10 Reasons to fall in Love with Cartagena
You already know that we love our city Cartagena “La Fantástica”, but we wanted to
share with you a few reasons for exactly why we are so besotted with this Caribbean
city that never stops moving…
- The Weather
What’s not to love about a city where it’s sunny and 32 degrees celsius Fahrenheit 365 days a
year? Due to its position at sea level and proximity to the equator, this city on the
Caribbean coast does not have “winter” as a word in its vocabulary. Sure, we get
stormy season and windy season, but believe me, some tropical rain is a refreshing
welcome after so much sun and windy season means one thing…kite surfing! (Or for
those who are more interested in the kite surfers, that too).
- The People
If there’s one word that describes Colombia, it would be happiness. Everywhere
you go, you are greeted with smiles and warmth. Any excuse for a celebration is
enthusiastically embraced (have you ever been in Colombia when their football
team wins?) and Colombians have an immense sense of pride of who they are and
where they’re from, and they love to share it with the world!
From the lady who serves you your fresh coconut water to the oh-so-charming guy
or gal you meet at the club who’s more than willing to walk you through the salsa
moves, you’re bound to have positive, and even unforgettable experiences in
Colombia thanks to the joy and openness of its people.
- The Architecture
One of the things that gives Cartagena’s old town its sense of magical realism is its
romantic architecture; at times bold, bright and majestic, and at times rustic and
bohemian, but always true to its essence. There aren’t many places in the world
where you can rent a colonial mansion complete with swimming pool, open
courtyard, sun terrace, and to top it off, a sense of history and tradition that so
many of the houses here are overflowing with. Classical Botero statues, suits of
armour, fountains, crumbling exposed brick walls; you name it and its here.
- Food, food, glorious food!
Cartagena is foodie heaven. From fancy restaurants to midnight snacking on street
food, there is something suitable for all budgets and taste buds. From sushi and
wood-fired artisan pizza to fresh fish poached in coconut milk or exotic fusion
dishes, Cartagena is at the forefront of Colombian gastronomy.
And for when your tummy rumbles between meals, Cartagena’s also got you
covered. Golden corn-based fried foods are sold on every street corner, at any
time of day or night, giving you your fix of cheese or grease (don’t forget to add
suero – a home-made sour cream!)
For those with a sweet tooth, the many gelato shops provide a cool pit-stop from
the heat and the clock tower square will keep you entertained with the bittersweet
super-sugary tamarindo balls or crispy alegría – which literally translates to
“happiness”. Cartagena in a nutshell, basically.
- The Islands – a slice of paradise on Earth
Whether your game is total relaxation – the cover-your-head-with-a-towel-do-not-
disturb kind – or whether you prefer partying on yachts surrounded by gorgeous
babes (or dudes) – Cartagena’s islands have something for everyone.
Think crystalline blue sea, soft white sand, fresh oysters…mmm…can someone
remind me why I’m not there right now?
Cartagena is one of the party capitals of Colombia. Its tropical climate means that
there’s no need to mess around with cloakrooms, and many clubs and bars are
open-air, allowing you to dance African Champeta or be swooned by romantic
Bachata all night under the stars.
But who said parties had to take place in clubs and bars? In Cartagena you can
party on a boat in the middle of the day, or on a “Chiva” – a famous traditional party
bus that gives you a tour of the city whilst you dance, and on New Years Eve and
on 11th November (Cartagena’s Independence Day) the whole city takes to the
street for some of the wildest street parties of the year.
- Banksy who?
A casual stroll through the streets of Getsemani is almost like walking through a
modern art gallery. Many of the crumbling walls are decorated with incredible street
art that gives the area a bohemian charm and intrigue. There are many classic
pieces, which have become iconic and others seem to be more transient – come
back in 6 months and you’ll be surprised to see another masterpiece in its place.
- Wild Animals
In Cartagena, it’s not unusual to see brightly coloured parrots flying above your
head, or even birds of prey casually perched on the roof tiles. Geckos and teeny-
tiny lizards hang out on the walls, helpfully eating any mosquitos or flies that may
be hanging around, and mysterious, dinosaur-like iguanas lurk in the shade under
palm trees in the park. There’s even a friendly sloth who hangs out (quite literally)
in Parque Centenario – if you look carefully enough you’ll find him!
And if you’re lucky enough to go snorkelling or diving on the islands, you’ll be
invited into a magical underwater world buzzing with life – a place where starfish,
angel fish, “Nemo fish”, and even the odd turtle hide and play amongst the corals,
making this the ultimate nature-spotting adventure.
- Fruit Heaven
The perfume of fresh, sweet mangoes fills the street in the month of May (try them
with salt, pepper and lime juice) and prepared fresh watermelon and papaya are
sold in cups for less than $1 USD all year round. In Cartagena, you can try exotic
fruits so exotic that they almost sound like tongue twisters…guanabana, uchuva,
pithaya, níspero, lulo…
Most of these mouth-watering delights can only be found in this region of the world
and are must-tries on your visit to the Caribbean coast.
- All the modes of transport
In Cartagena, you can travel by speedboat, yacht, paddle-board, bicycle, electric
motorbike, jet-ski, rackety vintage bus, modern air-conditioned bus, tuc-tuc, horse-
drawn carriage…meaning there are a million ways and zero excuses not to explore
this fantastic corner of our planet.