I’ve wished to go to Cartegena since watching Romancing the Stone in the Nineteen Eighties. This lovely metropolis has captivated the hearts of vacationers, filmmakers, artists, and authors. As I explored the highest issues to do in Cartagena, it was simple to perceive why the town has been a magnetic backdrop for quite a few motion pictures and books.
On my journey there, I fell in love with the meals, the colourful colours, and the historical past. Cartagena is the right spot to get your fill of historical past, tradition, and wonderful Latin meals. But there’s a lot extra to the town than its wealthy previous.
Best Things to do in Cartagena
There is a lot to see and do in Cartagena that it’s laborious to match all the pieces into your itinerary. Whether you’re a historical past buff or in search of journey, listed here are a couple of of our favourite issues to do.
This put up was initially written by Planet Blue Adventures, it has been up to date with extra excursions and actions in Grenada for 2024.
1. Explore the Walled City (Ciudad Amurallada)
Cartagena’s walled metropolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site full of colonial structure, vibrant streets, and historic landmarks and colonial buildings.
The outdated metropolis has some of the perfect locations to go to in Cartagena. Be positive to cease on the Torre del Reloj, Cartagena’s regal clock tower that stands on the entrance to the outdated walled metropolis. You may also e-book a personal tour of the town for a extra intimate expertise beginning at $156.
2. Take a Walking Tour
One of the perfect methods to get acquainted with any metropolis is to e-book a strolling tour. Free strolling excursions used to be supplied, however it appears to not be in operation anymore. However, you possibly can e-book this strolling tour of the historic metropolis to find out about its wealthy historical past as you’re taking in the outdated city’s structure and see Cartagena’s elite, who nonetheless personal many of the grand colonial houses in the outdated metropolis.
When you stroll by the cobblestone streets, you get a glimpse into what the town was like centuries in the past. The Cartagena Full Day City Tour takes you thru the highlights of the town, together with Las Bóvedas, the streets of Getsemaní, the tunnel system of Castillo de San Felipe, and extra for simply $49 per particular person.
3. Shop at Las Bóvedas
A sequence of vaults become outlets promoting native crafts and souvenirs. This bustling market is crammed with vacationers. If you courageous the crowds, you’re going to get an opportunity to store for distinctive trinkets, souvenirs, and exquisite mochila luggage made by the ladies of the Wayuu indigenous tribes.
Las Bovedas is a sight in itself. One of the final buildings constructed throughout the walled metropolis, it has forty-seven arches and twenty-three domes. It additionally has a checkered previous serving as a munitions retailer after which a dungeon earlier than its present standing as a bustling market. Get Your Guide presents metropolis excursions and excursions round Cartegena with simple cancellation up to 24 hours in advance.
4. Street Art of Getsemani Neighborhood
The Getsemani neighborhood is one other cease it’s best to add to your itinerary. It’s one of a very powerful neighborhoods in Cartagena, plus a cultural and political hub. It’s crammed with wonderful road artwork.
Bright colours and exquisite murals adorn many of the partitions there and preserve you captivated as you wander round. Known for its colourful streets, graffiti artwork, and full of life environment, this neighborhood is a cultural hotspot.
5. Visit Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas
Visiting Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas isn’t just a visit to the historic fortress of this fortified metropolis on the Caribbean Coast. It’s an immersive journey into the guts of Cartagena’s colonial historical past. This imposing construction, proudly standing atop the San Lázaro hill, is an emblem of the strategic significance of Cartagena in the colonial period.
Recognized as one of essentially the most vital fortifications constructed by the Spanish in the Americas, Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas is an architectural marvel and has unimaginable panoramic metropolis views. The Castillo is well one of the highest sights and one of the perfect issues to do in Cartagena.
The fortress, initially constructed in the seventeenth century, performed a vital position in defending the town towards pirates and invaders throughout colonial instances.
Visitors can take guided excursions to be taught in regards to the fortress’s historical past, strategic significance, and development particulars.
Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas is situated simply exterior the walled metropolis and is well accessible by a brief taxi trip or a average stroll from the town middle. Its outstanding place on San Lázaro Hill makes it a visual landmark. The prime of the fortress presents breathtaking views of Cartagena and the Caribbean Sea, ultimate for pictures lovers.
6. Relax at Playa Blanca
Located on Barú Island, this beautiful white-sand seashore is a slice of paradise, recognized for its crystal-clear turquoise waters and picturesque setting.
The seashore is right for swimming due to its calm, clear waters, and sunbathing on the comfortable, white sands is a calming means to benefit from the tropical solar. You can go snorkeling, and there are a number of beachside eating places and shacks to take pleasure in contemporary seafood and conventional Colombian coastal dishes.. Relaxing at Playa Blanca in Cartagena presents an ideal mix of pure magnificence and serene ambiance.
Playa Blanca is a well-liked day journey from Cartagena, and you’ll go to it as half of a tour or by yourself. The hottest means to attain Playa Blanca is by boat. You can catch a ship from the Muelle de los Pegasos close to the Cartagena Convention Center. These boats often depart in the morning and return in the afternoon.
You may also attain Playa Blanca by street. It’s a couple of 1.5-hour drive from Cartagena. You can rent a taxi or be a part of a gaggle tour that features transportation. These idyllic islands provide crystal-clear waters and are good for snorkeling and diving.
7. Take a Rosario Islands Day Trip
Just 100 kilometers (62 miles) offshore, however seemingly a world away, is the Rosario Islands. The Rosario Islands are a gaggle of over 28 islands and are half of Colombia’s National Natural Park system.
There you possibly can benefit from the native seafood and all the pieces that you just love in regards to the Caribbean – the clear blue skies, white sand seashores, and residing on “island time.” The islands boast some of essentially the most lovely seashores in Colombia.
The clear Caribbean waters and coral reefs make this a main spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. : Many excursions provide the possibility to discover numerous islands in the archipelago, every with its distinctive attraction and options.
To attain the Rosario Islands, contemplate Sunset Sailing Cartagena, which presents day excursions. This extremely rated tour presents crusing journeys to the Rosario Islands beginning at $86.
Taking a day journey to the Rosario Islands is a spotlight for a lot of guests to Cartagena, providing a elegant escape into an archipelago famend for its beautiful pure magnificence and vibrant marine life.
8. Experience the Nightlife in Cartagena
The Old City comes alive at evening with a wealthy, vibrant nightlife.
Make positive to go to the full of life bars, golf equipment, and cafes, particularly in the areas of Getsemaní, the Old Town, and Plaza de la Trinidad. Plaza de la Trinidad has loads of meals stalls promoting road meals at affordable costs and road distributors promoting unique fruits and souvenirs. The sq. is alive with road performers, dancing, and music.
In the night, Plaza de San Diego additionally transforms right into a vibrant nightlife spot.
9. Visit the Palace of the Inquisition
The Palace of the Inquisition is a museum that provides insights into the Spanish Inquisition’s historical past in Colombia. This iconic landmark, situated in Plaza de Bolívar in the guts of Cartagena’s walled metropolis shouldn’t be solely a window into Colombia’s colonial previous but in addition a testomony to the resilience and transformation of its individuals.
Visiting the Palace of the Inquisition in Cartagena is a profound and enlightening expertise, delving into a big side of the town’s wealthy historic tapestry.
The Palace of the Inquisition is located in the bustling Plaza de Bolívar, simply accessible from any half of the Old City. Its central location makes it a handy cease for guests exploring the historic district.
The constructing itself is an architectural marvel, with its baroque structure, lovely façade and nicely-preserved inside courtyards reflecting the Spanish colonial fashion. It was as soon as the seat of the Holy Office of the Inquisition in Cartagena, established to choose and condemn heresy and different non secular offenses. One of the extra chilling displays consists of the devices of torture used in the course of the Inquisition, offering a stark glimpse into this darkish interval of historical past.
The museum additionally showcases a range of historic artifacts, colonial artwork, and paperwork that paint a vivid image of life in Cartagena in the course of the colonial period.
10. Explore La Popa Monastery
Exploring La Popa Monastery is a mesmerizing journey to one of Cartagena’s most iconic landmarks, perched atop the very best hill in the town it supplies beautiful views of the town and homes non secular artwork and artifacts. La Popa Monastery, formally often known as the Convento de la Candelaria, presents not solely a religious retreat but in addition some of essentially the most breathtaking views of Cartagena.
La Popa Monastery is situated on La Popa Hill, the very best level in Cartagena. It is well accessible by taxi or a guided tour, which is advisable due to the steepness and seclusion of the street main to the monastery. The journey to the highest presents glimpses of the town from totally different views.
Originally constructed in the seventeenth century, the monastery is steeped in historical past and has served numerous functions all through the centuries, together with a fortress and a spiritual middle. Inside, guests can see a wealthy assortment of non secular artwork and artifacts, together with the well-known statue of the Virgin of the Candelaria, the patroness of Cartagena.
Perhaps essentially the most beautiful function of La Popa Monastery is the panoramic view it presents of Cartagena, the Caribbean Sea, and the encircling areas, making it a improbable spot for pictures.
11. Go Dancing
Learn about native dances like salsa and champeta. The individuals of Cartagena love to dance and one of the simplest ways to immerse in the tradition is to exit and dance with the locals.
If you aren’t assured about your dance expertise, don’t fear! Brush up in your salsa expertise at Crazy Salsa. Their skilled dancers will show you how to grasp your strikes in no time and introduce you to this widespread Latin American dance. Cafe Havana is one other place that has salsa experiences the place you possibly can watch individuals dance or be a part of in.
There are excursions that cater to dancing your means across the outdated city and its native bars. This is a superb tour that features consuming at native road meals spots, a mixology class, and an evening of dancing.
12. Visit the Gold Museum (Museo del Oro Zenú)
Visiting the Gold Museum (Museo del Oro Zenú) in Cartagena presents a deep dive into Colombia’s pre-Columbian heritage. It shows a set of gold and pottery from the Zenú tradition. This museum is situated in the guts of Cartagena’s historic downtown and showcases the cultural historical past and craftsmanship of the Zenú indigenous individuals.
The Gold Museum is conveniently situated in the Plaza de Bolivar, in the historic middle of Cartagena. This central location makes it simply accessible on foot from many different vacationer sights, lodges, and eating places in the Old City. Plus, the Gold Museum presents free entry, making it an accessible attraction for all guests.
The Gold Museum presents a singular alternative to perceive the traditional civilizations that when thrived in this area.
13. Relax in the Plaza de San Diego
Relaxing in the Plaza de San Diego is a quintessential Cartagena expertise providing a vibrant slice of native life. This picturesque sq. is nestled in the guts of Cartagena’s historic district. It is an ideal spot to unwind and folks-watch.
The plaza is surrounded by a range of cafés and eating places, providing an opportunity to style native Colombian delicacies in addition to worldwide dishes. The sq. typically comes alive with road performers, musicians, and artists, including a full of life cultural vibe to the environment.
Plaza de San Diego is situated throughout the walled metropolis, making it simply accessible on foot from many of the town’s prime sights. Its central location in the San Diego neighborhood locations it shut to numerous lodges, eating places, and outlets.
14. Set Sail on a Sunset Cruise
Enjoy the coastal magnificence of Cartagena from the water. One of the perfect issues to do in any tropical vacation spot is to go crusing. This romantic sundown cruise leaves from the Muelle de la Bodeguita pier in entrance of the walled metropolis. Book it right here.
You’ll set sail by the Bay of Cartagena de Indias as you hear to music and take in the skyline of spectacular Cartagena. You’ll see the Manga and Bocagrande neighborhood, Castillo Grande, and Manzanillo Island, and you then’ll proceed alongside to the El Laguito neighborhood and Tierrabomba Island.
15. Stroll Along the City Walls at Sunset
If you aren’t up for hitting the water, take a stroll alongside the town partitions for a view of the historic centre from above. These partitions provide a romantic and picturesque view of the town. Make your means to Cafe del Mar for sundown cocktails.
The partitions have been constructed to shield from pirates as Cartagena de Indias was a strategic location and port for export to Spain.
16. Coffee tasting at San Alberto
Do a espresso tasting at Cafe San Alberto, led by third technology espresso grower Gustavo Villota. In the category, you’ll find out about espresso crops and the way to course of espresso. You’ll expertise a sensory train as you take pleasure in freshly brewed espresso.
This is one of essentially the most awarded and nicely-recognized specialty coffees grown in Buenavista, Columbia. When you style this, it simply may be the perfect espresso you’ve ever tasted. After your class, go to the cafe under the classroom to store for high quality beans to deliver residence.
Libertario Coffee Roasters is one other cafe the place you possibly can take pleasure in scrumptious Colombian espresso. You actually can’t go unsuitable with any cafe. Colombia has nice espresso.
17. Rum and Chocolate Tasting at Sofitel Legend
Tempt your senses with a rum and chocolate tasting on the Sofitel Legend. There you’ll expertise some of the best aged rum in the Caribbean completely paired with an array of scrumptious Colombian chocolate, all curated by the somellier.
While there, take in views of this historic lodge, which was previously a convent.
18. Visit the National Aviary
If you like birds, then go to the National Aviary of Colombia Tour. It homes 135 species of wild birds and lets guests be taught in regards to the totally different species by 21 interactive stations. Expect to see flamingos, parrots, emus, Harpy Eagles, and lots of extra.
Where to Stay in Cartagena
Historical residences and restored convents now home some of the luxurious boutique lodges in Cartagena.
Sleeping in quarters constructed in Spanish colonial instances, you will see that almost all of the rooms are centered round open-air courtyards however have been up to date to home fashionable facilities. Here are a couple of of our favourite locations to keep.
Casa San Augustin – The Casa San Augustin is a boutique lodge that exudes luxurious from its colonial-period white-washed buildings to its prime location in the guts of Cartagena.
It’s seventeenth-century grandeur at its best. The 20 rooms and 11 beautiful suites are situated in three homes to give it the texture of residence.
The architectural particulars are second to none, from the wooden beam ceilings to the spiral staircases in some of the 2-story suites. Suites are furnished with all of the creature comforts, robes, and Ortigia Italian facilities.
The lodge additionally features a enjoyable spa and a 300-yr-outdated aqueduct in the middle of the lodge with a picturesque L-formed pool. Fine eating is obtainable in the Alma restaurant, which additionally serves because the breakfast room in the morning.
Casa Cochera del Gobernador – Staying on the Casa Cochera del Gobernador for 2 nights and we may have simply stayed extra.
Located in the historic Cartagena de Indias by the Santa Catalina Cathedral and is housed in one of the town’s oldest buildings, relationship again to the sixteenth Century.
The rooms are superbly appointed with luxurious bedding and a light-weight and ethereal really feel, supplying you with the right backdrop for a night of relaxation. A scrumptious breakfast is served by pleasant employees on the second ground, and the contemporary, native fruit on the buffet is mouthwatering.
Enjoy Local Cuisine
Try conventional dishes like arepas, ceviche, and contemporary seafood.
The metropolis’s culinary scene is flourishing in Cartagena. Locally sourced meals are plentiful right here.
From the bounty of the ocean to the contemporary, regionally grown fruits and veggies, many of the native eating places use this wealthy useful resource to create conventional dishes with an island aptitude. Here, you will see conventional dishes like ceviche, or Arroz con coco or Pargo Frito.
Whether you’re eating at a 5-star restaurant or grabbing a fast chunk from a road vendor, you gained’t be disenchanted. In Cartagena, there isn’t a scarcity of wonderful eating places and cafes to expertise.
Concina de Pepina – Depending in your tastes, you possibly can attempt the ceviche or Mote de Queso at Cocina de Pepina, for conventional Colombian fare and one of essentially the most well-known eating places on the north coast.
Just ensure to get there early, as they don’t take reservations.
Carmen Restaurant – One of my favourite lunch spots is Carmen Restaurant.
I cherished the image-good fashionable décor and the luxurious tree-crammed patio. Food is artwork at this household-run restaurant, serving up native flavors with a contemporary twist. Try the artfully offered salads and ceviche dishes, and mains with contemporary fish.
Marea by Rausch – Another waterfront choice is the Upscale Marea by Rausch Restaurant. There, you possibly can take pleasure in scrumptious watermelon salads, Ceviche, and contemporary seafood dishes.
Carne lovers can take pleasure in nicely-ready beef filets served with wine jus. Expect to take pleasure in Michelin-star service and meals with out the hefty price ticket introduced to you by the well-known Rausch brothers.
Book forward for a desk on the sought-after waterfront terrace, the place you not solely get a tremendous river view you possibly can benefit from the cupolas of San Pedro Church.
Cartagena de Indias is the jewel in Columbia’s crown. This seaside metropolis is wealthy with maritime historical past and bustling with journey, attraction, and a previous crammed with pirates.
Founded in 1533 by Spanish commander Pedro de Heredia, the town grew affluent rapidly, and with the newfound riches got here the risk of assaults from marauding sea pirates.
After a number of assaults, Cartagena started to shield itself by setting up walled compounds and castles. Many of these exist at this time and await being explored.
Cartagena is situated in Colombia, South America. The essential language is Spanish. The foreign money is the Colombian Peso: 1 USD = 3019 Colombian Pesos. See Currency Converter for up-to-date charges. Copa Airlines presents each day flights to Cartagena by Panama City (airline hub). Flying with Copa Airlines permits you a ‘24-hour layover in Panama’ at no further price. It’s an excellent alternative to go to Casa Viejo and the Panama Canal.
When to go to Cartagena
The climate stays fixed in Cartagena. It is sizzling yr-spherical. The solely issues that change are humidity and precipitation.
December to March is the perfect time to go to Cartagena: The climate is heat in the course of the day and breezy at evening, and the humidity is low. But it’s the excessive season so there are extra vacationers. If you want nightlife, the bars will probably be hopping presently of yr.
There is one other secondary excessive season the week earlier than Easter. It is crowded throughout this time, and costs are costlier. June by September is the moist season and the most popular months. Temperatures vary all year long from 24 – 32 levels Celcius. (75-91 Fahrenheit)
And now that you understand extra about all of the issues to do in Cartegena, I’ll go away you with a narrative.
One of essentially the most well-known writers from Colombia was Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
While working as a journalist for El Universal, the native newspaper, he discovered in regards to the discovery of a corpse of a younger woman with copper hair as they have been renovating the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Hotel, a former convent and hospital. The crypt the place she was discovered can nonetheless be accessed by a glass gate at Santa Clara’s El Coro Bar.
This expertise impressed his bestseller, Of Love and Other Demons.
Photo courtesy: Joe Ross from Lansing, Michigan by way of Wikimedia Commons