Over the previous few years, Colombia has been one of many high locations for travellers, usually highlighted by the various issues to do in Cartagena, a fantastic and historic Caribbean metropolis. Town itself is vibrant, secure, full of fantastic 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 totally different causes to remain and so many alternative points of interest in Cartagena to discover.
However first, it is advisable get from the airport to your lodge/hostel. Click on right here for comfy, secure, reasonably priced non-public transportation to your lodge — 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 quite a lot 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 complete!
This port metropolis (which is surrounded by a pirate defensible wall) performed a job 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 repute for food and drinks is unmatched in Colombia with road meals and gastronomic excursions out there as simply among the many issues to do in Cartagena.
Go to a fantastic white sand seashore, sink into an lively 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 an inventory 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 lively volcano which used to spew hearth, lava and ashes till a neighborhood priest turned it into mud with holy water.
Today, 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 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’d take into account being the oddest feeling ever.
The mud shouldn’t be scorching or chilly. It’s not skinny, but not thick. I felt weightless, as if floating in house. After some time, this lack of bodily management received a bit of creepy, so I received out and headed into the lake subsequent door for a shower, which was achieved by native Colombian ladies.
A tour to El Totumo prices round $25 together with transportation, pick-up out of your lodge, lunch and information. Deliver your bathing fits and a change of garments, and benefit from the therapeutic mud. Click on right here for particulars in regards to 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 few 1-hour drive from Cartagena.
As this is likely one of the hottest issues to do in Cartagena, many tour corporations supply 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 usually in order that they know the drill.
When you arrive at this stunning white sandy seashore with gorgeous turquoise water, it is possible for you to to loosen up all day buying snacks, each food and drinks, from the various distributors alongside the seashore.
Some locals will even supply massages to go together with your good picturesque Colombian seashore expertise.
3. Occasion at Media Luna on Wednesday
Each Wednesday evening, Media Luna Hostel, which is located simply exterior the outdated metropolis, opens up its rooftop patio and second flooring to host an enormous occasion for travellers.
Cartagena is synonymous with all issues occasion. Town boasts an enormous repute 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 buddies with different adventurers. Even among the locals attend this occasion. My greatest recommendation is to point out up early as a result of this occasion 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 and taking footage of Cartagena’s walled metropolis. Having fun with the atmosphere and character of the outdated 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 colonial architecture-styled home windows and doorways, with cobblestone streets and statues within the squares…all this stuff create Cartagena’s Instagrammable repute.
Cease for a espresso or juice from a neighborhood vendor, take footage with the fruit girls wearing Caribbean garb, or simply loosen up and revel 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 improbable 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 techniques they used to domesticate their land, one thing defined intimately on the museum.
Gold was vital to the event of Cartagena. Town’s founding father, Pedro de Heredia, headed the primary expedition up the River Sinú in quest of 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 capable of financially prosper for many years. To assist one perceive its historical past, a go to to the gold museum is unquestionably the most effective issues to do in Cartagena at no cost, sure there isn’t any 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 high issues to do there.
Deal with: Cra 4, Parque de Bolívar #33-26, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
6. Occasion 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 resembling Cartagena?!
A journey on a Chiva bus might be one of many funnest actions in Cartagena. These vibrant wood buses with occasion lights and loud music cruise the streets at evening sourcing out the most effective locations to occasion. When backpacking Colombia, it is a occasion spotlight.
Because the bus excursions the attractive 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 likely to be cheesy, however with the fitting crowd, it may be completely hilarious. Chiva buses might be booked by any tour firm within the city or by your lodge or hostel at a price of round COP $55,000 ($19).
7. Go to the Palace of the Inquisition
Cartagena is a metropolis stuffed with historical past from the pre-Colombian occasions 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. If you’re wandering across the Outdated Metropolis and in search of issues to do in Cartagena, I like to recommend you head right here for a historical past lesson.
As a significant industrial 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 resembling black magic.
Till 2015 the museum housed historical torture gadgets 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 nicely maintained and definitely 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 unquestionably one in every of my favorite issues to do in Cartagena throughout the night. The plaza is surrounded by fantastic road meals distributors, and I imply fantastic, in addition to a collection 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 technique to the plaza to expertise what that exact evening has to supply.
Generally you’ll discover a native recreation of soccer within the streets, often there are road performers, and sometimes there’s 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 out into the attractive 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 without end spectacular. The colors of the walled metropolis and the civil colonial structure of the Palace of the Inquisition are wonderful, and the Iglesia de San Pedro Claver is not 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 advanced because the church handed arms, even including a dome.
My artwork historical past background has me desirous to go on, however you’ll simply need to 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 believed that strolling alongside the traditional protecting partitions was one of many coolest issues to do in Cartagena. There’s 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 vital 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.
Because of the vital position it performed in commerce, town was constructed to be defensible in opposition to pirate assaults within the Caribbean in addition to every other 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 offers a chook’s eye view of the outdated metropolis, and an appreciation for the scale of town. Don’t miss this UNESCO second.
12. Be part of a Road Meals Tour
Probably the greatest actions in Cartagena is unquestionably 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 out there that spotlight the distinctive fruits, fried meals, drinks, and sweets native to Cartagena. In case you’re like me and end up questioning about all of the unfamiliar fruit and the right way to eat it, then a road tour is for you.
Get down with the locals and tour the road meals of the outdated 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 commonly 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 stuffed with twists and turns is the place to go.
You’ll find the whole lot 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 supply 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 filled with historical past, eating places, and markets, and it’s all jam-packed into the Outdated Metropolis, a 100 sq. kilometre house, good for a strolling tour!
Cartagena boasts a wealthy historical past together with Spanish colonialism, pirates, slaves, Catholicism and the accompanying inquisition. Medication, crime and the humanities, each historic and present, supply an enchanting perspective on this South American nation.
Its historical past, as you would possibly guess, makes for a fantastic metropolis tour, which is why I’m recommending this as the most effective actions in Cartagena.
Excursions can final wherever between 2 and 4 hours, relying on which kind of tour you ebook, giving a chance to take an in depth have a look at the historical past, structure, music, meals and tradition of Cartagena. An effective way to begin any go to to this related metropolis.
Click on right here at no cost strolling excursions in Cartagena, and click on right here for a extremely rated non-public tour with a neighborhood to find Cartagena.
15. Go Procuring 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 kinds of jewellery.
You by no means know what sort of distinctive memento yow will discover whereas searching for artisanal crafts in Cartagena. Oh yeah, and don’t overlook 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 for the reason that 18th century, is filled with historic relevance.
Throughout 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 in opposition to enemy assaults (pirates) on town of Cartagena. Nevertheless, immediately it’s a place locals like to hang around to flee the Colombian solar.
You may also climb to the highest of town wall and revel in a shocking vista. It’s a fantastic instance of fabulous vibrant colonial structure, so in your means into the outdated metropolis to your meals, drink and buying, 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. Generally these excursions might be booked collectively as one.
Despite the fact that this isn’t Europe, I’m happy to say that the most effective issues to do in Cartagena is to go to its fort!
Constructed by the Spanish in 1536 and expanded later in 1657, the fort 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 very least occupancy – has handed forwards and backwards between privateers and admirals.
One of the fascinating elements of the fort tour is discovering the various catacomb tunnels which run beneath the fort…a real fortress for battle. It’s additionally a fantastic spot to observe 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 Procuring in ‘Las Bóvedas’
Within the outdated metropolis of Cartagena, the Las Bóvedas have been constructions connected to the partitions. Initially constructed as dungeons for prisoners throughout the civil wars within the nineteenth century, these constructions have been brutal prisons — at excessive tide, the ocean water would enter the cells masking the prisoners inside.
At present, the cells within the dungeons are probably the most widespread issues to do in Cartagena as a result of they home outlets and boutiques the place conventional Colombian merchandise is offered.
A fantastic place to choose up some souvenirs, however as you stroll by 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.
Vivid blue clear waters on comfortable white sand with a whole bunch 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 very accessible day journey and one of many coolest issues to do in Cartagena. I can’t even start to depend what number of occasions I took the journey there.
The islands are a nationwide park with a heavy deal with defending the underwater setting. You may go scuba diving, or just laze on the seashore with a meal and a drink in hand.
Lunchtime affords 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 all the time ebook a tour by any tourism company in Cartagena, or make your technique to the dock at La Muelle la Bogegita in Cartagena and seize one of many pace boats leaving at 8:00am and 10:00am and returning at 2:30pm for $40,000 Colombian pesos ($13.75) every means.
Notice that climate situations might be poor and it’s not beneficial 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 technique 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 high issues to do in Cartagena. Click on right here to study extra.
20. Stroll Via the Getsemani Neighbourhood (Take a Road Artwork Tour)
What was as soon as a quiet neighbourhood stuffed 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 filled with vibrant houses and packed stuffed 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 filled 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 the attractive 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 superb place to expertise simply that. Upon getting into the Plaza you’ll really feel as in case you have been transported to the streets of Italy, proper right down to the road lights.
Tables cowl the plaza all the best way to the centre, owned by quite a lot of eating places. The colored tablecloths are normally the most effective 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 whilst you dine.
Folks and distributors stroll the streets promoting artisanal items so souvenirs might 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 steadily requested questions on Cartagena actions and locations to go to in Cartagena.
Cartagena is thought for its stunning white-sand seashores, colourful outdated city, and huge Spanish-colonial fortifications. And these are solely among the nice issues to see in Cartagena.
Among 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 fantastic 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 very least 4 days. And if you wish to take pleasure in all the fantastic Cartagena points of interest, it’s possible you’ll find yourself needing a number of weeks, or months!
Cartagena is a typically secure 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 inside 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 greatest and most genuine markets in Colombia. Town has a repute for scrumptious road meals, distinctive fruits, and fancy gastronomic locales.
The seaside metropolis is secure, an vital consider Colombian journey. Nature surrounds Cartagena with stunning Playa Blanca and the Rosario Islands at its fingertips — and don’t overlook 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 marvel Cartagena stays probably the most well-loved vacationer places.
Some photographs on this article are courtesy of Shuterstock.com.
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