Cartagena Columbia: Complete Guide

Cartagena is a perfect blend of history and modernity. It has a history that its monuments speak for yet these are renovated to suit modernity. There are plazas that bustle with activities, rich food and dining experience, colorful colonial architecture, and unique Columbian culture. Here is a complete guide for the people who want to or are planning to visit Cartagena-


Cartagena is an important place in the history of Columbia. It has played its part in protecting the country from a number of invasions and battling with the pirates to save the city’s treasure and riches. 

Spanish Commander Pedro de Heredia founded the city on the 1st June 1533. He started to build his own settlement after he took over an abandoned Amerindian Caribbean village known as Calamarí. The first establishments belonged to  sailors who had arrived from Cartagena, Spain to start a new life. They called the town Cartagena de Indias. The city withstood a number of invasions in the past, because of its riches. It was the first city to declare its independence from Spain both in the year 1811 and 1821. 


Cartagena is a hub of diverse culture coming together. It has a blend of beautiful architecture,  world-class museums such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Gold Museum, remarkably colonial Inquisition Palace as well as premium cultural events, such as the Hay Literature Festival and the International Music Festival. Cartagena boasts about the social sense of taste, is the music beating in Cartagena’s veins, which can be tasted most unmistakably in the extravagant servings of clubs and bars in this city. The most perfect products of Columbia’s flourishing magnificence industry are in plain view every year in the National Beauty Pageant. All these implausible culinary inferences, however, were most likely animated by the incredibly flavor-pressed food Cartagena is getting celebrated for; food that mirrors the rich and shifting legacy of the individuals that make up this lavishly unpredictable city. 

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Many people like to believe Cartagena as the culinary capital of Columbia. The food has influence from Spanish, African, and indigenous which gives it a special edge. The best things to try in this city are their tropical fruits and local seafood. These are 10 local dishes that one should try in Cartagena-

  • Mojarra or Pargo Frito 

An entire fish is fried and served with coconut rice, golden fried patacones and a serving of mixed green salad. 

  • Arepa De Huevo 

A sort of mini pita is made using ground-up corn which is  fried, opened, loaded up with an egg and spiced mince and then re-fried. It is presented with suero (similar to sour cream) and chilli sauce. 

  • Container de BONO 

These are tasty chewy-sodden bread, found all through Cartagena. Cornflour, yuca and cheese is used to make these which makes them too moist. 

  • Bit De Queso 

A soup produced using ñame (sweet potato) and nearby costeño cheddar (like feta). A little bit of this can fill up the stomach as it’s extremely rich. 

  • Cazuela De Mariscos 

Fish goulash made on a base of coconut milk 

  • Posta Negra Cartagenera 

A sort of pot meal of meat gradually cooked in panela (like brown sugar). It is sweet and full of flavours. 

  • Mondongo Soup 

Tripe and offal soup particularly expended on Sundays as a post-alcohol fix. 

  • Tropical Fruits 

There are a wide variety of tropical fruits found in the city which can be eaten as juice, frozen yogurt, ice cream or just raw. Lulo, Nispero, Grenadilla, Papaya, Mango, Mora, Corozo, Mamoncillo are some to name. 

  • Ceviche 

There’s various renditions relying on the roots, however essentially it includes raw seafood (fish, prawns and so forth) “cooked” in the acidic marinade of limes, oil, garlic, onion, tomato, herbs. The Peruvian form additionally has crunchy toasted corn portions. 

  • Banano En Tentación 

This is generally a side-dish to the corriente lunch. These are made by slow cooking bananas in Kola Roman – the splendid red soda pop/soft drink that is a brought up Cartagena staple.

  • Tres Leches 

It is a vanilla sponge cake doused in three “milks”: normal milk, condensed milk, and a sort of caramel milk.

Best Places to Visit 

Here is a list of 5 best places that on should visit in Cartagena

  • Walled city Cartagena

It is a historic corner protected by a fortress which was used to stop invasions. It is now home to an array of bars, restaurants, shops and luxurious hotels.

  • Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas

One must visit this place in Cartagena. This amazing development had begun in 1639 yet not finished until 150 years after. In any case, since its finishing it has been a prominent site in the city and guests would now be able to walk around the battlements, weave their way through underground sections and appreciate the architectural beauty. 

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  • Playa Blanca

At a 45 minutes boat ride from Cartagena port, Playa Blanca is one of the most beautiful beaches in Columbia. It is located in Baru Island and can also be reached by a 2 hour car ride. People can spend a day and even stay at night to enjoy the beauty of white sand beaches and crystal clear water. 

  • Cartagena’s Cathedral: Catedral Santa Catalina de Alejandria

The building of this church gives a picturesque view at night with all the lights lit up. It is one of the most photographed buildings. It was built in 1612 and was recently renovated. The inside of the cathedral has impressive towering arches supported by massive columns.

  • Palace of the Inquisition Cartagena Historical Museum

Also known as Inquisition Palace, The Palace of Inquisition served as the Holy Office of the Inquisition in Cartagena in the 18th century. It is now a historical museum displaying artifacts, which include the torture tools that were used during the inquisition time. 

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Cartagena is between December to April, which is the summer season in the place. The winters are marked with heavy rainfall and humidity and hence are not very favorable for the visitors. 

How to Reach

By air- cartagena is served by Rafael Nunez International airport. There is no direct flight from India to the city but flights from  Panama City, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, New York and Atlanta are at service. Various domestic flights connecting to the nearby cities are available too.
By Bus-  the bus terminal of Cartagena is located 11km east from the old city. White and green metro car busses run frequently to the old city. Busses connect with the neighboring city of Barranquilla, taking two hours to reach and further two hours to arrive at Santa Marta. There are buses to Medellin which usually takes 12-15 hours to reach Medellin. Thus travelling by bus takes time and thus shouldn’t be preferred if one has a time crunch. 

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By waterways- there are sailboats connecting Panama City to Cartagena. Boat trips usually take 4 -5 days. It is advisable to check the condition of the boats and meet the captain personally, before boarding. 

Visa/Passport Requirement

Generally, a visa is not required for most of the Western, European and East Asian countries, to enter Colombia. All visitors should carry their passports which are valid for a minimum of 6 months after return and a tourist visa will be issued upon arrival for a maximum of 90 days. Same goes for the citizens of the United States. The maximum length of stay should be less than 6 months. 

Cartagena is much more than a city with developments. There is a rich culture, tasty food and locals amusing the people with music and dance. It has a historic touch and monuments as well as coasts and beaches. People can look forward to having a great time in this city.