The port city of Barranquilla, known as the Golden Gate of Colombia, is famous for its fiesta. It's home to one of the country's most important events: the Carnaval de Barranquilla, which is full of colour, music, drums and costumes. Around this cosmopolitan city, you'll also find heritage architecture, quirky museums and lots of places to sit and order a shot of Old Parr (the Scottish whisky is the region's favourite tipple).
Bright, plant-filled Barranquilla hostels usually have a sociable common area and give you free Wi-Fi. You can pick a chilled hostel in the historic part of town with an outdoor terrace, hammocks and vibrant murals on the wall. Or try a homely option that welcomes pets and provides single-sex bathrooms and a hot tub. There's also a comfy Barranquilla hostel with private rooms and a fully equipped kitchen.
Barranquilla's elegant El Prado neighbourhood is home to chic 1920s mansions and wide avenues dotted with oaks and golden willows. You'll also find the Museo Romántico there, set in a vintage house. Around the city centre, there are churches, parks and plazas that give a sense of peace, as well as high-end boutiques that add glamour. As night falls, you can wander along the low-key Magdalena River boardwalk or relax on a bench under twinkling lights.
Barranquilla's carnival is reputedly the second largest in the world. Dating back to the 19th century, it brings the whole city to a standstill for four days as locals and visitors join together to celebrate Colombia's folklore. There are lots of restaurants and bars to explore around the city, including tiendas (little shops that set out chairs and tables for guests). If you want to head out onto the water, you'll find a sailing school at the port and several beach areas for surfing and swimming within easy reach.
It takes over an hour to get from Ernesto Cortissoz Airport to Barranquilla; buses are the cheapest way, but you can also go via taxi. If you're travelling to Barranquilla by bus, you'll arrive at Terminal Metropolitana de Transportes de Barranquilla, which is around 7km from the centre. From the bus station, you can travel to Bogotá in 18 hours. The Berlinas and Marsol bus terminals are more central and their shuttle buses tend to be faster.