Cartagena is a Colombian city located on the shores of the Caribbean Sea. Its artistic and cultural heritage is one of its main tourist attractions along with the history, which will always associated with pirates and the colonial era.
The tourism in Cartagena de Indias is a potential factor thanks to its attractive natural areas and its rich history present in a wide variety of local art forms. The Walled City which is its historic center was declared a National Heritage of Colombia, and UNESCO included it in the list of world heritage as Port, Fortress, and Monumental Complex of Cartagena de Indias.
To know Cartagena de Indias, you have to visit some of its monuments such as the Clock Tower of the Palace of the Inquisition, but above all, you have to know the warmth of people and their cultural expressions. Gastronomy is another of its strengths. They offer tourists the chance to experience the new and exotic flavors of local cuisine. It is typical to see the “Palenqueras” sell fresh fruit in various parts of the city.
The wonderful beaches that the city is home to are another reason to travel to Cartagena de Indias. One of the most famous is Bocagrande Beach, receiving thousands of tourists every day. The Caribbean also offers many other wonderful islands and beaches that are worth knowing.
Let us delve into the places you should see on your trip to this lively country… and yes, the food – you just can’t forget to talk about the food when you talk about Cartagena.
Places to visit in Cartagena
The Impressive Castillo de San Felipe
Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas is the greatest fortress that the Spaniards built in America. The origin of its construction dates from the mid-seventeenth century, although throughout the eighteenth century, it had several reforms.
The visit to the castle, you go on an exciting walk for a few minutes from Gethsemane. It can be traversed in almost all its extensions, even part of the sophisticated tunnels. These tunnels were built in such a way that any noise could be heard from inside and facilitated communication with the outside.
The entrance to the castle is a bit expensive, but it is worth paying for. If, for some fortunate (read: smart) reason you happen to visit it on the last Sunday of the month, you can enter for free.
The Colonial Jewel of Cartagena de Indias – The Old City
Together with Gethsemane, San Diego and Matuna form the oldest part of the city. Downtown and San Diego are walled. From the Clock Door (the main entrance to the Center) and the square of cars (the first one on the other side of the wall), one is transported in time to the times of pirates and privateers who tried to conquer the rich Spanish square.
Farmhouses and palaces from other times remain standing, and today, have become luxurious hotels and museums (such as the golden one). The tranquility of its streets (tranquility in terms of cars and pollution, not people, as there are a lot of tourists) helps us to forget for a moment traffic, computers and stress, to remember (or rather dream of) the life of those centuries. (Sure, they had other concerns, like being killed by pirates, but still…)
The beach of Punta Arena is located on the island of Tierra Bomba, which has a tropical climate and a coastline of about 43 km. To access this beach, you must make a trip by sea, from the beach of Castillogrande in Cartagena to the island, which lasts between 5 and 10 minutes. The price of the boat trip (round trip) is quite low, around 5 euros. It is a good area to spend a relaxing day, enjoy the delights of fresh seafood, and enjoy the beach, practice water sports and also sunbathe.
Rosario Island Beach
If you do not have the patience to wait for Playa Blanca and the visit to the aquarium does not appeal to you, you can always take the first dip in the Caribbean on the beach of Rosario Island. Now, you are not going to be alone since all the tourist boats stop there. But don’t you deserve it for cooling off a bit?
The Gastronomy of Cartagena
While the country’s food is beyond explanation, what’s more, important is the ambiance of the restaurants and cafes. Let’s look into how and where you can enjoy the food.
Hard Rock Cafe
Hard Rock Café Cartagena is a Rock Bar – Restaurant located in the Customs Square. In this site, you can come to listen to good music and enjoy some phenomenal cocktails. On weekends they have an excellent atmosphere, and on Saturdays you can listen live to the rock band Subterfugio.
This site consists of two floors, which are decorated with guitars, “outfits” and portraits of autographed artists. I personally like the second floor because it is more lively. The food of the site is not my favorite and being honest some dishes are a bit expensive compared to other sites of equal quality. Thursdays are karaoke days, and I do not recommend it very much because the music begins to rave a bit and leaves the rock range. But the place is perfect to go with friends to shake their heads for a while and spend some drinks. Hard Rock Café also has a typical souvenir shop called Rock Shop, where you can find interesting things.
By the way, some of the waitresses and waiters are very cute.
OH! LA LA! – The Exclamation of Exquisite Flavors
In the city of Cartagena de Indias, you can find the variety of flavors that any person craves.
One of these places to which we are talking about is the French food restaurant OH! LA, LA, located in the old city.
From its entrance, it makes it a unique establishment, its particular decoration for its paintings and accessories combined with plants and a wall of water make the diner only repeat the expression OH! LA LA.
It is from that first interaction that the incredible experience of being on this site begins. The place is attended by its owners, a Colombian married to a French chef who makes the atmosphere very pleasant, not to say perfect.
The service is great, because the coordination of the waiters is indescribable, and of course the most important and so you should go without a doubt, are the exquisite and exclusive dishes that can be found in the restaurant.
We are sure that with each of the bites, from the entrance, main course, and dessert, you will repeat again and again, OH! LA LA.
When you travel, the best way to eat rich, substantial and cheap is to go where the locals eat. In Gethsemane, the popular and simple Coroncoro is always full of Cartagenos living in the neighborhood. You can find a ‘typical dish,’ which consists of vegetable soup and of course the specialty, a large dish with fried fish (an exquisite burel), salad, coconut rice, and patacones. The delicious and hearty menu includes a tamarind juice. All for how much? Less than €2.