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Exploring Dreamy Cartagena

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The world has discovered this brilliant gem on Colombia's Caribbean coast—how long could a colonial city this vividly painted and charmingly walkable avoid their attention? AFAR has compiled this list of our favorite activities and restaurants to keep you busy exploring Cartagena.
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calle san Augustin nº 6-14, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
The best way to enjoy Cartagena’s historic center is simply to get lost. Wander the narrow streets that flow past gaily colored edifices and into small, leafy parks or sprawling plazas. Stroll the city ramparts, the walls built starting in...
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Getsemani, Cartagena, Cartagena Province, Bolivar, Colombia
Once one of Cartagena’s seedier areas, Getsemaní has recently claimed its spot as the city’s hippest barrio. Walk its tiny streets, lined with quaint colonial architecture—some of which is adorned with beautiful graffiti....
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Cra. 17, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
A short walk from the city sits imposing Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, covering almost the whole of San Lázaro Hill, 135 feet above sea level. The castillo bit is something of a misnomer, as the structure is not technically a castle but a...
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Calle 37, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
If this building seems to radiate a celestial calm, that's likely because it continues to serve as a working monastery. Founded in the early 17th century by the Augustinian order, the structure itself has undergone extensive renovations over the...
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Calle #36, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
A menu as curated as it is creative greets diners within this venerable town house not far from the cathedral and Plaza Fernández Madrid, in Cartagena’s historic city center. Talented chef Heberto Eljach blends Japanese, Italian, and...
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Catch a boat from the dock just opposite the Cartagena city gate and take a ride out to the Islas del Rosario, a protected archipelago of 27 coral islands surrounded by reefs teeming with exquisite flora and fauna. Island activities include...
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Cartagena, Cartagena Province, Bolivar, Colombia
The spirit of the late Gabriel García Márquez—one of Colombia's most beloved cultural figures, and certainly its most beloved writer—lives on in Colombia, and is felt palpably in Cartagena. Though the Nobel Prize–winning author lived in Mexico...
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Calle del Colegio # 34-60 Local 1, Centro Histórico, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
The 19th-century residence that houses this restaurant by chef Juan Felipe Camacho presents a subtle maritime vibe. The gustatory offering highlights a little bit of everything, but seafood and local shellfish—in generous portions—are...
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Manga, Fuerte San Sebastián del Pastelillo, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
This dockside restaurant has a charming historic patina, as it is part of an actual fishing club headquartered in an 18th-century military Cartagena fortress, San Sebastián del Pastelillo. Sit at outdoor tables with views of the city, the...
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#34- a, Cra. 6 #34108, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
The interior spaces as well as the incredible rooftop at an amazing former mansion in Cartagena’s historic center are the setting for the Colombian Caribbean’s most talented bartenders. The cocktails mixed here are magic potions that...
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Calle 38 # 8-19, Calle del Santísimo, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
Carmen lies at the crossroads where quality, creativity, and sustainability (plus every other big-city culinary trend) meet. The namesake proprietress, alongside musician husband Rob Pevitts (both San Francisco Cordon Bleu graduates), is the...
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Cl. 36 #3-86, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
In a city that inspired the most famous works by the winner of a Nobel Prize in literature, you'd be forgiven for expecting a place to buy novels on every corner. Cartagena's book offerings are somewhat slim, but the best by far is Ábaco, a...
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Cartagena, Cartagena Province, Bolivar, Colombia
Cartagena's Museum of Modern Art (Museo de Arte Moderno de Cartagena) contains a somewhat modest collection of about 300 works, most of which are paintings or sculptures donated by Colombian and other Latin American artists, including Enrique Grau...
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The Andean condor is Colombia's national bird, and it's one among more than 130 avian species on display at the National Aviary (Aviario Nacional de Colombia) outside Cartagena. But the condor is the least impressive of the birds here—at least in...