Nicknamed “Colombia’s Golden Gate,” Barranquilla is an industrialized and modern port city on the northern Caribbean shore of Colombia. The city itself is a beautiful example of Colocolmbia’s emphasis on forward-thinking industrialization, while maintaining keen attention on the historical and cultural aspects of the town center. As a port city, Barranquilla is also segmented by a variety of river systems, the largest of which is the Magdalena, a brisk and clean river which supports a vast diversity of native flora. Animals too, such as the parrot, monkeys, and iguanas can be found within the city limits, basking in the sun along the banks of the river. The climate is tropical and the average temperature can be quite hot, at a balmy 85 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, however the cool breeze from the Caribbean and the various rivers which course through the city make this tropical port a far more tolerable destination than the stifling interior for travelers who may be more accustomed to cooler climates.
Barranquilla from the Water
Barranquilla from the Water
Unlike many other cities in Colombia and the rest of South and Central America, Barranquilla does not trace its lineage back to Conquistador settlements or forts. Instead, the city was founded by the indigenous inhabitants of the area, and was well known by Spanish settlers as a popular trading port. Even though Barranquilla is now heralded as one of Colombia’s most modern cities, that indigenous heritage is a source of pride for many city residents. The prevailing dialect is “Coastal Spanish,” typical of urban Spanish spoken in many coastal cities up and down Latin America, and is indeed quite communicable to most any fluent Spanish speaker. Anyone travelling through northern Colombia will find themselves at ease with the modern amenities of the city, the relaxed and amicable nature of the people, the temperate Caribbean climate, and the rich culture.
There are a variety of activities for the wayfaring wanderer, and each embrace the relaxed Caribbean nature of the local populace. For example, one of the most popular attractions in the city happens to be the country’s longest bridge, Puente Pumarejo. This impressive architectural feat spans the Magdalena River, and offers a beautiful panoramic view of the city and watershed. Further inland, nestled within the comfortable embrace of the region’s woodland forest, lies the Zoologico de Botanico, a public zoo and botanical gardens which preserve the habitat of many indigenous species, as well as animals from all over the world. Many endangered species are housed here, and one may lose themselves for an entire day, wandering through the unique habitats.
However, to truly embrace the culture of this region, the Carnival de Barranquilla can absolutely not be missed. It is the second-largest carnival in the world, preceded only by Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, and is the largest tourist attraction that the city has to offer. Participation in the festivities is difficult to resist for any visitor, as wave after wave of parades, carts, orchestras, dancers, and revelers lay siege yearly to this otherwise clean and composed city.
Carnaval de Barranquilla
Carnaval de Barranquilla
Things to do in Barranquilla:
Barranquilla Carnival - This flashy and colorful carnival brings together all races, ages, colors, gaieties, and classes and blends all of Colombia's influences and styles in a fantastic and energetic parade and party through the streets of Barranquilla. The carnival lasts 4 days every February an is known as one of the best Carnivals in the world.
Teatro Municipal Amira de la Rosa - The cultural center of the city. Gardens and green areas surround this area where individuals can find workshops, presentations, performances, and artistic showcases.
Pumarejo Bridge - A long bridge over the Magdalena river offers breathtaking views of the city.
Beaches - There are no beaches within Barranquilla but you might consider Prado Mar, which is just outside the city and offers a tranquil and relaxed beach experience. There is a small fee to enter this beach but it is worth it because it comes with a clean restroom, a nice restaurant, and places to sit and relax. Approximately 6,000 pesos ($3) entrance fee.
Museo Romántico - A historical and cultural museum containing Simón Bolívar’s letters, tools used by Gabriel García Márquez and various items from Barranquilla's history.
Carrera 54, 59-199, El Prado
Iglesia de San Nicolás - A beautiful traditional Catholic Church.
Paseo Bolívar and Carrera 42
Catedral Metropolitana - This Roman Catholic Cathedral is impressive from the inside and outside with its modern architecture, stained glass windows, mosaics, and impressive sculptures.
Corner of Calle 53 and Carrera 46
Barranquilla Zoo - Zoologico de Barranquilla boasts more than 450 animals from 5 continents. Definitely a site to see. Approximately 8,500 pesos entrance fee.
Calle 77 #68-40
Atlético Junior Soccer Match - Colombian's take their soccer seriously and Atlético Junior is one of the best teams in the Country playing in the competitive A divison. If you like sports, you can't miss a "Junior" game.
Parque de Sol
Museum of Gold
Where to stay in Barranquilla:
Hotel Dann Carlton - $265/night, located in the city center, the “DC” is one of the finest examples of luxury accommodations in Colombia.
El Prado Hotel - $165/night, no luxury is spared in this palatial hotel comprised of over 200 suites and cabanas
Hotel Majestic - $90/night, this intimate hotel embraces the notion of luxury as it was exercised in the 1950s, a favorite amongst travelers enjoying Graham Greene novels.
Casa Blanca Hostel - $25/night, for backpackers and shoestring travelers, this hostel is a clean, comfortable, and affordable haven from the bustling city.
No matter where one decides to stay, Barranquilla has the accommodations to provide the home away from home valued by any weary traveler.