Best Things to Do in Cartagena


No matter what you love doing in a new city, Cartagena, Colombia has something for you. Cartagena is the fifth largest city in Colombia, and is known for its maritime industry as well as its tourism industry. Despite Michael Douglas’ pronunciation of the city’s name in the film “Romancing the Stone,” locals would certainly appreciate you leaving out the “nya” sound when in Cartagena, and they love to show tourists all the best parts of their city.

Hot Beaches and Spicy Nightlife

If the beaches and the nightlife scene are your speed, Cartagena has plenty to offer. The metropolitan area alone has over 11 miles of beaches, and another 62 miles stretch from Cartagena to Barranquilla in the north. If you want to stay closer to the action, the beaches in town are your best bet. If you’re looking for a more Caribbean experience, then head to one of the beaches farther out of town. In the evenings, soak up local culture in the restaurants in the area and visit some of the clubs.

Stunning Art

For those who prefer to visit museums when they travel, you can find quite a bit of local art in Cartagena. The Museum of Modern Art is a great place to view both contemporary and historical works. The Teatro Adolfo Mejia is a stunning combination of both art and architecture, all the while providing some historical context for the area. If modern art is your focus, the High Hopes Gallery or the NH Galeria may be what you are looking for.

History: From Forts to Stockades

Cartagena’s history is both long and rich, with lots of evidence left behind to document its colorful past. Visitors can visit the Convento de la Popa, which dates back to colonial times and includes stunning views of both the city proper and the Caribbean. The fort that once protected the city, Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, is another site to put on the “must visit” list. Construction began in 1639, but was only finished a century and a half later. Brave tourists might want to visit the Palacio de Inquisicion, where you can still see the stockades used during the Inquisition.

Ancient Architecture

Tourists interested in architecture should not miss the old town, or the Centro Amurallado. The original walled city butts up against the fortress and still includes colonial buildings, churches and plazas. You can even get accommodations within this area, which is particularly nice if you intend to spend a lot of time hunting down architectural sights to see.

No matter what you prefer, Cartagena has something for everyone. In fact, if time permits, visitors should try to sample as much as possible from all the city has to offer. There are seasonal festivals, such as the November beauty pageant or the Easter film festivals, so it pays to plan your trip according to your interests.


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