Miami or Cartagena? Where to go this spring?
Hey everyone! So I had this one waiting for you all for a minute, so here it it goes! I hope it's helpful to you.
Situated approximately 2.5 hours’ flight apart, both Miami and Cartagena share the spoil of being popular tourist destinations for travelers from the States as well as South America.
However, each of the cities holds a charming vibe that’s unique and special. For instance, Miami is a city on the sun – it enjoys over 3000 hours of sunshine every year and the winter is pretty mild too.
A visit to Miami doesn’t have to be your typical beach getaway; you can explore art and theater or immerse yourself in the city’s rich culture as you take a dip in the sea.
Cartagena, on the other hand, feels like a city straight from the fairy tale- palm-frilled plazas, cobbled streets that magically come to life after dusk plus rustic 16th-century mansions to ogle.
Check out the following comparison between traveling to Miami, Florida vs Cartagena, Columbia.
Cartagena is one of the greatest cultural treasures in South America. The colonial city has a reputation of hosting astounding castles, colorful buildings, and historical walls that create a breath-taking contrast with ultra-modern skyscraper-dominated Bocagrande.
Colombia’s port city, Cartagena played a vital role in the history of the country by fighting pirates and protecting the country from invasions.
The city came to be around 1533 when a Spanish commander, Pedro de Heredia took over a declining and abandoned Amerindian Caribbean village, Calamarí where he developed it as his settlement.
The first settles (Spanish) were sailors who originated from Cartagena, Spain and so they developed the town and named it Cartagena de Indias in reference to their previous town in Spain.
Today, Cartagena has greatly expanded and it’s home to over a million inhabitants. It still holds the pride of being the largest port city in the country and despite the test of time, the ‘walled’ ancient town remains unchanged with tons of beautiful historic buildings and colonial architecture. It’s also home to a thriving Afro-Colombian population where Palenqueras roam the streets in their beautiful and colorful dresses.
By American standard, the history of Miami is brief but pretty interesting. It’s the largest city in the US with Cuban-American plurality creating impressive richness in heritage.
Miami is dubbed as ‘magic city’ since its growth was sudden especially with the mass arrival of the Cubans. In 1959, a dictator came to power in Cuba causing mass exodus into Miami. In the 1970s, there was yet another influx immigrant from Haiti and from then onwards Miami has been molded by many cultural influences.
Miami is a melting pot as far as history and culture go with heritage streets and neighborhoods that tell captivating stories of the city’s past through its people. From Little Haiti to the charming Little Havana Miami is a celebrated destination of pan-Latin as well as Caribbean cultures.
If you’re more of a history geek both Miami and Cartagena will serve you right. However, the latter is adorned with lots of colonial architecture plus artifacts to bring the past into life.
Cartagena - The hotels here range from budget-friendly to high-end and opulent but you can be sure there’s a little haven for any taste and preference. The prices range between $45 and $500 per night.
Miami – most hotels in Miami are strategically located which makes it easy to visit the major attractions within the city. The price range tends to be between $80 and $500 per night.
Cartagena – nightlife in Cartagena is cool with a laid back ambiance but that’s not to say bar hopping is an unknown vibe. Clubs and bars are plentiful and you’ll find plenty all within walking distance.
Miami – known for lively and vibrant nightlife Miami is probably the best spot for party and music lovers and the warm weather sets the right atmosphere for the best part of the year.
The best things to do in Cartagena
Cartagena is among the most gorgeous and romantic cities in the world with a cool ambiance and a laid back vibe. You can stroll the city walls as you watch the sunset or explore the fascinating fortress that has protected the city for centuries. Check out some iconic places to visit and awesome things to do in Cartagena.
Sample the street food
Cheese-filled arepas accompanied by fresh Lemonade from food street vendors in the plazas definitely sounds like a great plan but you should consider joining a food tour to enjoy the local gastronomy.
With a guide, you’ll be able to explore the city and see things like alleyways, carts and other fantastic places that are off the beaten path or probably wouldn’t be easy to find by yourself.
Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas
Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas is by far the most incredible fortress that was built by the Spaniards in their colonies and today, it’s a landmark in Cartagena.
The tunnels within were designed to pick up sounds so that the intruders could be detected as soon as they approach the fortress. As you stroll through its dark passageways, be sure to pick up an audio guide to understand the deeper history.
Enjoy a Chiva party
If you’re a party animal Chiva (party bus) is a Colombian activity that will quench your desire. There are live musicians entertaining the crowd and while the real party begins on a van you’ll be dropped in various bars around the city and finally end up in a bigger bar where the Chiva will leave you to dance the night away.
Take a day trip to San Basilio de Palenque
This West African village is a like a time capsule that was founded by enslaved Africans who escaped bondage and formed a village that served as a place of refuge for escapees. In this Unesco recognized village the inhabitants speak a unique blend of Spanish, Bantu and French as well!
The best things to do in Miami
Miami doesn’t really require an introduction- it’s pretty much the opposite of Cartagena famous across the world for its glamour and glitz. Here are some of the ‘must-do’ in the city.
Visit the iconic South beach
Now, when you think about Miami chances are you’ll also think about the pearly and white sandy beaches- most people would, actually, because ‘Miami’ and ‘beaches’ are almost synonymous.
South Beach is one of the best places to soak up the sun as you watch the world go by. In addition to the beach you can enjoy Art Deco district that’s within a short stroll.
Enjoy the Cuban Flavors at Little Havana
Known as one of the best places in Miami to soak up the cultural flavors, Little Havana offers a fantastic range of entertainment from fun open-air social areas to dozens of restaurants offering local delicacies.
With street art portraying significant Cuban figures and lively Latin music filling the air you’ll feel immersed in the city’s cultural atmosphere.
While soaking in Miami’s flavors, make a point to visit Versailles, a massive Cuban restaurant that offers Cuban food.
So where to…
You have options! Both places are beautiful, fun and warm. However, if you’re looking for more bang for your buck, you may want to check out Cartagena. However, if money isn’t a concern and you want a bit more glam and glitz, Miami just might be your place.