Lay of the Land
“He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”~Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Located on the northern coast of Colombia, Cartagena boasts a lively downtown area, access to pristine beaches and a long history. The UNESCO World Heritage Site was the first Spanish colony in the Americas, and is home to the Spaniard’s finest military fortress: the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas. The fort is a twenty-minute walk from the colonial-style walled city, within which most of the best hotels and restaurants reside. The tropical seaport looks out on the Caribbean Sea, and despite being somewhat unknown a decade ago, it is now an emerging destination for food, art and seaside lovers. Though it is on the Caribbean Sea, Cartagena is more of a tropical version of New Orleans with great music, food and architecture than a beach holiday resort since the city beaches are not appealing.
When to Go
Cartagena is the biggest tourist destination in Colombia; thus, the city is quite busy during the winter holidays. But due to a Caribbean climate, the weather is great year-round, so travelers looking for a quiet getaway can go during less busy months. The old city is best explored on foot, although taxis are available.