Everything You Need To Know
Planning a trip to Colombia? This Cartagena travel guide will be your go-to resource when exploring the city! Located on the northern coast of Colombia, Cartagena is considered to be Colombia’s coastal gem of the Caribbean. This gorgeous city brings together the charm of colonial architecture, lush landscapes, afro-Caribbean influences, a buzzing nightlife, and so much more – making it the perfect vacation destination. On top of all of this, Cartagena is also known for its gorgeous beaches and islands, excellent cuisine and tourist infrastructure, and immense history, all preserved within its city walls. It is truly a city that has it all, and a must-not-miss on your next trip to South America.
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Cartagena’s historic center, which was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1984, is surrounded by 11 kilometers of ancient walls. The walls were built beginning in 1586 to protect the city against pirate attacks. During this time, Cartagena was one of the most important cities in the Spanish empire, serving as a key port for the export of Peruvian silver, and the import of enslaved Africans to the Caribbean. Today, the Old City Wall in Cartagena stands as a monument to the rich history, while also protecting one of the most beautiful, well-preserved colonial cities in the Americas. While visiting, you will be able to scale the Old City Walls, admiring the stunning colonial architecture and narrow cobbled streets of the walled city. A city that may be small, but has endless things to offer! We cannot wait to share more throughout our Cartagena travel guide.
The official currency of Colombia is the Colombian Peso (COP). 1 COP = 0.00025000 USD.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time to visit Cartagena is December to April. Although th tempature is always mid-80’s.
Colombia is in Standard Time Zone UTC-5) and does not observe daylight savings.
Cartagena has a major international airport, CTG, located relatively close to the city center (15 or so minutes). You can expect to pay around $2 – $3 for a taxi or Uber from the airport to the city center (amazing). Regardless if you plan to fly in from the USA or another South American country, flights are relatively cheap and accessible. While in Cartagena, a lot of the must-visit places are within walking distance in the city center. When transportation is necessary, we recommend Uber or Taxi. As always, have your hotel call your taxi for you to ensure your safety
What To Expect
Where We Stayed
Located in the heart of El Centro, this adorable boutique hotel offers a gorgeous rooftop terrace, indoor and outdoor pools, complimentary breakfast, and stunning amenities. Costing us around $143 per night, we highly recommend this hotel.
Selina hotels go above and beyond to create a community within all of their locations. You can expect a wide variety of offerings, such as yoga classes, free walking classes, pub crawls, black-out parties, among many more events. The rooms usually run between $17 – $40 USD per night. This location in particular is well known for its gorgeous rooftop pools!
Set in a 17th-century building, this refined boutique hotel is considered one of the top hotels to stay in Cartagena. The hotel includes an elegant lounge and dining room, as well as a delicious, complimentary breakfast. Additionally, the rooftop terrace offers a pool, a BBQ and a shaded sitting area.
Sofitel Legend Santa Clara is full of stories. Built in an old convent, it offers the ideal combination of colonial architecture and French luxury.
Bar + Restaurant Recommendations
This gorgeous Rooftop on the Hotel Torre del Reloj offers a place of entertainment and variety of drinks.
Popular watering hole for classic Cuban cocktails & live salsa music in festive, old-world digs with unique and flavorful drinks!
Situated on a romantic street in front of the Santa Clara Hotel, this colorful restaurant has a mix of locals & tourists.
Understated restaurant specializing in traditional seafood dishes including rice, pasta & soups.
Donde Fidel is one of Cartagena’s most famous bars, located within the historic walled city by the Portal de los Dulces.
Hip bar with a rooftop terrace serving inventive cocktails, sandwiches, seafood & meat plates.
CAFE DEL MAR
Laid-back alfresco eatery with sea & city views serving classic meals, spirits & creative cocktails.
Situated in a beautiful, elegant colonial house downtown, the famous restaurant offers contemporary cuisine with Colombian flavors.
Demente breaks away from the norm, preserving its original, rustic structure & combines it with a modern design.
❖ We did not stay long enough! Give yourself a minimum of 3-4 days
❖ Ubers: illegal but safe. Do not be alarmed if they ask you to sit in the front seat
❖ Know basic Spanish! Super important! Very few locals speak English
❖ Safety!!! Always be aware of your surroundings. Watch your drinks.
❖ We recommend staying over a weekend for the full experience!
❖ Weather is gorgeous! We highly recommend staying at a hotel with a rooftop pool.
Overall, Cartagena is one of Colombia’s treasures and an absolute gem of a city. The city is gorgeous, with a striking contrast of old meets new, and truly has so much to offer. We hope you have enjoyed our Cartagena Travel Guide! Don’t miss our Medellin Travel Guide, among other South America Destinations!