Travel Dates: May 12 -17, 2022

About Cartagena

The sea breeze and the sunset that transform the colors of 400-year-old houses enchant visitors in Cartagena de Indias. A World Heritage Site, this city was founded by Pedro de Heredia in 1533; the colonial architecture of its buildings is protected by the most complete set of fortifications in South America.

Cartagena, Colombia is the sum of its incredible parts; its colonial, republican and modern architecture, the temptation of its vibrant nightlife, its cultural festivals, exuberant landscapes, magnificent beaches, outstanding gastronomic offerings and its important hotel and tourism infrastructure. It is a fantastic city that guards the secrets of its history in its walls and balconies, its buildings and its narrow, cobbled streets.

Framed by its beautiful bay, Cartagena de Indias is one of the best preserved and most enchanting cities in the Americas.

Feel the rhythm

The historic center enclosed by the walls of Cartagena is the soul of the city that inspired Gabriel García Márquez, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. In addition to taking in the history of centuries-old cobblestone streets, you can explore the Castle of San Felipe, experience the wonder of the city’s many churches, and even enjoy a leisurely swim in a nearby mud volcano.

It’s a pleasure to stroll through the streets of Cartagena and observe its colonial treasures, such as the Palace of the Inquisition and the Clock Tower, and enjoy the warm and gentle breeze that wanders through its parks and squares.

Known for the 6.8 miles of walls built around it by the Spanish, Cartagena has a historic center that should be explored slowly and without a care in the world. A number of festivals devoted to film and classical music are held here. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, Cartagena is ideal for honeymoons, scuba diving, and cruises, among other activities.

Cartagena de Indias exhibits all the charm of its history and the legacy of its ancestors, ensuring its greatness and turning it into one of the country’s most important tourism destinations. If you’re a sea and beach lover then learn more about Santa Marta, the city that’s home to the crashing waves of Tayrona Park, an unforgettable nature reserve, and the pretty beaches of Rodadero.

Cartagena’s mythology and its historic legacy invite tourists to explore a radiant and generous city, where they will find the space to interact with nature and learn the culture, customs, memories and stories of a people who carry the flavor of the Caribbean in their folklore.

The city is an open-air museum, filled with colonial treasures, but it has a lot more to offer than history and culture. Cartagena is a sunshine and beach destination too with watersports and traditional handicrafts among the many draws for visitors. The magic of Cartagena, Colombia lies in the foundations of its fortifications, the warmth of its inhabitants, the richness of its architecture and the infinite cultural expressions of its brave and resilient people. This city overflows with romanticism and the corners of its cobbled streets and squares resound with anecdotes while its defiant walls await the sunset to evoke the struggles of its past.

On sunny days, Cartagena de Indias vibrates like the colors of its façades and the sea breeze refreshes a long stroll through the winding alleys of its old city. Its monuments rise solemnly to the skies and the ancient cloisters, churches, bastions and vestiges of bloody battles are all testament to the invincible men and women who won freedom for their “heroic city”. As night falls, Cartagena is warm and bathes in its own light, coming alive and being transformed. A unique atmosphere is evoked that enchants its guests and transports them to forgotten times on a horse-drawn carriage.

From its walls, with a heavenly view out to sea, the euphoria grows and an inexhaustible party awaits the first rays of the sun, which takes with it the mystery of the night. That’s Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. A city that remembers its past is filled with fascinating stories and is always reborn anew. Close to the walled city lies the modern tourism sector of Bocagrande, with beaches, hotels, restaurants and nightclubs.

9 Unusual Things You Didn't Know About Cartagena

  • There is a Mud Volcano

    Volcán de Lodo el Totumo is a mud volcano located 30 miles outside of Cartagena. This majestic natural spa is 15 meters tall and there are steps leading up to the mud baths. The mud volcano provides a number of natural benefits, such as removing toxins and healing skin; the natural sulphites, phosphates, and magnesium properties of the mud make for a relaxing and healing experience.
  • Sir Francis Drake Has a House There

    Sir Francis Drake was sent to Cartagena with the mission to attack Spanish colonies in a prompted war. In 1586, he arrived in Cartagena along with a small number of British ships in an attempt to take over the city. He succeeded in taking control of the city but subsequently lost control of his soldiers, who began to attack the city, setting houses on fire and damaging cathedrals. Sir Francis Drake held the city for ransom and demanded money, jewels, and gold. Two months after they first set foot in the city, Cartagena paid its ransom and Sir Francis Drake, along with his soldiers, proceeded back to England with boats full of riches. While Sir Francis was in Cartagena he took over the house of Alonso Bravo and stayed there for two months; this house has been refurbished over time but you can still see a plaque on the wall with Drake’s name on it.
  • There Are 27 Caribbean Islands

    Located 100 kilometers (62 miles) off the coast of Cartagena are a collection of Caribbean islands named the Rosario Islands. These islands are protected and considered to be a Colombian National Park, in order to protect the coral reefs and ecosystems: the park contains over 46,332 square miles of marine area and land. While many of the islands are uninhabited, a small number of the islands are privately owned by hotels who offer accommodation or day trip packages to the islands. There are plenty of snorkeling, diving, relaxing, and swimming opportunities in the crystal clear waters, as well as a natural aquarium that you can explore.
  • San Felipe Castle is One of the Best in Any Spanish Colony

    The Spanish were afraid of being attacked and invaded in Cartagena, so in 1536 they built a number of forts on the oceanfront and San Felipe Castle to protect their city and country. The San Felipe Castle is located on top of a small hill in the middle of the city; this piece of marvelous architecture and engineering contributed to protecting the city and its people on a number of occasions. The castle is now open to the public and there is a video of the castle’s history, numerous tunnels to wander around, and picturesque views. The opportunity to visit this UNESCO World Heritage site, which played an important role in Cartagena’s history, is one not to be missed.
  • The British Tried and Failed to Invade

    In 1741, as part of the War of Jenkins’ Ear (a war between the British and Spanish between 1739 and 1748), the British Armada set out to capture and invade four Spanish ports in the Caribbean, in order to control entry to and exit from the Americas. The British descended on Cartagena with 186 ships and over 27,400 men and the Spanish only had 4,000 soldiers. The British began to destroy Cartagena’s forts and ships and they succeeded in taking control of the walled city and began to head for the San Felipe Castle. A series of errors and misfortunes for the British (mosquitos, tropical diseases, and misinterpreted information) resulted in them failing to take control of the castle and the whole city, and retreating from Cartagena. This event is significant in the history of the city and Colombia: if the English had succeed in this task, Colombia may have become a British colony and Colombians may be talking English today.
  • They Found Sunken Treasure

    In December 2015, just off the coast of Cartagena, divers discovered a shipwreck of the Spanish ship, San Jose, which sank over 300 years ago in one of Cartagena’s battles. Located within this shipwreck were over 17 billon U.S.D. in treasure and gold. The Spanish, Americans (who found the ship), and the Colombians are still in disagreement over the rightful owners of this treasure today.
  • The City is Surrounded By a Wall

    At the end of the 16th century, the city of Cartagena decided to build a seven-mile architectural marvel: a wall around the city to protect it from pirates and invaders. This wall complemented the existing forts and castles located in the city (at that time Cartagena was the largest and most important port in the Americas). The wall, or Las Murallas, was also used to separate the city’s rich and poor population. This remarkable feature is still intact today, providing visitors with a colonial construction that you can walk on the top of and admire the ocean or city views from. It is also considered along with other forts in the city a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
NOTE: U.S. citizens must present a valid passport book for this trip. Allow up to eight weeks to obtain a new or renewed passport. It is REQUIRED that your passport have at least six (6) months validity from the date you will be returning to the United States. Please refer to The U.S. Department of State website for additional information on obtaining a passport

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