Barranquilla is a cosmopolitan and primarily industrial city, often visited by businessmen of all nationalities. However the main attraction for tourism is its carnival "Carnaval de Barranquilla," that takes place during the four days before Ash Wednesday. In November of 2003, UNESCO proclaimed it as one of 28 different "masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity".
Barranquilla is also called by its residents and Colombians in general "Curramba" (from a language game, in synthesis, Curramba is a reference to "party") and the Golden Gate to Colombia (Puerta de Oro de Colombia), this due to its location on the delta of the Magdalena river, making it the most important commercial sailing port to the Atlantic Ocean for the nation.
Residents are known as "Barranquilleros" and are often characterized by their outgoing and friendly attitude and relaxed behavior.
Visitors arrive to the city traditionally by plane at Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport. It's on the far south side of the city. The fare is usually USD$8-12 to get to the city center by taxi, there are buses for aprox 2,200 COP. If you want to get a bus straight to Santa Marta, take the green bus for "Calle 30" and ask the driver to drop you near the Brasilia bus station on Calle 19. You will have to walk about 15 minutes from where he drops you off, but you have avoided paying for a taxi!
The airport is undergoing major renovations. The first flight to Bogotá leaves very early (Before 4 AM).
International direct flights are available to Quito, Miami, Panama City and Curaçao. Domestic non-stop flights arrive from Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, Bucaramanga, Cúcuta, Montería, San Andrés, Valledupar and Uribia.
Airport car rental services can be arranged from abroad with: Localiza, Alkilautos, Hertz, National Car Rental and Avis.
Buses run by the terminal as well and will get you into the city for $0.55 or less, with the drawback of a significantly less comfortable ride experience.
Barranquilla can also be a connection to other cities of the northern coast of the country, provided the traveler doesn't have a flight connection to anywhere else in Colombia already. Long-distance bus fares (in US dollars) to some cities are :
Since the bus station is quite far away from the city center, and since buses departing from there are generally slow and stop at every village, it might be a good option to travel with bus companies operating direct links to Cartagena, Bogotá or Santa Marta from around the city center. One of these is Berlinastur , departure to Cartagena or Santa Marta every hour, 16COP, terminal at calle 96 with carrera 46. The Transmetro's Alimentador A-71 or A-94 runs from the Terminal (Portal de Soledad) to the city (Parque Cultural), and also many "unofficial" colectivos, ask people in the street.
Cochetur runs air conditioned van services for travel among Cartagena, Baranquilla, and Santa Marta. Price per person is around 25,000 pesos and trip time to either of the other cities is around 2 hours.
Riders are recommended to check prices and ask to see the various buses with different lines to compare the quality of the ride before buying a ticket. Not all buses are air conditioned and be ready for buses to take on locals selling snacks, drinks, and trinkets.
Moving around in Barranquilla depends largely on the traveler's budget, language barriers and spirit of adventure.
Renting a car is an option for visitors with a more comfortable budget, the daily fare for an economy vehicle being around 150.000 pesos a day (about 75 USD), and with gasoline prices of about 8.000 pesos (4 usd) per gallon. However, driving in Barranquilla can be obviously tricky if you don't know your way around or the changes in traffic during rush hour. Rent a car services can be dealt with from abroad or upon arrival to the hotel, may that be the case.
Taking a taxi is by far the best option for the newcomer. As of January 2011, the minimum fare is now 6.000 pesos(3.35 USD). They may be a bit more expensive at night time, Sundays, on national Holidays or during rush hour. Taxis in Barranquilla do not have a meter: The fare is decided by the driver on the basis of distance, travel time and daytime vs nighttime. The most you will ever be charged for an in town trip is 16.000 pesos (8.5 USD).
For those with more spirit for adventure, buses are another option. In this case, talking to the driver may not be necessary, but knowing someone in town is definitely of great help when choosing the right route. Bus fares are around 70 cents per ride, sometimes a little more if the bus is equipped with air conditioning (not all of them are).Be warned that the buses do not wait until you are seated before they move and when getting off, often start back up before both your feet are on the ground when getting off. They also start and stop abruptly, so hang on. Barranquilla also has a Transmilenio of its own, the Transmetro. You need to buy the transport card. A trip to anywhere cost COP 1700 (Feb 2015). It runs across the city and to bus terminal at Soledad.
Mototaxis are an illegal way of transportation that has grown in popularity over the past 3 years. These consist of motorcycles charging significantly less money than a regular cab to take you virtually anywhere, but this mean of transportation is riddled with risks for personal safety, as these drivers have the tendency to be reckless.
Barranquilla also houses the beautiful and famous Teatro Amira de la Rosa, the old Customs building-Edificio de la Aduana, that serves as library as well as a museum; the Museum of Gold; and many other great places to visit. There are also a large number of art deco buildings built from the late thirties into the fifties. (See the book Barranquilla-Ciudad Art Deco By Gustavo Garcia)
Another place to visit is "Bocas de Ceniza", where the Magdalena River meets the Atlantic Ocean.
Festival de la Ciruela in Campeche: In Baranoa, on the third weekend of this month, the people of Campeche and Baranoa show to the country the result of their harvest of plum, a fleshy fruit of large seed that is enjoyed both greenish and ripe. Contact: Roque Tolosa Navarro - Calle 6A No. 14-141. Organized by: Fundación Cultural Agropecuaria Festival de la Ciruela
Festival del Dulce in Sabanalarga: In order to keep the traditions of the Holy Week, this weekend will be held in the Barrios Sabanitas and Cementerio Sabanalarga, Atlántico, the Festival del Dulce Organized by: Organización folclórica Cebras Recocheras
Holy Week in Santo Tomás and Sabanalarga: In these two municipalities of Atlántico the way the local people celebrate the Holy Week has no equal. Their activities include processions, exhibitions and craft samples. Organized by: Santo Tomás City Hall- Sabanalarga City Hall Website: www.santotomas-atlantico.gov.co – www.sabanalarga-atlantico.gov.co
Apr 01 - Apr 30 April Encuentro Nacional e Internacional de Teatro de Barranquilla (ENITBAR): A scenario for the formation of citizens throughout culture and the scenic arts Organized by: Fundación Cultural y Social Cofradía Teatral. Phone: 300 704 3792 Website: www.cofradiateatral.com
May 01 - May 31 May Cine a la Calle: It is an International Outdoor Short Film festival held in the main educational and cultural centers of the city; It includes an academic program with national filmmakers. Organized by: Fundación Cine a la Calle Phone: 3490269 Website: www.cinealacalle.org
Fiesta de la Cruz: Masses, Eucharist celebration and other religious manifestations in the Barrio San José of the municipality of Campo de la Cruz, there’s no regional event without fandangos, cumbias and other folk dances.
Jun 01 - Jun 30 June Fiesta de la Música: With the idea of reinforcing the citizen consciousness, based on music, these events are held in different stages of the city. Organized by: Alianza Francesa Phone: 3490269 Website: www.alianzafrancesa.org.co
Festival Nacional Son de Negro: Held in the municipality of Santa Lucía, the festival offers a natural way of appreciating the Afro-descendant legacy as well as the mixture of three ethnic groups that are part of Colombia. Organized by: Corporación Son de Negro Phone: (5) 8724339 Website: www.corporacionsondenegro.org
Festival de la Arepa de Huevo en Luruaco: it takes place in the last weekend of June, in which all the traditional vendors of egg arepa compete for achieving the awards for the most delicious arepa, the biggest arepa, the smaller arepa and the most innovative arepa. Organized by: Municipality of Luruaco Phone: (5) 8749047 Website: www.luruaco-atlantico.gov.co/index.shtml
Festival del Arte y la Cultura de Suán de la Trinidad: the cultural meeting of arts that has been positioning year after year and counting with international guests and of course the municipalities of Atlántico, during the Festival there are performances of the different artistic areas, folkloric and other musical groups. Organized by: Suán City Hall
Jul 01 - Jul 31 July Poema Río: The International Festival of poetry of the Caribbean "Rio and Mar de Palabras" Organized by: Corporación Luis Eduardo Nieto Arteta Phone: 3157289375 Email: [email protected]
Festival de la Máscara y el Bejuco: The handicraft exhibition in the municipality of Galapa, epicenter of the bejuco, a native plant of the region, the bejuco is used for the people of the region to make different handicraft products Organized by: Galapa City Hall
Aug 01 - Aug 31 August Festival Internacional de Cuenteros “El Caribe Cuenta”: A meeting between Colombian and Ibero-American narrators, who gather to strengthen the oral narration in the Colombian Caribbean Region. Organized by: Fundación Luneta 50 Phone: 3604988 Website: www.luneta50.org.co/website
Sabor Barranquilla: An event that promotes the culinary wealth of the Caribbean Region. It Includes trade fair and academic events. Organized by: Colombian Red Cross y Fenalco Phone: 3531448 Website: www.saborbarranquilla.com
Sep 01 - Sep 30 September Barranquijazz: It is considered the most important International Jazz and Latin Jazz Festival in Colombia and the Caribbean. Organized by: Fundación Cultural Nueva Música Phone: 3532919-3535162 Website: www.barranquijazz.com
Nov 01 - Nov 30 November Salón Internacional del Autor Audiovisual: It is a non-competitive space where renowned national and international film and audiovisual arts professionals exhibit their work and share experiences with the audience. Organized by: Cinemateca del Caribe Phone: 3684101-3684100 Website: www.cinematecadelcaribe.com
Feria Agroindustrial del Atlántico en Sabanalarga: An event where the attendees have the opportunity to know about the livestock and the latest innovations in the country's agroindustrial sector. Organized by: Corporación de Ferias del Atlántico. Phone: 3609108 E-mail: [email protected]
Dec 01 - Dec 31 December It is a religious expression that takes place in the Municipality of Suan, where the main activity is a procession through the streets of the town, bazaars and fairs. At dawn on 8 December, the population lights up the sign of respect to the Holy Mother of God, putting candles on the doors of their homes. Organized by: Barranuqilla City Hall.
El Prado, Alto Prado y Bella Vista Historical Distric (Centro Historico)
This neighborhood, located between carrera 50th and 60th and between 53rd and 75th streets, was the first planned urban development in the country, where the principles of modern urbanism were applied for the first time, it was destined to house exclusive homes.
Barrio El Prado, a trip to the past ', the origin of this place in the city of Barranquilla goes back to the 1920s when the Atlantic capital was in "full industrial and commercial peak and experienced great economic growth."
Barranquilla is a large, complex city. Daytime activities are mainly of shopping and eating, but nightlife is active all year round, with bars and nightclubs open from Thursdays to Sundays in most cases. Some of the main party spots in town are La Troja, Trucupey Latin Disco,Discolo, Kapitol and Frogg Leggs if you plan to dance.
For a more relaxed environment some options are Luna Negra, Beba Genobeba, Old Times (an 80's retro bar) and some spots known as "estancos": These are basically liquor stores with or without tables, where music is played on weekends. Commonly people gather in these places to drink listening to music from the place itself or from their own car audio systems (in Barranquilla sound restrictions are quite lenient). As well there are magnificent restaurants in the area known as "Washington" such as Naia, Mix where the tourist can experience an elegant, chic night.
Some places are known as "puntos frios" or "mundo de la cerveza" (world of beer), in which you should be able to get beer pretty much any day. There are also small tiendas (convenience stores all over the city).
If you are lucky enough to go during Carnival you will find yourself in a place in which everybody is up to party for entire days with no rest.
Take "Chiva", an old-style bus full of people, music and dancing! The bus takes you to several nice discos in Bquilla. Typically on saturday nights. Here is a good one: "La Chiva de Juan". Calle 34 # 72-197. Tel: 3600264. Cell: 315-7420885.
The language and culture!
Neotropical Spanish School is a small size Spanish School focused on quality giving classes in Barranquilla and Santa Marta, 8 USD/hour with one student per teacher,6 USD per person in small groups. Course material included. For more info see homepage: Neotropical Spanish Classes For reservations: [email protected]
There are many shopping centers with national and international brands. The biggest two are Buenavista and Villa Country, both located to the north.
If what you want is artisanal souvenirs, the corner of 72 street and 46 avenue is the place to go. There you will find kiosks selling cheaper artisan work and a store by the name of "Artesanias de Colombia", where more certified, yet more expensive souvenirs can be found. At the down town you will also find these for a lower price but usually of lower quality. You can also find the true and authentic artesanias in nearby towns, many of which are worth visiting.
Both local and international cuisine are available in town. Local delicacies include arroz con coco and sancocho de guandul (a soup made of pigeon peas or "guandules" and meat), bocachico frito (fried fish from the Magdalena river), sancocho, and fritos (fried foods), including arepas and empanadas. If you wish to try local food, good choices are;
Try to go to "Las Flores" in the nearbies "Bocas de Ceniza". There are many seafood restaurants next to Magdalena River. Very good food and environment.
All the above offer traditional food at very affordable prices.
Some other places to go, for a more international menu are:
The local beer is Aguila, and is also the cheapest one. However, Club Colombia is a Colombian beer with great flavor and quality, and just a little more expensive.
International beer is available widely, with Heineken being the preferred brand.
The spirit of preference by locals is rum, in a variety of national and international brands. Another popular drink is Aguardiente (an anise-flavoured liqueur derived from sugar cane), and is worth a try. Aguardiente literally means "burning water", and it honors its name. As well Scotch, which is a little more expensive, hence it is consumed by the elite, the preferred brand is called Old Parr.
Almost any type of liquor is available, whiskey, vodka and tequila some of the most prevalent.
There are many inexpensive hotels in the area between the above hotels. Walk around and ask to see rooms, they're all quite decent. Generally the ones not listed in the guidebooks are a bit cheaper. The hotels around the Terminal in Soledad are pricey for the quality you get and are far from the centre. The cheapest deals are in the centro.
Internet access starts at about $0.60. There are tons of places that serve up access for $1.00 or less, but shops are typically tucked up in centros comerciales (malls) without signs out on the street.