If Colombia struggles to throw off its long-time association with gangs and unsavory dealerships, port city Cartagena more than sweeps that reputation under the rug in exchange for the title of ‘unrivalled tourist lure’. Preserving centuries of history within the colonial stone walls of its Old Town, Cartagena is a recognized world heritage site. Patched by cobbled pathways, tendril-wrapped balconies and imposing churches, this colorful city swells with memory of the past.
Of the impressive architectures that remain, 17th century Convento & Iglesia de San Pedro Claver is a classic convent-cum-museum, exhibiting religious art, pre-Columbian ceramics and stunning stained-glass windows. Grisly Palace of the Inquisition hides torturous history behind its fine exterior; visit for a comprehensive trajectory of the city. For up-top views, climb to Convento de la Popa and breathe in the atmospheric patio while admiring the beautiful image of the city’s patroness.
Of course, no attraction quite beats out Cartagena’s Old Town in terms of ambiance and colonial structures. For those who prefer to wander the ordinary, feast your eyes on the overhanging balconies, coloured mansions, open plazas, monasteries and indulge in its cozy establishments. Mingle with locals at the various eateries and bars, and come back again at night for a completely changed vibe.
Don’t miss out on Cartagena’s maze-like central market either; Mercado Bazurto is located some kilometers out of the old city district. Truly an experience for the senses, the market’s chaotic nature means keeping a close eye on your belongings while navigating the hustling crowd. From fruits to meat produce to seafood and smaller bites, you’ll find that this market has it all.
As tropical climates go, you can expect the average highest temperature to average around 30℃ and the average minimum to be 24℃. The deciding factor of when to visit is rainy season, which typically hits between May and November. As the temperature is relatively constant throughout the year, we suggest visiting during the driest months of December to April for an elevated sailing experience.