Travel Guide Barranquilla - Famous For Its Carnival

Barranquilla is located in between Cartagena and Santa Marta, where the Magdalena river meets the Caribbean sea. This sultry city is Colombia’s fourth most populous city after Bogotá, Medellín and Cali and an important destination for business tourists. TheBarranquilleros with their warm Caribbean heart, its important industrial port and waves of immigrants converted Barranquilla - the city of world-famous Shakira - into a pleasant cosmopolitan city.

A perfect souvenir to take home from Barranquilla is a sombrero vueltiao, one of Colombia’s national symbols. These black and white hats made from the fibers of a palm tree are proudly worn by the Costeños from the Atlantic coast to protect them from the tropical sun.

Barranquilla is most famous for its carnival. Barranquilla’s carnival is the world’s second largest carnival after Rio de Janeiro. It is Colombia’s most important festival and has been declared by UNESCO to a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Every year by the end of February or early March the streets fill up with locals and visitors to watch the parades, concerts and dances. The Carnival is a celebration of the diverse expressions of the Colombian culture with European, African and indigenous roots. The festivities last four days. During the Grand Parade, the main event, you see a cacophony of groups dressed in traditional Colombian and colorful costumes. The dancing, the cumbia and the exuberant costumes make this a unique event.

Getting there and around

Air – Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport is located in Soledad, 12 km (7 mi) from the centre of Barranquilla. There are direct flights from Bogotá, Medellín, San Andrés and Bucaramanga with Avianca, Aires, Copa Airlines or EasyFly. There are international flights from Panama City (Copa Airlines) and Miami (Avianca).

Bus – there are a few companies (Transportes MarSol amongst the others) offering shuttle service between Cartagena, Barranquilla and Santa Marta in air conditioned mini buses seating up to 17 people. The cost is somewhere around COP $30,000. It takes about 2 hours to travel from Barranquilla to Cartagena as well as to Santa Marta.

Taxi – taxis are an easy way to travel around Barranquilla. There are many taxis and they are relatively cheap.

Things to see and do

Museo del Caribe - the central theme of this museum is the Colombian Caribbean from a historical and cultural perspective with a room dedicated to Nobel Prize winning author Gabriel García Márquez. Centro, Calle 36 No. 46-66.

El Prado - stroll around the Moorish-inspired El Prado neighborhood. Pause at the Teatro Amira de la Rosa, gaze at the colored murals of the Casa del Carnaval and admire the interior of the Catedral Metropolitana María Reina on the outskirts of this pleasant neighborhood.

Volcano El Totumo – experience this exotic and natural wonder at 1,5 hour of Barranquilla. Join the crowd and float in the dense mud of the volcano crater.

Food and Drink

Sancocho de Bocachico - a soup made of potatoes, cassava, green plantains, coriander and a bocachico (fish from the Magdalena river), served with coconut rice.

Chuzo desgranado - typical fast food from Barranquilla, which is beef, chicken, chorizo (sausage), butifarra (sausage), bollo (made from corn or yucca), lettuce, cheese, potato straws and sauce on a plate.

Áquila - brewed in Barranquilla this refreshing cerveza is a popular beer in Colombia.


Varadero – Varadero takes us to Cuba, with Cuban son music and where the only drink is Cuba Libre. Their fresh seafood dishes are one of the best in the city. Every weekend there is live music. Carrera 51 B No. 79-97; (57 5) 3786519.

Árabe Gourmet – with many immigrants from the Middle East, Arabic food is deeply-rooted in Barranquilla’s food culture. Árabe Gourmet serves Lebanese dishes according to recipes which are passed on by generations of Lebanese descendants. Carrera 49C No. 76-181; (57 5) 3605930.

Bars and Clubs

La Troja – one of Barranquilla’s best places for salsa dancing. Dance alone or in couples between the tables and chairs in this happy atmosphere. On the corner of Carrera 44 and Calle 74.

Frogg Leggs - dance the night away in this long established place for a night out. Calle 93, No. 43-122.


Barranquilla has around 1,400,000 inhabitants.


Barranquilla has a tropical climate. It is hot and humid throughout the year with an average daytime temperature of 33°C (91°F). At nighttime the temperature does usually not fall below 22°C (70°F).