Not long now until the 2011 FIFA U20s World Cup commences, and so we at Colombia Travel Blog are down to the big three (in terms of tourism): Bogotá, Medellín and Cartagena. Today we look at perhaps Colombia’s most famous city, Cartagena.
Cartagena is a jewel in South America’s crown – beautiful, vibrant and intoxicating. Being a centre for Spanish, Caribbean and African flavour, Cartagena has a palpable sense of multiculturalism about it, enhanced by the hoards of tourists that are inevitably drawn here.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the city’s main colonial heart is nestled within four walls, the city-within-a-city known as El Centro. It’s a maze of cobblestone streets and brightly colored buildings.
Cartagena enjoys a tropical climate and, although its immediate beaches aren’t spectacular, you can take short boat rides to nearby islands and experience the paradisical islands nearby (Las Islas del Rosario). If you don’t wish to make that journey, it’s possible to sunbathe on the beaches at Boca Grande, but be warned: you will be pestered by local vendors.
For an authentic slice of salsa-infused partying, be sure to check out Donde Fidel, an institution in Cartagena’s Old City. For reasonably priced but delicious food, don’t miss El Bistro. Must-dos include the Castillo de San Felipe, La Popa and a walk along the city’s wall. The real draw of Cartagena, however, is just the relaxing atmosphere and the opportunity to unwind as you stroll through its enchanting streets.
Cartagena’s main team is Real Cartagena, who currently play in Colombia’s top division. Their arrival onto the popular football scene has catapulted football into pole position as the most popular sport in the city; an honour previously held by either baseball or boxing.
Playing in the group stages in Cartagena will be Austria, Panama, England, Mexico and Egypt, and Cartagena will host a 2nd Round match and a Quarter Final.