Cartagena is located on the northern coast of Colombia, right on the shores of the Caribbean Sea. For centuries, this was one of the most prosperous cities in the Americas due to its strategic location. Large amounts of gold, silver and precious stones were shipped out of the harbour, so the city had to defend itself against pirates -- the beautifully preserved fortresses, bastions and castles are a reminder of the city's rich history. Cartagena is also famous for its colonial architecture and the colourful facades of the Old Town have been awarded UNESCO status. Everywhere in town, visitors experience the Caribbean flair and lively atmosphere that have characterised this charismatic Colombian city for decades.
As for the activities available, visitors can choose to immerse themselves in the local culture by taking Latin dance lessons, joining live music events like the International Music Festival or going on a tropical island hopping tour.
Things to Do
Cartagena offers travellers a mix of colonial architecture, a glitzy waterfront and spectacular beaches where the easiest thing to do is sit back and enjoy the natural beauty of this Caribbean city.
Walking around the Old Town and the walled city is simply delightful as this area is home to some of the most picturesque landmarks in town. Must-sees include the 17th-century San Felipe Castle, the Clock Tower and Santo Domingo square. End your tour with a walk along Bocagrande harbour, where swanky high rises add a sophisticated touch to the city's skyline.
Only 90 minutes away from the city lie some of the most spectacular beaches of Colombia's northern coast. Baru island, Playa Blanca and the Rosario Islands are perfect examples of how a tropical paradise should be, and they are a great option for a family day out. Here you can explore mangroves, visit the Aquarium or simply relax by the beach.
Take Latin Dance Lessons
Music and dancing are part of everyday life in this Colombian city, and for many visitors, taking Latin dance lessons is the highlight of their holiday. There are plenty of musical styles to try, although salsa, rumba and merengue are the most popular and fun to learn.
Calendar of Events
Music is the predominant theme in Cartagena's calendar of events. The following celebrations are a true representation of the vibrant soul of this Colombian city:
- International Music Festival. This festival takes place every January. For over ten years, the International Music Festival has been bringing modern and traditional Colombian music to the city's top venues. Best of all, many of the concerts are completely free of charge!
- Festival de Bandas. Every July, the city streets fill up with lively Colombian folk music, and both locals and tourists get a chance to dance to the beat of the best Caribbean and classic folk tunes.
- Independence Day. On 11th November, the country celebrates is national day, but in Cartagena this date is known for the celebration of Miss Colombia, the country's national beauty pageant. This event has been held every year since 1934, and it features everything from beauty queen parades to live music and a great deal of glitzy celebrations.