Cartagena is a city packed with rich culture, colorful buildings, amazing food, and incredible energy. My husband and I had the chance to visit Cartagena in December 2018, and it did not disappoint! This article outlines where to stay, the experiences to include in your Cartagena Itinerary, and what to wear in Cartagena.
Cartagena Itinerary: Where to Stay in Cartagena
I recommend staying in the Old Walled City of Cartagena. While there are a few brand name hotel options, I would recommend staying in a local “casa”, which is essentially a local boutique hotel. I have included a few recommendations for accommodations below.
Cartagena Itinerary: Experiences Not to Miss
Walk Along the Walls of the Old Walled City
Walking along the walls of the Old Walled City is an incredible way to get your footing and to admire the views. From the wall, you can catch a bird’s eye view of the old town, as well as the surrounding city. As you walk around the wall, make your way to Las Bovedas, a former dungeon from the 18th century, which now houses souvenirs.
get lost in the Old Walled City
The streets of the old walled city are packed with charming doorways, colorful florals, and unique buildings. It is a fabulous place to get a little lost while admiring the many sites to see. Admire the beautiful Sanctuario de San Pedro Clavar, try some exotic fruit from the street carts, head to the market, or simply walk aimlessly admiring this colorful town.
If you are looking for a little direction, I would recommend heading towards the clock tower monument, a structure from the 1800s which now acts as a gateway to the city. Just across from the clock tower, you will find some shops selling food, soaps, and other local items if you are interested in taking a look. Another spot not to miss on your walk is Getsemani, a trendy and colorful neighborhood. If you are anything like me, walking through the area will take you some time, as you will likely want to snap a photo of every colorful building, vibrant flower, and intricate doorway.
Sample the Local Cuisine + Coffee
There are endless possibilities to sample local cuisine in Cartagena, and it is very well known for delicious seafood dishes. I have included some highly recommend restaurants below. One thing I can’t stress enough is not to skip dessert – I had a couple of the best desserts of my life during my time in Cartagena!
It would be a sin to visit Colombia and not sample the local coffee! I most certainly enjoyed at least 2 (or 3) local cups per day during my time in Cartagena. One spot that I absolutely loved and would recommend is Abaco Libros y Cafe. I visited this charming coffee shop + bookstore more than once during my long weekend in Cartagena.
Castillo de San Felipe Barajas
Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas is an iconic fortress in Cartagena, and might be worth a stop if you are interested in history. From my research, the best way to get to the fortress is by cab.
Hit the Beach
If you want to stay local, you can grab a cab over to Bocagrande Beach for a day in the sun! If you are willing to splurge on an excursion, I would highly recommend heading to the Rosario Islands for the day. The islands are an archipelago located off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia. While this will take up nearly a full day, it is well worth it to visit these gorgeous and highly regarded islands! You can find a number of excursions through reputable sites like TripAdvisor and Viator – be sure to read reviews and fine print.
Experience the Nightlife
You can start your night by enjoying sunset drinks at Cafe del Mar, a restaurant situated along the walls of the old city with views of the sea. After this, consider hitting up one of the salsa bars for a bit of dancing! Cafe Havana, Donde Fidel, and Quiebracanto are bars I have heard will show you a great time.
Cartagena Style Guide: What to Wear in Cartagena
Cartagena is a very hot city year round. Light dresses, shorts, and flowy tops should be staples in your packing list. I have included a variety of dresses, tops, and accessories I would recommend for your visit.
Swim & Beach Wear
I hope that this Cartagena Itinerary & Style Guide has helped narrow down what to do and pack for a trip to Cartagena! It is really such a charming city, and I loved every minute of my time there. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below or reach out via my contact form. Happy travels xx