We recently returned from Cartagena, Colombia, and were a little surprised at what we found. We didn’t really have any preconceived ideas other than the stories we had heard of the area growing up. The city is beautiful, and the scenery is breathtaking.

Strolling Through History

First up, the old walled city – pure magic. The cobblestone streets lined with rainbow-hued buildings are a snapshot of the past that’s still bursting with life. And you can’t miss the imposing Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas. It’s a bit of a climb, but the sweeping views are a sweet reward.

Home in the Old Walled City of Cartagena Columbia
Street in the Old Walled City of Cartagena Colombia
Homes in CArtagena Colombia

A Taste of Local Life

Sampling local street food is a must, filled with authentic flavors that’ll have your taste buds dancing (or burning, depending on your chosen spice level). Keep in mind that some of the vendors might be a tad enthusiastic, so flash a smile, say “no gracias,” and keep on exploring.

Sun, Surf, and Sand

Looking for a nice beach? Cartagena’s shores won’t disappoint – the sand is soft and the waters bright blue. Perfect for a day of unwinding and soaking up the sun.

Spiritual Sojourns

The Cathedral Santa Catalina is a stunning blend of architectural styles from different eras, making it a must-visit stop for history and architecture enthusiasts alike. Inside, it’s a world of color and story with every stained glass and artifact.

Modern Meets Heritage

Cartagena’s new town offers a splash of contemporary amidst its historical grace. Think modern architecture, dynamic streets, and a touch of luxury with shopping centers and gourmet restaurants with spectacular Caribbean views. Traffic was pretty heavy in the area, and they seemed to have their own rules of the road. If you are driving, just be careful.

Fortress Cartagena Colombia
Church Cartagena Colombia
Skyline Cartagena Colombia

Get Wild

For a closer encounter with nature and wildlife, the Port Oasis Wildlife Sanctuary is a winner. Home to rescued critters and surrounded by native foliage, it’s a serene escape that’s educational, too.

Flamingos in Cartagena Colombia
Peacock in Cartagena Colombia.
Flower in Cartagena Colombia

Time to Move On

Wrapping things up, Cartagena is a treasure chest of culture, history, and natural beauty. Although we never felt unsafe there, keeping your street smarts about you would be wise. If you look past the beautiful architecture, you’ll notice that almost all the windows have bars on them. The street vendors and even some merchants were more aggressive than we anticipated, but they were no worse than those we found in the touristy areas of Mexico.