Top Things to do in Cartagena Colombia

Walk Around and Take In the Old City

 One of the best things to do in Cartagena is 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.

Visit Bocagrande

 One of the best things to do in Cartagena is visit Bocagrande.

Very similar to Miami, this is the shiny new part of Cartagena.

Castillo De San Felipe de Barajas

 One of the best things to do in Cartagena is visit the fort!

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

 One of the best things to do in Cartagena is visit the teatro.

Palacio de Inquisición

 One of the best things to do in Cartagena is visit the palace of inquisition

Centenario Park

 One of the best things to do in Cartagena is visit Centenario Park

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

 One of the best things to do in Cartagena

Getsemani

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

 One of the best things to do in Cartagena is take a trip to 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.

A bit of a hike from Cartagena, but still doable, don't miss out on Tayrona National Park. It is more popular to use Santa Marta as your jumping off point and I recommend going this route. 

Read on: Everything you need to know about visiting Tayrona National Park

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.

Playa Blanca

 One of the best things to do in Cartagena is bask in the sun at Playa Blanca

Rosario Islands

 One of the best things to do in Cartagena is take a boat to the roasario islands.

Heading for the ocean is super popular in hot Cartagena. There are a couple beaches to choose from so choose carefully!!

Read on: Best beaches in Cartagena  |  How to get to the Rosario Islands while in Cartagena

Grab Souvenirs at Las Bovedas

 One of the best things to do in Cartagena

Eat a lot in Cartagena

I had a lot of favorites while visiting so here is a complete list of everywhere I ate, and a couple of places I think are the best restaurants in Cartagena. There are also a ton of local foods you shouldn't miss out on, so make sure you do your research ahead of time. 

Travel to Santa Marta

 One of the best things to do in Cartagena is take a trip to Santa Marta

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. 

Read on: Step by step guide on how to get from Cartagena to Santa Marta

Final Thoughts

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...

Also, a super common question I get is: what camera do I use for my travels. The body is a Nikon D3300 and this is the wide angle lens I use and love - I am seriously obsessed with it. 

My full guide that includes all the camera gear I take on every trip is here.

 

And of course, if you have any questions DO NOT hesitate to reach out to me via Instagram, Twitter, or just shoot me an email (tessajuliette@gmail.com). 

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