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Why Barranquilla is The Most Underrated City in Colombia

ViaHero
Updated March 25, 2020

If you're looking to get off the beaten path in Colombia, locals say that Barranqilla may be a good choice. Yes, it may be a bit grittier than more popular spots like Cartagena and Bogota, but locals are proud of their city's intense personality, incredible food, and non-touristy activities. Here's what they say about their hometown. 

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Kate, Recent Traveler
Kate, Recent Traveler

Barranquilla is unique amongst Colombian cities

Formally established in 1813, Barranquilla's history actually stretches back to 1533!

And unlike any other major city in Colombia, locals tell us that Barranquilla was neither founded deliberately by the Spanish nor built on the site of a pre-Columbian settlement. Instead, the city arose organically as a trading port on Colombia’s northern coast.

Today, Barranquilla is the largest city and port on the north Caribbean coast and the fourth largest city in the entire country. Industry and education thrive throughout the city, and its humble and organic roots shine through in the warm, welcoming culture, incredible cuisine, and hallowed traditions that make Barranquilla one of Colombia’s most incredible hidden gems.

Barranquilla’s Carnival celebration is practically unrivaled

Carnival | Ugur Arpaci/Unsplash

Barranquilla’s Carnival celebration is undoubtedly the city’s crowning glory. The second-largest Carnival celebration in the entire world behind Rio de Janeiro’s, Carnival in Barranquilla is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that boasts explosions of color, energetic parades, displays of traditional Colombian music and dance, and costumes that almost defy belief.

Locals tell us that for four days and nights, the city is transformed into one giant party—streets are packed with revelers, drinks flow freely, music pumps, dancing abounds. Carnival is an experience that can’t be missed. The festival dates all the way back to the 19th century and continues to get bigger and better every year. Get ready for the time of your life because this festival is one of the best experiences Colombia has to offer.

Use local advice to enjoy all that Barranquilla offers. Once you're done partying, our local trip planners can give tips on their favorite restaurants and bars, as well as how to navigate the city safely. 

Local Tip:

Barranquilla is full of excelent clubs and bars all over the city. The two areas that have the largest nightlife scenes are Alta del Prado and El Centro, which are home to favorites like Frogg Club.

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Barranquilla's beaches are a hidden gem

Barranquilla Coast | Denis Jacquerye/Flickr

Barranquilla itself is an industrialized and modern city. But locals tell us it borders the Caribbean shore and beaches surround the entire metropolis.

Our trip planners say that one favorite spot for many locals is Prado Mar. For only $3 you get all-day access to the private beach where you can relax the day away worry-free.

Looking for personalized recommendations? Our local trip planners can suggest beaches that fit your travel style—are you a solo traveler, a couple, or traveling with kids?

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Barranquilla is full of incredible museums

Locals tell us that their city is rich in history and culture—which means you'll find lots of excellent museums.

If you miss out on the chance to go to Barranquilla during Carnival, don’t worry! Locals say that the Museo del Carnaval is full of costumes, decorations, and banners directly from the festival.

Our trip planners note that a few other museums in Barranquilla that offer unique Colombian experiences are the Museo de Arte Moderno (MAMBA), and the Museum of Romance.

The food in Barranquilla is mouthwateringly good

Barranquilla’s cuisine puts a delicious Caribbean twist on classic Colombian food.

Locals tell us that a signature Barranquilla dish is fried catfish which is extremely fresh and flavorful. They say that you can't go to Barranquilla without indulging in some of Colombia’s best dishes like fried egg arepa and delectable pastries like pandebono. 

With proper precautions, Barranquilla is safe

Safety in Barranquilla is a bit more of an issue than safety in Cartagena or safety in Bogota. But locals say as long as you stay aware of your surroundings and follow a few simple tips, you’re sure to have a great time. As is the case with safety in Colombia in general, nearly all crimes involving travelers in Barranquilla boil down to petty theft.

If you're looking for an on-the-ground safety update, ask the people who know best. Our trip planners are locals who will design a guidebook full of safety tips—as well as everything that makes their hometown so special. 

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