"Cartagena" Cartagena by IrishFem

Cartagena Travel Guide: 57 reviews and 163 photos


Cartagena is a beautiful town, both for its history and people. Full of Spanish architecture. It is listed on Unesco's world heritage site. The climate is caribbean, temperatures around 30oC sunny throughout the year, with a nice breeze blowing in, in the evening. It can get very humid especially after rain and the mossies come out in thousands.

Cartagena was founded in 1553 by Pedro de Heredia, Spanish conqueror, founder of the city Cartagena de Indias, in Colombia.
Noble from birth, for being involved in many brawls he was forced to leave Spain. He established himself in La Española. Later on, he accepted the job of lieutenant offered by the governor of Santa Marta, Pedro Vadillo. He became very rich by entering the Valledupar where he acquired lots of gold, and returned to Spain. Years later, he got hold of the position of governor of New Andalucia (currently the departments of Antioquia, Tolima and Chocó) and the authorization to conquer territories. He journeyed accompanied by 150 men and reached the bay of Cartagena, where he fought against the natives until they were defeated. He established there and founded the city in June 1, 1533. (Courtesy of Wikipedia).

Cartagena is the main port on the Caribbean Coast and therefore was targeted by pirates. The Spaniards decided to build a fort to surround the town for protection. Cartagena got its independence from the Spanish in 1821 and has grown to a population of one million. Most of the old town is preserved, however if you go to Bocagrande which is the trendy part of town where you will find newly built hotels and bars, restaurants and cafe's to sit in and watch the world go by. It truly is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the sunshine if you don't mind the vendors annoying the hell out of you every way you turn.

The old town

I am here again in Cartagena after 19 years and to say that the place has changed is an understatement. Many tourists now visit this beautiful city. You can take a Chiva ( bus without windows) in Bogagrande. The tour last's around 4 hours and they visit all the popular sites. You can also walk around the town and explore however beware of the many touts which can be annoying because they corner you at every moment, its best to say "no gracias" or ignore them and they usually leave you alone.

Salsa Music

Salsa music plays a big part of the South America way of life. Almost everywhere you go you will find Salsa bands in restaurants, bars, parties. If there is no band you'll hear it on the radio and it is quiet difficult to dance to for the first time but you get better with practice. Personally l enjoy watching the locals dance, some of them are really fantastic.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:The weather is beautiful
  • Cons:Be careful of the money changers.
  • In a nutshell:Need at least a week to explore
  • Last visit to Cartagena: Jul 2009
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (32)

Comments (8)

  • TooTallFinn24's Profile Photo
    Oct 27, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    Hi- just prepared a series of reviews on Cartagena. Since you are the editor could you give me your thoughts before I go farther? Thanks!

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Dec 7, 2009 at 1:59 PM

    This area sounds unsafe for a woman traveller on her own. The old town looks quite interesting, but as you said "being pestered" constantly does wear you down!

  • mikelisaanna's Profile Photo
    Nov 10, 2009 at 9:05 PM

    Cartagena looks like an interesting city. I enjoyed reading your tips about it.

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo
    Oct 7, 2006 at 11:20 PM

    Cartagena sounds to be a lovely city!

  • darthmilmo's Profile Photo
    Feb 27, 2006 at 12:01 PM

    Hahaha! I can't believe there still running those cool old buses... thanks for sharing the pics... they bring back memories :)

  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo
    Jun 19, 2005 at 3:18 AM

    Doesn't look like I'll make it there this year after all so I enjoyed a virtual one thanks to you.

  • acemj's Profile Photo
    Jun 5, 2003 at 7:59 AM

    Scary beach experience!

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    May 30, 2003 at 4:53 PM

    Brilliant start. Now waiting for the photos ... A photo of a cheap beer would be wonderful ... ;-)


“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the places that take our breath away. Anon.”

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