Centro Comercial San Fernando (Ternera Calle 31 #81B 104, Cartagena) – opened in late 2013, this is another Cartagena area shopping center that has various local & regional retailers. Popular with the locals, this shopping center often holds fashion shows, and events for school children.
Latora 4 Brazos (Calle 8 #40A-18, Bogotá) – located in Bogotá’s Chaperino district, this nightspot books live rock bands, as well as DJ-driven electronic and Latin music sessions. There is also a small balcony which looks onto the main feature of this club – a massive ‘outdoor’ (smoking is allowed here despite the fact that it is clearly indoors) room with a bar, DJ booth and plenty of beautiful people.
Casa de la Moneda de Colombia (Calle 11 #93 esq. Carrera 5,Bogota) – this museum has a collection of the country’s currency from various periods. This building originally acted as the country’s mint – going as far back as 1621. Looking at both the currency and coins shown here gives visitors a window into Colombia’s history. Free admission. Hours: 9:00 am – 7:00 pm (Monday-Saturday)(closed on Tuesday), 10:00 am – 5:00 pm (Sunday and holidays).
Capitolio Nacional (Calle 10 esq. Carrera 7, Bogotá) – this is the location of the Colombian government’s legislative branch. This building was originally the Viceroy’s Palace during the Spanish colonial period, and went through periods of renovations from 1846 to 1926. Danish architect Thomas Reed was responsible for the Capitolio’s distinctive façade (consisting of 18 ionic columns at the center of the building). It is closed to the public, but tourists can still take photos of the building’s exteriors.
Castillo San Felipe de Barajas (Av. Arévalo, Cartagena) – named after Spain’s King Felipe IV, this castle was built in 1536 during the early part of Colombia’s Spanish colonial period. (designed to defend both the port and city of Cartagena). Because of the valuable cargo that came through Cartagena to Spain (ranging from silver, to gold, cacao (chocolate) beans, chile peppers, tobacco and other goods), this fortress went through periodic expansions that eventually made it the largest fort ever built by the Spanish in the Americas. As a result, this fortress successfully held off periodic attempts by the British to invade that city. Tourists favor this fortress, because it offers panoramic views of the city of Cartagena.
Admission: COP$17,000 (adult), COP$8,000 (child). Entrance is free the last Sunday of every month between February and November. Hours: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm.
Centro Amurallado – Old Town (Calle 41, Cartagena) – this is the walled-in colonial section of Cartagena (in some ways reminiscent of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico). Unlike the rest of Cartagena, the colonial section is far more tourist-friendly, and contains colorful homes, quaint shops, unique shopping, old cathedrals, and a more inviting vibe. It’s no surprise that this part of the city is popular with cruise ship visitors.
Iglesia de Santo Domingo (Plaza de Santo Domingo, Cartagena) – originally built at Cartagena’s Plaza de los Coches in 1539 (which was burnt later and rebuilt at its present location), this is reputedly the oldest church in the city. This is considered one of the most beautiful churches in Cartagena. Inside it one can find a statue of Christ carved in wood, and a 19th-century Virgin which has a crown adorned with gold and emeralds.
Admission: COP$12,000 (adult), COP$8000 (child). Hours: 9:00 am – 7:00 pm (Tuesday – Saturday), 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm (Sunday).
Hacienda Nápoles (Puerto Triunfo, Antioquia) – for those fascinated with Colombia’s infamous history as being a one-time epicenter of the international narcotics trade, this is a ‘must see” destination: the former residence of notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar (who once headed the Medellín Cartel). Located six hours (via car) northwest of Bogotá, this estate’s entrance has a replica of Escobar’s first drug-smuggling plane (a Piper).
Along with Escobar’s home, the estate (who received an accolade from TripAdvisor in 2014) was best-known for its one-time elaborate zoo (some of the exotic animals that were once here – from elephants to giraffes and hippos — had to be relocated after his demise, while others are still on-site). Nowadays, this estate is a theme park, attracting around 50,000 visitors a year. Among the sites here are concrete replicas of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals, as well as an anti-crime museum (which was once Escobar’s mansion), an African cultural museum, and even a water theme park. To the surprise of some visitors, there’s even a hotel here.
Admission: COP$34,000 to 65,000 per person (depending on sites visited within the theme park). Hours vary. See the park’s website for more info: www.haciendanapoles.com
Convento de la Popa (Calle 37, Cartagena) – this convent is located at a rather dramatic spot: at the highest point of the city of Cartagena (150 meters above sea level). Founded by Augustine priests in 1607, its official name is Convento de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria. It has one of the most beautiful cloisters in all of Colombia, The convent was built over a shrine dedicated to a pre-Columbian deity. It was also used as a barracks during the war of independence from Spain in the early 1800s (with Simón Bolívar taking up residence there at one point). Every February, the feat of the Virgin of Candelaria de la Popa is celebrated (on February 2nd, crowds of Catholic worshippers conduct a pilgrimage to the foot of the top of the Cerro de la Popa.
Admission: COP$8,000 (adult), COP$6,000 (child). Hours: 8:30 am – 5:30 pm (daily).
Las Bovedas (Calle Zerrezuela, Cartagena) – originally built as a network of 23 dungeons (within 15-meter thick city walls) during the Spanish colonial period (18th century), this structure (which once stored munitions and provisions) now house touristy craft and souvenir shops. This has become a popular stop for cruise ship tourists.