Can You Enjoy Life in Cartagena? Everything You Need to Know
Hailed as one of the most vibrant and colorful cities in South America, Cartagena is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. Nestled on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, Cartagena boasts an impressive history, stunning beaches, thriving nightlife, and delicious cuisine. But the question remains, can you truly enjoy life in Cartagena? In this blog post, we will explore everything you need to know about living in and enjoying Cartagena.
The History of Cartagena
Before we dive into what makes Cartagena a great place to live, it’s essential to understand the history that shaped this city. Founded in 1533 by Spanish conquistador Pedro de Heredia, Cartagena served as a key port city for the Spanish empire until the 19th century. Over the centuries, Cartagena has been besieged by pirates, freed slaves, and revolutionaries, leaving its historic center with a fascinating mix of Spanish colonial, Moorish, and republican architecture.
Living in Cartagena
Cartagena is a bustling city with a population of over 1 million people. Depending on where you choose to live in the city, you’ll experience a different pace of life. Living in the historic center or “Old Town” means you’ll be immersed in the vibrant culture, architecture, and history of the city. This area is also the most touristy, so expect higher prices and more crowds. If you prefer a more relaxed lifestyle, the Bocagrande area is perfect for you, with its luxury apartments, high-end restaurants, and stunning beachfront views.
One thing to keep in mind is that Cartagena can be quite humid and hot throughout the year, so make sure your living accommodations have proper air conditioning to keep you comfortable during the hotter months.
Cost of Living in Cartagena
The cost of living in Cartagena is generally lower than many other major cities in Latin America. That being said, living in the historic center can be quite expensive due to its touristy nature. On average, a one-bedroom apartment in the Old Town can cost anywhere between $800-$1500 USD per month, while apartments in Bocagrande or other more exclusive areas can range from $1200-$2000 USD per month. However, food, transport, and entertainment costs can be quite affordable, making Cartagena an excellent budget-friendly destination.
Things to Do in Cartagena
There’s no shortage of activities and things to do in Cartagena. The Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-visit destination for anyone in the city. Here, you’ll find historic churches, colorful buildings, and cobblestone streets reminiscent of the city’s colonial past. You can also explore the famous Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, a fortress built in the 17th century to protect the city from hostile invaders. To beat the city’s heat, head to one of its many beaches, including Playa Blanca, Isla del Encanto, or the picturesque Rosario Islands. And when the sun goes down, Cartagena turns up the party vibe, with its lively salsa clubs, rooftop bars, and trendy restaurants.
The Pros and Cons of Living in Cartagena
Like any city, living in Cartagena has both its pros and cons. On the one hand, you’ll enjoy a warm climate, affordable living, delicious cuisine, and a rich cultural history. On the other hand, Cartagena can be quite humid, and the old town can be noisy and crowded, especially during peak tourist season. Another challenge is the language barrier, as English is not widely spoken outside of tourist areas, so it’s essential to learn some basic Spanish to navigate day-to-day life.
So, can you enjoy life in Cartagena? The answer is a resounding yes. Cartagena is a vibrant, colorful, and cultural city that offers a fantastic quality of life for those looking to immerse themselves in South American culture. With its delicious food, breathtaking scenery, and exciting nightlife, Cartagena has something for everyone. However, as with any significant life decision, it’s essential to do your research, plan accordingly and ensure that Cartagena aligns with your lifestyle needs and expectations.
Explore and enjoy all that Cartagena has to offer!
An Insider’s Guide to Cartagena: Everything You Need to Know
If you’re planning to visit Cartagena, you’re in for a treat. This vibrant Colombian city, located on the Caribbean coast, is known for its history, culture, and picturesque architecture. But don’t just stick to the common tourist spots! In this insider’s guide, we’ll reveal some hidden gems that only locals would know, take you on a journey of the city’s great food culture, share insights into the culture and traditions of Cartagena, and introduce you to captivating stories from its past.
Local Attractions: The Hidden Gems of Cartagena
While the walled city of Old Town is stunning, we suggest exploring some of the hidden gems of Cartagena. The first stop is Cafe Stepping Stone. It’s an innovative space that combines a coffee shop and a concept store that features local designers. Our second recommendation is Casa de la Cerveza. It’s a taproom with its own microbrewery offering you a great selection of Colombian craft beers. Finally, head up to Hotel Casa Tere, a rooftop restaurant located near Plaza Trinidad, which brings beautiful scenery and good music together for anyone to enjoy.
Dining in Cartagena: A Culinary Exploration
Cartagena’s food culture reflects a mix of Spanish, African, and indigenous influences from the region. From street food to high-end cuisine, you’ll find it all here. We suggest trying arepas de huevo (a deep-fried cornmeal pocket stuffed with beef, egg, or cheese), and churros filled with dulce de leche, which are only served at night in Plaza de los Coches. Savor the famous Colombian dish, Bandeja Paisa at Maria’s Cafe, and soak up Cartagena’s culture while you dine. Speaking of coffee, go on a coffee tasting tour organized by Café San Alberto to sample delicious coffee flavors.
Cultural Experiences in Cartagena: Traditions, Festivals, Art, and Music
Cartagena’s cultural life is rich and fascinating. During the month of November, be part of the famous and vibrant Festival of Lights, where the streets are illuminated with beautiful, multi-colored lanterns. Then, seek out Espacio Arte Al Límite Ancestral, a gallery that only exhibits indigenous or Afro-Colombian artists. The art pieces are breathtaking and full of meaning. Listen to traditional Cumbia music by going to Bazurto Social Club, a lively and authentic club that has live music five nights a week.
Local History: Captivating Stories From the Past
Cartagena’s history is full of fascinating stories, but few people know about it. One such story is that of the underground tunnels built centuries ago to deter pirates and invasions. A guided tour of these tunnels is a must-do activity for history buffs. The Cartagena Inquisition Museum exposes one of the darkest periods of Colombian history, the Spanish Inquisition, and how its presence shaped the city’s culture and architecture. Lastly, discover the history of the Palace of the Inquisition on a tour, to get up close to its past, giving you an intimate understanding of what life was like in those times.
Off-the-Beaten-Path Suggestions: Unique and Unforgettable Experiences
Finally, here are a few off-the-beaten-path activities to consider. Head to the mud volcano at Totumo, where you can float in its refreshing natural mud and get a relaxing massage from a local guide. Take a horseback or boat tour to explore the Isla del Encanto. It’s a secluded, serene island with crystal clear waters, palm trees, and plenty of opportunities for snorkeling. Lastly, take a cooking class, either at Cartagena Connection, that teaches you how to cook traditional Colombian dishes like ceviche, empanadas, and patacones.
In conclusion, Cartagena is a fantastic destination with tons of hidden surprises and experiences to explore. Our insider’s guide offers a unique and alternative perspective to Cartagena, giving you an unforgettable experience that you will want to share with others.
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