The perfect Barranquilla travel guide (Colombia) to plan your stay as you like.

🛑 Imagine arriving in Barranquilla with all the right information in hand for an optimized, hassle-free adventure that’s perfect for you.

Nestled on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, Barranquilla is mainly famous for one thing: its carnival! Known as Colombia’s Golden Gate, or “La Puerta de Oro de Colombia,” this bustling port city has a rich history that dates back to at least 1629. It officially became a town on April 7, 1813, and since then, it’s transformed into a vibrant hub of culture, industry, and diversity.


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General Information about Barranquilla

Crédit: ErickSalasA

Here is an overview of Barranquilla.

Where is Barranquilla

Situated on Colombia’s vibrant northern coast, Barranquilla is the country’s fourth largest city, home to approximately 1.2 million people. It’s nestled between the Magdalena River and the Caribbean Sea, positioned strategically as a crucial port city. This location not only makes it an important hub for river and maritime transportation but also marks it as the primary center for industry, commerce, education, and culture in Colombia’s Caribbean Region.

Barranquilla History

Barranquilla’s strategic importance as a port has made it a melting pot of cultures from Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, particularly during the world wars. This influx of immigrants has shaped the city into one of the most modern and industrialized cities in Colombia.

Best Time to Visit Barranquilla

The ideal times to visit Barranquilla are during the dry season months, from December through April. Additionally, the last weeks of June and the first weeks of July, known as the “Veranillo de San Juan,” offer an excellent opportunity to experience Barranquilla’s charm. These periods boast pleasant weather, adding to the enjoyment of all the city has to offer, including its world-renowned Carnival—February.

Weather in Barranquilla

Barranquilla’s climate is warm and tropical, necessitating sun protection like sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats for anyone venturing outside. With average daily highs ranging from the upper 80s to low 90s F (27-30C) and humidity around 80%, the city radiates heat throughout the day. Come evening, temperatures gently fall to the mid-70s F (25C), making it a delightful time to explore.

Is Barranquilla Worth Visiting

I don’t see much interest in visiting Barranquilla (apart from Carnival) if you only have a few weeks in Colombia.

It can be a tempting destination if you want to spend a few weeks in a city on the Caribbean coast, enjoying its fine restaurants and lively nightlife. Apart from that, it’s more of a Colombian city for a business trip.

Oh, I almost forgot. This is the city where Shakira was born—if you’re a fan in search of a pilgrimage.

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Things to do In Barranquilla

A list of the few things you can do in the city.

Barranquilla Carnival

The Barranquilla Carnival is a spectacle of Colombian culture that’s filled with dancing, music, and parades. As the country’s largest folklore celebration, it has earned a spot on the UNESCO list as a Masterpiece of Humanity’s Intangible and Oral Heritage.

The streets come alive with parties, parades, and traditional Colombian rhythms. From the La Batalla de Flores parade to the symbolic burial of Joselito Carnaval, there’s an electric atmosphere that invigorates the city. Barranquilla transforms, granting locals and visitors a special holiday to immerse themselves in festivities.

For those looking to experience the carnival, it’s advisable to book tickets in advance and don a festive outfit to blend in with the vibrant crowds.

Important: You want to book your hotel at least 6 months in advance too.

Magdalena River

One can’t discuss the charms of Barranquilla without mentioning the Magdalena River. This majestic river offers a beautiful riverside walk about five kilometers long, surrounded by exercise areas, dining spots, and the perfect place to watch the Barranquilla sunset. The promenade is among the city’s finest public spaces, featuring sports courts, relaxation areas, children’s parks, and even free WiFi. It’s also pet-friendly, so you can bring your furry companion along.

Bocas de Ceniza, where the river meets the Caribbean Sea, is particularly striking. The ash-colored water, from which the area gets its name, offers natural beauty that can be enjoyed on river cruises.

Dining options like El CaimĂĄn and Mareta provide memorable culinary experiences by the water.

Barranquilla Monuments

The modern Cathedral Metropolitana MarĂ­a Reina de Barranquilla, irrespective of one’s religious beliefs, is a visual delight.

Another iconic monument is the Ventana al Mundo, standing at 45 meters with its striking colors and glass construction, which embodies the spirit of Barranquilla and offers Instagram-worthy photo ops.

These monuments highlight Barranquilla’s cultural diversity and innovative spirit.

Visit the Barrio El Prado

Barrio El Prado is a testament to Barranquilla’s heritage, showcasing exquisite neocolonial architecture. This historic neighborhood is home to grand mansions, sophisticated restaurants, and cafĂ©s that echo the city’s rich history and culture.

The iconic Prado Hotel stands as a symbol of the neighborhood’s elegance and architectural beauty.

Strolling through El Prado, one gets a glimpse into the opulent past and the blend of tradition and modernity that defines Barranquilla.

Things to do around Barranquilla

Exploring Barranquilla and its surroundings, I’ve discovered a wealth of activities and sights that cater to a variety of interests. From historical sites to exhilarating water sports, there’s always something to do.

Castillo de Salgar

Credit: @jblanquicet

Just 20 minutes from the city lies Castillo de Salgar, a renovated Spanish fort now doubling as an event space. Its cliffside location offers breathtaking sea views, making it an idyllic spot for a drink or dinner at sunset. The ambiance is tranquil and romantic, perfect for those looking to escape the city’s hustle.

For those with energy to spare, there’s a path leading to local beaches where you can wander and capture memorable photos. This spot merges historical charm with the beauty of nature, providing an exquisite backdrop for any event or quiet evening.

Barranquilla Beaches

Barranquilla beach - Credit Imagine Beach (1)
Credit: Imagine Beach

Barranquilla’s beaches are as diverse as they are stunning. From secluded romantic nooks to bustling party spots, these beaches cater to all. Not only do they offer sunbathing and water sports like surfing and kitesurfing, but they’re also culinary destinations where you can enjoy local seafood delicacies.

Despite Barranquilla having just one urban beach, the real treasures are found within a short drive. Highlights include Playa Pradomar‘s shaded booths and live music, Sabanilla Beach‘s cozy vibe, and Salgar Beach‘s paddle surfing.

Whether you’re into thrilling water activities or simply soaking up the sun, Barranquilla’s beaches promise unforgettable experiences.

Kitesurfing around Barranquilla

Kitesurf Etto La Guajira (2)
Credit: Etto

Kitesurfing in Barranquilla is a prime experience, thanks to constant winds and fantastic waves. The best months for kitesurfing are from December to April, with windspeeds ranging from 18 to 25 knots, and ambient temperatures around 28 ÂșC. On a good day, surfers can enjoy waves up to 2.5 m.

Santa Veronica and Puerto Velero are among the top spots, making kitesurfing accessible for beginners and challenging enough for experienced riders. This blend of conditions creates a perfect environment for mastering or enjoying the sport.

UsiacurĂ­

Usiacuri Atlantico

Visiting UsiacurĂ­ is like stepping into a vibrant world of tradition and craftsmanship. The town is known for its skilled residents who weave intricate designs from iraca palm, an art form visible throughout its streets. Despite its ancient roots, the community’s weaving tradition remains strong, making UsiacurĂ­ a unique cultural treasure.

Founded in the 16th century and deeply connected to the indigenous Mokana people, the town’s history is as rich as its crafts. The entrance, adorned with a large spider sculpture, symbolizes the intricate weaving that defines UsiacurĂ­, inviting visitors to explore its colorful legacy.

Where to stay in Barranquilla

Marriot in Barranquilla (1)
Credit: Marriot

When planning a trip to Barranquilla, I quickly learned that selecting the right neighborhood for my stay was crucial. Each area offers a unique experience, catering to different tastes and preferences.

Alto Prado emerges as a top contender for those seeking a blend of luxury and convenience. With its safe streets, this upscale neighborhood boasts a selection of high-end hotels and a lively nightlife that promises an unforgettable experience. Whether I was in town for business or pleasure, the allure of Alto Prado, with its sophisticated dining options and shopping centers, was hard to resist.

Good hotels are BH Barranquilla, Hotel Dorado, hotel Estelar

Just a stone’s throw from Alto Prado, El Prado captivated me with its old-world charm and beautifully preserved architecture. Strolling through its tree-lined avenues, I admired elegant mansions that have been transformed into boutique hotels, offering a peaceful retreat amidst the city’s hustle and bustle. It’s a perfect spot for those who appreciate history and tranquility combined with a central location.

Lovely colonial hotels are Hotel Casa Colonial and Hotel El Prado.

Riomar stood out for its exclusive vibe, where luxury residential towers and high-end shopping malls like Buenavista define the skyline. Though a bit further from the city center, the area’s natural attractions and quiet atmosphere make it a worthwhile choice for travelers who prefer a more secluded setting.

Here you’ll find the most famous hotel brands: Dann Carlton, Movitch, and Marriot.

For a deeper dive into the cultural heartbeat of Barranquilla, the Centro HistĂłrico offered an authentic experience. This historic center, bursting with a mix of architectural styles and affordable lodging options, provided a budget-friendly base from which to explore the rich tapestry of the city’s past.

Save money by staying in the following hotels:Danes Barranquilla, Ribai hotels, Hotel Genova Centro.

Barranquilla Nightlife

Carnival Barranquilla - Cumbia (1)

When I dive into the heart of Barranquilla after sundown, I’m greeted by an explosion of colors, rhythms, and flavors that define the city’s vibrant nightlife. From the bustling zona rosa, known as Barrio Colombia (on Calle 84, between Carrera 43 and Carrera 51B), to the historic beats echoing from the walls of La Troja, there’s an undeniable energy that fuels the night.

First, there’s Frog Club, the ultimate Rumba Spot for those who seek an immersive night out filled with music videos, cocktails, and snacks.

Not to be overlooked, The Matriarca provides an ambiance where traditional Colombian cuisine meets the joy of live music, creating a spot that’s easy to fall in love with. For those craving a more upscale disco environment, Manhattan Club in CC Plaza del Parque offers a chic nightclub experience.

However, it’s not just about the clubs and food; Barranquilla’s nightlife is also about embracing the local culture. La Troja serves as the heartbeat of salsa in Barranquilla, drawing over 2,000 people on its best nights for Cuban guaracha and Caribbean rhythms. Meanwhile, places like Lobo boast the best cocktails in town, highlighting the inventive side of Barranquilla’s nightlife.

For visitors looking for something distinctly Barranquillero, Patio Barranquilla opens up as an LGBTI-friendly outdoor rumba spot, where everyone’s welcome to dance to crossover music under the stars.

Where to eat in Barranquilla

Barranquilla Food - Pescaye restaurant
Credit: Pescaye

As soon as I arrived in Barranquilla, I was given the all-clear. You’ll see, this is a fast-food and fried food paradise!

Fortunately for those who like to eat healthily, the city offers much more than an arepa de huevo or a giant salchipapa—fries, sausage, and liters of sauce.

You’ll find an eclectic mix of traditional Colombian flavors complemented by a rich influence from immigrant cultures. I’ve discovered some hidden gems and local hotspots where the food is fantastic.

First, let’s speak about PescayĂ©! Loved the seafood, especially the bandeja Pescaye, and the music totally rocks. I stumbled upon it during the carnival and had the best time ever. Super friendly service too.

Casa Jharikanda is another favorite – I love their coconut milk lemonade! It’s not just the food, but the whole vibe that’s special here. Great for its value, with lots of vegan options. It’s cozy, full of art and music, all vegan. The owner adds a personal touch, making everything with care.

For those with an adventurous palate, exploring Barranquilla’s Lebanese culinary offerings is a must. The fusion of Middle Eastern and Colombian flavors creates dishes that are as delightful as they are unique. Check out SARAB or M Cocina Árabe.

If, like me, you’re a fan of live music, go to Varadero, where fresh, flavorful seafood dishes and Cuban son match perfectly.

And if it’s meat you’re after, MIURA Steak House should be your go-to. Located in a bustling part of town, it offers a wide selection of cuts, prepared to perfection.

How to get to Barranquilla

Plane to Riochacha La Guajira

This vibrant city, nestled on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, is accessible by air, land, and sea, making it a convenient destination for travelers worldwide.

By Air: Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport serves as the gateway to Barranquilla. International flights connect Barranquilla with major cities in North and South America, and from the airport, it’s just a short taxi or bus ride to the heart of the city. For those coming from further afield, connecting flights through BogotĂĄ or MedellĂ­n are readily available.

By Bus: For those who prefer to take in the scenic beauty of Colombia, buses to Barranquilla are available from almost all major cities. The comfortable, air-conditioned coaches offer a more economical way to travel.

Getting around Barranquilla

Credit: Transmetro

Navigating through Barranquilla turned out to be more straightforward than I initially thought. Transmetro, the city’s bus system, became my go-to for getting across town. With its 29 routes and several dedicated bus lanes, it’s designed to simplify travel. I’ve used it multiple times to hop from one neighborhood to another, appreciating its efficiency and coverage.

Taxis, while abundant, operate a little differently here compared to what I was used to. There are no meters, so it’s vital to negotiate the fare before starting your journey. Always asking for the fare beforehand has saved me from any unwelcome surprises at the end of the trip.

For those preferring a bit more autonomy, driving in Barranquilla presents its own set of challenges and rewards. While the main roads are well-maintained, navigating them requires a level of caution because road signs are mainly decorative, and the law of the bravest (or craziest) takes precedence.

Safety in Barranquilla

Barranquilla Carnival (3) (1)

First and foremost, Barranquilla is generally considered safe for tourists. However, like any major city, it has its areas of concern. It’s crucial to stay informed about which neighborhoods are recommended for visitors and which should be avoided, especially after dark. The city’s tourist areas are well-patrolled, but it’s always wise to stay vigilant.

When it comes to moving around, I’ve found that using reputable taxi services or ride-sharing apps is not only convenient but also adds an extra layer of security. This reduces the risk associated with navigating unfamiliar areas on your own. Plus, the locals are incredibly helpful in suggesting the safest modes of transportation.

Another aspect worth noting is the importance of blending in. Drawing unnecessary attention can make you a target. I’ve learned to dress similarly to the locals and keep my valuables out of sight.

Lastly, understanding local customs and a bit of the language goes a long way in ensuring a safe and enjoyable visit. Knowing basic Spanish phrases allows for better communication and can help in avoiding misinterpretations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Barranquilla Carnival (5) (1)

What is the best time to visit Barranquilla?

The best time to visit Barranquilla is during the dry season, from December to April. This period avoids the heavy rainfall of other months, and you can also experience the famous Barranquilla Carnival, usually held in February or March.

What are the must-see attractions in Barranquilla?

The must-see attractions in Barranquilla include the Carnaval de Barranquilla, one of the biggest carnivals in the world; Museo Caribe, a museum showcasing Caribbean culture; Ventana al Mundo, a colorful architectural landmark; and Castillo de Salgar, offering stunning coastal views.

How can tourists get around Barranquilla?

Tourists can get around Barranquilla using the Transmetro bus system, which is an efficient and cost-effective way to navigate the city. Taxis and ride-sharing services like Uber are also widely available for more direct and private transportation options.

Is Barranquilla safe for tourists?

Barranquilla is generally safe for tourists, but, like in any city, it’s important to stay informed about which areas to avoid, especially at night. Using reputable transportation services, understanding local customs and language, and blending in can enhance safety during your visit.

What is Barranquilla known for?

Barranquilla is known for its strategic position as a crucial port city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, its vibrant Carnival, rich history, cultural diversity, and being a gateway to Colombia. It’s also renowned for its warm and tropical climate, making it a lively city to explore year-round.

Can you highlight some activities for adventure seekers in Barranquilla?

Adventure seekers in Barranquilla can explore kitesurfing spots along its beaches, hike in the nearby natural reserves, or visit the Magdalena River for water sports. The city also offers vibrant nightlife spots for those looking to experience local entertainment and dance.

What is the culinary scene like in Barranquilla?

The culinary scene in Barranquilla is diverse, offering a mix of Caribbean and international cuisines. Visitors can enjoy local specialties like sancocho, arepas, and fresh seafood, along with exploring high-end restaurants and street food vendors, showcasing the rich flavors of Colombia’s Caribbean coast.

Where to travel after Barranquilla

Here are cool destinations nearby:

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