Upon arriving in Cartagena, budget travelers are slammed with the reality of how expensive the museums, and excursions to Playa Blanca and Islas del Rosario are. These journeyers might wonder just what they can do on a shoe string. The answer is, Plenty.
Grab the camera and had out to wander the streets of the Old City. The most picturesque parts are Centro, San Diego and GetsemanĂ neighborhoods. It costs nary a cent to sit on the fortress walls, to meditate on the Caribbean Sea, peoplewatch or catch up on the old journal. Another pleasurable walk is along Isla Mangaâ€™s Avenida Miramar, which begins with Fuerte del Pastelillo (now the Fishing Club) and ends with a viewpoint gazebo.
To cool off on a sultry day, pack a picnic and head to the beach. The nearest to town is Marbella, just east of the BĂłvedas. Bocagrande peninsula to the west of downtown is draped with playas, including at Castillogrande and Laguito. All of these are super packed on weekends and holidays. If you have a few bucks to spare, hop a combi out to La Boquilla where the best mainland strand is.
Because Cartagenaâ€™s museums are beyond the reach of most Colombianâ€™s wallets, the Cultural Ministry has dictated they must be free one day per month. The last Sunday of each month, these are gratis: Museo Naval, Palacio de la InquisiciĂłn, Museo de las Fortificacions and las Murallas, as well as the fortresses San Felipe de Barajas, and San Fernando and BaterĂa San Rafael (both at Bocachica, Isla de Tierra Bomba). The Museo de Arte Moderno is free every Wednesday. The Museo del Oro ZenĂş and Museo de la Esmeralda are always gratis.
At the end of the day (5-6 p.m.), head down to Plaza de los Coches to watch the youth dance and music troupes performing regional Afro-Colombian rhythms. (Toss a small tip in the hat.)
Free cultural events, like movies and art exhibits, are hosted by the various cultural centers:
â€”Casa Cultural Colombo Alemana (Ca Estanco del Aguardiente 5-31, Centro. URL: www.colomboalemana.org)
â€”Alliance FranĂ§aise (Parque FernĂˇndez de Madrid 37-34, San Diego. URL: www.afcartagena.org)â€”Centro Cultural Colombo Americano (Calle de la FactorĂa 36-27, Centro. URL: www.colombocartagena.com)
The Banco de la RepĂşblica (www.banrepcultural.org/cartagena) has two venues that host events: Biblioteca BartolomĂ© Calvo (Ca de la InquisiciĂłn 3-44) and Casa de BolĂvar (Ca San AgustĂn 6-49). These cultural centers also offer concerts and theater (for which a modest fee may be charged). Check the monthly publication, Donde (available at the tourism office), daily newspapers and GuĂa Cultural Karamairi (http://karamairi.blogspot.com) for event announcements.
Other Activity Types:
Relative price: Free
Travel Skills: None
You Need to Bring:
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