Region & Time Zone: South America, Eastern Time Zone
Passport Required: Yes
Languages Spoken: English, Spanish
Tap Water: Safe to drink
Currency: Colombian Peso (change only at banks or before you go)
Power: Standard US plug at 110 volts
A little background...
Officially named "Cartagena de Indias", this colorful city sits on the beautiful Caribbean coastline of northern Colombia. Besides being named an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, the city boasts all kinds of great attractions - including history, museums, biking, music and dancing, beaches, and great traditions. Of course, the weather is great too - the tropical climate means the temperature is usually around 80 degrees - and sunshine is almost guaranteed. JetBlue serves Cartagena with nonstop service from New York (JFK) and Fort Lauderdale.
Casa de Marques Valdehoyos
Named for a famous importer of flour and a kingpin in the slave trade, Casa de Marques Valdehoyos is recognized for its traditional colonial style. The building makes use of wooden floors and ceilings, which, besides adding to the colonial charm, are in some cases carved with beautiful, intricate designs.
Translated as "The Vaults," Las Bovedas is located within the northern wall of the walled city. Originally built as dungeons during civil wars in the 19th century, today the structure is home to boutiques, shops, and other businesses which offer traditional Colombian products. As it turned out, many of the actual cells of the dungeon were under sea level when the tide rose, so prisoners at the time would often be up to their knees in seawater.
Castillo San Felipe de Barajas
Built as the largest fort in Cartagena during the colonial era to protect the city, Castillo San Felipe de Barajas was named after King Phillip IV of Spain. The fort's strategic location at the top of a hill ensured protection to Cartagena no matter if enemies approached by land or sea. In 1984, the fort, which serves as the historic city center of Cartagena was named an UNESCO world heritage site.
Located in the heart of the walled city near many of the museums is Plaza Bolivar, a beautiful park that makes it easy to get away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the city. The lush trees and winding paths create a cool, relaxing atmosphere - making this a great place to relax and cool off, especially on a hot day. Be sure to check out some of the local shopping opportunities nearby, too!
Convento de la Popa
Set atop a 500-foot hill (the highest point in all of Cartagena) is Convento de la Popa - a famous convent dating back to 1607, known today for its historical significance and great views over the city. The convent actually takes its name from the hill which resembles "Popa" - meaning Stern (back of a ship). Although it is possible to walk to the top of this hill, it is not recommended. The best way to the top is by taxi.