10 Key Things about Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena – The city named after a city, named after another city

Cartagena, the city located on the North Coast of Colombia is a growing metropolitan city which attracts a lot of tourists throughout the year. It is named after the famous city of Cartagena in Spain that was indeed named after Carthage of Tunisia.

Cartagena is the fifth largest city of the nation with a population of nearly 0.8 million and is really prosperous owing to booming trade, finance and tourism industries. It is really one of the best cities that one has to visit no matter what.

10 Key Things about Cartagena, Colombia

1. History of Cartagena

Although Cartagena was established on June 1, 1533 by the Spanish commander Pedro de Heredia, it has been inhabited by several aboriginal tribes from 3000 BC. Since the discovery of Caribbean Sea, several explorations to South America were sent of which the Spanish explorers founded this city on this great bay. After suffering innumerable rebellions, sieges and attacks by pirates, this city has been burnt down, sieged and still has prospered into a thriving economy.

Huge investments from the Spanish empire helped it to establish itself as a major port of South America and since then it has been a developing city with growing population with growing trade and tourism.

2. Night Life of Cartagena

Unlike other cities in Colombia as Bogota and Medellin, Cartagena doesn’t have much of an active nightlife. However, it does have a lot of clubs and bars which are crowded especially in the weekends. One thing unique of the nightlife of the city is a Chiva Tour, hop on to a party bus and sip on some rum while dancing to loud music.

The best clubs in the city are in the  El Centro Historico or in Getsemaní area. Do visit the Cafe Havana if you love the Salsa. If you crave some fresh beer, head over to Le Casa de Cerveza.Some of the recommended clubs of the city are the Fragma and Tu Candela especially for their electronic music.

3. Safety in Cartagena

Cartagena was once considered one of the most dangerous city of the country due the civil struggle funded by drug traffickers. However, the safety in the city has been restored thanks to the everlasting efforts of the nation and the efficient governance. However, basic precautions should be taken by the travelers. Prefer travelling in groups rather than travelling solo. If you’re heading into the night, it is advised not to flash money in the streets or get into fights. Keep in control and everything will be fine.

Dial 1-2-3 for emergency purposes and 1-1-2 for police assistance.10-key-things-Cartagena-Columbia-Lagune-1024x682 10 Key Things about Cartagena, Colombia

4. Living Expenses in Cartagena

The living expenses in Cartagena are affordable to say the least. The average wage of residents is not as much as that of other global cities.

Renting a 3 bedroom apartment in the city centre costs as much as Col$ 4,750,000 (USD 1480) while renting a 3 bedroom apartment outside city centre costs nearly, Col$ 373,989.

Budget hotels in the area tend to have a tariff of around Col$ 231000. However, if you’re looking for the good luxurious life, Cartagena has several great hotels like Hotel Quadrifolio and Casa Austin that comes at a tariff of a whopping Col$ 2777320.10-key-things-Cartagena-Columbia-Plaza-1024x683 10 Key Things about Cartagena, Colombia

5. Cuisines of Cartagena

Undoubtedly the culinary capital of Colombia, Cartagena serves a unique blend of Spanish, African and indigenous culture. There are several eateries strewn across the city that will make the foodie go on a frenzy. Here are some dishes that you have to try if you’re here: The Sanchocho stew from La Cocina de Pepina, the lip-smacking empanadas, Crispy Fritangas from the street vendors. For the seafood lovers out there, nothing gets better than Ceviche especially from El Bolichi Cebicheria. If you’re feeling a little dehydrated, try the exotic fruits the Palanqueras around the streets of the city.

In short, you’ll never run out of delicacies and will surely love this city’s cuisine.

6. Statistics of Cartagena

Cartagena is a relatively less populated city with roughly 978,600 residents. The city proper has an estimated area of about 572 sq.km. The city is divided into 5 areas namely, the Northern Area, the Downtown, San Diego, Getsemani and Bocagrande.

The major languages spoken are Spanish, Portuguese and English. The major religion followed in the city is Catholicism.10-key-things-Cartagena-Columbia-Street-houses-1024x682 10 Key Things about Cartagena, Colombia

7. Public Transport in Cartagena

Being a city of small area span, the public transport of the city consists of taxis and buses. Another fun alternative are local buses known as Combis which are small makeshift buses that ply through the city. The fares for travelling are minimal and it is quite easy to travel around the city. It is advised to take basic precautions against pickpocketing.

However, it is really requested to wander about the city and walk in the streets and take taxis only when travelling for long distances. You’ll discover the city and absorb the history of the city only when you get lost in this bohemian city. It is a walker’s paradise during the day.

Pollution in Cartagena: There is very low air pollution in the city or any other form of pollution all thanks to the concerned residents of the city. The air pollution index is about 32 ppm which is well within the norms.

8. Weather of Cartagena

Cartagena has a typical Tropical Hot and Wet Climate. The humidity is above 90% throughout the year with rainy season spanning from May-June and October-November. It is recommended to carry a bottle of water at all times to prevent dehydration.

Summer: January- May. Average Low: 24°, Average High: 31°C
Monsoon: May-June and October-November. Average Low: 23°C, Average High: 29°C
Winter: December. Average Low: 18°C, Average High: 22°C

9. Culture of Cartagena

Cartagena has a rich culture which is reminiscent of the Classical times. The city breathes history and culture into each street, nook or corner. The city’s culture is derived from it’s Spanish ancestry, African fraction of the demographic and the indigenous culture. Make sure you visit the Joyeria Caberia Museum, La Popa monastery, Museo del Oro Zenu for getting the chills that this amazing city has in store for you. The Plaza Santo Domingo and NH Galeria are a must for the art aficionado.10-key-things-Cartagena-Columbia-1024x768 10 Key Things about Cartagena, Colombia

10. Places to visit in Cartagena

Things to do in Cartagena: Stay in a boutique hotel like the La Passion (which means shelling out a few extra bucks, but it’s worth it), explore the Walled City either by walking or by a horse driven carriage, go sailing to the Rosario Islands, enjoy the beach at the Playa Banca, dance till the sun comes up at Cafe Havana.

Things to do for Kids in Cartagena: A visit to the Playa Banca is really essential, enjoy the pools at the hotels, Rosario Islands are fun too! Kids will love the Museo de Oro and the Museo de la Inquiscion. A mud bath in the volcano could also be a fun activity for the kids.

Museum and Galleries: Cartagena‘s rich culture is evident in it’s numerous museums and art galleries. Some are of really profound historical importance like the Museo de la Inquiscion which also served as a prison for rebels who rose against the Spanish dominion. Other museums include the Museo de Oro and Arte Moderna. Art Galleries include the NH Art Galeri and Naval del Caribe.

Places nearby: Places like the Rosario Islands are primary getaways. Moreover, other prolific cities like Bogota and Medelin are frequented by the tourists that visit the city.

Offbeat places: The Experencia 43 though less known, is one place you simply can’t forget. Other places that are offbeat include the Cala Cortana and mudbath at the volcano.

Author’s Conclusion: Cartagena is a city of culture and history. The setting to “Love in the time of Cholera”, this city is the one of pure delight and will surely leave an indelible mark on you. The city has a grandeur of historical proportions and the residents are jovial and friendly. Be here and lose yourself in it’s nostalgic charms.

Country Colombia
City Cartagena
Area 572 sq.km
Population 978,600
Demonym Cartagenians
Languages Spanish, English
Currency Colombian Pesos (1 Col $ = 0.00033 USD as on 19-03-2016)
Time Zone EST (UTC-5)
Driving Right Hand Drive, Left Hand Traffic
Helpline Emergency – 123, Police – 112

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