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It’s fairly obvious what has made Cartagena Colombia’s number one tourist destination. It is a city with an air of fantasy that is palpably real, and a history that is firmly ensconced in the present day.

Its is truly a fantastically rich story: featuring a conquistador claiming Karib territory; fire claiming the conquistador’s burgeoning town; a cocky Sir Francis Drake putting a rebuilt, fire-proof port to a hefty ransom; an untold amount of stolen indigenous riches leaving the port for Spain; and enormous amounts of Kingdom money spent in making the city impenetrable. It has seen slave-trading; dearly bought independence; brisk commerce; waves of new-comers; and, now, after so many twists and turns, the former capital of New Granada is more than ready to share its steamy, intoxicating charm with the world.

The city’s people, from the poorest of poor to the outrageously rich; from different heritages including freed African slaves; Syrian, Palestinian, Lebanese, and Chinese immigrants; and people from around Colombia, join together to make this a city – just like its country – of massive contrasts, vibrancy, and optimism. It is their turn to write their story, and it’s guaranteed to be one well worth participating in.

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Cartagena Essential Information

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Cartagena Landmarks

  • The Old Wall

    The Old Wall

    Plaza Bolívar is the political and historical heart of Bogotá. There stands the statue of Simón Bolívar, the first public monument sculpted in 1846, as well as some of the most iconic buildings in Bogotá such as the Cathedral. A must-see. Read more

  • La Popa Convent

    La Popa Convent

    Like all the stories that make up Cartagena, the one of La Popa Convent is tinged with Marquez-esque magical realism. Read more

  • San Felipe Castle

    San Felipe Castle

    Cartagena has always been a jealously guarded, highly desirable location. To protect it, the Kingdom of Spain pulled out the big guns; none bigger than the commissioning of the slave-built San Felipe Castle. Read more

Hot to get to Cartagena

Flights are available to Cartagena from Cali from $100,000COL, Medellin from $150,000COL and Bogotá from $114,000COL. All prices are one way and are correct as of 28/01/2013 flying via LAN.

International flights:
Madrid: $1127 Iberia Airways
Paris: $2295 Aeromexico
Miami: $862 US Airways
New York: $753 Avianca
Sydney: $2482 LAN Airlines

Buses run from Medellin (623km, 12-14 hours), Cali (1077km, 22 hours, $192,000COL), Santa Marta 208km, 12 hours) and Manizales (819km, 3-4 hours).

You can book tickets from the local bus terminals (Terminal de Transporte) or you can buy tickets directly from the bus carriers.

Cartagena Tours

  • Cartagena Short Breaks

    Cartagena Short Breaks

    Get to know Colombia's exciting capital with these Bogotá tours. You'll see all the major landmarks, learn about the city's captivating and sometimes troubled history, as well as enjoy visiting some of Bogotá's best museums and galleries. Read more

  • Colombia In a Week

    Colombia In a Week

    For those wanting a Colombia tour that don't have that much time, the Colombia In a Week tour will give you an unrivalled insight into the culture, history and beauty of the country. Read more

  • Colonial Buildings and San Andres Beaches

    Colonial Buildings and San Andres Beaches

    After days exploring the beautiful streets of Cartagena you'll be taken to the paradise island of San Andres. Sounds pretty great, right? Read more

Cartagena Hotels

  • The Chill House Hostel

    There are three words that sum up the main drawcards of Chill House, and they are “Location,” “Location,” and, lastl... See more

  • Delirio

    Looking somewhat incongruous stuck in between the crumbling colonial buildings of Cartagena’s historic centre, Delirio’s clean-cut exter... See more

  • Casa Lola

    Like Cartagena, the town it’s housed in, Casa Lola is an enchanting, unique boutique hotel to stay in, that’s guaranteed to charm guests... See more

Cartagena Restaurants

  • La Cevicheria

    The clue’s in the name really. This Cartagena institution serves up some fantastic ceviches, but with a twist. Worth a try is the mang... See more

  • Gokela

    When you think you couldn’t possibly eat another serving of coconut rice and fried fish (are you nuts?) during your stay in Cartagena, the... See more

  • El Bistro Restaurant cartagena

    El Bistro

    El Bistro serves up a delicious mix of food from all over the world, all brought together by the chefs’ distinctive style. The restaur... See more

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