Barranquilla is a busy, cosmopolitan city on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. It is most famous for its Carnaval de Barranquilla, held on the four days before Ash Wednesday in February. It is an important sailing port and a renowned party town.
Carnaval de Barranquilla is the second-largest carnival in South America, behind Rio de Janeiro. It is a four-day party of fancy dress, parades, street bands, and dancing. Remember to book your accommodation well in advance.
The local nickname for Barranquilla means 'party' and you don't have to wait until carnival to do that in this city. Try the Washington area for some of the best restaurants and clubs.
The city has some lovely Art Deco buildings and other attractions such as the Teatro Amira de la Rosa and the Antiguo Edificio de la Aduana in the old Customs building.
The museum has an excellent collection showcasing Barranquilla and Caribbean history and culture.
The Castillo is a great place to enjoy the beach, watch the sun go down, and enjoy good food and drink in a historical setting.
Learn about the history of Barranquilla through a collection of items recounting the immigration, native cultures, ecology, and food culture of this coastal Caribbean city. This high tech interactive museum aims to highlight Colombian Caribbean culture through guided tours of the five distinct sections: nature, people, words, action and expression. A section of the museum is also dedicated to celebrated Colombian storyteller Gabriel Garcia Marquez, author of famous works such as "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and "Love in the Time of Cholera."
As soon as you set foot in Teatro Amira de la Rosa, the atmosphere is filled with creative reverence and potential. This theater is named after native writer and playwright Amira de la Rosa, who created the lyrics to the anthem of Barranquilla. The 1,000 seat theater was opened in 1982 near the University of Simon Bolivar and University of La Costa. Teatro Amira de la Rosa regularly hosts ballets, theatrical performances and music recitals as well as book readings and art exhibitions.
The Metropolitan Cathedral or Queen Mary Cathedral is an ornate Catholic church in Barranquilla dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The structure took almost 30 years to complete, in large part due to the elaborate 80 foot stained glass window found above the Cathedral's entrance. Overall there are 8 side windows with over 1,198 panels of stained glass, which can only be viewed in their full splendor from the outside. The Metropolitan Cathedral can be found on the main Carrera 46 street in Parque Central.
One of the biggest cultural attractions in Barranquilla is the annual carnival festival, held on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday. In 2003, UNESCO named the festivities in Barranquilla one of the "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity." The streets become filled with dancers, artists, and masquerades intended to celebrate the coming of spring and the birth of a new year. At the Carnival House you can find masks, costumes, and other items associated with the festival on display all year round, including an interactive space known as Elsa Caridi where you can learn more about the cultural manifestations of the carnival celebration. Performers are known to practice at the Carnival House up to one month before the festival begins.
Just a 20-minute drive from Barranquilla, the beaches of Salgar are a popular retreat for visitors looking to escape the city grind and get back to nature. The warm temperate waters, white sand, and many nearby bars and restaurants makes it a desirable day trip option for those looking to take advantage of Colombia's Caribbean views. The strip of beaches start at Sabanilla Point and end at the National Historic Landmark of Salgar Castle, an 18th century Spanish fort built in the colonial style.
Barranquilla has a tropical savanna climate with high temperatures all year round. Cooling winds from April to November make it a pleasant time to visit.
Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport (BAQ) is to the south of the city and has international flights from Miami, Quito, Panama City, and Curacao. There are also plenty of domestic flights from other Colombian cities. A taxi into town will cost COL$30,000 and the bus fare is COL$1,800.
Route 90/A connects Barranquilla with cities on the coast, such as Cartagena to the west. Route 45 runs from Bogota in the south.
Barranquilla is well connected by bus from other Colombian cities and to Caracas in Venezuela. The fare from Cartagena is from COL$15,000.
Hotel Villa Giron on Carrera 38 has good basic accommodation in a reasonable area, while Hotel Barranquilla Plaza on Avenida Alberto Assa offers luxury in the city's most upscale neighborhood.
Riomar - this is the coastal city area on the banks of the Magdalena River. It has some major commercial developments and shopping centers.
Norte-Centro Histórico - this is the historic center of the city with most of the main shopping sites and larger hotels.
La Playa - this is a beach area to the north of the city with an active fishing and agricultural industry.
A number of bus companies serve the city with fares from COL$1,300.
Taxis cost COL$6,000 for the meter drop and then COL$6,000 per mile.
Roads in Barranquilla can get busy and the traffic will sometimes seem chaotic to visitors. Car rental is from COL$120,000 per day.
Barranquilla's main shopping malls are CC Villa Country BAQ and Centro Comercial Buenavista, both in the north of the city. Local crafts are sold from stalls on 72nd Street and 46th Avenue.
A quart of milk in Barranquilla costs COL$2,375 and a loaf of bread is COL$2,000.
Narcobollo on Carrera 43 offers hearty local fare at budget prices, while Cocina33 on Carrera 52 features fine Colombian dining with a focus on seafood. A meal in a casual restaurant will cost COL$10,000, with mains in a high-quality restaurant costing COL$25,000.