Cartagena, or Cartagena de Indias, is a is a city on the northern coast of Colombia in the Caribbean Coast Region and capital of the Bolívar Department. It is the fifth-largest city in Colombia and the second largest in the region, after Barranquilla.
At its core of Cartagena is the walled Old Town, with 16th-century plazas, cobblestone streets and colorful colonial buildings. The candy-colored colonial houses are draped with bougainvillea and the old city's plazas are buzzing with fruit vendors and flamboyantly costumed dancers.
A World Heritage Site since 1984, the old city of Cartagena was founded by Pedro de Heredia in 1533. The historic center is the soul of the city that inspired Gabriel García Márquez, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. Strolling the city streets, you can soak up the romantic ambience of this small part of the city that lies inside the defensive walls built by the Spanish in the 16th century. Days move to a slower rhythm, while nights are electric with possibility. Horses pull carriages over cobblestone streets, and musicians amble across plazas.
In addition to taking in the history of centuries-old cobblestone streets, you can explore the Castle of San Felipe which is a 20 minute walk from downtown and is known as the greatest fortress ever built by the Spaniards in their colonies. Additionally there are the city’s many churches to wander and you can even enjoy a leisurely swim in a nearby mud volcano.
Cartagena is also a destination for sun and beach, water sports and crafts, among other options for travellers. Reachable by boat are the nearby shores of Isla de Barú and Islas del Rosario, known for their coral reefs and scuba diving.
The bulk of the city's tourist facilities, such as hotels, shops, restaurants, nightclubs and art galleries are located in the Bocagrande (Big Mouth) area between Cartagena Bay to the east and the Caribbean Sea to the west.
Cartagena has direct flights to and from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Panamá, Curaçao, Quito, Lima, and Caracas. In addition, Cartagena is only one hour by air from the capital of Colombia, Bogotá. Bogotá offers more than 137 direct flights which guarantees permanent connectivity to the rest of the world.