Over the previous few years, Colombia has been one of many prime locations for travellers, typically highlighted by the various issues to do in Cartagena, a good looking and historic Caribbean metropolis. Town itself is vibrant, protected, full of wonderful meals, and has a historical past related to the Spanish Conquest.
Whereas many go to for the nice and cozy Caribbean climate, there are such a lot of completely different causes to remain and so many alternative points of interest in Cartagena to discover.
However first, it’s worthwhile to get from the airport to your resort/hostel. Click on right here for comfy, protected, reasonably priced personal transportation to your resort — begin your journey to Cartagena hassle-free.
21 Finest Issues to Do in Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena’s historical past is wealthy, vibrant, and sometimes violent. Due to this, you’ll discover a wide range of museums, excursions, and websites to see. The historical past and folks of Cartagena had me so hooked that I ended up staying for an additional two months, making three months in whole!
This port metropolis (which is surrounded by a pirate defensible wall) performed a task within the Spanish conquest because it oversaw the import and export of merchandise to and from South America.
Culturally, the individuals of Cartagena give off that heat Caribbean vibe, coupled with among the greatest music and dancing on the market.
The status for foods and drinks is unmatched in Colombia with road meals and gastronomic excursions accessible as simply among the many issues to do in Cartagena.
Go to a good looking white sand seashore, sink into an energetic volcano, and eat your coronary heart out. There are quite a few issues to do in Colombia, with a go to to Cartagena being a spotlight.
After travelling across the space for 3 months, I’ve narrowed down a listing of my favourite Cartagena actions across the metropolis. Right here’s my record of the highest 21 issues to do in Cartagena.
1. Take a Swim within the Crater of El Totumo Volcano
Nearly each tour firm in Cartagena will give you a tour to Colombia’s Magical Mud Volcano. They are saying that El Totumo is an energetic volcano which used to spew fireplace, lava and ashes till a neighborhood priest turned it into mud with holy water.
Lately, guests to Cartagena can take mud baths within the crater of this 15m volcano. They are saying it has therapeutic properties, however who is aware of if that’s true or not.
The precise journey to El Totumo takes travellers by way of the sweeping panorama of the Santa Catalina district of Colombia. When you arrive, there’s a staircase that results in the crater the place guests can climb into the volcano to expertise what I might contemplate being the oddest feeling ever.
The mud will not be scorching or chilly. It’s not skinny, but not thick. I felt weightless, as if floating in area. After some time, this lack of bodily management obtained a little bit creepy, so I obtained out and headed into the lake subsequent door for a shower, which was finished by native Colombian girls.
A tour to El Totumo prices round $25 together with transportation, pick-up out of your resort, lunch and information. Convey your bathing fits and a change of garments, and benefit from the therapeutic mud. Click on right here for particulars concerning the tour.
2. Spend the Day at Playa Blanca
Playa Blanca is one in every of Colombia’s very picturesque seashores and it’s a couple of 1-hour drive from Cartagena.
As this is likely one of the hottest issues to do in Cartagena, many tour corporations provide journeys to Playa Blanca. Nevertheless, it’s simply as simple and cheaper to rearrange a drop-off and pick-up time with a taxi driver (or Uber). They do it typically so that they know the drill.
When you arrive at this stunning white sandy seashore with beautiful turquoise water, it is possible for you to to calm down all day buying snacks, each foods and drinks, from the various distributors alongside the seashore.
Some locals will even provide massages to go together with your excellent picturesque Colombian seashore expertise.
3. Celebration at Media Luna on Wednesday
Each Wednesday evening, Media Luna Hostel, which is located simply outdoors the previous metropolis, opens up its rooftop patio and second ground to host an enormous celebration for travellers.
Cartagena is synonymous with all issues celebration. Town boasts a large status for superior nightlife, salsa dancing and the Colombian coast’s personal, Champeta music.
All travellers round Cartagena come to Media Luna to bounce, drink and make pals with different adventurers. Even among the locals attend this celebration. My greatest recommendation is to point out up early as a result of this celebration will get wild quick.
Deal with: 10-46 Media Luna 10, Getsemaní, Cartagena de Indias, Bolívar, Colombia
4. Stroll Across the Instagrammable Outdated Metropolis of Cartagena
I spent many days simply strolling by way of and taking footage of Cartagena’s walled metropolis. Having fun with the atmosphere and character of the previous metropolis is one in every of my favorite issues to do in Cartagena.
Each constructing inside Cartagena’s walled metropolis is like that of a Latin fairytale. The partitions of the buildings are brightly colored in reds, yellows, blues, and oranges.
There are flowers laced by way of colonial architecture-styled home windows and doorways, with cobblestone streets and statues within the squares…all these items create Cartagena’s Instagrammable status.
Cease for a espresso or juice from a neighborhood vendor, take footage with the fruit girls wearing Caribbean garb, or simply calm down and luxuriate in stunning Cartagena.
5. Go to Cartagena’s Gold Museum – The Museo del Oro Zenu
The Museo del Oro in Cartagena is house to a unbelievable assortment of gold artifacts in addition to sterling examples of pottery created by the ingenious Zenu individuals who inhabited the realm previous to the Spanish conquest.
I say ingenious due to the superior drainage programs they used to domesticate their land, one thing defined intimately on the museum.
Gold was necessary to the event of Cartagena. Town’s founding father, Pedro de Heredia, headed the primary expedition up the River Sinú seeking gold — ravaging the Zenu individuals’s gravesites for gold.
This was so profitable that with the indigenous labour and cultivation in addition to with the gold, town of Cartagena was in a position to financially prosper for many years. To assist one perceive its historical past, a go to to the gold museum is unquestionably top-of-the-line issues to do in Cartagena free of charge, sure there is no such thing as a entrance charge and it’s open from 9:00am to five:00pm.
If you end up within the capital metropolis of Bogota, visiting the gold museum is likely one of the prime issues to do there.
Deal with: Cra 4, Parque de Bolívar #33-26, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
6. Celebration on a Chiva Bus
Partying on a Chiva Bus is nearly like a proper of passage for travellers in South America, and what higher place to do it than in a metropolis of music and dance equivalent to Cartagena?!
A experience on a Chiva bus could be one of many funnest actions in Cartagena. These vibrant wood buses with celebration lights and loud music cruise the streets at evening sourcing out the very best locations to celebration. When backpacking Colombia, it is a celebration spotlight.
Because the bus excursions the gorgeous metropolis of Cartagena at evening, be happy to bounce within the bus alongside the streets with the rum flowing and the music blaring.
Sure, the Chiva bus is perhaps cheesy, however with the suitable crowd, it may be completely hilarious. Chiva buses could be booked by way of any tour firm within the city or by way of your resort or hostel at a price of round COP $55,000 ($19).
7. Go to the Palace of the Inquisition
Cartagena is a metropolis filled with historical past from the pre-Colombian instances as proven within the Museo del Oro to the time of the inquisition as displayed right here on the Palace of the Inquisition.
This 18th-century constructing was the seat of the Holy Workplace of the Inquisition of Cartagena. In case you are wandering across the Outdated Metropolis and on the lookout for issues to do in Cartagena, I like to recommend you head right here for a historical past lesson.
As a significant business port for Spain, the Palace of the Inquisition was used as a spot to attempt Jews or different non-Catholics coming into town, in addition to people who have been believed to be responsible of crimes equivalent to black magic.
Till 2015 the museum housed historical torture units used for these trials. At present, the constructing is taken into account one in every of Cartagena’s greatest examples of colonial and civil structure. I loved it as a lot for the structure as for the shows.
It’s properly maintained and well worth the effort to see, open from 9:00am to six:00pm and costing simply COP $20,000 ($6.00). Click on right here for instructions.
Deal with: 46, Plaza de Bolivar Carrera 3 33, Bolívar, Provincia de Cartagena, Colombia
8. Take pleasure in Dinner and Nightlife at Plaza la Trinidad
Hanging out within the Plaza la Trinidad (Holy Trinity Sq.) is indubitably one in every of my favorite issues to do in Cartagena in the course of the night. The plaza is surrounded by great road meals distributors, and I imply great, in addition to a number of completely scrumptious eating places. That is my go-to eating spot in Cartagena.
The individuals of town, each gringos and locals alike, make their strategy to the plaza to expertise what that specific evening has to supply.
Typically you’ll discover a native recreation of soccer within the streets, often there are road performers, and infrequently there may be music and dancing within the plaza.
The Plaza la Trinidad is likely one of the greatest locations in Cartagena to hang around at evening. It’s enjoyable for the entire household, for individuals of all walks of life, with low-cost eats and drinks, and leisure too. Click on right here for instructions.
Deal with: 174, Esquina con Calle 29 Carrera 10 25, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
9. Seize a Drink at Cafe del Mar
Cafe del Mar on the sting of the wall surrounding the Outdated Metropolis is likely one of the coolest locations in Cartagena to seize a drink and benefit from the view. The bar is located on the highest of the far finish of the traditional wall, full with stunning seating and the ‘in-crowd’.
The view from the bar seems to be out into the gorgeous unending sea with a vista of historical past in entrance of you. Seize a drink, and benefit from the view at this completely positioned Cartagena scorching spot. Click on right here for instructions to Cafe del Mar.
Deal with: Baluarte de Santo Domingo, Centro, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
10. Go to the Iglesia de San Pedro Claver
The structure in Cartagena is ceaselessly spectacular. The colors of the walled metropolis and the civil colonial structure of the Palace of the Inquisition are superb, and the Iglesia de San Pedro Claver isn’t any much less spectacular.
The church is a part of a set of buildings which additionally contains the Cloister of San Pedro Claver and an archaeological museum. The altar of the church holds the stays of Saint Peter Claver who died in Cartagena after devoting his life to evangelizing the black slaves of New Granada.
The structure of the Church is as vibrant as its historical past taking its type from the Jesuit period. The façade was carved from the stone of the Tierrabomba island, and the marble altar comes from Italy, a present from Pope Leo XIII. The structure developed because the church handed arms, even including a dome.
My artwork historical past background has me eager to go on, however you’ll simply should go and see it for your self! The Iglesia de San Pedro Claver is open from 8:00am to eight:00pm and prices simply COP $14,000 ($4.25).
11. Take a Stroll Alongside the Historic Partitions
I assumed that strolling alongside the traditional protecting partitions was one of many coolest issues to do in Cartagena. There may be a lot historical past in Cartagena due to its reference to Spain.
On account of its location between the Sinú and Magdalena rivers, Cartagena de Indias was traditionally probably the most necessary cities to each Colombia and Spain as a key port. Cartagena was the primary port for issues like export of Peruvian silver to Spain and the import of African slaves.
As a result of necessary position it performed in commerce, town was constructed to be defensible towards pirate assaults within the Caribbean in addition to another risk.
Not solely are they traditionally related to town itself, however in addition they present sweeping views of the land round Cartagena. A vista that provides a hen’s eye view of the previous metropolis, and an appreciation for the dimensions of town. Don’t miss this UNESCO second.
12. Be part of a Avenue Meals Tour
Top-of-the-line actions in Cartagena is indubitably a road meals tour. Cartagena is known for its pleasant road meals. It even introduced the late Anthony Bourdain to town.
There are a number of road meals excursions accessible that spotlight the distinctive fruits, fried meals, drinks, and sweets native to Cartagena. If you happen to’re like me and end up questioning about all of the unfamiliar fruit and the best way to eat it, then a road tour is for you.
Get down with the locals and tour the road meals of the previous metropolis and the Getsemani neighbourhood. Get able to pattern issues such because the lulo, guanabana, and arequipe, among the tastiest meals on the Colombian coast in typical Colombian type.
13. Take a Tour of the Bazurto Market
The Bazurto Market is usually described as a location for adventurous travellers solely. This busy bustling market is positioned simply quarter-hour away from Cartagena’s metropolis centre. It’s chaotic, loud, soiled and lacks typical vacationers.
Need to get down with the locals? Then this extraordinarily massive market filled with twists and turns is the place to go.
You’ll find every little thing from contemporary fish and fruit, to spices and true Colombian tradition on this chaotic market. Nevertheless, if you’re not comfy taking over an expertise like this alone, many tour businesses provide guided journeys to the Bazurto Market, a few of them at the side of the road meals tour.
14. Go On a Strolling Tour of the Outdated Metropolis (El Centro)
Town of Cartagena is stuffed with historical past, eating places, and markets, and it’s all jam-packed into the Outdated Metropolis, a 100 sq. kilometre area, excellent for a strolling tour!
Cartagena boasts a wealthy historical past together with Spanish colonialism, pirates, slaves, Catholicism and the accompanying inquisition. Medicine, crime and the humanities, each historic and present, provide a captivating perspective on this South American nation.
Its historical past, as you may guess, makes for an incredible metropolis tour, which is why I’m recommending this as top-of-the-line actions in Cartagena.
Excursions can final wherever between 2 and 4 hours, relying on which kind of tour you guide, giving a possibility to take an in depth have a look at the historical past, structure, music, meals and tradition of Cartagena. A good way to start out any go to to this related metropolis.
Click on right here free of charge strolling excursions in Cartagena, and click on right here for a extremely rated personal tour with a neighborhood to find Cartagena.
15. Go Buying within the Walled Metropolis
One among my private favorite methods to spend time in Cartagena is to buy artisan crafts within the photogenic streets of the walled metropolis.
Distributors line the streets of this stunning city promoting issues like vibrant mochila baggage, prints and work, and numerous forms of jewellery.
You by no means know what sort of distinctive memento you’ll find whereas purchasing for artisanal crafts in Cartagena. Oh yeah, and don’t neglect to cut price!
16. Go to the Puerta del Reloj
The clock tower, the Puerta del Reloj, is the primary metropolis gate to the historic centre and was as soon as the unique entrance to the fortified metropolis. So far as issues to see in Cartagena, the clock tower, having had its clock because the 18th century, is stuffed with historic relevance.
Through the colonial interval, a drawbridge which linked the walled metropolis to the Getsemani neighbourhood was put in. The Getsemani neighbourhood is one other fabulous strolling space in Cartagena.
The bridge on the clock tower was constructed to function a protection towards enemy assaults (pirates) on town of Cartagena. Nevertheless, as we speak it’s a place locals like to hang around to flee the Colombian solar.
You can too climb to the highest of town wall and luxuriate in a shocking vista. It’s a good looking instance of fabulous vibrant colonial structure, so in your method into the previous metropolis to your meals, drink and procuring, take a second to test it out. You’ll find the clock tower on the map right here.
Deal with: Boca del Puente, Centro, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
17. Go to the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas
So far as issues to do in Cartagena, taking a tour of the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas ranks excessive on my record as with the walled metropolis tour. It offers important perception into Cartagena’s vibrant previous. Typically these excursions could be booked collectively as one.
Although this isn’t Europe, I’m happy to say that top-of-the-line issues to do in Cartagena is to go to its citadel!
Constructed by the Spanish in 1536 and expanded later in 1657, the citadel is positioned on the Hill of San Lazaro, positioned completely to guard town from the land and sea. It has had a tumultuous life as possession – or at the least occupancy – has handed forwards and backwards between privateers and admirals.
Probably the most fascinating components of the citadel tour is discovering the various catacomb tunnels which run beneath the citadel…a real fortress for battle. It’s additionally an incredible spot to look at the sundown.
Deal with: Barrio Pie del Cerro, Avenida Antonio de Arévalo. Carrera 17., Cl. 32 #17-85, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
18. Go Buying in ‘Las Bóvedas’
Within the previous metropolis of Cartagena, the Las Bóvedas have been buildings connected to the partitions. Initially constructed as dungeons for prisoners in the course of the civil wars within the nineteenth century, these buildings have been brutal prisons — at excessive tide, the ocean water would enter the cells protecting the prisoners inside.
In the present day, the cells within the dungeons are probably the most common issues to do in Cartagena as a result of they home retailers and boutiques the place conventional Colombian merchandise is offered.
An incredible place to select up some souvenirs, however as you stroll by way of do not forget that these have been as soon as the house to prisoners of conflict. Click on right here to search out it on the map.
19. Day Journey to the Rosario Islands
The Rosario Islands are the epitome of what you consider when contemplating a Caribbean seashore vacation spot.
Vibrant blue clear waters on comfortable white sand with tons of of fish swimming round your each step. Heat climate and native distributors serving drinks in coconuts…sure, that’s precisely what you’re going to get out of a day on the Rosario Islands.
It takes simply an hour to get to the Rosario Islands from the docks of Cartagena, making it a completely accessible day journey and one of many coolest issues to do in Cartagena. I can’t even start to depend what number of instances I took the journey there.
The islands are a nationwide park with a heavy concentrate on defending the underwater surroundings. You may go scuba diving, or just laze on the seashore with a meal and a drink in hand.
Lunchtime gives contemporary seafood that can blow your thoughts. Having fun with the islands? There are a number of lodging on them at each stage to increase your journey.
To get to the Rosario islands, you’ll be able to at all times guide a tour by way of any tourism company in Cartagena, or make your strategy to the dock at La Muelle la Bogegita in Cartagena and seize one of many velocity boats leaving at 8:00am and 10:00am and returning at 2:30pm for $40,000 Colombian pesos ($13.75) every method.
Observe that climate circumstances could be poor and it’s not advisable to journey throughout tough seas. A visit to the Rosario Islands by speedboat can take as much as 2-3 hours, relying on the climate.
A greater and maybe safer strategy to go to the Rosario Islands is crusing aboard an opulent catamaran. Included within the day journey is snorkelling, a welcome drink, non-alcoholic drinks, snacks, lunch, the port charge and Nationwide Park charges. This crusing tour is likely one of the prime issues to do in Cartagena. Click on right here to study extra.
20. Stroll Via the Getsemani Neighbourhood (Take a Avenue Artwork Tour)
What was as soon as a quiet neighbourhood filled with locals and youth hostels, Getsemani has turn out to be a go-to location for nightlife, the humanities, and a style for the Colombian spirit.
The neighbourhood is stuffed with vibrant houses and packed filled with epic road artwork. You may take excursions right here that are much like meals and historic excursions discovered within the metropolis.
The neighbourhood is stuffed with superior eating places and cafes in addition to salsa and champeta dance golf equipment. That is additionally the neighbourhood which is house to the Plaza de la Trinidad, a favorite night-time location. Take a stroll by way of the gorgeous streets of Getsemani, the trendiest space within the metropolis.
21. Cease on the Plaza Santo Domingo for a Meal
Cartagena homes some completely fabulous eateries and the Plaza Santo Domingo is a good place to expertise simply that. Upon coming into the Plaza you’ll really feel as you probably have been transported to the streets of Italy, proper all the way down to the road lights.
Tables cowl the plaza all the way in which to the centre, owned by a wide range of eating places. The colored tablecloths are normally the very best marker to find out which restaurant serves that desk.
The plaza is house to a well-known Botero statue, La Gorda Gertrudis, and lots of road performers ply their commerce within the plaza to entertain you when you dine.
Individuals and distributors stroll the streets promoting artisanal items so souvenirs could be bought right here. A day stress-free within the Plaza Santo Domingo is one in every of my favorite issues to do in Cartagena.
FAQs About What to Do in Cartagena
Learn on for solutions to some regularly requested questions on Cartagena actions and locations to go to in Cartagena.
Cartagena is thought for its stunning white-sand seashores, colourful previous city, and enormous Spanish-colonial fortifications. And these are solely among the nice issues to see in Cartagena.
A few of the hottest actions in Cartagena are exploring the walled metropolis, visiting landmarks like church buildings and museums, and naturally, lounging on the seashore.
Completely! Cartagena is a good looking metropolis with tradition in abundance. There are such a lot of locations to go to in Cartagena that some vacationers spend months there.
As a result of there are such a lot of issues to see in Cartagena, you’ll want at the least 4 days. And if you wish to take pleasure in the entire great Cartagena points of interest, you could find yourself needing a number of weeks, or months!
Cartagena is a usually protected metropolis, though it’s greatest to keep away from poorly-lit streets at evening.
Able to Plan a Journey to Cartagena?
Cartagena is likely one of the most vibrant cities in Colombia and has turn out to be a centre for the humanities boasting fabulous music, dance, road artwork and naturally historic gold artwork and artifacts.
The distributors on the streets and throughout the Las Bóvedas cells present guests with an opportunity to take house conventional Colombian crafts at affordable costs.
Cartagena is a foodie centre, house to one of many largest and most genuine markets in Colombia. Town has a status for scrumptious road meals, distinctive fruits, and fancy gastronomic locales.
The seaside metropolis is protected, an necessary think about Colombian journey. Nature surrounds Cartagena with stunning Playa Blanca and the Rosario Islands at its fingertips — and don’t neglect the magical mud volcano of El Totumo.
With so many issues to do in Cartagena, sights to see, and actions to take part in, it’s no surprise Cartagena stays probably the most well-loved vacationer places.
Some photos on this article are courtesy of Shuterstock.com.
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