18 Finest Issues to Do in Cartagena – The Jewel of Colombia


I’ve wished to go to Cartegena since watching Romancing the Stone within the Nineteen Eighties. This stunning metropolis has captivated the hearts of vacationers, filmmakers, artists, and authors. As I explored the highest issues to do in Cartagena, it was straightforward to know why town has been a magnetic backdrop for quite a few films 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 superb Latin meals. However there may be a lot extra to town than its wealthy previous.

Finest Issues to do in Cartagena

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There’s a lot to see and do in Cartagena that it’s exhausting to suit the whole lot into your itinerary. Whether or not you’re a historical past buff or searching for journey, listed here are a number 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. Discover the Walled Metropolis (Ciudad Amurallada)

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Clock tower of the previous metropolis

Cartagena’s walled metropolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Website stuffed with colonial structure, vibrant streets, and historic landmarks and colonial buildings.

The previous metropolis has a few of the greatest locations to go to in Cartagena. Be sure you cease on the Torre del Reloj, Cartagena’s regal clock tower that stands on the entrance to the previous walled metropolis. It’s also possible to e-book a non-public tour of town for a extra intimate expertise beginning at $156.

2. Take a Strolling Tour

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Top-of-the-line methods to get acquainted with any metropolis is to e-book a strolling tour. Free strolling excursions was provided, but it surely appears to not be in operation anymore. Nonetheless, you possibly can e-book this strolling tour of the historic metropolis to find out about its wealthy historical past as you are taking within the previous city’s structure and see Cartagena’s elite, who nonetheless personal most of the grand colonial houses within the previous metropolis.

If you stroll by way of the cobblestone streets, you get a glimpse into what town was like centuries in the past. The Cartagena Full Day Metropolis Tour takes you thru the highlights of 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. Store at Las Bóvedas

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A sequence of vaults was retailers promoting native crafts and souvenirs. This bustling market is stuffed with vacationers. If you happen to courageous the crowds, you’re going to get an opportunity to buy distinctive trinkets, souvenirs, and delightful mochila luggage made by the ladies of the Wayuu indigenous tribes.

Las Bovedas is a sight in itself. One of many final buildings constructed inside 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 Information presents metropolis excursions and excursions round Cartegena with straightforward cancellation as much as 24 hours prematurely.

4. Road Artwork of Getsemani Neighborhood

best things to do in cartagena colombia Getsemani Neighborhood

The Getsemani neighborhood is one other cease it is best to add to your itinerary. It’s one of the crucial vital neighborhoods in Cartagena, plus a cultural and political hub. It’s stuffed with superb avenue artwork.

Shiny colours and delightful murals adorn most of the partitions there and hold you captivated as you wander round. Identified for its colourful streets, graffiti artwork, and energetic environment, this neighborhood is a cultural hotspot.

5. Go to Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas

best things to do in cartagena colombia Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas

Visiting Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas is not only a visit to the historic fortress of this fortified metropolis on the Caribbean Coast. It’s an immersive journey into the center of Cartagena’s colonial historical past. This imposing construction, proudly standing atop the San Lázaro hill, is a logo of the strategic significance of Cartagena within the colonial period.

Acknowledged as one of the crucial vital fortifications constructed by the Spanish within the Americas, Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas is an architectural marvel and has unbelievable panoramic metropolis views. The Castillo is well one of many prime points of interest and top-of-the-line issues to do in Cartagena.

The fortress, initially constructed within the Seventeenth century, performed a vital function in defending town in opposition to pirates and invaders throughout colonial occasions.

Guests can take guided excursions to study concerning the fortress’s historical past, strategic significance, and development particulars.

Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas is positioned simply exterior the walled metropolis and is well accessible by a brief taxi trip or a reasonable stroll from town heart. Its distinguished place on San Lázaro Hill makes it a visual landmark. The highest of the fortress presents breathtaking views of Cartagena and the Caribbean Sea, preferrred for pictures fanatics.

6. Calm down at Playa Blanca

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Situated on Barú Island, this gorgeous white-sand seashore is a slice of paradise, identified for its crystal-clear turquoise waters and picturesque setting.

The seashore is good for swimming as a consequence of its calm, clear waters, and sunbathing on the tender, white sands is a calming method to benefit from the tropical solar. You possibly 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.. Enjoyable 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 a part of a tour or by yourself. The preferred method to attain Playa Blanca is by boat. You possibly can catch a ship from the Muelle de los Pegasos close to the Cartagena Conference Middle. These boats often depart within the morning and return within the afternoon.

It’s also possible to attain Playa Blanca by highway. It’s a couple of 1.5-hour drive from Cartagena. You possibly can rent a taxi or be part of a gaggle tour that features transportation. These idyllic islands provide crystal-clear waters and are excellent for snorkeling and diving.

7. Take a Rosario Islands Day Journey

Simply 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 a part of Colombia’s Nationwide Pure Park system.

There you possibly can benefit from the native seafood and the whole lot that you simply love concerning the Caribbean – the clear blue skies, white sand seashores, and dwelling on “island time.” The islands boast a few of the most stunning seashores in Colombia.

The clear Caribbean waters and coral reefs make this a main spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. : Many excursions provide the prospect to discover numerous islands within the archipelago, every with its distinctive appeal and options.

To succeed in the Rosario Islands, contemplate Sundown Crusing 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 chic escape into an archipelago famend for its gorgeous pure magnificence and vibrant marine life.

8. Expertise the Nightlife in Cartagena

best things to do in cartagena at night

The Outdated Metropolis comes alive at night time with a wealthy, vibrant nightlife.

Make sure that to go to the energetic bars, golf equipment, and cafes, particularly within the areas of Getsemaní, the Outdated City, and Plaza de la Trinidad. Plaza de la Trinidad has loads of meals stalls promoting avenue meals at cheap costs and avenue distributors promoting unique fruits and souvenirs. The sq. is alive with avenue performers, dancing, and music.

Within the night, Plaza de San Diego additionally transforms right into a vibrant nightlife spot.

9. Go to the Palace of the Inquisition

The Palace of the Inquisition is a museum that gives insights into the Spanish Inquisition’s historical past in Colombia. This iconic landmark, positioned in Plaza de Bolívar within the coronary heart of Cartagena’s walled metropolis will not be solely a window into Colombia’s colonial previous but additionally 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 facet of town’s wealthy historic tapestry.

The Palace of the Inquisition is located within the bustling Plaza de Bolívar, simply accessible from any a part of the Outdated Metropolis. 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, stunning façade and well-preserved inside courtyards reflecting the Spanish colonial type. It was as soon as the seat of the Holy Workplace of the Inquisition in Cartagena, established to evaluate and condemn heresy and different non secular offenses. One of many extra chilling reveals contains the devices of torture used throughout the Inquisition, offering a stark glimpse into this darkish interval of historical past.

The museum additionally showcases a wide range of historic artifacts, colonial artwork, and paperwork that paint a vivid image of life in Cartagena throughout the colonial period.

10. Discover La Popa Monastery

Exploring La Popa Monastery is a mesmerizing journey to one in all Cartagena’s most iconic landmarks, perched atop the best hill within the metropolis it supplies gorgeous views of town and homes non secular artwork and artifacts. La Popa Monastery, formally referred to as the Convento de la Candelaria, presents not solely a non secular retreat but additionally a few of the most breathtaking views of Cartagena.

La Popa Monastery is positioned on La Popa Hill, the best level in Cartagena. It’s simply accessible by taxi or a guided tour, which is beneficial because of the steepness and seclusion of the highway resulting in the monastery. The journey to the highest presents glimpses of town from totally different views.

Initially constructed within 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 non secular heart. 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.

Maybe probably the most gorgeous function of La Popa Monastery is the panoramic view it presents of Cartagena, the Caribbean Sea, and the encompassing areas, making it a implausible spot for pictures.

11. Go Dancing

Study native dances like salsa and champeta. The individuals of Cartagena love to bop and one of the best ways to immerse within the tradition is to exit and dance with the locals.

If you happen to aren’t assured about your dance abilities, don’t fear! Brush up in your salsa abilities at Loopy Salsa. Their skilled dancers will enable you grasp your strikes very quickly and introduce you to this fashionable Latin American dance. Cafe Havana is one other place that has salsa experiences the place you possibly can watch individuals dance or take part.

There are excursions that cater to dancing your method across the previous city and its native bars. This can be a nice tour that features consuming at native avenue meals spots, a mixology class, and an evening of dancing.

12. Go to 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 group of gold and pottery from the Zenú tradition. This museum is positioned within the coronary heart of Cartagena’s historic downtown and showcases the cultural historical past and craftsmanship of the Zenú indigenous individuals.

The Gold Museum is conveniently positioned within the Plaza de Bolivar, within the historic heart of Cartagena. This central location makes it simply accessible on foot from many different vacationer points of interest, inns, and eating places within the Outdated Metropolis. Plus, the Gold Museum presents free entry, making it an accessible attraction for all guests.

The Gold Museum presents a singular alternative to know the traditional civilizations that when thrived on this area.

13. Calm down within the Plaza de San Diego

best things to do in cartagena Plaza de San Diego

Enjoyable within the Plaza de San Diego is a quintessential Cartagena expertise providing a vibrant slice of native life. This picturesque sq. is nestled within the coronary heart of Cartagena’s historic district. It’s a excellent spot to unwind and people-watch.

The plaza is surrounded by a wide 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 avenue performers, musicians, and artists, including a energetic cultural vibe to the environment.

Plaza de San Diego is positioned inside the walled metropolis, making it simply accessible on foot from most of the metropolis’s prime points of interest. Its central location within the San Diego neighborhood locations it shut to varied inns, eating places, and retailers.

14. Set Sail on a Sundown Cruise

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Benefit from the coastal great thing about Cartagena from the water. Top-of-the-line 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. E book it right here.

You’ll set sail by way of the Bay of Cartagena de Indias as you hearken to music and take within 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 Alongside the Metropolis Partitions at Sundown

If you happen to aren’t up for hitting the water, take a stroll alongside town partitions for a view of the historic centre from above. These partitions provide a romantic and picturesque view of town. Make your method to Cafe del Mar for sundown cocktails.

The partitions have been constructed to guard from pirates as Cartagena de Indias was a strategic location and port for export to Spain.

16. Espresso tasting at San Alberto

Do a espresso tasting at Cafe San Alberto, led by third technology espresso grower Gustavo Villota. Within the class, you’ll find out about espresso crops and methods to course of espresso. You’ll expertise a sensory train as you take pleasure in freshly brewed espresso.

This is likely one of the most awarded and well-known specialty coffees grown in Buenavista, Columbia. If you style this, it simply is perhaps the very best espresso you’ve ever tasted. After your class, go to the cafe beneath the classroom to buy high quality beans to carry residence.

Libertario Espresso Roasters is one other cafe the place you possibly can take pleasure in scrumptious Colombian espresso. You actually can’t go mistaken 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 a few of the best aged rum within the Caribbean completely paired with an array of scrumptious Colombian chocolate, all curated by the somellier.

Whereas there, absorb views of this historic lodge, which was previously a convent.

18. Go to the Nationwide Aviary

If you happen to love birds, then go to the Nationwide Aviary of Colombia Tour. It homes 135 species of untamed birds and lets guests study concerning the totally different species by way of 21 interactive stations. Anticipate to see flamingos, parrots, emus, Harpy Eagles, and lots of extra.

The place to Keep in Cartagena

Historic residences and restored convents now home a few of the luxurious boutique inns in Cartagena.

Sleeping in quarters inbuilt Spanish colonial occasions, you will see that a lot of the rooms are centered round open-air courtyards however have been up to date to accommodate fashionable facilities. Listed here are a number of of our favourite locations to remain.

Casa San Augustin – The Casa San Augustin is a boutique lodge that exudes luxurious from its colonial-era white-washed buildings to its prime location within the coronary heart of Cartagena.

It’s Seventeenth-century grandeur at its best. The 20 rooms and 11 attractive suites are positioned in three homes to offer it the texture of residence.

The architectural particulars are second to none, from the wooden beam ceilings to the spiral staircases in a few of the two-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-year-old aqueduct within the heart of the lodge with a picturesque L-shaped pool. Wonderful eating is out there within the Alma restaurant, which additionally serves because the breakfast room within the morning.

Casa Cochera del Gobernador – Staying on the Casa Cochera del Gobernador for 2 nights and we might have simply stayed extra.

Situated within the historic Cartagena de Indias by the Santa Catalina Cathedral and is housed in one of many metropolis’s oldest buildings, relationship again to the sixteenth Century.

The rooms are fantastically appointed with luxurious bedding and a light-weight and ethereal really feel, providing you with the right backdrop for a night of relaxation. A scrumptious breakfast is served by pleasant workers on the second flooring, and the contemporary, native fruit on the buffet is mouthwatering.

Take pleasure in Native Delicacies

Strive conventional dishes like arepas, ceviche, and contemporary seafood.

The town’s culinary scene is prospering in Cartagena. Domestically sourced meals are plentiful right here.

From the bounty of the ocean to the contemporary, domestically grown fruits and veggies, most of the native eating places use this wealthy useful resource to create conventional dishes with an island aptitude. Right here, you will see conventional dishes like ceviche, or Arroz con coco or Pargo Frito.

Whether or not you might be eating at a five-star restaurant or grabbing a fast chew from a avenue vendor, you received’t be dissatisfied. In Cartagena, there is no such thing as a scarcity of fantastic eating places and cafes to expertise.

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Concina de Pepina – Relying in your tastes, you possibly can strive the ceviche or Mote de Queso at Cocina de Pepina, for conventional Colombian fare and one of the crucial well-known eating places on the north coast.

Simply you’ll want to get there early, as they don’t take reservations.

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Carmen Restaurant – Certainly one of my favourite lunch spots is Carmen Restaurant.

I cherished the picture-perfect fashionable décor and the luxurious tree-filled patio. Meals is artwork at this family-run restaurant, serving up native flavors with a contemporary twist. Strive the artfully introduced salads and ceviche dishes, and mains with contemporary fish.

cartagena colombia ceviche

Marea by Rausch – One other 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 well-prepared beef filets served with wine jus. Anticipate to take pleasure in Michelin-star service and meals with out the hefty price ticket dropped at you by the well-known Rausch brothers.

  • E book forward for a desk on the sought-after waterfront terrace, the place you not solely get an incredible river view you possibly can benefit from the cupolas of San Pedro Church.

About Cartagena

Cartagena de Indias is the jewel in Columbia’s crown. This seaside metropolis is wealthy with maritime historical past and bustling with journey, appeal, and a previous stuffed with pirates.

Based in 1533 by Spanish commander Pedro de Heredia, town grew affluent rapidly, and with the newfound riches got here the specter of assaults from marauding sea pirates.

After a number of assaults, Cartagena started to guard itself by setting up walled compounds and castles. Many of those exist at the moment and await being explored.

  • Cartagena is positioned in Colombia, South America. The principle language is Spanish.
  • The forex is the Colombian Peso: 1 USD = 3019 Colombian Pesos. See Foreign money Converter for up-to-date charges.
  • Copa Airways presents day by day flights to Cartagena by way of Panama Metropolis (airline hub).
  • Flying with Copa Airways permits you a  ‘24-hour layover in Panama’ at no additional value.
  • It’s an important alternative to go to Casa Viejo and the Panama Canal.

When to go to Cartagena

The climate stays fixed in Cartagena. It’s sizzling year-round. The one issues that change are humidity and precipitation.

December to March is the very best time to go to Cartagena: The climate is heat throughout the day and breezy at night time, and the humidity is low. However it’s the excessive season so there are extra vacationers. If you happen to like nightlife, the bars might be hopping at the moment of 12 months.

There’s one other secondary excessive season the week earlier than Easter. It’s crowded throughout this time, and costs are dearer. June by way of September is the moist season and the most well liked months. Temperatures vary all year long from 24 – 32  levels Celcius. (75-91 Fahrenheit)

cartagena things to do

And now that you recognize extra about all of the issues to do in Cartegena, I’ll go away you with a narrative.

One of the vital well-known writers from Colombia was Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Whereas working as a journalist for El Common, the native newspaper, he realized concerning the discovery of a corpse of a younger woman with copper hair as they have been renovating the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Resort, a former convent and hospital. The crypt the place she was discovered can nonetheless be accessed by way of a glass gate at Santa Clara’s El Coro Bar.

This expertise impressed his bestseller, Of Love and Different Demons.

Picture courtesy: Joe Ross from Lansing, Michigan by way of Wikimedia Commons

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