A Week in Cartagena: Best To-Dos
Food & Wine
You have probably seen Cartagena pop up more and more on your feed. It's an amazing hot-spot for food, drinks, and culture. While you get awesome city experiences here, you can easily take a boat to the islands surrounding Cartagena for relaxing beach time, as well. An easy ride from the U.S., check out Cartagena for your next vacation!
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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
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.
Hotel Boutique Bóvedas de Santa Clara by Accor
Where historic charm meets modern luxury, creating an unforgettable retreat.
Hotel / spa credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
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Things to do in Cartagena
Walk Around the Walled City
The Walled City in Cartagena has so much history in addition to fun shops and restaurants. Staying in the Walled City gives you access to all of these things the minute you step out of your hotel. You will find everything from clothing to coffee to art as you meander through. The Walled City is small enough that you will feel complete after 3-4 days!
Day Trip to a Beach Club
From Cartagena, you can get to some beautiful beaches in a matter of minutes. Tierra Bomba is the closest with some beach clubs being only 7 minutes away by speed boat! The Rosario Islands have amazing beaches with a little bit longer of a ride (~1 hour). Either spot has beach clubs where you can buy a day pass to relax. These typically include food, towels, beach chairs, and sometimes drinks. There are a ton to choose from with different vibes. Reach out to me to chat through the different option!
Rum and Chocolate Tour
Get to know the culture in Cartagena in the tastiest way possible - with rum and chocolate! There are many independent locals who run these tours and tastings throughout the city.
Visit Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas
Built in 1536, this fortress is located just a long walk outside of the Walled City and even closer to the Getsemani neighborhood. The views of the city are incredible from the top. The cost is $10 (USD) a person to enter. Go early to avoid crowds and excessive heat as there isn't much shading.
Watch the Sunset from The Wall
Surrounding the Walled City is a nearly 7-mile-long wall with areas to walk on top. Take an evening stroll along the wall and plop down anywhere to watch the sunset. Many people head to Cafe Del Mar to do this which is awesome, too! But you can truly stop anywhere and enjoy the scenery.
Places to eat & drink in Cartagena
One of the best meals you may ever have. They have a chef's tasting menu that allows you to get a taste of many different items prepared fresh. There are 7- or 9-course options. There is also an option to add a wine pairing. Be prepared, you will get a different, full-size drink (wine or beer) with each course. A full 3 hours later, we left very full and very happy! Make sure you get a reservation in advance.
This is an asian-fusion style restaurant that offers a wide variety of amazing dishes. We had a sampler platter that allowed us to try a bunch of it. The Ceviche Nikkei is a must try dish. Make sure to grab a reservation as this is a popular place!
Speaking of Ceviche, there is a small ceviche restaurant in the north of the Walled City that serves incredible varieties of ceviche and rice dishes. Because of its popularity, try to go right when it opens for lunch so you won't have to wait long.
With all of the activities you'll do in Cartagena, you will get thirsty! This cocktail bar is unlike any other. There are 3 levels and each level has its own themed drink menu (although you can get every drink on any level). We ended up going twice while there to see the different levels. They have a clear espresso martini that is made through a clarification process. No reservations needed but going earlier will help you avoid lines.
Epoca Espresso Bar
You cannot go to Colombia without exploring the amazing coffee options. This coffee shop moonlights as a restaurant and bar but the star of their show is truly their coffee. They sell a variety of coffee drinks to go or to have there. Grab a bag of freshly roasted beans to bring back to friends and family (or keep all for yourself!)
Gran Inka Gastro Bar
What started as a quick appetizer stop to tide over hunger ended with the best Tamarind margarita I've ever had! This restaurant is attached to a hotel in the southern part of the Walled City. They have a lot of Peruvian dishes as well as amazing 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