The top things to do in Barranquilla

With warm Caribbean waters lapping against its shores and twisted mangroves lining the sandy beaches, you’ll be enthralled by the natural beauty of Barranquilla that spills over into a bustling urban cityscape. The city is less-frequented by tourists than neighboring cities but is growing in popularity. 

While Barranquilla is one of Colombia’s largest cities and main ports, it is a quiet place during a large part of the year. There are endless possibilities for fun, however, so we’ve compiled a list of some of the best things to do in this enchanting Colombian city. Find out what makes the birthplace of pop queen Shakira so special and witness a UNESCO-listed Carnival firsthand in Barranquilla. 

What is Barranquilla famous for? 

Barranquilla’s notorious Carnival celebration takes place every year. Each February, the streets come alive with vibrant costumes, Colombian music and captivating performances. Every alley and plaza fills up with locals looking to celebrate and have a good time. Barranquilla Carnival draws festival goers to its ports from the far away shores which is, interestingly, in keeping with the city’s past.

Waves of immigrants flocked to this welcoming port city after World War I and World War II and Barranquilla became a melting pot of cultures. This is evidenced through the multi-day Carnival celebrations when thousands celebrate the rich cultural diversity and heritage of the city. Be sure to book accommodation well in advance! This is a Barranquilla must see. 

For writers and readers alike, visit these Barranquilla main attractions 

Perhaps one of Barranquilla’s most famous inhabitants was Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The Colombian writer and Nobel Prize winner would often meet with other writers and philosophers to discuss life and art at La Cueva, a restaurant and bar that hosts live performances and readings to this day. Visit and see how La Cueva plays a significant role in Barranquilla’s contemporary art scene. To learn more about Garcia Marquez, check out the amazing Museo del Caribe which has a dedicated exhibit to the famed Colombian. 

Does Barranquilla have a beach?

With an expansive industrialized area, it might seem difficult to choose what to see in Barranquilla. The beautiful historic center has a large main plaza and is a great place to gather or hang out. There are plenty of museums and restaurants but the star of the show are the beaches to the north, which are one of the best beaches in the country! Although it is a port city, this doesn’t necessarily conjure visions of beach chairs and umbrellas. You’ll be pleased to know that the Caribbean produces perfect waves and the sandy shores are filled with palm trees and shady mangroves to laze under.  

The best area to stay in Barranquilla 

Just north of the historic city center is the neighborhood of Alto Prado. Some might ask how dangerous is Barranquilla and many would respond with a recommendation to stay in Alto Prado. The neighborhood is filled with luxury and boutique hotels, restaurants and is one of the safest neighborhoods in the area. Nearby El Prado is quieter with stunning homes that were built at the start of the 20th century by European immigrants. As the streets are quiet for the majority of the year, you’ll find a decent place in any part of the city and will be within walking distance of food and entertainment. 

How dangerous is Barranquilla?

As with Colombia’s other major cities, Barranquilla has gotten a lot safer in recent years, and in general isn’t dangerous. Use your common sense, and follow basic precautions like avoiding isolated areas and bad neighborhoods, particularly at night, and don’t go showing off your valuables. Cell phones are the most stolen item in Colombia, so try to keep yours out of sight. This is especially true during the Carnival de Barranquilla, when thieves try to take advantage of tourists. 

Also read: Is it safe to travel to Colombia?

Is Barranquilla worth visiting? 

So you need to figure out where to go in Colombia and how to get there. Because it has so much to offer, you’ve finally settled on Barranquilla. Many people drive from Cartagena to Barranquilla but buses also travel between the two cities. Whether you’re traveling from Barranquilla to Cartagena or Cartagena to Barranquilla, it’s important to note that the main bus station in Cartagena is not centrally located and is outside of the historic city center. It takes about 45 minutes from the center to the bus station in a taxi. You can also try a private door-to-door transfer with a company such as Daytrip for convenience on the short two-hour journey which makes Barranquilla even easier to visit. 

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