Cartagena is a top vacation destination and Colombia’s most popular city. People flock here to explore colonial architecture, beautiful beaches, delectable food and wild nightlife.
Travel is best in Vacation Cartagena Colombia during the dry season from May to mid-June and August through November for lower prices and fewer crowds. Try not to visit during peak holidays like Carnival or Holy Week.
1. Visit the Old City
After decades of decline, Colombia’s port city of Cartagena has roared back to life. Tourists from all over the world are flocking to its historic Old City, and wealthy Colombians are buying second homes in the city’s resurgent real estate market.
In the Old Town, visitors can stroll its quaint alleys and shaded plazas lined with brightly painted colonial houses and flower-covered balconies. They can also admire the 19th century Puerta del Reloj (clock tower) and the two side archways formerly housing an armory and a chapel.
The walled enclosure of the Old City also boasts a wealth of other historical sites, including the Palace of the Inquisition, which served as one of the Spanish Inquisition’s torture headquarters. You can also explore the San Pedro Claver Monastery, a centuries-old religious building replete with impressive architecture and symbolism.
2. Go Island Hopping
One of the top things to do in Cartagena is island hopping. Here, you’ll find a number of different islands to visit, all of which offer beautiful snorkeling spots and plenty of other attractions.
In addition, if you’re looking for a unique experience, you should definitely go on a mangrove tour! These tours will take you on a canoe ride through the mangroves, which are important for preserving the ecosystem of Colombia’s coast.
If you’re traveling on a budget, you can also try a day trip to Isla Cholon. This island is more fun than it sounds, and it’s a great glimpse into how Colombians like to party!
3. Study up on the Arts
If you’re interested in learning more about Colombia’s heritage and its culture, then Cartagena is a great place to do it. It offers a number of excellent museums and attractions that are sure to please any culture buffs.
The enchanting Walled City of Old Cartagena is an absolute must-visit during your trip to this Caribbean coast city. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is filled with historic buildings, museums, restaurants and shops that will transport you back in time.
A great way to see the colorful and colonial streets of Cartagena is to book a private walking tour. Your guide will pick you up at your accommodation and take you to the best places to explore.
4. Enjoy the Beaches
Whether you’re looking for a day of swimming and tan time or just want to relax and enjoy the scenery, there are plenty of great beaches in and around Cartagena.
The city’s most famous beach, Playa Blanca, lies on Isla Baru, a short boat ride away from town. Its white sand and crystal blue waters make for a beautiful scene, but be aware that it can be crowded here.
If you’re looking for a less busy beach that’s closer to the city, La Boquilla is the place to go. Although not as visually appealing as some of the other nearby beaches, it offers a more rustic, more rural experience, with less crowds and an incredible nature tour through the mangroves!
5. Go Nightlife
Cartagena is famous for its nightlife, with pubs full of personality, clubs that rock until the wee hours of the morning, and spectacular restaurants serving Colombian/Caribbean fare.
The Getsemani neighborhood is a great place to enjoy this nightlife, as it’s a backpacker hub. The main square is a bustling nighttime hub of bars and cafes with a lively mix of locals and travelers.
While there are plenty of places to go out at night in Cartagena, it’s important to dress correctly. Many of the top-end clubs won’t accept you in a flip-flop and board shorts combo, so bring a button down shirt, dark jeans, and shoes.
Bars are also a little less strict on what you wear, although some may have a dress code. Linen is a good choice, as it works well with the local style and keeps you cool in the hot weather.