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Getting In and Around Cartagena

Oct 25, 2007
Eventually the city became a major export center as well, for precious metals, spices and other South American goods. Today, the city offers a dizzying array of exotic beaches, public parks, museums, restaurants and unparalleled nightlife.

Situated on Colombia's northern coast, Cartagena is the country's most highly touristed city. High season times include the December holidays (holy week between Christmas and New Year's Day) and the month of August, which is when most Colombians take their vacations.

The favorite spot in Cartagena of international tourists is usually the walled colonial city, known as ciudad amurallada, which is home to high-end guest accommodations, restaurants and clubs. The other popular spot among tourists is Bocogrande, a mile-long strip along the beach of high-rise hotels and exclusive accommodations, cafes, bars, restaurants and discotheques.

Getting to Cartagena

Cartagena is located about 1000 km north of Bogota, so most visitors chose to arrive by air. You can either take a direct flight from Miami or you can transfer through the Colombian capital of Bogota. The flight from Miami is about 2.5 hours, and it is an hour from Bogota. The Cartagena airport is called Rafael Nunez and is a fully international airport.

A more exotic method of transportation into Cartagena is charter boat. If you have been vacationing in Panama, you can hire a charter boat to Cartagena, as this city is a port for charter traffic between the two countries. These charters are usually extremely small (no more than family of four can comfortably be accommodated) sailboats with one crew member. The trip can take up to five days, depending on weather and stops along the way. Fares vary between US$200-US$500 and include food, usually fresh seafood caught along the journey.

Getting Around Cartagena

As with most vacation destinations, the best way to get around Cartagena is to walk. This is especially true of the city's ciudad amurallada, or walled colonial (inner) city. For destinations slightly beyond walking distance, such as the San Felipe fort, visitors can take a public bus or a taxi. While taxis are usually easy to find in Cartagena, they are much less common in the old city center. Be prepared to walk a few blocks to a more trafficked road.

Another popular transportation option is to take a horse-drawn chariot. There are several companies offering this service, with sales booths set up through the old city. You will usually find at least one waiting chariot at the Plaza Bolivar, or you can ask your guest accommodation to assist with reservations.

If you are interested in taking a day boat trip, Cartagena has several options. The various harbors throughout the city offer day excursions to the Islas del Rosario and Playa Blanca. Tourists generally find that the ferryboat to Playa Blanca is perfect for a day at the beach. On Sundays, the city also offers a direct bus service.
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