of the Old City, however, with a grim history, is the 17th century Inquisition Palace, with exceptionally beautiful baroque gates, topped with a Spanish coat of arms, and long balconies on the facade.
• You can enjoy the panoramic view of Cartagena and its harbor from the 150-meter-high hill of La Popa, where the 17th monastery in Santa Cruz and the magnificent image of the Holy Virgin of Candelaria are also located.
• You should definitely visit the Gold Museum, Museo de Oro, where a rich collection of gold jewelery and objects of pre-Hispanic times belonging to local Indian tribes is represented.
• In the Maritime Museum you can learn more about the history of navigation in Colombia and the whole Caribbean, and in the Museum of Modern Art see the work of the famous Colombian artist Alejandro Obregon.
TYPICAL COSTS WHEN TRAVELING
Accommodation – Most hotels in Cartagena are represented by small three- and four-star hotels offering very affordable prices. Double standard room with breakfast costs 40-60 EUR. A good room in a 4 * hotel with a sea view and a convenient location will cost from 86 EUR per night.
Food – Murcian cuisine is based on fish, meat and fruit dishes. The calling card of the region is caldero soup with rice in fish broth. For the latter, peas, baked artichokes and beans are offered (the latter is used to cook popular here stew “Michirona” with potatoes and jamon). Meat lovers will appreciate the stewed rabbit and sausages with smoked meats.
Dinner in a good Mediterranean restaurant will cost 25-30 EUR per person. You can spend the evening in a decent cafe specializing in seafood, for 15-20 EUR. Well, a snack sandwich with jamon or a couple of tapas with a glass of beer will pull on 5-9 EUR. If you’re a ceviche fan, check out La Cevicheria. It’s one of the best ceviche and fish restaurants in the city. If you’re up for an adventure, Restaurante Interno is a restaurant within a women’s prison.
Transportation – For trips over longer distances, it is recommended to take a taxi. The fare from the Old Town to Bocagrande ranges from 3-4 USD. In the harbors of Cartagena, brisk boats await their riders, ready to take them to Rosario Islands or Playa Blanca Beach. A trip on a high-speed merchant ship will cost about 30 USD, a “pretense” cruise for an entertaining voyage (albeit much slower, up to 4 hours on the way) – 25 USD. Tourist buses Chiva Bus travel around the interesting places of Cartagena to the accompaniment of fun music. You can climb to the open upper deck or stay closer to the people below. Drink, eat and make noise on board is allowed. The cost of the trip is from 10 to 16 USD.
Suggested daily budget is100 USD considering accommodation, a couple of meals and transportation.
MONEY SAVING TIPS
1 Opt for hostel: the cheapest option for accommodation in the hostel will cost you less than 12USD.
2 Get to any destinations by airport bus: There are several minibuses running from the airport to the center (in Colombia they are called “Kamyonetta”), so you can get to the place you need for as little as 1 USD.
3 What about the season? Carnivals and holidays take place throughout the year, most of which fall in the winter and early spring, so at this time the prices for tourist housing rise by 15-20%, and during the peak rainy season (from September to November) they fall a little.
4 District matters: Getsemani is the cheapest area to stay in Cartagena. Here you can rent a room in a simple hostel for 15 USD per day or a room in a 3-star hotel for 30. At the same time, El Lago is a good option for those who are looking for peace and quiet. Accommodation here will be cheaper – the prices of rooms with no frills start at 20 USD.
ON THE SCENE?
Have a great time in a fun atmosphere, dance salsa and try popular national food as guests at Donde Fidel Salsa club. Bar El Cielo Terraza is popular with young travelers. Among its attractive features are stylish décor, complemented by spectacular artistic lighting. The colorful club Mister Babilla is located in a beautiful colonial building. There are many night clubs in and around the walled city so just walk around and bar hop until the wee hours of the morning. It will be an ideal holiday destination for those who like to spend time in a lively atmosphere and indulge themselves with exotic treats.