Rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, I roll over in bed to see light peeking through sheer, gauzy drapes. There are faint sounds of birds chirping in the distance. I lay there, sinking back into the bed — which is the kind of comfortable only a hotel bed ever seems to be — and bask in the peaceful beauty of the moment. In the stillness, fuzzy, dreamy memories of the previous day float back to me, and I can’t help but smile. This is how Cartagena, Colombia greets me every morning — with quiet moments and happy memories. I’ve only been here for three days, but already I feel drawn in by the gentle rhythm of the place. I am catching some serious feelings.
It’s my job to travel a lot. I create content through trips to beautiful locations all over the world. This year, I’ve been all over — Mykonos, Grenada, Costa Rica — but I’ve actually traveled very little in South America. When planning a trip, my initial instinct is usually to jump the pond. But with so many amazing paths-less-traveled in South America, my desire to see more of it has been steadily growing. Destinations like Colombia have become more of a priority for me, and so recently, I decided to head to Cartagena to start experiencing the region more deeply.
What I found was a stunning city that absolutely surprised and delighted me at every turn. Nestled into Colombia’s Caribbean coast, Cartagena is Colombia’s hidden jewel. It’s filled with rich history, well-preserved colonial architecture, and a vibe unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It’s no surprise that this is where wealthy Colombians flock every year during the holidays to attend extravagant parties. So, if you’re like me, and have been searching for the perfect way to start experiencing the uniqueness of South America, here are some reasons why Cartagena is the perfect destination to start that journey.
It’s easy to get there.
Getting to Colombia is surprisingly easy and while I expected flights to be on the pricey side, Copa Airlines offers quite a few reasonable fares. They fly all over South America and out of 10 major U.S. airports. I decided to go with them because they offer extended stopovers in Panama City free of charge. I figured, why do one country when you can do two? It was a nice little bonus for my trip without adding more expense.