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Bastion of San Ignacio in Cartagena de Indias
'La Heroica,' one of the best kept treasures in the Caribbean. Photo: Manuel Fernando Herrera Figueroa.

Five things you should know before traveling to Cartagena

Colombia has become one of the most desired destinations by travelers around the world thanks to its natural and cultural diversity.

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Traveling to Cartagena (full name Cartagena de Indias), in Colombia, is not traveling to the other side of the world. On the contrary, it is a destination that is relatively close to the United States — when direct it is approximately an hour and a half flight approximately from Miami — but where you can find the perfect atmosphere and the liveliest people to enjoy a Caribbean paradise and, at the same time, travel back in time thanks to the historical riches it possesses and have earned it Cultural and Intangible Heritage status from UNESCO.

You can also read: 200 years of Spanish liberation in Cartagena

The first thing to prepare for on your trip to this extraordinary city is your passport, an essential requirement to enter Colombia, as well as a comfortably-sized suitcase that allows you, upon arrival in Colombia, to explore many other destinations that will amaze you with a great diversity of landscapes, climates and cultures found near Cartagena and in other areas of Colombia that can be reached by flights of less than an hour.

Here are the five things you should know before Cartagena and Colombia seduce you with their limitless charms.

Language

The official language of Colombia and Cartagena is Spanish, so it is an excellent place to practice it or learn it from scratch in several specialized schools for people arriving from abroad. 

Likewise, as it is a sought-after tourist destination, many of its inhabitants, especially those who are related to the travel and entertainment industry, speak English fluently and other languages like French, Italian and German.

Currency

One of the great attractions Cartagena and Colombia have at the moment, in general, especially for travelers from the United States and Europe, is an excellent conversion rate when exchanging dollars or euros to the local currency, which is the peso. Although the Representative Market Rate (RMR) may vary, one dollar is currently equivalent to a little more than 3,700 COP.

In Cartagena and other tourist places in Colombia, visitors can pay both in pesos and in U.S. dollars or euros (even some operators prefer it that way). The important thing is to make sure, before starting the transaction, is that the place accepts payments in foreign currency.

Vaccines

Let us remember that we are still going through a period of pandemic, so it is important to travel with complete COVID-19 vaccination. However, the vaccine is not a requirement to enter Colombia and the only thing required, according to the Ministry of Health, is “to report your health status, your origin, your recent contact with suspected cases of coronavirus. Likewise, you must provide your national contact number and address where you will stay in the country.”

For its part, the yellow fever vaccine, which must be applied 10 days before traveling, is only necessary if you are going to travel to places such as Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park, Tayrona Park (destinations near Cartagena) or to the Amazon region.

The best time to travel to Colombia and Cartagena

Due to its strategic geographical location, Colombia has a wonderful set of thermal floors that bless this country with different types of climates and landscapes, maintaining only two seasons throughout the year, which are considered as rainy or drought seasons.

What does this mean? That you can travel at any time of the year and will find the best conditions to spend your best vacations.

Unfortunately, the consequences of global warming are also felt anywhere on the planet, but so far, Colombia has one of the most stable climates in the region, more than enough reason to find the perfect opportunity to visit it at any time.

Where to stay?

Although it sounds like an advertisement, in Cartagena, there is accommodations for all tastes and budgets. From exclusive international hotel brands with luxury suites to stay in the Historic Center or in modern Bocagrande, to private and shared rooms in cozy hostels or private homes through the Airbnb. We cannot leave out the extraordinary options that you can find to spend several nights by the sea, in incredible spaces surrounded by the immense biodiversity and amazing landscapes of the Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo National Natural Park.

Many people who plan to visit the city for one or two weeks end up staying up to three months, so it is important to have all the options since you can spend a week in a five-star hotel and then, to save costs, stay with a Cartagena family to learn a little more about their culture and idiosyncrasies.

You may also be interested in: From convent to luxury hotel in Cartagena

What are you waiting for? You only need your passport and your savings for a couple of months to travel to your next favorite destination. An ideal place to get away for a weekend; a perfect destination to vacation, enjoy unique experiences and do business; a natural paradise and a historical heritage of which you will never get tired; Finally, don't forget the excellent opportunities to invest and make this place your oasis to escape from the routine and the rush.

Cartagena and Colombia await you. Do not take too long.

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