No longer associated with Pablo Escobar and the bloody drug wars of the 1980s, Colombia has recently become one of the hottest destinations in South America.
About 1.8 million visitors went to Colombia in 2011, the last year for which tourism info is available — about 7.3 percent more than the previous year. And about 11 percent of those tourists visit Cartagena, a charming city on the northern coast of Colombia.
The historic Spanish colonial city on the Caribbean coast is a UNESCO World Heritage site. With its pastel-colored buildings covered in bougainvillea flowers, cobblestone streets, and bustling open squares, Cartagena is the type of place that’s so perfectly preserved it almost feels fake in a Disney-esque type of way. There’s also fresh seafood, succulent fruits, and tropical cocktails, which you can enjoy in the open-air cafes and bars, some of which overlook the ocean.
It’s a colorful city that has become the hottest new getaway in South America — especially since JetBlue started offering direct flights from New York City last November.