Cartagena, Colombia Travel Guide
Drew and I visited Cartagena for a wedding, and I am so glad we did because I’m not sure it would have been a destination at the top of my bucket list had we not been asked to go. It is seriously underated against the Italys and France of the world. It was such a beautiful city! There is both a modern and “Old” Historic area of the city. Old Town is filled with pastel buildings and winding cobblestone streets. A huge concrete wall was built around the city to prevent pirates from attacking and overtaking the town, so it remains today as a symbol of their history.
I had heard about the famous fruit ladies online, and I was hopeful I would run into one while in Old Town. They wear the most beautiful dresses in colors of the Colombian flag, and have become a symbol of the city. She was so sweet, and was so excited to take a picture together. 🙂
Many of you have asked for details on where we stayed, what we did, and what I recommend, so I wanted to prepare a short guide to help assist with your future travels to Cartagena. Because we were there for a wedding, we didn’t get to do as much as we would have liked, so I would love to go back sometime and explore as a “real” tourist.
Where to Stay
While in Cartagena, we stayed in the new Hyatt hotel in Bocagrande. Bocagrande is a small penninsula about 2-3 minutes outside of Old Town. The hotel had just been built in December, so it was brand new and very luxurious. On top of that, it was SOOO affordable. In fact, everything in Cartagena is relatively cheap. For a brand new 4/5 star hotel, we spent about $100-$150/night. We spent a lot of time enjoying the cocktail area by the pool and testing out the spa. 🙂 The hotel had 4 pools and a gorgeous rooftop overlooking the city. Although it was very centrally located, we spent most of our time in Old Town, so if we went back I would definitely try to stay int he historic area of Cartagena. I don’t have any knocks against our hotel, other than it wasn’t walkable to anything and we were forced to take cabs or ubers to get just about anywhere. P.S. the cabs to Old Town were about $1-$2 each way!
What To Do
- Explore Old Town, buy a colorful pom pom purse (be ready to haggle). You can’t go wrong with wandering the beautiful streets of Historic Old Town. Everywhere you look is a photo perfect moment. However, the sidewalks are very narrow and this area of town is very busy, so be careful!
- Take a day trip to one of the Islands of Cartagena. We did this on our first day in Cartagena, and it was absolutely beautiful. Crystal blue waters and beachside bliss. We rented a boat with a driver and cruised out to this remote island and spent the day. My kind of vacation.
- Walk the Wall. Drew and I did this on our last day and enjoyed some amazing views of the city, the ocean and the modern area of Cartagena. This is a great way to get a birds eye view of all the beautiful buildings.
- Find a fruit lady and take a photo! This was a must-do on my list.
- Go to a Salsa Club. Everyone in Cartagena LOVED to dance. Drew and I thought we had the Salsa sway down by the end of the trip. When we got home we found ourselves singing our favorite songs and starting to dance. It was pretty funny.
- Grab a cocktail at Cafe Del Mar at sunset. It is a beautiful restaurant on the top of the wall overlooking the ocean and Old Town. I was so obsessed with this experience, we did this twice while on our trip.
- Do something to relate to the history of the city. Whether it is take a city tour, visiting the Gold Museum, or taking in views of the beautiful Torre del Reloj (clock tower), you have to admire the history of this city. I wish we could have done more of this during our trip.
- Eat all the food you can. Cartagena has an amazing cuisine, full of friend plantain chips and ceviche. Make sure you eat everything you can because you’ll be missing it 1-2 days after you get home. That brings me to my next point…
Where to Eat
- Juan Del Mar – great grilled seafood and amazing atmosphere. This one was recommended to us by the locals.
- Restaurant Mistura – Drew and I went here during our one date night of the week. The food was amazing. We had a mixed ceviche and enjoyed some authentic latin food. The bar area is open air and very picturesque.
- Zaitun – We went here for lunch one day while exploring Old Town and enjoyed some Spanish Mediterranean food. Drew and I both had salads because we were craving greens at this point in the trip, but all the food that came out looked so good. They have a lot of locations across South America, so you may have been to the restaurant in another location.
- Gelateria Paradiso – we made a stop here for some gelato mid-day to escape the heat. It was so good! The cafe is very picturesque with green and pink decor.
- Pizza en el Parque – we were craving Pizza late night, so we stopped in here after one of the wedding parties. I wouldn’t say it was the best pizza in the city, but it did the deed. One of the pizza places that came highly recommend was Pizza & Laundry. I wouldn’t recommend you seek it out, but if you come across it, it’s a great lunch stop.
- Other restaurants of notable mention by the locals that we didn’t get to visit: La Vitrola (Caribbean/Latin), Don Juan (Latin/Mediterranean), and La Pescaderia Ceviches (seafood and ceviche)
I hope you enjoyed my travel guide to Cartagena. As always, if you have any questions about anything I’ve featured or anything that happened on my instagram stories from our trip, you can always reach out via e-mail!
Thanks for stopping by and hope you have a fabulous #MDW! Stay safe! xoxo