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18 Best Things to Do in Cartagena - The Jewel of Colombia

18 Best Things to Do in Cartagena – The Jewel of Colombia


I’ve wished to go to Cartegena since watching Romancing the Stone in 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 simple to perceive why the town has been a magnetic backdrop for quite a few motion pictures 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 superb Latin meals. But there may be a lot extra to the town than its wealthy previous.

Best Things to do in Cartagena

There is a lot to see and do in Cartagena that it’s onerous to match all the pieces into your itinerary. Whether you’re a historical past buff or looking for journey, listed below are just a few of our favourite issues to do.

1. Explore the Walled City (Ciudad Amurallada)

best things to do in cartagena colombia clocktower old city
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Clock tower of the outdated metropolis

Cartagena’s walled metropolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site full of colonial structure, vibrant streets, and historic landmarks and colonial buildings.

The outdated metropolis has some of the perfect locations to go to in Cartagena. Be certain to cease on the Torre del Reloj, Cartagena’s regal clock tower that stands on the entrance to the outdated walled metropolis. You also can e book a personal tour of the town for a extra intimate expertise beginning at $156.

2. Take a Walking Tour

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One of the perfect methods to get acquainted with any metropolis is to e book a strolling tour. Free strolling excursions used to be provided, nevertheless it appears to not be in operation anymore. However, you’ll be able to e book this strolling tour of the historic metropolis to find out about its wealthy historical past as you are taking in the outdated city’s structure and see Cartagena’s elite, who nonetheless personal many of the grand colonial houses in the outdated metropolis.

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

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A collection of vaults changed into outlets promoting native crafts and souvenirs. This bustling market is full of vacationers. If you courageous the crowds, you’re going to get an opportunity to store for 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 the 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 Guide affords metropolis excursions and excursions round Cartegena with simple cancellation up to 24 hours in advance.

4. Street Art of Getsemani Neighborhood

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The Getsemani neighborhood is one other cease you must add to your itinerary. It’s one of a very powerful neighborhoods in Cartagena, plus a cultural and political hub. It’s full of superb road artwork.

Bright colours and delightful murals adorn many of the partitions there and preserve you captivated as you wander round. Known for its colourful streets, graffiti artwork, and full of life ambiance, this neighborhood is a cultural hotspot.

5. Visit Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas

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Visiting Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas isn’t just 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 in the colonial period.

Recognized as one of probably the most vital fortifications constructed by the Spanish in the Americas, Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas is an architectural marvel and has unbelievable panoramic metropolis views. The Castillo is definitely one of the highest sights and one of the perfect issues to do in Cartagena.

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

Visitors 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 definitely accessible by a brief taxi experience or a average stroll from the town middle. Its distinguished place on San Lázaro Hill makes it a visual landmark. The high of the fortress affords breathtaking views of Cartagena and the Caribbean Sea, superb for images lovers.

6. Relax at Playa Blanca

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

The seashore is good for swimming due to its calm, clear waters, and sunbathing on the smooth, white sands is a calming method to benefit from the tropical solar. You can go snorkeling, and there are a number of beachside eating places and shacks to take pleasure in recent seafood and conventional Colombian coastal dishes.. Relaxing at Playa Blanca in Cartagena affords 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 half of a tour or by yourself. The hottest method to attain Playa Blanca is by boat. You can catch a ship from the Muelle de los Pegasos close to the Cartagena Convention Center. These boats often depart in the morning and return in the afternoon.

You also can attain Playa Blanca by street. It’s a couple of 1.5-hour drive from Cartagena. You can rent a taxi or be a 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 Trip

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Just 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 half of Colombia’s National Natural Park system.

There you’ll be able to benefit from the native seafood and all the pieces that you just love concerning the Caribbean – the clear blue skies, white sand seashores, and residing on “island time.” The islands boast some of probably the most stunning seashores in Colombia.

The clear Caribbean waters and coral reefs make this a primary spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. : Many excursions provide the possibility to discover varied islands in the archipelago, every with its distinctive allure and options.

To attain the Rosario Islands, think about Sunset Sailing Cartagena, which affords day excursions. This extremely rated tour affords 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. Experience the Nightlife in Cartagena

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The Old City comes alive at evening with a wealthy, vibrant nightlife.

Make certain to go to the full of life bars, golf equipment, and cafes, particularly in the areas of Getsemaní, the Old Town, and Plaza de la Trinidad. Plaza de la Trinidad has lots 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.

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

9. Visit the Palace of the Inquisition

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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 in the center of Cartagena’s walled metropolis is just not solely a window into Colombia’s colonial previous but in addition 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 side of the town’s wealthy historic tapestry.

The Palace of the Inquisition is located in the bustling Plaza de Bolívar, simply accessible from any half of the Old City. 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 nicely-preserved inside courtyards reflecting the Spanish colonial model. It was as soon as the seat of the Holy Office of the Inquisition in Cartagena, established to choose and condemn heresy and different spiritual offenses. One of the extra chilling reveals contains the devices of torture used through the Inquisition, offering a stark glimpse into this darkish interval of historical past.

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

10. Explore La Popa Monastery

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Exploring La Popa Monastery is a mesmerizing journey to one of Cartagena’s most iconic landmarks, perched atop the best hill in the town it supplies gorgeous views of the town and homes spiritual artwork and artifacts. La Popa Monastery, formally often called the Convento de la Candelaria, affords not solely a religious retreat but in addition some of probably the most breathtaking views of Cartagena.

La Popa Monastery is positioned on La Popa Hill, the best level in Cartagena. It is definitely accessible by taxi or a guided tour, which is really useful due to the steepness and seclusion of the street main to the monastery. The journey to the highest affords glimpses of the town from completely different views.

Originally constructed in the seventeenth century, the monastery is steeped in historical past and has served varied functions all through the centuries, together with a fortress and a spiritual middle. 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.

Perhaps probably the most gorgeous function of La Popa Monastery is the panoramic view it affords of Cartagena, the Caribbean Sea, and the encompassing areas, making it a unbelievable spot for images.

11. Go Dancing

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Learn about native dances like salsa and champeta. The individuals of Cartagena love to dance and one of the simplest ways to immerse in the tradition is to exit and dance with the locals.

If you aren’t assured about your dance expertise, don’t fear! Brush up in your salsa expertise at Crazy Salsa. Their skilled dancers will allow you to grasp your strikes in no time and introduce you to this fashionable Latin American dance. Cafe Havana is one other place that has salsa experiences the place you’ll be able to watch individuals dance or be a part of in.

There are excursions that cater to dancing your method across the outdated city and its native bars. This is a superb tour that features consuming at native road meals spots, a mixology class, and an evening of dancing.

12. Visit the Gold Museum (Museo del Oro Zenú)

Visiting the Gold Museum (Museo del Oro Zenú) in Cartagena affords 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 in the center of Cartagena’s historic downtown and showcases the cultural historical past and craftsmanship of the Zenú indigenous individuals.

The Gold Museum is conveniently positioned in the Plaza de Bolivar, in the historic middle of Cartagena. This central location makes it simply accessible on foot from many different vacationer sights, lodges, and eating places in the Old City. Plus, the Gold Museum affords free entry, making it an accessible attraction for all guests.

The Gold Museum presents a novel alternative to perceive the traditional civilizations that when thrived in this area.

13. Relax in the Plaza de San Diego

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Relaxing in the Plaza de San Diego is a quintessential Cartagena expertise providing a vibrant slice of native life. This picturesque sq. is nestled in the center of Cartagena’s historic district. It is an ideal spot to unwind and other people-watch.

The plaza is surrounded by a spread 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 full of life cultural vibe to the ambiance.

Plaza de San Diego is positioned inside the walled metropolis, making it simply accessible on foot from many of the town’s high sights. Its central location in the San Diego neighborhood locations it shut to varied lodges, eating places, and outlets.

14. Set Sail on a Sunset Cruise

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Enjoy the coastal magnificence of Cartagena from the water. One of the perfect 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. Book it right here.

You’ll set sail by the Bay of Cartagena de Indias as you pay attention to music and take in 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 Along the City Walls at Sunset

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

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

16. Coffee tasting at San Alberto

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

This is one of probably the most awarded and nicely-recognized specialty coffees grown in Buenavista, Columbia. When you style this, it simply could be the perfect espresso you’ve ever tasted. After your class, go to the cafe under the classroom to store for high quality beans to convey residence.

Libertario Coffee Roasters is one other cafe the place you’ll be able to 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

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Tempt your senses with a rum and chocolate tasting on the Sofitel Legend. There you’ll expertise some of the best aged rum in the Caribbean completely paired with an array of scrumptious Colombian chocolate, all curated by the somellier.

While there, take in views of this historic lodge, which was previously a convent.

18. Visit the National Aviary

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If you like birds, then go to the National Aviary of Colombia Tour. It homes 135 species of wild birds and lets guests study concerning the completely different species by 21 interactive stations. Expect to see flamingos, parrots, emus, Harpy Eagles, and plenty of extra.

Where to Stay in Cartagena

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Historical residences and restored convents now home some of the luxurious boutique lodges in Cartagena.

Sleeping in quarters constructed in Spanish colonial instances, you can find that almost all of the rooms are centered round open-air courtyards however have been up to date to home trendy facilities. Here are just a few of our favourite locations to keep.

Casa San Augustin – The Casa San Augustin is a boutique lodge that exudes luxurious from its colonial-period white-washed buildings to its prime location in the center of Cartagena.

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

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The architectural particulars are second to none, from the wooden beam ceilings to the spiral staircases in some of the 2-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-yr-outdated aqueduct in the middle of the lodge with a picturesque L-formed pool. Fine eating is on the market in the Alma restaurant, which additionally serves because the breakfast room in the morning.

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

Located in the historic Cartagena de Indias by the Santa Catalina Cathedral and is housed in one of the town’s oldest buildings, courting again to the sixteenth Century.

The rooms are fantastically appointed with luxurious bedding and a lightweight and ethereal really feel, providing you with the proper backdrop for a night of relaxation. A scrumptious breakfast is served by pleasant employees on the second ground, and the recent, native fruit on the buffet is mouthwatering.

Enjoy Local Cuisine

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Try conventional dishes like arepas, ceviche, and recent seafood.

The metropolis’s culinary scene is flourishing in Cartagena. Locally sourced meals are plentiful right here.

From the bounty of the ocean to the recent, domestically grown fruits and veggies, many of the native eating places use this wealthy useful resource to create conventional dishes with an island aptitude. Here, you can find conventional dishes like ceviche, or Arroz con coco or Pargo Frito.

Whether you’re eating at a 5-star restaurant or grabbing a fast chew from a road vendor, you received’t be dissatisfied. In Cartagena, there isn’t any scarcity of superb eating places and cafes to expertise.

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Concina de Pepina – Depending in your tastes, you’ll be able to attempt the ceviche or Mote de Queso at Cocina de Pepina, for conventional Colombian fare and one of probably the most well-known eating places on the north coast.

Just make sure to get there early, as they don’t take reservations.

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Carmen Restaurant – One of my favourite lunch spots is Carmen Restaurant.

I liked the image-excellent trendy décor and the luxurious tree-crammed patio. Food is artwork at this household-run restaurant, serving up native flavors with a contemporary twist. Try the artfully introduced salads and ceviche dishes, and mains with recent fish.

cartagena colombia ceviche
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Marea by Rausch – Another waterfront possibility is the Upscale Marea by Rausch Restaurant. There, you’ll be able to take pleasure in scrumptious watermelon salads, Ceviche, and recent seafood dishes.

Carne lovers can take pleasure in nicely-ready beef filets served with wine jus. Expect to take pleasure in Michelin-star service and meals with out the hefty price ticket introduced to you by the well-known Rausch brothers.

Book forward for a desk on the sought-after waterfront terrace, the place you not solely get an incredible river view you’ll be able to 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, allure, and a previous full of pirates.

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

After a number of assaults, Cartagena started to shield itself by setting up walled compounds and castles. Many of these exist immediately and await being explored.

Cartagena is positioned in Colombia, South America. The fundamental language is Spanish. The foreign money is the Colombian Peso: 1 USD = 3019 Colombian Pesos. See Currency Converter for up-to-date charges. Copa Airlines affords each day flights to Cartagena by Panama City (airline hub). Flying with Copa Airlines permits you a  ‘24-hour layover in Panama’ at no additional value. It’s an ideal alternative to go to Casa Viejo and the Panama Canal.

When to go to Cartagena

The climate stays fixed in Cartagena. It is sizzling yr-spherical. The solely issues that change are humidity and precipitation.

December to March is the perfect time to go to Cartagena: The climate is heat through the day and breezy at evening, and the humidity is low. But it’s the excessive season so there are extra vacationers. If you want nightlife, the bars will likely be hopping presently of yr.

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

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

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

While working as a journalist for El Universal, the native newspaper, he discovered concerning the discovery of a corpse of a younger woman with copper hair as they have been renovating the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Hotel, 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 Other Demons.

Photo courtesy: Joe Ross from Lansing, Michigan through Wikimedia Commons

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