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Planning a Vacation In Cartagena, Columbia

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Old Bridge, New...
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Planning a Vacation In Cartagena, Columbia

Hi everyone, my husband and I are planning a vacation in July of this year to Cartagena. We have never been there before, but a couple of people have told us it is beautiful. I wanted to see if anyone can help me with hotels, sightseeing and let me know if July is a good month to go.

I am most interested being in a nice and safe area, as I have heard one has to be careful. I would like to be on or near the beach; so we can relax and enjoy the beach as well as the city. Please share any information with us. Thanks.

Haslett, Michigan
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1. Re: Planning a Vacation In Cartagena, Columbia

Cartagena is a beautiful old city and a World Heritage Site that is remarkably preserved. I recommend that you stay in a hotel in the old city. It is quiet there, near all of the museums and other important sites, and there are many good restaurants in the area. Just staying in the old city and walking the streets is an experience in itself. The reason to go to Cartagena is to experience the Old City and all of the history.

The closest beach is Bocagrande. It is not a great beach. The sand and water are fairly dirty. Bocagrande is a tourist area with many high rise hotels and tourist shops, and it is very busy and noisy. Most of the hotels are across the street from the beach.

There are many museums in Cartagena (Gold Museum, Palace of the Inquisition, Naval Museum. etc.). There are several forts (San Felipe, and the forts at Bocachica). Walking the walls that surround the Old City is a nice experience in itself. La Popa is an old monastery that is now a museum of sorts and located on a hill overlooking Cartagena.

We stayed at Tres Banderas and really liked it. You can see my review for more info. Also check out the reviews for other hotels in the Old City to find the best fit for you.

Generally, if you use common sense and stay in the tourist areas of Cartagena, it is a safe area. There is a considerable police presence and the police seemed very friendly and helpful. One officer actually stopped traffic on one of the main streets to allow us to cross.

Indianapolis...
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2. Re: Planning a Vacation In Cartagena, Columbia

Piggybacking on the original poster a bit...I'm in the same boat, maybe looking to go later in the summer. I particularly like colonial cities, forts, etc. So it seems like a good fit. I could probably spend a total of four days. I am not a beach person. Will I run out of things to see and do in Cartagena?

Willemstad, Curacao
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3. Re: Planning a Vacation In Cartagena, Columbia

Peter, 4 days include arriving and leaving? The old center is not so huge but it is a nice place to wonder around. there are many things to do as well. Also as it is your vacation you might not want to get up at 6 and be walking around all day. Take your time and enjoy the place. interesting museums etc.

Indianapolis...
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4. Re: Planning a Vacation In Cartagena, Columbia

No, four full days not including travel days. I just wonder if I wouldn't run out of stuff to see. I tend to like an active vacation (I'm not good at sitting around).

Willemstad, Curacao
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5. Re: Planning a Vacation In Cartagena, Columbia

One or 2 days will be good to see the city (tourististic sites). You are not a beach person but you can take a day tour to the islands.. have a swim etc. You can go to the volcano and have a mud bath, One night take the night tour to see the city at night and have a good time.Go to St Basilico de palenque where the runaway slaves stayed this is a unesco heritage site (1.5 hour from Cartagena).

If you are real bored you can always go to Barranquilla although its not a very exciting city if you dont know anyone.

Bogota, Colombia
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6. Re: Planning a Vacation In Cartagena, Columbia

Hey guys! Yes, a day trip to the Rosario Islands, if you're getting a little stir-crazy in the Old City, is a pretty good option. Having said that, I'm sure you could find a bunch to do in old Cartagena for just four days. It's a special place.

Just one thing, though, and, with respect: the country is spelt thusly: "COLOMBIA," and not "COLUMBIA." A little thing, but it means a lot to the people here. I can understand why.

Haslett, Michigan
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7. Re: Planning a Vacation In Cartagena, Columbia

Four days are not too much to see Cartagena. There are many museums, forts, and other sites. Just walking the walls and the city streets is very interesting. Also, you have to take into account that it is very hot and humid in Cartagena (generally 90 degrees and 90% humidity). The heat and humidity take a toll, especially if you are not used to it. It is best to take it slow and allocate some down time in air conditioned areas.

Lecheria, Venezuela
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8. Re: Planning a Vacation In Cartagena, Columbia

Peter, if your thing is seeing/visiting Spanish fortresses... the whole city centre is surrounded by one,

there´s also Castillo San Felipe (with dungeons), Fuerte Pastelillo (in Manga, with a great restaurant) and there´s a smaller one in Bocachica island. That should keep you busy.

Mind though that is already starting to rain in the city (Im local) and you should expect downpours, extra high humidity and high temperatures.

Edited: 03 May 2013, 11:34
9. Re: Planning a Vacation In Cartagena, Columbia

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Columbus, Ohio
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10. Re: Planning a Vacation In Cartagena, Columbia

I will be in Cartagena in August for one and a half days. Would you recommend taking a Chiva Bus tour versus hiring a private guide to see the highlights of the city?

i am also looking for private transport to Santa Marta for my husband and me. We want to visit Tayrona Park for a couple of days. Any recommendations?

We are not backpackers but don't like luxury resorts either. Like the person from Indianapolis on this forum, we're not really beach people either.