El Centro, the best area to stay in Cartagena
El Centro is easily the most appealing neighbourhood in the city with the universal lure of its colonial attractions as well as having the highest concentration of tourist amenities. This is one of the safest areas to stay in the city and has recently been given a multi-million dollar facelift and now the district explodes with a variety of coloured buildings, upscale hotels and luxury apartments and is home to some of the richest people in Colombia. This area is well served by buses and taxis, which can get you around the city to see some of the other major attractions and there is plenty of public transportation that links up with the Rafael Nunez International Airport. The area itself is best explored on foot, which provides an entertaining walk with most of the other neighbourhoods in the old part of the city within walking distance.
The heartbeat of the city is found in the square at Plaza de Bolivar, which is a great place to start your journey as there are various government buildings and shops that are located here as well as different statues that represent personnel from the colonial times and more recent eras. This square is also one of the hot spots at night time as there are heaps of restaurants, bars and clubs in the area.
Another major reason to come to this part of the neighbourhood is because the Palace of Inquisition can be found here, which is where the Spanish inquisition judged, convicted and tortured men that were accused of crimes against their religion. This magnificent colonial building is one of the finest bits of architecture and even though the museum focuses more on what happened outside the city, it is definitely worth visiting. There are an abundance of churches in the historic centre with the majority worth seeing, though some of the most impressive ones are Iglesia de San Pedro Claver, the Cathedral and the Iglesia de Santo Domingo.
Plaza Santo Domingo is another excellent square as it has one of the best patios to sit and relax and take in the beautiful views of the city and the sea as well as being home to the Co-operacion de Cultura Espanol, which is a brilliant art gallery that showcases art from the colonial era. There are tonnes of shops in the area and there are some local markets that generally happen on the weekend with the main streets being Carrera 2 and Calle 30.
At night time head to either Plaza Santo Domingo or Plaza de Bolivar as they both have a vast array of international cuisines, top notch bars and some of the most well-known hotels in the country.