Cartagena is the undisputed queen of Colombia's Caribbean coast and easily the most attractive city in the region – this given its apparent shortage of attractions in the classical sense of the word. Instead, what draws travelers in is the city itself: a microcosm of the Caribbean, walled-in by defensive ramparts built to ward off unwelcome visitors, the likes of Sir Francis Drake, who held Cartagena de Indias captive for months during his 16th century raids on the Spanish New World. Cumbia music fills the air in Cartagena's absurdly beautiful Old Town, while locals enjoy leisurely chats in inviting town squares, street vendors peddle their wares (look out for the incredibly photogenic palenqueras!), and vacationers explore streets lined with well-preserved colonial buildings, their balconies deluged with striking fuchsia-colored veranera. The first free town in the Americas founded by slave trade escapees – San Basilio de Palenque – is just an hour's drive from here.
- Themes in Colombia
ColombiaColombia is the only country on the South American continent to share its coastline with both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Bordering Panama to the north, Venezuela and Brazil to the east and Ecuador to the south, this country is so rich and varied it almost puts others to shame. Travel across the delicate beauty of Colombia’s Caribbean coast, venture into the tropical Amazon rainforest or dare yourself to reach the vertiginous peaks of the snowy Andes. On the shores of the Caribbean lies Cartagena, Colombia’s undisputed crown jewel. While there, you shouldn’t forget to visit the gorgeous Old Town of Cartagena, categorised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for good reason. A 13-km-long stone wall dating back to the colonial era surrounds a pretty and charming village-like city centre where flowery balconies hanging over cobbled streets lead their way down to picturesque plazas. The wall reaches up to 20 metres in width in some parts and it harbours some very fetching colonial architecture.