Barranquilla, unlike many other cities in Colombia, was never actually “founded.” It wasn’t settled by the Spanish, in the way they settled other areas.
It wasn’t on a pre-Colombian settlement, It just… “sort of” developed over time.
It is on the way to Cartagena, there were settlers near the Magdalena River.
It was used as a port, however it wasn’t until 1813 that it was declared a town.
Although there has been settlement in this area since before 1600. Actually the first written account was in 1533.
Lets see what you can do in Barranquilla.
- 1 Things to do in Barranquilla.
- 2 The first thing First Time Visitors to Barranquilla will Notice.
Things to do in Barranquilla.
What can First Time Visitors to Barranquilla do that is Unique.
Lets make a list… Some simple things, and see how they play out for you.
Don’t forget, good casual street wear, Colombians like to be well dressed.
- Food tours, craft beer tours, and walking tours.
- Gran Malecon Del Rio. 5 kilometers of boardwalk beside the Magdalena River.
- Drink some Aguila or Club Colombia beer, or Rum.🥂
- Go Salsa dancing. 💃
- Check out the Zoo and go shopping for souvenirs 🐍
- Go visit some Museums
The first thing First Time Visitors to Barranquilla will Notice.
Is the heat!. You have arrived in the Caribbean. 🌴🌴🥥
With the Equator being not far away, there is very little variation in the temperatures throughout the year..
There are two seasons. Wet and dry, May to October are the wetter months. Writing this in mid November, it is a nice day outside with a cooling breeze.
So welcome to Barranquilla. The town of Shakira. Are you coming for the Carnaval,? (which in 2022 begins on February 26th. and goes until March 2nd or 3rd.)… Of course you are. 😎
Food Tour around Barranquilla
A common question in the Barranquilla expat and tourist info group on the book of faces, is where is the good food. Everyone wants to try some local cuisine.
Lets try two options. Restaurants or / and Street food.
If you like a
good great steak try, Pepe Anca, Cra 49e #76-164
or the Steak House Chez Ernest. Cra 54#70 – 69
A little expensive but well worth every cent. Their fish of the day is also great, and the desserts are something else.
Colombians do the best desserts, I have yet to experience a bad one anywhere!
Mailia, on Carrera 48 # 74-71, is another I would recommend. And Cuzco Barranquilla is another, they have vegetarian and gluten free dishes.
For more restaurants have a look here
Food Tour of Barranquilla.
Booking a street tour is a great way to get out and meet the city. Normally there is a minimum of 2 people required, but they can take groups up to 10 people.
You get the best of Caribbean cuisine and its people. Carimañola, arepa de huevo, butifarra, chipi chipi rice, enyucado, plus local fruits, desserts and nibble food.
You can try this link here for a food tour. Allow about 5 hours, they do hotel pick ups.
Want to try some craft beer? check out this guy.
We will visit three factories of artisanal beer from Barranquilla to learn about the process of making each of their beers, while we try and learn about the history that inspired the creation of ‘Cayena’, ‘Fulana’, ‘Centurión de la noche’, ‘Magdalena’ or ‘the Mermaids’ of Hafen.
In addition to knowing what the patient process of making a craft beer and the ‘secrets’ or ingredients that give the touch of Barranquilla, we will learn about the traditional elements that are associated with the beer culture, we will play a game of domino-popular game of table known on the Caribbean coast – we will visit some of the most emblematic places of the city such as, Barrio Abajo or la via 40, and we will finish at the Great Malecón del Río, to taste the beer that bears his name: Magdalena.
But… what does the name of the Barranquilla airport have to do with this craft beer tour? One clue: the ‘Golden Gate of Colombia’, also pioneered one of the most important beers in the country, which 100 years ago, also began as a craft brewery. Come and discover more on this 100% ‘Made in Barranquilla’ tour.Craft Beer tour.
Gran Malecón Del Rio
5 kilometers of boardwalk beside the Magdalena River to wander along. Don’t forget a small backpack and some water, even though there is normally a tropical breeze down there.
Try out some exercise apparatus’s, relax beneath shaded areas, try a restaurant meal, get a refreshment from a kiosk.
This is a popular place for the locals on weekends and evenings. To get the vibe for this place, go in the late afternoon or early evening. Early morning is great also.
Families, young roller skaters, bike riders, walkers, kids on playground equipment, oldies sitting, watching small boats struggle against the current of the river.
The restaurants are popular, you can get in without a booking, but if you don’t handle queues, get there early.
The Shark Fin
Situated down from the Malecon is the Shark fin, This monument to the local football team lights up at night, in an ever changing display of colors that will dazzle your senses.
Soccer is like a religion in Colombia, and you will see it being played in one form or another in every city, town or village. Barranquilla is no exception.
Rio has the Christo the Redeemer, Barranquilla has the Shark fin. 😁
Not far away, There is also the 48 meter high Window to the world, built for the Central American games in 2018.
Drinking Beer and Salsa Dancing.
The top rated Karaoke bar is Cantagallo. Other well rated bars include, the Frogg club and Agua Helada.
La Troja, which is a sort of an institution in this town, is the spot for a true local experience of Salsa dancing, with crowds that regularly spill out onto the sidewalks.
There are a stack of others. Check with your hotel, or ask in the book of faces groups, if you want to check which ones are the better rated clubs, and which are not.
Like clubs everywhere, there is likely to be a new one that is flavor of the month.
One thing to be very aware of in any night club, is drink spiking.
It takes almost no time for someone to drug your drink with Scopolamine (aka Devils Breath). You can see more tips at this link.
This is not the biggest zoo in the world, far from it. With only about 140 species and about 500 animals.
It is a great way to spend a couple of hours.
Of course, if you have kids with you, there will be some cries or shrieks of delight, as there are some weird looking critters there.
You can get a meal at the zoo, it is close to town, and the admission price is only around $7-$8 US. (2021).
What to Do after a visit to the Zoo
I think it would be safe to say you would like to be somewhere with air-conditioning… Maybe by now you will have probably passed some shopping centers, that you would like to visit.
Most of them will have restaurants on the top floors.
It is not unusual to find a casino, hotel and a Church in the same complex.
Such as in the Blue Gardens Mall (Cra 53 # 100 – 50), where the Hilton Inn, a Casino and a Church can be found
Or, The Gran Boulevard Mall which has a 5 star hotel inside (Hotel Sonesta).
Museums and Parks
Colombians love their parks and Barranquilla is no exception, with numerous parks dotted around the city. Funnily enough Museums never seem to be far from parks.
There are numerous museums dotted around Barranquilla which you can visit to learn a little about Caribbean geography, culture & history.
The most visited is the Museo del Caribe Gabriel García Márquez,
Here you can explore the culture, history and geography of the area, artifacts, photos, interactive displays, and much more. Why take a step back in time for a couple of hours.
But don’t stop there, there are lots of others in Barranquilla.
After today the conversation at dinner to-night, will be spoken about with smiles.
What is Special or Unique about Barranquilla?
You might say every city has museums, nightclubs, and for cities by the water, boardwalks.
But did you notice the people? Friendly, smiling, helpful. Like you have stepped back into a different era. That is what is special and unique about Barranquilla.
Did you go to a park, buy a coffee from a street vendor, and take in your surroundings?
Maybe there was an Iguana changing trees, and he stopped, and looked at you as he walked past, or you saw in the tree above you, some of the smallest birds on earth, or a brown squirrel collecting nuts, and taking them back to his home.
All the while there were others in the park, some doing exercises, others cuddling on a bench, each going about their own business without bothering the other. And music… I am sure there is some being played not far away.