Founded in 1533, Cartagena was once a prosperous Spanish port, and its 15 kilometre city walls were constructed to protect the wealthy colonial settlers from marauding pirates. Some of the architectural gems including monasteries, convents, castles and fortresses are captivating, such as the Palace of the Inquisition, the Clock Tower (the original entrance to the city) and the Castle of San Felipe de Barajas.
After dark, the sounds and rhythms of salsa start to fill the streets and the area is renowned for its lively atmosphere. The Café del Mar set atop the ancient city walls is a perfect spot for sunset out over the Caribbean in this enchanting coastal city.
The Islas de Rosario make an excellent day trip from Cartagena, set just 35 kilometres off the coast. An archipelago of 27 small coral islands that collectively form national parkland of mangroves, forests and coastal lagoons, offering quiet beach spots with crystal seas great for snorkelling as well as 25 dive sites.