Built by the Spanish in 1533, Cartagena is a sweltering Caribbean port city of swaying hips, bustling squares and faded colonial grandeur. Its narrow cobbled streets are studded with churches, monasteries and colourful 18th Century townhouses groaning with bougainvillea. Horse drawn carriages rattle through the streets, men huddle around chessboards in parks and palenqueras in flowing skirts pedal fruit from bowls balanced on their heads.
Cartagena also lays claim to the best hotels in Colombia, including some fabulous converted mansions, replete with shady courtyards, rooftop pools and gifted bar staff. We have a fix on the best of them, as well as the hottest nightspots and most worthwhile escapes on and off the mainland.