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5 Reasons to Visit Cartagena, Colombia

5 Reasons to Visit Cartagena, Colombia

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During an extended stay in Colombia we decided to stop by for a few days in the costal city of Cartagena. After spending a few weeks in Medellin, we were ready for some beach time.

Turns out, there are plenty of things to do in Cartagena, and many reasons people love vacationing here. We put together our top 5 reasons to visit Cartagena to give you all the reasons you need to inspire a visit. 

#1: Beautiful Beaches

Cartagena sits in northern Colombia directly on the Caribbean Ocean, and the main tourist and hotel area is virtually surrounded by the ocean. There are long stretches of beach with protected, jettied swimming areas. 

While the sand isn’t bright white and the water isn’t the characteristic light blue that that you see in many Caribbean beach destinations, the water was bath-water warm while we were there and made for great swimming.

Cartagena Colombia Beach

Cartagena Colombia Beach

 #2: Ceviche

We had been away from the coast for several months and were craving good seafood. Cartagena delivered fantastic fresh fish and shrimp. We tried the ceviche at several places and the seafood “cooked” in fresh lime juice was a treat.

Cartagena Ceviche

Cartagena Ceviche

#3 The Colorful Old City

The Old City of Cartagena is lined with colorful vine-covered building and paved with cobble stone streets. It was great fun wondering aimlessly along shopping and taking in the scenery.

Inside the Walled City 

Art in the City Center 

Example of Cartagena Art and Personality

#4 History 

Every cabbie we spoke to during our stay was an amateur tour guide, giving us tidbits of information as we passed sites during our rides. The Cartagena native’s pride in their history and ongoing accomplishments were evident.

Construction of the wall around the city and fortress (Castillo San Felipe de Barajas) was started in the 1500s by the Spanish to protect Cartagena from pirate attacks and to defend them from foreign invasion.

The castillo itself was designed with three levels to crate a devastating defense against attack and and to provide potential retreat.

In the event of a retreat, there were elaborate plans to entrap the invaders within the wall and blow it up as a last resort. We spent a cool day exploring the tunnels within the structure.

Cartagena Fortress

Cartagena Wall

Tunnel Inside Fortress

#5 The beer

Colombians love their beer and we appreciate them for it. Sean in particular is a fan, and was craving some handcrafted brew to go along with his ceviche.

We discovered a branch of the Bogota Beer Company and went in for a sample. Great place, nice patio, good beer.  Definitely worth a visit.

Bogota Beer Company

Bogota Beer Company

So if beach, beer, history, colorful scenery and ceviche are on your list of things that make your day, Cartagena will not disappoint.

Note: Street hawkers are becoming more of a problem in the area. They will stop you to ask if you want them to do anything from braiding your hair, spreading aloe on your skin (we actually saw a few takers – weird), sell you trinkets, etc, etc, etc. 

Advice before we went was not to engage them at all and just keep walking.  Annoying as it was this worked well.

Happy Travels!

Vicky and Buddy

Wednesday 6th of May 2015

You had me at ceviche!! Can't wait to go to Colombia :)

Francesca @onegrloneworld

Tuesday 5th of May 2015

I'm going to Colombia for a friends wedding - Cartagena will DEFINITELY be on the itinerary!! Thanks for sharing this and revving up my wanderlust. I can't wait!


Monday 4th of May 2015

Amazing photos. Looks like an incredible place to explore, I've only heard really great things about it lately! I'd love to give that beer a try on a hot day, that's for sure!


Monday 4th of May 2015

Oh man now I am craving ceviche! I would love to try Ceviche and Beer in Cartagena :) Looks like you had a great trip!

Sonja Riemenschneider

Sunday 3rd of May 2015

I'll take that ceviche any day! It all looks great!