Walk Around and Take In the Old City
Cartagena's Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site – this means it's absolutely beautiful! The streets are a maze of cobbled alleys, gorgeous doorways, and balconies covered in flowers. Not to mention there are multiple old plazas each flanked by gorgeous churches.
Still not sure if you want to go to Colombia, let alone Cartagena.... Check out 15 photos that will make you want to go to Colombia ASAP.
Horse Chariot Rides in Cartagena
A Chariot is a popular way for tourists to get to know the old town. These can be flagged down in the street or there are usually some waiting at Plaza Bolivar or close to the Santa Clara hotel. You will see them everywhere when you are in Cartagena. I never took one because I always worry about the treatment of the animals. I will mention that some of the horses looked very thin and underfed while others looked completely fine.
Very similar to Miami, this is the shiny new part of Cartagena.
Castillo De San Felipe de Barajas
The fort costs 25,000 COP to enter and is great for a history lesson. The views from here are also spectacular and a great place to catch sunset.
Teatro Adolfo Mejia
Palacio de Inquisición
Centenario Park is between the old town of Cartagena and Getsemani, the newer hipster area. It is a nice spot to relax and also has huge iguanas and cute sloths!
Pro Tip: I suggest services like ViaHero - a company that assists your trip planning by pairing you with a local. Talking to someone who knows the area and grew up there means you will really get the most out of your experience. Check out this awesome service here.
Convent of Santa Cruz De La Popa
You can't miss visiting Getsemani while in Cartagena. It seriously has the coolest street art, just check out the picture below. It is known as the hipster part of Cartagena and where all the young people hang out. I suggest a full day there and have a full article detailing everything to do and see while in Getsemani. It also includes what the best restaurants are in Getsemani!!
Tayrona National Park
Tayrona National Park, is in northern Colombia. The park is a large protected area covering the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta as they meet the Caribbean coast. It’s known for its palm-shaded coves, coastal lagoons, rain forest and rich biodiversity.
Plazas in old city of Cartagena
They all are really pretty and with the old town being quite small you'll probably stumble upon them all. But if you want to hit the best ones Plaza San Pedro Claver, Bolivar Plaza, and Plaza Santa Domingo were my favorites.
Heading for the ocean is super popular in hot Cartagena. There are a couple beaches to choose from so choose carefully!!
Grab Souvenirs at Las Bovedas
Eat a lot in Cartagena
If you are passing through Cartagena and trying to travel cheaply to other cities in Colombia you can buy tickets to a tourist bus. The most popular city to visit near Cartagena is Santa Marta. This is also the gateway to Minca and the famous Tayrona National Natural Park.
Tourist buses are minivans which have AC and seat around 14-20 people. My best advice is to head to a hostel to buy tickets. Hostels are official sellers and the cheapest price around. I bought my tickets, in person the day before, from Mamallena Hostel. It was far cheaper than the exact same tickets that are available through the tour desks in old town.
Planning for a trip to Cartagena can be overwhelming. I hope I've made it a little easier.
One last thing... even though researching ahead of time is great, I definitely recommend bringing a guidebook along with you. Here are some books I recommend...
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