I’ve needed to go to Cartegena since watching Romancing the Stone within the 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 grasp 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 proper spot to get your fill of historical past, tradition, and wonderful Latin meals. However there’s a lot extra to town than its wealthy previous.
Finest Issues to do in Cartagena
There’s a lot to see and do in Cartagena that it’s arduous to suit all the things into your itinerary. Whether or not you’re a historical past buff or searching for journey, listed here are a couple of of our favourite issues to do.
1. Discover the Walled Metropolis (Ciudad Amurallada)
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 number of the greatest locations to go to in Cartagena. Remember to cease on the Torre del Reloj, Cartagena’s regal clock tower that stands on the entrance to the previous walled metropolis. You can even e book a non-public tour of town for a extra intimate expertise beginning at $156.
2. Take a Strolling Tour
Among the finest methods to get acquainted with any metropolis is to e book a strolling tour. Free strolling excursions was once provided, nevertheless it appears to not be in operation anymore. Nevertheless, you possibly can e book this strolling tour of the historic metropolis to study its wealthy historical past as you’re 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 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
A collection of vaults changed into retailers promoting native crafts and souvenirs. This bustling market is full of vacationers. For those who courageous the crowds, you’ll get an opportunity to buy distinctive trinkets, souvenirs, and delightful mochila baggage made by the ladies of the Wayuu indigenous tribes.
Las Bovedas is a sight in itself. One of many final constructions 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 gives metropolis excursions and excursions round Cartegena with simple cancellation as much as 24 hours prematurely.
4. Road Artwork of Getsemani Neighborhood
The Getsemani neighborhood is one other cease you must add to your itinerary. It’s one of the crucial essential neighborhoods in Cartagena, plus a cultural and political hub. It’s full of wonderful road artwork.
Vivid 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 vigorous environment, this neighborhood is a cultural hotspot.
5. Go to 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 an emblem of the strategic significance of Cartagena within the colonial period.
Acknowledged as one of the crucial important 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 the most effective issues to do in Cartagena.
The fortress, initially constructed within the Seventeenth century, performed a vital function in defending town towards pirates and invaders throughout colonial instances.
Guests 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 experience or a reasonable stroll from town heart. Its outstanding place on San Lázaro Hill makes it a visual landmark. The highest of the fortress gives breathtaking views of Cartagena and the Caribbean Sea, best for pictures fans.
6. Calm down at Playa Blanca
Positioned on Barú Island, this beautiful white-sand seaside is a slice of paradise, identified for its crystal-clear turquoise waters and picturesque setting.
The seaside is right for swimming as a consequence of its calm, clear waters, and sunbathing on the tender, white sands is a calming technique to benefit from the tropical solar. You’ll be able to go snorkeling, and there are a number of beachside eating places and shacks to take pleasure in contemporary seafood and conventional Colombian coastal dishes.. Stress-free at Playa Blanca in Cartagena gives 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 technique to attain Playa Blanca is by boat. You’ll be able to catch a ship from the Muelle de los Pegasos close to the Cartagena Conference Heart. These boats often depart within the morning and return within the afternoon.
You can even attain Playa Blanca by highway. It’s a few 1.5-hour drive from Cartagena. You’ll be able to rent a taxi or be a part of a bunch tour that features transportation. These idyllic islands supply crystal-clear waters and are good 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 bunch 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 all the things that you just love in regards to the Caribbean – the clear blue skies, white sand seashores, and residing on “island time.” The islands boast a number of the most lovely seashores in Colombia.
The clear Caribbean waters and coral reefs make this a first-rate spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. : Many excursions supply the possibility to discover numerous islands within the archipelago, every with its distinctive attraction and options.
To succeed in the Rosario Islands, contemplate Sundown Crusing Cartagena, which gives day excursions. This extremely rated tour gives 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. Expertise the Nightlife in Cartagena
The Outdated Metropolis comes alive at night time with a wealthy, vibrant nightlife.
Ensure to go to the vigorous 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 road meals at cheap costs and road distributors promoting unique fruits and souvenirs. The sq. is alive with road 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 provides insights into the Spanish Inquisition’s historical past in Colombia. This iconic landmark, situated 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 folks.
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, lovely façade and well-preserved inside courtyards reflecting the Spanish colonial fashion. It was as soon as the seat of the Holy Workplace of the Inquisition in Cartagena, established to evaluate and condemn heresy and different spiritual offenses. One of many extra chilling displays contains 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 wide 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. Discover La Popa Monastery
Exploring La Popa Monastery is a mesmerizing journey to one among Cartagena’s most iconic landmarks, perched atop the very best hill within the metropolis it supplies beautiful views of town and homes spiritual artwork and artifacts. La Popa Monastery, formally referred to as the Convento de la Candelaria, gives not solely a religious retreat but additionally a number of the most breathtaking views of Cartagena.
La Popa Monastery is situated on La Popa Hill, the very best level in Cartagena. It’s simply accessible by taxi or a guided tour, which is really helpful because of the steepness and seclusion of the highway resulting in the monastery. The journey to the highest gives 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 spiritual heart. Inside, guests can see a wealthy assortment of spiritual artwork and artifacts, together with the well-known statue of the Virgin of the Candelaria, the patroness of Cartagena.
Maybe essentially the most beautiful function of La Popa Monastery is the panoramic view it gives of Cartagena, the Caribbean Sea, and the encompassing areas, making it a incredible spot for pictures.
11. Go Dancing
Find out about native dances like salsa and champeta. The folks of Cartagena love to bounce and the easiest way to immerse within the tradition is to exit and dance with the locals.
For those who aren’t assured about your dance abilities, don’t fear! Brush up in your salsa abilities at Loopy Salsa. Their skilled dancers will make it easier to grasp your strikes very quickly and introduce you to this well-liked Latin American dance. Cafe Havana is one other place that has salsa experiences the place you possibly can watch folks dance or take part.
There are excursions that cater to dancing your means across the previous city and its native bars. It is a nice tour that features consuming at native road 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 gives 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 within the coronary heart of Cartagena’s historic downtown and showcases the cultural historical past and craftsmanship of the Zenú indigenous folks.
The Gold Museum is conveniently situated 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, lodges, and eating places within the Outdated Metropolis. Plus, the Gold Museum gives free entry, making it an accessible attraction for all guests.
The Gold Museum presents a novel alternative to grasp the traditional civilizations that after thrived on this area.
13. Calm down within the Plaza de San Diego
Stress-free 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 good 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 road performers, musicians, and artists, including a vigorous cultural vibe to the environment.
Plaza de San Diego is situated 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 lodges, eating places, and retailers.
14. Set Sail on a Sundown Cruise
Benefit from the coastal great thing about Cartagena from the water. Among the finest 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. Guide it right here.
You’ll set sail by the Bay of Cartagena de Indias as you take heed to music and take within the skyline of spectacular Cartagena. You’ll see the Manga and Bocagrande neighborhood, Castillo Grande, and Manzanillo Island, and then you definately’ll proceed alongside to the El Laguito neighborhood and Tierrabomba Island.
15. Stroll Alongside the Metropolis Partitions at Sundown
For those who aren’t up for hitting the water, take a stroll alongside town partitions for a view of the historic centre from above. These partitions supply a romantic and picturesque view of town. Make your technique 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 study espresso crops and the right way to course of espresso. You’ll expertise a sensory train as you take pleasure in freshly brewed espresso.
This is without doubt one of the most awarded and well-known specialty coffees grown in Buenavista, Columbia. If you style this, it simply is likely to be the most effective espresso you’ve ever tasted. After your class, go to the cafe beneath the classroom to buy high quality beans to carry dwelling.
Libertario Espresso Roasters is one other cafe the place you possibly can take pleasure in scrumptious Colombian espresso. You actually can’t go improper 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 number 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
For those who love birds, then go to the Nationwide Aviary of Colombia Tour. It homes 135 species of untamed birds and lets guests be taught in regards to the totally different species by 21 interactive stations. Count on to see flamingos, parrots, emus, Harpy Eagles, and plenty of extra.
The place to Keep in Cartagena
Historic residences and restored convents now home a number of the luxurious boutique lodges in Cartagena.
Sleeping in quarters in-built Spanish colonial instances, you’ll find that many of the rooms are centered round open-air courtyards however have been up to date to deal with fashionable facilities. Listed here are a couple 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 beautiful suites are situated in three homes to present it the texture of dwelling.
The architectural particulars are second to none, from the wooden beam ceilings to the spiral staircases in a number of the two-story suites. Suites are furnished with all of the creature comforts, robes, and Ortigia Italian facilities.
The lodge additionally features a stress-free spa and a 300-year-old aqueduct within the heart of the lodge with a picturesque L-shaped pool. Tremendous eating is obtainable 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.
Positioned within the historic Cartagena de Indias by the Santa Catalina Cathedral and is housed in one of many metropolis’s oldest buildings, courting again to the sixteenth Century.
The rooms are superbly appointed with luxurious bedding and a light-weight and ethereal really feel, providing you with the proper backdrop for a night of relaxation. A scrumptious breakfast is served by pleasant workers on the second ground, and the contemporary, native fruit on the buffet is mouthwatering.
Get pleasure from Native Delicacies
Strive conventional dishes like arepas, ceviche, and contemporary seafood.
The town’s culinary scene is flourishing in Cartagena. Regionally sourced meals are ample 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’ll find 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 chunk from a road vendor, you received’t be disenchanted. In Cartagena, there is no such thing as a scarcity of fantastic eating places and cafes to expertise.
Concina de Pepina – Relying in your tastes, you possibly can attempt 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 remember to get there early, as they don’t take reservations.
Carmen Restaurant – One in all my favourite lunch spots is Carmen Restaurant.
I beloved the picture-perfect fashionable décor and the plush tree-filled patio. Meals is artwork at this family-run restaurant, serving up native flavors with a contemporary twist. Strive the artfully offered salads and ceviche dishes, and mains with contemporary fish.
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. Count on to take pleasure in Michelin-star service and meals with out the hefty price ticket delivered to you by the well-known Rausch brothers.
Guide 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 full of pirates.
Based in 1533 by Spanish commander Pedro de Heredia, town grew affluent shortly, 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 this time and await being explored.
Cartagena is situated in Colombia, South America. The principle language is Spanish. The foreign money is the Colombian Peso: 1 USD = 3019 Colombian Pesos. See Forex Converter for up-to-date charges. Copa Airways gives each day flights to Cartagena by Panama Metropolis (airline hub). Flying with Copa Airways permits you a ‘24-hour layover in Panama’ at no additional price. It’s an awesome 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 most effective time to go to Cartagena: The climate is heat in the course of the day and breezy at night time, and the humidity is low. However it’s the excessive season so there are extra vacationers. For those who like nightlife, the bars shall 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 September is the moist season and the most well liked months. Temperatures vary all year long from 24 – 32 levels Celcius. (75-91 Fahrenheit)
And now that extra about all of the issues to do in Cartegena, I’ll depart you with a narrative.
Probably the most well-known writers from Colombia was Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Whereas working as a journalist for El Common, 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 Resort, 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 Different Demons.
Picture courtesy: Joe Ross from Lansing, Michigan through Wikimedia Commons