In 2012, Cartagena, Colombia was all over the tabloids. It wasn’t about the city’s beauty or history, but about what transpired before the Summit of the Americas. The scandal was all over the news and trumped anything positive that came from this huge event, which was supposed to highlight Cuba, the Drug War, and the United State’s economic/trade involvement with Latin America. This event was also a huge stepping stone for Colombia, which in years past was considered one of the most dangerous countries to visit in the world. It was time to showcase the country’s #1 tourist destination (Cartagena) and show the world that Colombia can host an event of this magnitude in which 33 Heads of States were in attendance. I’ve traveled all over the world and Cartagena is by far one of the safest cities I’ve been to.
Colombia is one of the hottest tourist destinations in South America (1.5 million foreign visitors a year) and Colombia’s Tourism Board’s marketing campaign exudes that in its slogan – “Colombia – The only Risk is wanting to stay”. The media is what it is and the juiciest and most scandalous story is going to triumph over anything else. The world learned about how some bone-head secret service agents could not control themselves instead of the real story – Colombia is becoming a key player in South America (just signed a Free Trade Agreement with the US) and Cartagena, Colombia is becoming one of the most up and coming tourism destinations by hosting such a high-caliber event.
Cartagena has a highly developed tourist infrastructure, and it’s just a short hop from the U.S. — only a 2.5-hour flight from Miami. The city sits on the Caribbean coast and is a wonderfully picturesque, walled-in fishing village of pastel-painted buildings, fine cathedrals, and plenty of Spanish colonial architecture and 17th-century forts that allow you to steep yourself in history. In 1984, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was recently named by Frommers as one of 9 destinations to visit in the world.
If you are looking to travel to Cartagena, I suggest going during its high season if you are looking to party – The second week of November for the Colombian National Beauty Pageant (Check out the Tours Gone Wild Trip during this time), New Year’s in Cartagena & Holy Week (Semana Santa). If you are looking to just relax, Cartagena is perfect at any time of the year. TGW also offers travel packages to Cartagena year-round.
Our top Picks:
- Hotels: Sofitel Santa Clara (5-star), Capilla del Mar Hotel (4-star)
- Restaurants*: La Vitrola, Quebracho, La Casa de Socorro, El Santisimo, Club de Pesca *Foodies will go crazy here!!! Fast Food: Kokoriko, El Corral
- Best Club: Babar
- Drink: Aguardiente
- Excursions: Head to Islas del Rosario