Cartagena Port of Call
Colombian vendor women © Luz Adriana Villa
Nestled in Cartagena Bay, the port of Cartagena is one of the most important ports in the Americas and has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cartagena is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The city's colourful history, pristine golden beaches and colonial charm make it a favourite destination with all travellers.
Key sights include the Casa de Marqués Valdehoyos in the Old City, as well as the Museo de Oro y Arqueloguía and the Palacio de la Inquisicíon on the Plaza Bolivar. The museum displays Spanish Inquisition torture instruments as well as a fascinating array of pre-Colombian and colonial art.
Cruise ships arrive in the port which is out of the main town. Due to the vast distances it is a good idea to take an organised tour in Cartagena. Established in 1533, Cartagena was made famous for the large fleets of ships that stopped to load gold for transport to Spain, which soon led to pirates, thieves, plunder and the constructions of castles and forts to protect the city.
Tourist office in Cartagena
Address: Casa Marquez Premio Real No. 30-53.
Tel: +57 (5) 660 15833
Taxis are easily hailed from the dock on arrival. Fares are negotiable, but vary according to the duration and distance of the trip as well as the number of passengers. Agree on a fare before you depart. Walking around the Old Town is advised. A ride in a horse drawn carriage is also a popular way for tourists to travel and these can be hailed in the street, at the Plaza Bolivar, or close to the Santa Clara hotel.
One of the city's best sights, and a great place to get that perfect photograph, is the ancient Spanish monastery of La Popa, situated on the hill above the city. Cartagena's most popular attractions include Casa de Marqués Valdehoyos, an ancient castle which acts as gateway to a tour of the old city. The Museo de Oro y Arqueloguía and the Palacio de la Inquisicíon on the Plaza Bolivar are also worth a visit. The museum displays artefacts from the Spanish Inquisition's investigations in the city, as well as a fascinating collection of Colombian art.
Cevicheria Trattoria Donde Wippy - romantic restaurant with a mix of local and Italian cuisine
Quebracho - lively Argentinean steakhouse
Monte Sacro - traditional Colombian food with a balcony overlooking Simon Bolivar Square
Traditionally cooked local fish
The main shopping complex is the Pierino Gallo shopping mall. Smaller shops and markets around Cartagena offer a wonderful selection of arts, crafts and leather goods, such as purses, belts, wallets and handbags.
Emerald jewellery, coffee
Visit the Parque Nacional Tayrona
Explore the Pueblito
Visit the Rosario Islands
Marvel at the Volcan del Totumo
Journey to Las Bovedas
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