Colombia’s second-oldest city is home to the only walled town in the Americas. It was originally built to protect Cartagena against pirates, and it cocoons cobbled alleyways, cottages painted in rainbow colours, and buildings that have stood for centuries. The Colonial cathedrals alone are worth bringing your camera for.
• Prepare to see a completely different side of Cartagena in Bocagrande, the city’s new town. Jewellery-lovers should head for the Caribe Emerald Factory, where you can watch stones being cut, polished and set. You can even create your own design.
• Pay a visit to the Convento de la Popa. It’s a 400-year-old monastery that sits at the top of a hill, overlooking the whole city. Inside, it’s filled with lavish décor, paintings and sculptures.
SHORE EXCURSIONS► View all EXCURSIONS
Historic Cartagena - Old City Walking Tour►
You’ll come face-to-face with some of Cartagena’s showpieces on this tour and see why it’s old town is a UNESCO World heritage site, Things kick off with a photo stop visit to the San Felipe de Barajas. The construction of this huge fort began in 1536, and lasted for over a hundred years. A labyrinth of tunnels run underneath the place, and you’ll get to head down inside some of them. But the star attraction is inside the chunky walls of the old city. Explore the Dungeons - originally built to store provisions for the troops. Now-a-days they are home to a handicraft market selling brightly decorated cloth, woodwork & woven bags made by some of the locals. Next, tour the winding streets to see the Colonial buildings, ancient churches and pretty squares. To top off your visit, head to the beautiful San Pedro Claver Church, moving on from here there'll be an opportunity to take photographs of San Francisco Javier Bastion, one of the city’s many fortifications.
Cartagena Panoramic Sightseeing►
With its amazingly well-preserved colonial architecture, Cartagena is a bit like an open-air museum – which explains why it’s been given UNESCO World Heritage status. This tour begins with a trip to San Felipe de Barajas, an imposing fortress set just outside the old city walls. There’ll be time here to take photos, before you move on to the heart of the city. Nine miles of stone walls cocoon the town, and they took 194 years to build. Delve inside, and you’re greeted by beautiful churches, quaint squares and cafés that look like they were frozen in time back in the 16th century. You’ll have a guide with you as you wander down the cobbled streets, and they’ll give you the lowdown on Cartagena’s history. Finally, you’ll head over to Bocagrande, where you’ll see another side of the city. Gone are the medieval courtyards and old churches, and in their place stand sleek shopping malls and high-rise apartment blocks. Your destination is the Pierino Gallo shopping centre, which is known for its great selection of jewellery stores featuring pieces with the Colombian Emerald. There’ll be time to browse the shops, before you head back to the coach.
Cartagena by Horse & Carriage►
See the city of Cartagena in the same way wealthy aristocrats would have once done, from the comfort of a horse and carriage. You’ll tour the streets of the old walled city, stopping to admire cobbled courtyards, flower-bedecked balconies and baroque churches. This place is home to some of the best-preserved colonial Spanish architecture in South America, so have your camera at the ready. There’ll be one guide for every seven carriages, so when we make a stop they’ll be on hand to give you the history and legend of the highlights like the Heredia Theatre, the Inquisition Palace, and City Hall. After your tour of the city, you’ll head for The Dungeons in the walled city ramparts. It’s now home to a colourful handicraft market, where the stalls overflow with wooden ornaments, pretty woven bags and traditional clothes. Get ready to haggle and you’ll get yourself some good deals.