Things to do and places to visit in Barranquilla, Colombia Uncover Colombia

Things to do and places to visit in Barranquilla, Colombia

August 24, 2021, 3:36 pm

The fourth-largest city in Colombia, Barranquilla, is famous for its annual carnival, whose slogan is “Quien lo vive, es quien lo goza!. Here we will talk about some of the interesting places to visit and things to do in Barranquilla during your tour in Colombia.

1. Enjoy the second largest Carnaval celebration in the world

The Barranquilla Carnaval is not only the second-largest Carnaval celebration in the world, only beaten by the Carnaval celebration in Rio de Janeiro, but it is also perhaps the most famous and recognized celebration in Colombia. It is one of the most impressive displays of Colombian culture, giving you a taste of everything from the history and influence of African slaves to the modern-day influence of reggaeton and champeta music scene on Colombia culture. Carnaval only happens once a year in Barranquilla, but, fortunately, there are Carnaval events going on year-round. So, even if you can't make it to Barranquilla for Carnaval, be on the lookout for pre-Carnaval parades and cumbia wheels in popular neighbourhoods, and be sure to check out the House of Carnaval, where you can find all sorts of Carnaval memorabilia on display as well as learn a little more about how Carnaval celebrations began in Barranquilla.

Click here for more details about the Carnival

Barranquilla Carnival - Colombia

2. Visit the Magdalena River

Due to its proximity to the Magdalena River and the Atlantic Ocean, Barranquilla has always been one of Colombia's most important port cities—it even earned the nickname, "the port of gold." Even today, you can watch both national and international boats arrive to and leave Barranquilla packed with goods being imported and exported.

There is a special little place in Barranquilla called Bocas de Cenizas, "mouth of ashes," where you can observe up close the mouth of the Magdalena River as it empties into the Atlantic Ocean. To best observe, you'll want to jump on the touristic train, beginning in the fishing neighbourhood of las Flores, that will carry you to the end of the Magdalena River where you can see the ash-coloured swirling water that is born out of the interlacing of the Magdalena River with the Atlantic Ocean.

3. Visit the Malecon Tourist Leon Caridi

In 2012, the city began renovation on the Magdalena riverfront as a public space. At 700 meters, with plans to reach 1.5 kilometres, 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 colourful mosaics and newly planted trees charm visitors to the picturesque, relaxing malecón.

4. 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.

Magdalena river

5. 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.

6. 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 colourful, Cootransoriente bus), the Castillo sits on a huge cliff overlooking the ocean. If castles and cliffs aren't your thing, head over to the 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 savour gastronomic delights.

Barranquilla, The Church of San Nicolas de Tolentino

7. Parks and Plazas

Like most large cities, Barranquilla has many parks and plazas. Two favourites, Plaza San Nicolas and Parque de la Paz, are a pleasure to experience. Near the Centro, Plaza San Nicolas features a colourful, 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 is a great 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.

If you wish to visit Barranquilla during your tour to Colombia, please contact us, so we can organise a trip for you or answer any questions you may have.

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Paige Poole

Paige Poole

Paige M. Poole is an Alabamian and traveler at heart who has settled, for now, in Barranquilla, Colombia, and earns her living as an English professor at the Instituto de Idiomas (Language Institute) at la Universidad del Norte (University of the North). When not teaching English, she enjoys blogging, traveling, relaxing on the beach, and spending time with her partner and two cats, Milo and Sophie. 

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