The city of Barranquilla, Colombia is sandwiched along the country’s Caribbean coastline in between the thriving tourism destinations of Santa Marta and Cartagena. As far as tourism appeal is concerned Barranquilla has very little to offer, as the city has transformed itself in recent years into a region hub of industry thanks to recent mining finds in the area. However, if you are in the region during the colourful Carnival this is the place to be in Colombia. The rest of the year, however, tourism activities in Barranquilla are quite limited. Many travellers,however, will find themselves passing through here thanks to the very cheap intra-Colombian flights that take off and land here. Others may also find themselves in the city for an afternoon to explore as they make their way along the coast between Santa Marta and Cartagena. If you find yourself in the city with a couple hours or of days to spare there are some things to do and see.
Things to do in Barranquilla
- Churches: There are a couple of churches worth visiting in Barranquilla, Cathedral Metropolitana and Iglesia de San Nicolas. The Cathedral Metropolitana is very modern, but that doesn’t stop it from exuding its charm. In many ways it is a representation of Barranquilla in general as it is a new modern shade over a region rich in history. The Iglesia de San Nicolas is much more of a traditional Catholic church and even if you’ve been to dozens of other churches in Latin America it is worth a quick look around
- Museums: Many see the modern industrial character of Barranquilla and forget that is actually quiet a historical city. The Museum of Anthropology and Modern Art Museum are both worth a visit if you have free time in the city.
- Carnival: If you are around Barranquilla for Carnival you are in for a treat. This is the top destination in all of Colombia to party the week of Carnival. In fact, many feel that outside of Brazil and Trinidad this is the best Carnival in the Americas. Be sure to see the flower festival segment of Carnival.
Where to Eat in Barranquilla
I am a huge fan of the food on the coast of Colombia. The fruit juices are a must and the seafood is fresh and very tasty. If you’re in the Centro you can get set meals for about 5US$ and they are very good, they generally include a soup, main course and a fruit juice. If you’re in the mood for a bit fancier a “sit down” restaurant head to the richer district of El Prado. If you’re craving steak give El Merendero’s a shot (meals between 7-20US$).
Where to Stay in Brarranquilla
As of now there are no specific “backpacker’s hostels” that are widely known. If you get stuck a night or two in Barranquilla the best option is to stay in El Prado as the downtown becomes quite rough at night. Sure in the downtown you can find places for about 7US$, but you’ll be safer in El Prado. If you can afford the night in El Prado check Hotel Barahona which has rooms for about 35US$.
Getting out of Town
There are air connections to basically anywhere in Colombia as well as quite an extensive list of international flights. If you are leaving by bus you can get to Santa Marta (2hrs) and the border of Venezuela (6hrs) to the north. To the south Cartagena is only a couple hours away. There are also fairly direct buses to Bogota (about 24hrs) and Medellin (14hrs).
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