Strolling through Cartagena de Indias is like being transported to one of Gabriel García Márquez’s novels or the chronicles of the Spanish conquerors during colonization. Its streets give off history and magical realism in equal measure. The Colombian city, bathed by the waters of the Pacific, is an ideal destination for vacations throughout the year. If you’re still thinking about it, here we tell you what to see in Cartagena de Indias.
What to see in Cartagena?
Cartagena de Indias is a beautiful and historical place. Let’s discover its top attractions:
Stroll through the streets of the walled city
The city of Cartagena de Indias was built surrounded by a wall, but with time, the population grew and began to be built outside of it. However, what is now known as the “walled city” is still the most charming area in all of Cartagena. Just to see the colorful houses and the balconies full of plants, it is worth kicking this city from end to end.
In addition, here you will find different places to visit, such as the Museum of the Inquisition, the Church of San Pedro Claver, or the Clock Tower, which we will talk about later.
How to get to the walled city: It depends on where your hotel is located. You will be inside or outside the walled city. If you are outside, you can walk practically from anywhere in Cartagena, so you can take the opportunity to get to know the city in depth.
The horrendous history of the Inquisition also has an extensive chapter in Cartagena de Indias. King Felipe III was in charge of establishing the Court of the Inquisition in 1610 in this city and it worked until 1821 when Colombia was consolidated as a country.
These more than 200 years of bloody history are collected in the Museum of the Inquisition, located in the same palace where these tortures were carried out. The visit gives you goosebumps, but it is one of the essentials to know an essential part of the history of Cartagena de Indias.
How to get to the Museum of the Inquisition: The Museum of the Inquisition is located within the walled city, in Plaza Bolívar. The general admission price is 11,000 Colombian pesos (less than $ 3), with a discount for children and seniors.
Getsemaní is the trendy bohemian neighborhood in Cartagena and an essential place to have a few beers when the afternoon falls and enjoy food from different countries. The atmosphere is super entertaining, always with many tourists and music in the streets, decorated in all colors with murals and other creative items.
We recommend you visit Gethsemane calmly, appreciating each of its details and enjoying a coconut drink on any of its terraces, a free outdoor Zumba class, or any of its exquisite restaurants.
How to get to the Getsemaní neighborhood: the Getsemaní neighborhood is located just a few steps from the walled city, so you do not need any means of transport to get there. You can do it on foot.
Try the street arepas
Colombian or Venezuelan? It depends on where you are, they will tell you that the arepa is of one origin or another, but the important thing is that they are from where they are from, this dish is one of the most delicious in the area. In Cartagena, you will find street stalls with arepas of different flavors, both carnivorous and vegetarian. It will become your favorite moment of the day on your vacation in this city!
Where to find street arepas in Cartagena: as we told you, there are different stalls scattered throughout the city. One of the most special places to taste one is in front of the Clock Tower, one of the most representative monuments of Cartagena de Indias.
The importance of the Clock Tower goes far beyond its architecture. This place bears witness to the history of Cartagena de Indias since it was the main gateway to the walled city.
Slave merchants roamed here at ease, taking African citizens from one place to another who came to Cartagena and sold to the wealthiest families in the city. Now, this place is the meeting point of tourists and Carthaginians and is still the main entrance to the walled city.
How to get to the Clock Tower: The Clock Tower is located in the southern part of the walled city and you can easily reach it on foot. You can also get to know it on our Cartagena City Tour, which also goes through other points such as the Bocagrande, Laguito, and Castillo Grande areas.
Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo Islands National Natural Park
The inhabitants of Cartagena are lucky to live in a city bathed by the waters of the Caribbean, which gives them paradisiacal white sand beaches and turquoise waters. However, this area of northern Colombia is super touristy, so the beaches are usually crowded with people.
To avoid accumulations, a good option is to go to the Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo Islands National Natural Park, a destination with 27 islands full of corals and mangroves. Here you can relax on Caribbean beaches and explore its depths by scuba diving. A seascape that you will never forget!
How to get to the Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo Islands National Natural Park: to get to this paradise, you have to take a boat from La Bodeguita dock, on Blas de Lezo avenue. The tour lasts between one and two hours, depending on the boat. You can also take our Rosario Islands and Playa Blanca tour. The navigation includes transportation and lunch.
House of Gabriel García Márquez
It is impossible to walk through Cartagena de Indias and not imagine Florentino Ariza, the protagonist of Love in the Times of Cholera, sitting in the gates of the walled city writing his famous love letters. Or to Fermina Daza inside one of its countless colonial houses.
Therefore, an unmissable moment for fans of García Márquez’s literature is to go to the house where the writer lived in Cartagena, with views of the Caribbean, sit in front of it, and begin to imagine what day-to-day life was like here. Although it can only be seen from the outside, without entering it, imagining everything that García Márquez created inside makes the heart fill with joy.
How to get to Gabriel García Márquez’s house: this building is located in the walled city, on Zerrezuela Street, right next to the wall and the shores of the Caribbean.
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