Discovering the heart of Cartagena

The Port city of Cartagena on Colombia’s Caribbean Coast is a very popular tourist destination.

Cartagena, Colombia is famous for its rich history, beautiful beaches, colonial architecture, and vibrant culture. Here are some of the things you can enjoy while visiting:

  • The Walled city: Cartagena’s Old Town, also known as the Walled City, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for its well-preserved colonial architecture, narrow streets, and colorful buildings.

  • Beautiful Beaches: Cartagena is home to several beautiful beaches, including Bocagrande, Playa Blanca, and Isla Barú, which attract tourists from all over the world.

  • Culture: Cartagena is known for its vibrant culture, including music, dance, and festivals. The city is home to the famous Carnival of Barranquilla, one of the largest carnival celebrations in the world.

  • Food: Cartagena has a rich culinary scene, with a mix of traditional Colombian dishes, as well as international cuisine. The city is famous for its seafood, ceviche, and street food.

Suggested place to eat

The Townhouse Boutique Hotel

Address: Cra. 7 ##36-88, Cartagena, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia

They offer beautiful accommodation in an unusual fun style.  Sunset cocktails and tapas on the rooftop are open to all, not only hotel guests.

Visit Cartagena the vibrant city of Colombia reasons why you must go what to see and do where to stay

Is Cartagena worth a visit?

The city is a mix of the very old and the super new.  Here you will find beautiful architecture and if you love the look of pretty towns with colorfully painted houses, you will love exploring Cartagena.  The city has a lot to offer and tourists can really enjoy visiting all the beautiful places that are super Instagram-friendly photo spots.  In fact, Cartagena is a photographers’ dream.

Is Cartagena safe?

You might ask:  Is it safe to walk around in Cartagena?

In general, the city is considered safe to visit, and like everywhere else in the world you just have to be vigilant.  However here are a few things you should watch out for:

Travel Tip(s)
  • There are many “Street Rap Artists” that will just start walking with you and start to rap in their attempt to “make you smile” or “make your day”.  Know that if you make any eye contact with them, they will not leave unless you pay them “for their services”.  So if you don’t want to pay, don’t make eye contact.
  • The same goes for the many “wandering street vendors”.  If you sit at an open-air restaurant with tables next to the street, you will have them trying to sell something to you.  Again if you don’t want to buy anything, avoid eye contact.  Our suggestion is to rather enjoy your meal in peace at a restaurant with a rooftop terrace or balcony.  The reason being, the vendors simply do not take no for an answer.  So although they are trying to make money in an honest way, it is just for your own peace and relaxation.
  • Oh, and if anyone approaches you with a “free gift” offering, remember nothing is for free and you know that.  So be careful.

The city’s unique blend of history, music, food, and beachfront relaxation make it an unforgettable destination for any tourist.

Something unusual to do

One unusual thing to do in Cartagena, Colombia is to visit the “Palace of Inquisition” or “Palacio de la Inquisición” museum. This museum is located in the historic walled city and offers a unique insight into the history of the Spanish Inquisition in Cartagena. You can see various instruments of torture, learn about the witch trials, and explore the cells where prisoners were held. While it may not be for everyone, it offers a fascinating glimpse into a dark period of history and is certainly an unusual thing to do in Cartagena.

Another Travel Tip - what you need to know before you go

Something that you might like is the ‘Palenqueras”:  women dressed in brightly colored traditional dresses,  walking around with fruit bowls on their heads. 

Now some tourists might find them annoying as they can be very persistent.  But please keep in mind that they are just trying to make a living.  Know that when you ask them to pose for photos, you have to pay them. (It is their way to ‘survive’.)

In my opinion, they just make any photo look 10 times better.  So if you’re looking for a stunning photo opportunity, they are awesome:  As long as you ask them upfront how much it will cost you. 

You will find some tables where they also sell fresh fruit salad on the street corners, which is very refreshing when you’ve been sightseeing all day.  

Things to do

There is a lot of sightseeing to be done in and around Cartagena and a 3 to 5-day stay, would be more than enough to see the best.  In my opinion, you have to add the following to your itinerary:

The Clock Tower Monument

(The Puerta del Reloj, Torre del Reloj or Boca del Puente) is the main entrance to the historic center.  This is a beautiful photo spot at the beginning of your walking adventure exploring the Old town.  At night you might also find musical performers in front of the Clock Tower.

The Walled City

With its pretty shops and colorful buildings, it is a beautiful place to explore.

  • Address: Cl. 34 #481 #4- a, Cartagena, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia

Café del Mar

Another Instagram photo hotspot (and very popular with everyone) is the sunset views from Café del Mar.  As it is situated on the “city wall” right next to the ocean, it offers spectacular views of the city skyscrapers and sea.  You simply cannot get a better sunset venue in Cartagena.  Enjoy traditional live entertainment and good food with spectacular views.

  • Address:  Baluarte de Santo Domingo, Cartagena, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia

Books and Coffee

We found the cutest little book/coffee shop that you might easily walk past without stopping:  Abaco Books and Coffee.  This quaint little book/coffee shop (Abacus books and coffee) is stacked with books from floor to ceiling.  Anyone who loves the combination of books and coffee:  This is the perfect stop for you.  

The Castillo San Felipe de Barajas

This fortress you cannot miss. The castle is located on the Hill of San Lázaro towering over the city.

  • Address:  Barrio Pie del Cerro, Avenida Antonio de Arévalo. Carrera 17., Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia

The Cathedral of Cartagena

Also known as the Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, is located in the historic center.

  • AddressCalle de los Santos de Piedra, Cra. 4, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia

More THINGS TO DO at your favorite destination

Travel tip: 

There are horse drawn carriages that offer tours of the city, but most of them do not speak English.  So going with a trusted tour operator, is actually a much better option.

Where to stay

Getting Around

They do have Uber in Cartagena, should you urgently need transport.  You can book car hire here on our page online and you’ll have to book your flights to and from the Rafael Núñez International Airport (CTG)

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