Cartagena is a paradise that’s perfect for people who want to live in the sunshine, eat delicious local food and immerse themselves in the culture. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers a tropical lifestyle with a unique mix of history and cultures. It’s a place where you can drop your inhibitions and get lost in the romance of its cobblestone streets, buildings with sherbet colors and balconies covered with brightly colored flowers.
The local culture is as diverse as the city’s many architectural wonders. It’s a melting pot of different Colombian and Caribbean cultures that meld into a vibrant whole. The food, music and art reflect this mix with a touch of Spanish colonial and Caribbean flair. It is a place where the past lingers in the alleyways and squares, but the future shines on every street corner.
Expatriates who live in Cartagena will find they can enjoy an exotic, yet modern lifestyle that includes all of the comforts of home. Grocery store chains, pharmacies, banks, real estate offices and medical care are all readily available. Most expats choose to live either in the high-rise apartments that face the bay in Bocagrande or in the slightly more residential neighborhood of Manga. Both areas are safe and have beautiful views, and walking around is easy and fun.
While the city has a reputation for being overrun by aggressive street vendors, most average Colombians are very friendly and welcoming to foreign visitors. The language barrier can be intimidating, but a little effort goes a long way in making new friends. Speaking a few words of Spanish will also help you avoid getting overcharged by taxi drivers and street vendors.
A large number of people in Cartagena identify as Catholic and the city is filled with beautiful churches. Visit the Sanctuary of St. Peter Claver to learn about his work with the enslaved people who arrived from Africa in the hold of slave ships, or the Convento de la Popa, which overlooks the city and was founded by an order of nuns.
There are also plenty of museums and art galleries to explore. The Museo de Arte Moderno is a contemporary art museum with rotating exhibits and the Museo del Oro Zenu features gold and silver objects from pre-Columbian civilizations.
There’s also the ruins of the old city walls where you can wander through the rooms that once housed prisoners. Today the structures, called Las Bovedas, are one of the most popular things to do in Cartagena. It’s a place to experience the good, the bad and the ugly of the city’s rich history. You can also visit the Chocolate Museum and learn how Cartagena produces and exports its famous confection. The city is full of surprises, just waiting to be discovered on a leisurely stroll through its streets and squares. It’s no wonder that Cartagena is the Jewel of the Caribbean. Lifestyle in Cartagena