Cartagena (full name Cartagena de Indias) is a city on Colombia's northern coast that boasts a population of just under a million, making it the fifth largest city in the country. It is a popular tourist attraction, partly due to its relaxing atmosphere, but mostly due to its fortress and colonial walled city that made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the 1980s.
One thing you will instantly notice when strolling around the colonial streets of the walled city is how colorful everything there is. Yellow-tinged churches stand side by side with bright bright blue and yellow houses with green balconies. Not just in a few places, but practically all around. That is quite the contrast with some other cities on the continent and is where you see Cartagena's Caribbean background clearly shining through. The old walled city with its plazas, colonial buildings and churches - most of which are worth an individual visit - makes for a great stroll. Besides that, you will find cafés, bars and restaurants with no shortage of fresh seafood and tropical cocktails.
Besides the old town, the fortress of Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas cannot be missed. Construction started on this towering structure, which was designed to keep pirates out, started in the middle of the 16th century (though it wasn't finished until much later on). Its impressive structure, including an elaborate set of tunnels and bunkers, can be explored.
Finally, the beaches in front of Cartagena can get crowded and are not terribly clean. For a better experience head to nearby Playa Blanca. [Review by travelindicator]
- Cartagena is a city in Colombia's region of Bolivar. It has a population of 895,400, is situated at an altitude of 7ft and the best airport to fly into is CTG (Rafael Nunez, Cartagena)
- The currency used in Colombia is the Colombian peso (COP)
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