Columbia -Cartagena and Providencia

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Columbia -Cartagena and Providencia

1. Posted by DocNY (Respected Member 441 posts) 7w Star this if you like it!

Anyone been? any tips, places not to miss near there? have 10 days coming up in Feb. Figured to do a little scuba and......

2. Posted by Borisborough (Moderator 1184 posts) 7w Star this if you like it!

We were in Cartagena for a few days a couple of years ago. There's the Fort and the Monastry which are both worth exploring and the old city is brilliant - it's almost impossible to take a bad photo there. Enjoy! :):):)

3. Posted by road to roam (Full Member 43 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Santa Marta, north of Barranquilla, is a chill place - check out Playa Blanca there. As far as Cartagena, if you are on a budget and do not want to go the whole hostel scene, there are good hotels in the center for less than $20 USD per night - not boutique hotels, but no frills places that are wicked clean and quiet.

There are great places for ceviche in the city. Look for the kiosk with the giant sombrero - you cannot miss it! The guy there is legend and makes some really good ceviche.

A 20 minute boat ride away from Cartagena is the OTHER Playa Blanca, which is full of chill beach bungalows and has definite traveler vibe. The water here is clear blue.

If you are flying in, do not pay more than $5 for a cab to the city center, which is just a few miles away. Sadly, if you are coming in by bus the stations are quite scattered and are further away than the airport!

4. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 876 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

I have only been to Columbia twice - both times on a cruise ship and neither time did we go to Cartagena. One visit was to Ilsa de San Andrés which is off the coast of Nicaragua and might be difficult for you to get to from the mainland. It is known for the coral reefs and ragae music, but we didn't really experience either of those things. We just had a taxi tour in the rain. The A/C works best when windows are open & taxi is moving

The other visit was to Santa Marta and I do have some photos of the city

[ Edit: Edited on 19-Jan-2019, at 07:52 by greatgrandmaR ]

5. Posted by Piecar (Travel Guru 1180 posts) 3w 1 Star this if you like it!

First of all, it's COLOMBIA.

I lived in Cartagena for two years. UNESCO World Heritage site downtown core really is lovely. Across the the street out of the clock tower arch is a neighbourhood called Getsemani which also has lovely things to see and is much more of a Colombian neighbourhood and is safe. And there are more inexpensive hotels there. The sort of upscale neighbourhood, to the northwest, is called Boca Grande, it's where many of the beaches are, and some fancier bars and restaurants. Here's the thing, though. Cartagena has very ugly beaches, and the water, while in the Caribbean, is brown and incredibly unappealing. It becomes very shallow around Carta and so you don't get that gorgeous blue that you can get in a fifteen minute boat ride out. Also, you'll be hounded incessantly by "massage" touts. So I suggest, if you want that Caribbean paradise blue, to think about taking one of the many boat trips out to Islas Rosario a very short trip out into the Caribbean.

If you are interested in Scuba, there are a few companies scattered around to find in Carta. One that I know of and have used is on Calle Media Luna in Getsemani across from the very old world bar called Havanas. They'll probably take you out to Islas Rosario as well. The much MUCH better place to get some good scuba in, though, is a small former fishing village across to the west called Taganga. Taganga is connected to Santa Marta, mentioned above. There are at least six scuba companies there and the reef and fish are lovely. I've also seen massive rays and sea turtles, and was once suddenly confronted by a passing whale shark (which is pretty terrifying when aren't ready for it, though they can't hurt you).

I don't know anything about Provedenica except that I have a friend who lives there who constantly tells me it's the greatest thing since sliced bread .

Have fun. ColOmbia is awesome.

6. Posted by zzlangerhans (Respected Member 60 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

You should know that the Cartagena most international tourists know is just a tiny walled enclave adjacent to a large and vibrant city of one million people. That area, which comprises the neighborhoods of El Centro, San Diego, and Getsemani is pretty and atmospheric but is chock a block with cruise ship tourists and the businesses which cater to them. Of the three, I agree that Getsemani is the most authentic. However, you will never see the real Cartagena if you stay within the walls. My recommendation if you choose to venture outside is the Mercado de Bazurto in the China neighborhood. This is one of the biggest and wildest markets I have ever seen in Latin America, and a great way to experience the real Colombia.

[ Edit: Edited on 19-Jan-2019, at 18:50 by zzlangerhans ]

7. Posted by Piecar (Travel Guru 1180 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

I agree with zzlangerhans on that market. I just don't travel to shop. The real, functioning Cartagena is a wild chaotic affair and is great to experience as well. It isn't what I'd call pretty, but it's fun. I think, though, that it's all real Colombia (with the exception of the women walking around with fruit baskets on their heads solely so you can take a picture). The last time I was there I noticed that they had chased out most of the street vendor types from La Matuna, between the old city and Getsemani. That's too bad. They had all kinds of weird services there. There was one whole section with guys with beat up old typewriters who would type up documents for you.

Also, in my earlier post, I said Santa Marta was to the west. I meant east.

8. Posted by alinealcantara (Budding Member 5 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

I`ve been to Cartagena, San andres(including Providencia Island) and Bogota. Cartagena, for me, was the most interesting city.. Although the beaches on San Andres are pretties, Cartagena has close beaches as well, has history, has a lot of good restaurants and bars.

If you are going to both, focus your beach trip in Providencia (it is a island with no glamour, no crowd, where you can dive, for example, and enjoy a beautiful relaxing sea) an enjoy the cosmopolitan and enthusiastic atmosphere from Cartagena! I`ve stayed in Bocagrande, where the prices are low than Historic Center. You can get uber for 3 or 4 dollars between the two points anytime of the day.

Good choices!

Post 9 was removed by a moderator