Best Friend's Guide to Cartagena
Arts & Culture
Discover Cartagena, where history, culture and nature blend seamlessly to create an unforgettable experience. From the ancient cobblestone streets, charming plazas and lively music and dancing, this place whispers history from the past. Get lost through the hidden courtyards and immerse yourself in the aroma of sizzling street food. Discover the turquoise water of Cartagena by exploring the nearby islands.
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Where to stay in Cartagena
Casa San Agustín
If you are looking for luxury, Cartagena has no better hotel than Casa San Agustin to unwind and pamper yourself.
$100 USD resort / hotel credit.
Complimentary full breakfast for two.
Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
Hotel Movich Cartagena De Indias
A stunning blend of colonial charm and modern luxury nestled in the heart of Cartagena's historic walled city.
Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena
Reinvented and innovative hotel, which recreates a tropical palace where the walls and ceilings retain the historical magic of this 17th Century Colombian building.
$100 food / beverage credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
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Things to do in Cartagena
Watch the sunset from the wall for an intimate experience or head to CAFE DEL MAR to enjoy the sunset from views above the wall surrounded by a lively scene of people! It does get pretty loud with the DJ and people, but it's a must do on one of the nights!
Explore Old Cartagena ( Walled City) - I had so much fun wandering the streets and exploring around. Insiders tip- Behind each wooden door lies beautiful courtyards! Also want to mention it is very safe inside the walled city!
Volcan De Lodo El Totumo - For the ultimate experience, you can take a mud bath inside a volcano!
Castillo San Felipe de Barajas - Built in 1536, explore the historical fortress right outside the walled city. Entrance to explore on your own is $10. Make sure to arrive early to beat the crowds and heat!
Explore Getsemani- Just a quick walk from Old Town, lies this diverse historic neighborhood known for its vibrant atmosphere, rich history, and artistic character. Don't miss your chance to walk down the vibrant street filled with colorful umbrellas! This makes this an Insta-worthy photo location! Don't miss the street dancers in Plaza Trinidad also!
Shopping in Old Town- Every famous designer from Colombia has a boutique in Old Town. Check out St Dom, Aqua Bandit, Santa Azul, and Mali Casteneda which specializes in local linen pieces.
Take a memorable photo with the Fruit Ladies! - They do expect to be paid for photos and also don't like photos taken candidly of them or they will want your money!
Make your own coffee shop tour! - For coffee lovers like myself, there are so many unique coffee shops it was difficult to decide which one to stop at! Some of my favorites include: Epoch Espresso Bar, Abaco Bookshop Cafe, Cafe San Alberto Cartagena and Getsemani's Garden.
Day trip to Rosario Islands - Take a boat to the local islands to escape the heat of the city and soak in those turquoise waters! My favorite beach clubs we visited were Bora Bora Island, Fenix Beach Club, and Blue Apple Beach Club. Tip: try the watermelon Marg at Fenix Beach Club... you'll thank me later!
Watch local dancing in the Plaza De Los Coches - After your dinner, head to this plaza to immerse yourself in some local culture to watch the salsa dancers perform! It's a great show and it's free!
Visit Bocagrande - Just a quick cab ride from the walled city lies Bocagrande. This part of town is where you will find modern skylines, luxury hotels and picturesque beaches.
Places to eat & drink in Cartagena
Movich Cartagena - Best rooftop views to see all of Old City! Come here to enjoy a sunset cocktail with DJ
La Cevicheria - A MUST visit. Famous ceviche spot where Anthony Bourdain frequented when in town.
Cafe Havana - Another MUST to visit for live music, salsa dancing and embracing the Colombian culture! It gives off Havana vibes!
Alquimico - An old mansion built in 1910. This consists of three levels. First floor provides an intimate dining experience and third floor provides bumping music to dance the night away! Great spot for late night drinks.
La Esquina Del Pandebono - Best bakery in town! Try the Colombian cheese bread roll! Great breakfast.
Alma Restaurante - Hands down my favorite dining experience located inside of Casa San Agustin. The ambience was out of this world, very intimate, old world feels with a dark setting, candlelit tables and live instrumental music in a beautiful historic building. They have the best coconut ceviche! I still dream of this... you MUST go here!
Cuzco Cocina Peruana ( Baruch by Cuzco) - This Peruvian restaurant was recommended by a local Colombian I had met on the trip. It was amazing!!! I ordered the Peruvian steak.
Townhouse - A great night cap for rooftop drinks.
Need to Know
For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Diana Morales’s guide, Three Days to Discover Cartagena.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Cartagena.