Break out the sunshades!
Everything in Cartagena is vibrant – from the colorful buildings to the sweltering Caribbean sun. Every street hums with history and art, making it a cultural gem of South America. Historical palaces overlook a thriving modern city, and some of the best memories you’ll make will come from aimlessly wandering the streets, taking it all in.
Repeat After Me: CAR-TA-HEN-AH
This colonial city on the sea is the 5th-largest city in Colombia, and one of its most popular tourist destinations.
WHEN TO GO
Cartagena is beautiful yearround, but be careful in the summer, because it gets HOT! If you’re looking for excitement, plan a trip in November for Cartagena’s Independence celebration. This citywide party corresponds with the Miss Colombia pageant, and the streets are filled with colorful parades, lots of noise and mess!
From pirates to the Spanish Inquisition, the pages of Cartagena’s history are packed with adventure. Remnants of that long history still stand throughout the city, drawing tourists from around the world. The best place to see the sights is within The Walled City, aka Old Town Cartagena. This part of the city is surrounded by thick walls that once held back invaders (yes, pirates) and is where the most beautiful architecture can be found.
Get Some More, Getsemani
Street art, cool cafes, and great people watching – must be Getsemani. This neighborhood is an up and coming artistic haven. The streets are lined with bright graffiti and murals, and the Cartagena people are always out and about. Find a seat at one of the many cafes and experience the best people watching in the city.
Island in the Sun
Cartagena sits atop the gorgeous Caribbean sea, but if you’re looking for a beach where you can improve that tan, you’re better off heading out of town to Rosario Islands, a small archipelago made up of 27 tiny islands. From bustling Playa Blanca on Isla Barú to the tiny and secluded Isla Coralina you’ll be sure to find your tropical dream wherever you go.
“One of the Many Masks of Love”
If you’re a book sniffer (it’s not weird), you’ll love Cartagena. The city has a long literary history. Famed Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez arrived in Cartagena penniless and was inspired by its magical streets. You can take an audio tour, retracing Marquez’s steps and experiencing the city that inspired much of his work.
WHAT TO EAT
Cafe San Alberto Colombia is famous for its coffee, and Cafe San Alberto has the best. Their coffee comes from their own plantation, and the selection is expansive. Ask your barista for more details on how the coffee is made, and enjoy the best caffeinated experience in Colombia!
Fresh Fruit Cartagena is HOT, so while you’re wandering, make sure to stop and grab some fresh fruit from the palenqueras, fruit vendors who carry baskets of tropical fruit on their heads.
Cafe del Mar or DIY
The best time of day in Cartagena is sunset. The colors over the water can’t be missed, so head over to Cafe del Mar and grab a drink to watch the show. This restaurant can get a little crowded, and the drinks are on the pricey side, so if you’re looking for a similar, cheaper option, buy a cerveza from a street vendor and park it along the wall outside the restaurant for that same great view.
Casa de Indias
This colonial house dates back to the 16th century, and once belonged to Jimeno de Orozco, the governor of Cartagena de Indias in 1693. Today, it is a luxury retreat, with 10 bedrooms, a large dining room, and a rooftop patio where you can observe the city.