Discover Cartagena de Indias, a jewel of world heritage
Cartagena is a city that is located on the shores of the Caribbean Sea, in the northwestern part of the South American continent. If you are wondering where is Cartagena in Colombia, it is located in the north of the country and is the capital of the Bolívar region. The city has several archipelagos and islands around that are paradises for true rest. Among these are Tierra Bomba Island, Múcura Islan, and Barú Island, among others.
Cartagena de Indias is known, brings together the charm of colonial architecture, the excitement of a vivid night life, fascinating cultural festivals, and lush landscapes, to bring you the perfect vacation experience. The city’s beaches beckon, inviting you to unwind and enjoy yourself in the refreshing breeze and warm waters of the sea.
But that’s not all Cartagena has to offer— the city also has excellent cuisine and a thriving hotel and tourist infrastructure.
This fabulous destination holds the secrets of history within its walled city, on its balconies, and in the narrow stone walkways that inspired author Gabriel García Márquez, who was received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982.
Framed by its stunning bay, Cartagena de Indias is one of the most beautiful, well-preserved cities in the Americas; a treasure that is currently one of the most heavily frequented tourist destinations in Colombia.
What is there to do in Cartagena de Indias?
During your stay, you should definitely take advantage of the opportunity to learn about Cartagena’s architectural and cultural heritage, starting with a visit to the city’s historic center. Cartagena’s historic center, whose beauty and cultural importance caused it to be declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1984, is surrounded by miles of ancient walls that form the walled city.
In addition to the hundreds of years of history behind the area’s cobbled streets, you can explore the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, a magnificent castle dating back to the 17th century. Also, during this tour, you will be very close to some of the best restaurants in Cartagena.
There are also a number of ancient churches and popular monuments that you can tour, such as the monument dedicated to India Catalina, los Zapatos Viejos, and los Pegasos. Another activity that you can consider if you are wondering what to do in Cartagena is visiting the Naval Museum or the Serrezuela Shopping Center.
On your walks around the city, you’ll be able to enjoy the pleasant weather in Cartagena along with the local music and rhythms that fill the streets and the handicrafts that adorn the local shops. On the other hand, if you are wondering some of the things to do in Cartagena, we encourage you to enjoy a graffiti tour in the Getsemaní neighborhood.
When night falls over the city, the charm of Cartagena’s colonial area is perfect for taking a horse drawn carriage ride, an experience that will take you back in time.
The city is not just about history, as the city is the scene of a vibrant and important world-class events, there are always things to do in Cartagena.
In addition to Cartagena’s historic influences, the city has a vibrant present reflected, in part, by the important, world-class events it hosts.
The International Film Festival, an event attended by cinematographers, actors, musicians, and aficionados of the seventh art, is also held yearly in the ‘Heroic City,’ in March. One of the Festival’s main attractions is that it offers free high-quality film showings.
Finally, Cartagena de Indias is also known for being home to Colombia’s National Beauty Contest, which is held in November to select and crown a Miss Colombia.
Without a doubt, all these events are unmissable when looking for what to do in Cartagena.
Activities you won’t want to miss out on
Cartagena is a vibrant city with a plethora of perfect activities for any tourist.
One example of the wide range of activities and attractions that Cartagena de Indias has to offer is the city’s varied cuisine. Visitors who love sampling new, exotic dishes will be thrilled by the best restaurants in Cartagena which may include many local and international eateries. Thanks to Cartagena’s rich ethnic background, local Cartagenero dishes reflect the influence of African, indigenous, and European cuisines.
The city’s access to the Caribbean Sea and the beautiful beaches close to Cartagena provide the perfect place for rest or play in the perpetually pleasant weather. These white sand beaches are ideal for enjoying a cocktail or local dish, sunbathing, relaxing, or participating in water sports.
Cartagena has more than 5 island complexes around it which in turn provide more than 20 beaches to visit and enjoy. The main and best beaches in the Cartagena area are found on the islands of Rosario, Barú, and San Bernardo.
Also, if you’re more comfortable sticking around areas of the city more heavily frequented by tourists, you can visit Bocagrande, which also has a wide range of beaches, hotels, restaurants, commercial centers, and clubs.
Finally, bear in mind that Cartagena is what many would consider a dream destination for celebrating weddings or spending honeymoons. In fact, the city receives many cruises that travel through the Caribbean.
There are many ways to get to Cartagena de Indias. Today, it is no longer necessary to stop in Bogotá to get to the city. If you come from abroad, you can take a cruise or a plane. Airlines such as American Airlines, JetBlue, Interjet, KLM, Delta, and Copa fly directly to the Rafael Núñez International Airport in Cartagena. If you are in the interior of the country, you can take a flight with Avianca or LAN, or by bus from cities such as Barranquilla, Santa Marta or Bucaramanga, journeys that will take less than 10 hours.
The weather in Cartagena de Indias is very pleasant. Being a coastal city, its climate is humid and dry tropical with a relative humidity of 84%. The temperature is warm almost all year round and generally ranges between 73 and 86º F. Ideal for visiting the walled city, the restaurants, the cruises, and the beaches of Cartagena like Playa Blanca.
- The best time or season to visit Cartagena varies little during the year. Due to its pleasantly warm weather, the city receives thousands of tourists every month. However, the best time to visit the beautiful landscapes and beaches of Cartagena is between the end of November and the end of April, times when there is a drier climate.
- Getting around is easy, especially by taxi, since there aren’t any great distances between the different tourist areas. However, we recommend that you verify taxi prices prior to any trip in order to avoid any unexpected inconveniences or costs.
- We also recommend that, prior to your trip, you verify the costs of the items you would like to purchase, including food. Carefully review restaurant menus and take care with street vendors as they can charge you more.
- Cartagena de Indias offers a wide range of accommodations including economic hostels, traditional colonial hotels, and even exclusive boutique hotels.
- Finally, if you have any questions while on your trip, visit one of the many information points you’ll find in the areas of the city heavily frequented by tourists.
With these simple recommendations, you’ll be able to enjoy your stay in the wonderful “Heroic City” as much as possible. Come feel the rhythm of the Colombian Caribbean—it’ll be an experience you’ll remember for a lifetime!
"My Colombian friend had told me that doing a sunset cruise was a great experience to do in Cartagena. We chose to do it with Sibarita and we’re super happy about it! The boat had about 30 people and the atmosphere onboard was really great, mostly thanks to the nice staff and the Latino music playing! For less than 20$/pers we found it was really good value for money especially considering that it is open bar for rum and coke and punch!
Watching the sun set on the sea was beautiful. A fantastic experience I definitely recommend!!"
We loved the Plaza San Diego area. It’s charming & full of life. The restaurants in the plaza are nice, we really enjoyed Juan Del Mar & restaurant San Diego. The vaults are around the corner with lots of shops offering many different souvenirs. There are a couple of 24 hour grocery stores within walking distance. The Emerald jewelry stores have great prices & can size a ring in 30 minutes. This is a lovely little area.
A walking tour of Getsemani is a must for a visit to Cartagena. This is a very colorful neighborhood.
The host family is really nice and generous and the place lovely and quiet; only a few steps walk to the private beach. Sunday the host organized a “parranda" (vallenato party) at the centre. It was a lovely party! The vallenato band made us all want to dance. The center is situated half an hour’s drive from Cartagena airport and city. The city is a must to visit.
This was a fun bus! People get picked up at their hotels so if you’re the first to get picked up, it will be a while before the party gets started. Rum, Coca Cola and water is included on trip. You’ll stop at a place where they sell street food and you’ll learn how to dance. Then, you’ll get dropped off at the club Taboo. From there you’re able to do whatever you want.