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Anybody been to Cartagena?

We are thinking of going there for our honeymoon and if you have been, I would love your advice on hotels, excursions, etc.  We will be going in October.  TIA!

Re: Anybody been to Cartagena?

  • I have never been but always wanted to go. I have had 2 close friends who went and they said it was great in terms of friendliness of the people, the food, sights. I know when people hear the name Colombia mentioned they immediately turn negative about it, but I know that there are flights from Miami that go direct to Cartagena, bypassing Bogota altogeher. When I've researched it in the pass, the Sofitel hotel has gotten very favorable reviews on TripAdvisor and looks stunning. I believe it is the site of a former convent from Spanish colonial times. I wanted to go so bad after seeing the film "Love in the Time of Cholera." It looks gorgeous! Good luck!
    My travel and cooking blog

    Maui, November 2011
  • You are so right about people turning negative when they hear Colombia, but from what I understand, it has become much safer.  I just love that Cartagena has a little bit of everything.  You get an interesting historical city and the beach.  Thanks for your tip on Sofitel, it is stunning!

  • My experience there wasn't so great. I am a traveller and love going to off the beaten path destinations and am not a typical American who is too scared to see the world. So we went on a cruise which had 2 Colombia stops last year along with Aruba and Bonaire. It turned out to be the trip from hell as weather delayed our flight and we had to catch up with the ship in Cartagena. It was a terrifying experience for us at the small airport there. Drug dogs and military men with huge guns went through our bags and pulled our friends into a back room where the dogs went through thier items piece by piece for no reason and held us all the while not telling us anything. I just kept thinking they were going to plant drugs on them and we would go to Colombian jail! I've been to Eastern Europe with KGB men but this was honestly the scariest travelling moment I've ever had.

    Also, while we didn't stay in Cartagena or anything since we were in a hurry to get to the ship we did drive through the city. It seemed historical and had nice architecture and was quite pretty but nothing THAT special. The beaches we passed looked gross and the water looked dirty.  It was definitely not somewhere I would think to go for a honeymoon. 
    We also saw Santa Marta on the 2nd day when we stopped for the day. It was pretty but not much to do there besides shop a bit and walk the dirty beach coast. We were too scared to walk any farther than right on the beach rd by the cruise ship. We didn't want any other encounters to ruin our trip.

    I'm sure others have had amazing trips here. I was very excited cuz I heard Cartagena was an up-and-coming place to visit with its old-world feel. I know I have a jaded opinion based on our bad experience but just based on what I saw briefly and the terrifying customs experience in my opinion I woulnt go back. I would die if that was my honeymoon! I can think of a million better places to go honestly.

    We also visited Panama City on that cruise and we loved it there. I would definitely recommend visiting there :)
  • My fiance and I went to Colombia for a wedding a few years ago.  The wedding was in Bogota and then the entire wedding traveled to Cartagena for a week.  We absolutely loved it.  I will say it helps if you speak english.  For most of our trip we with a person native to Colombia so she translated for us however we stayed on for about 4 days after everyone left.  The restaurants in the city/hotel personnel were very helpful in trying to give us menus and such in english.  We never felt unsafe while there. 

    A few things:
    The Sofitel is a beautiful hotel but does not have direct beach access as it is in the walled city.  We stayed at the Americanas Hotel which was directly on the beach and a quick cab ride/shuttle to the walled city

    Customs is quite a process and they will ask you many detailed personal question as to why you are traveling to Colombia.

    Yes, there were man who patroled the beaches with guns but I see that every day in NYC so that was not so shocking to me. 

    Cartagena is not a rich area, when you are walking in the walled city, especially at night you will have a ton of small kids coming up to you begging for money.  

    If you go you must take a day trip to the Rosario Isles, it is absolutely beautiful.  The water off Cartagena is not a crystal blue but just a quick 20 min boat ride away it is georgous. 

    I am more than happy to share some pictures with you if you like.  My email is [email protected]
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