Escape to Cartagena for a Long Weekend

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Kelly Arcella

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  • Active Travel

  • Adventure Travel

  • Arts & Culture

  • Boutique Travel

  • Beaches

  • Sightseeing

  • Foodie

Streets of Cartagena with colorful buildings and pedestrians.
Curator’s statement

Cartagena is a fabulous place to visit for a long weekend with friends and family. The city, located on the northern coast of Columbia, is an architectural treasure with its brightly colored buildings and cobble stoned streets. Cartagena's rich culture, deep-rooted history, delectable cuisine and vibrant nightlife make it a fantastic destination worth exploring anytime of the year.

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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.

Fora Perks
  • $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. 

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

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Things to do in Cartagena

girls in multicolor clothes with baskets of fruit

There is so much to do and see while visiting Cartagena, catering to a wide variety of interests. Listed below are the top 10 things to do while in Cartagena:

Explore the Walled City (Ciudad Amurallada): Wander through the historic heart of Cartagena, characterized by well-preserved colonial architecture, vibrant streets and charming squares. Don't miss landmarks like the Clock Tower and the San Felipe Castle.

Visit Castillo San Felipe de Barajas: Explore this impressive fortress, one of the largest Spanish colonial military structures in the Americas. The castle provides panoramic views of the city and its surroundings.

Stroll through Getsemaní: This trendy neighborhood adjacent to the Walled City is known for its street art, lively atmosphere and hip cafes. Take a leisurely walk to soak in the local vibe.

Take a Boat Trip: Explore the beautiful Rosario Islands, a natural paradise with crystal-clear waters and coral reefs. Snorkeling and water activities are popular here.

Try Colombian Cuisine: Indulge in local delicacies at Cartagena's vibrant food markets or sample traditional dishes at the city's restaurants. Don't miss trying arepas, ceviche and the local seafood.

Experience the Nightlife in Getsemaní: Cartagena comes alive at night, especially in the Getsemaní neighborhood. Enjoy live music and salsa dancing at Cafe Havana or savor tropical cocktails at other lively bars and clubs.

Visit the Palace of the Inquisition: Explore the Museum of the Inquisition in the heart of Cartagena's Old Town. It offers insights into the colonial history of the region, showcasing artifacts and exhibitions.

Take a Market Tour: Bazurto Market in Cartagena is a vibrant and bustling marketplace that offers visitors a genuine taste of the city's authenticity and local culture. It's a place where the pulse of Cartagena can be felt, providing a contrast to the more tourist-centric areas and showcasing the daily rhythms and traditions of Cartagena's residents.

Sunset Cocktail: El Bularate and Cafe del Mar, with their scenic locations, offer delicious drinks, exquisite ocean views and prime seats to watch the evening sunsets.

One of the best excursions to take is a visit to the Rosario Islands. You can hire a private boat for the day or there are many tour companies offering full-day trips to the islands. If you are staying at the Casa San Agustin, they have their own private beach on an island, which you can visit for the day. A visit will include a delicious lunch, beach access and transportation.

Places to eat & drink in Cartagena

Food of Cartagena, delicious, fresh appetizers served in beautiful white and blue bowls.

Best restaurants and bars to try while visiting Cartagena

Celele: Outstanding contemporary Columbian cuisine. Consistently voted as one of the top Latin American restaurants. Located in Getsamani. After dinner, head over to Cafe Havana for dancing and live music.

La Cocina de Pepina: Authentic, intimate and traditional Columbian restaurant located in Getsamani. Known for their delicious ceviche, stuffed peppers and mote de quesa.

Cande: This is such a fun and vibrant restaurant in the old town. Great for group dining and special celebrations. The entertainment is wonderful and the food is delicious.

Alma: Contemporary cuisine and consistently rated one of the city's best restaurants. Located in the Casa San Agustin Hotel.

Mar Y Zielo: Fantastic restaurant offering incredible seafood and Caribbean specialties Located in the old town.

Buena Vida: Incredible Columbian food with a fun atmosphere. Located in the old town.

Carmen: This is a delightful and sophisticated restaurant located in the old town.

La Cevicherria: This is some of the best ceviche you will ever have in your life. They don't take reservations, so arrive early. The wait is worth it. It is absolutely a must while visiting Cartagena.

Sunset Cocktails: El Bularate and Cafe del Mar, with their scenic locations, offer delicious drinks, exquisite ocean views and prime seats to watch the evening sunsets.

Need to Know

For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Kyra Goodman's guide, A Colorful Guide to Hotels & Food Cartagena, Colombia.

This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Colombia.

Kelly Arcella in a white shirt

Travel Advisor

Kelly Arcella

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