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One of the most important reasons that Cartagena has become an attractive destination in the eyes of the cruise industry is because of the broad range of activities that are available to those who take a trip to the Caribbean.
In the city, travelers can live exceptional experiences ranging from adventure, weddings and honeymoons, culture, luxury, shopping, nature, golf, meetings, beaches. All of these tourism products are endorsed by PROCOLOMBIA, the entity in charge of promoting Colombia as a tourist destination, in more than 30 countries. PROCOLOMBIA has listed the top five not-to-miss places for travelers to experience why “Colombia is Magic Realism".
Traveling by foot or riding on a carriage through the cobbled streets of the historic center of Cartagena will allow tourists to enjoy the city’s iconic past dating back to more than 500 years. Every place in the city has the trail of one the most important ports of America built by the Spanish crown during the colonial era. It was the main administrative headquarters of their officers in the New Granada becoming an impenetrable refuge against the pirates because of its 6.8 miles of city walls that surround it.
The area, also declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is a modern shopping center where tourists are able to enjoy the many stores and shops inside historic buildings, offering the latest collections (accessories and apparel) of domestic and foreign designers. In addition, artists have dozens of galleries where they exhibit their paintings and sculptures that draw visitors in to catch a glimpse of these unique pieces of art.
The imposing buildings of the “Walled City”, many of which date back to the 17th century, are home to beautiful boutique hotels which have been restored and fitted with modern amenities and personalized service providing visitors with brand new experiences related to rest and relaxation.
Saunas, Turkish baths, hydrotherapy and massages are just some of the amenities these and some other wellness centers offer. By combining a diet of fruits and vegetables, the sound of the waves and extracts or oils from native regional plants with medicinal properties, make every visitor feel more beautiful, healthier and at peace at the end of each session.
For several years, Cartagena has served as the headquarters of the most important film, music and literature festivals in the continent. It is recognized as a preferred destination to host large events and it reflects the cultural tradition of the city whose heritage is available to locals and foreigners; the Gold Museum, which holds five hundred pieces made by the indigenous Zenu community or the Palace of the Inquisition where the instruments used to punish heretics of the New World can be found, are just some examples of what tourists can discover while in Cartagena.
One of the modern day and eye-catching experiences is the city tour complemented with audio guides in several languages. This tour takes the visitor in a learning journey about the life and the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez who won the Nobel Prize in Literature, and the man who was inspired by the many of the sights of the historic port, which were used to orchestrate illustrious novels.
With more than one hundred restaurants specializing in Mediterranean, Italian or fusion cuisine, visitors can also find menus that focus more on traditional Colombian cooking that includes fried food, rice, root tubers, soups and stews mixed with poultry, red meat and products from the nearby wetlands, rivers and the sea, creating flavorful textures, aromas and deep flavors that can satisfy any palate.
There is nothing better that enjoying these dishes than with a glass of coconut lemonade or mango or any other kind of natural fruit juices, which are varied and plentiful in Cartagena just like in the rest of the country. The most popular are mango, passion fruit and papaya, and even some exotic fruits such as corozo and zapote, a well-liked fruit used in many different types of desserts. Mixing all of these ingredients and creating a fruit salad is yet another good option to sweeten the day.
The archipelago consists of 27 islands located 22 miles southwest of Cartagena, making it one of the main attractions. Due to its natural wealth, attributed primarily to the coral formation, it is home to countless of living species ranging from mangroves and algae to crustaceans and fish. This place was declared a National Natural Park in 1977 becoming an ideal setting for diving and snorkeling.
The reefs also provide the beaches with a peculiar setting; the waters are brushed with green and blue colors that contrast against the white powdery sand, where visitors can sunbathe, walk, interact with the locals and watch the gentle waves splash against the boats that carry hundreds of tourists out to sea to watch its paradisiacal backdrops. Tourists can also experience the wide range of cuisine and hotel hospitality.