08 November 2017

5 Reasons to Visit Barranquilla, Colombia (Besides Carnival)

Posted in Blog

The fourth largest city in Colombia, Barranquilla, is famous for its annual carnival, whose slogan is “Quien lo vive, es quien lo goza!” (Those who live it are those who enjoy it!) But what about the rest of the year? Fondly known by locals as “La Arenosa” (the sand), and often considered a mere stop between Cartagena and Santa Marta, there is plenty to do in Barranquilla after the parades of Carnaval have ended. 

Barranquilla, Colombia

1. Malécon Tourist León Caridi

In 2012, the city began renovation on the Magdalena riverfront as a public space. At 700 meters, with plans to reach 1.5 kilometers, the malécon is well-known as the location of the 2016 video for the popular song La Bicicleta by Colombian singers Carlos Vives and Shakira. While the river is not always immaculate, cool breezes and a path-enhanced with colorful mosaics and newly-planted trees charm visitors to the picturesque, relaxing malecón.


2. Museums of Local Interests

Museum-lovers will find several options in Barranquilla, including the Caribbean geography-and-history-focused Museo del Caribé, the hands-on, Carnival-themed Sala del Carnaval Elsa Caridi, and the visually-rich Museo de Arte Moderno (Museum of Modern Art), featuring art from Fernando Botero and Alejandro Obregón. A note for future visits: Parque Cultural, in front of Museo del Caribé, often hosts live music and events, and the Museum of Modern Art is scheduled to move to a nearby larger location in 2018.

Barranquilla, Colombia

3. Popular Dance Venues

If dancing is what you crave, take a spin at the infamous La Troja, an establishment known for its vast, rare record collection. Situated across from the TransMetro (public transportation) station named for Salsa legend, Joe Arroyo, visitors can indulge in shots of Colombia's national liquor, Aguardiente, as they mingle with the locals. Maybe Salsa isn't your style? Then head to Calle 84 in the north or La Ocho (Carrera 8) in the south, the latter of which features a second La Troja. Both are lined with discotecas and bars, always ready for “La Rumba” (the party) to begin.

visit Barranquilla, Colombia

4. Historic Castles and Buildings

A visit to historic Castillo de Salgar – the customs house built in 1849 – is a great way to spend an afternoon. Located outside of the city, about 20 minutes by taxi (or 30 minutes by colorful, Cootransoriente bus), the Castillo sits on a huge cliff overlooking the ocean. If castles and cliffs aren't your thing, head over to national heritage treasure Hotel el Prado and satisfy your craving for architectural history. Opened in 1930, the hotel is true elegance, beginning with its dramatic, palm tree-lined entrance. Ask about a moderately-priced day pass, where visitors may enjoy the glistening pool, sip decadent cocktails and savor gastronomic delights.

travel to Barranquilla, Colombia


5. Parks and Plazas

Like most large cities, Barranquilla has many parks and plazas. Two favorites, Plaza San Nicolas and Parque de la Paz, are a pleasure to experience. Near the Centro, Plaza San Nicolas features a colorful, Gothic-style church named for this patron saint of wonderworks. It's recommended to visit this plaza, with its nearby shops and eateries, during the day, before dark. Conversely, Parque de la Paz, an open space across from the immense Queen Mary Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana María Reina), hosts events day and night and is a popular spot for live concerts, soccer “Fanfests” and other celebrations.


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About the author 

Kate Dana is an independent writer and international educator currently located in Barranquilla, Colombia. An avid fan of travel, and snorkeling in blue waters, she has lived on the Caribbean coast of South America since 2014. Find her online at www.katedana.com.