5 TOP Spots • Where to Stay in Cartagena This Year!

cartagena street

The Colombian city of Cartagena De Indias is known throughout Latin America as the jewel of the Caribbean. This is due to the fact that it is home to a well-preserved walled ‘old town’ full of history that dates back to the 16th century. In this article, I will be taking you through a guide of all the accommodation on offer in each neighborhood where to stay in Cartagena!

With just over a million people, Cartagena is Colombia’s 5th biggest city, and its story is truly a tale of two cities. Depending on how you arrive in Cartagena, you will most likely be driven or drive through the new city in Cartagena which is where the bus station and airport are located. This area outside the Old Town can be at times dirty, unsafe and uninteresting. But do not worry, we are going to cover all the interesting neighborhoods in this post!

I recommend to stay inside the Old Town walls as this is truly where Cartagena de Indias comes alive. There are a few different neighborhoods within the walled city such as San Diego, Getsemaní and Santo Domingo (where you can find the Gold Museum), however, as the walled city is so small, each neighborhood can be reached by walking (and exploring!) in a few minutes.

Wherever you choose, make sure to book in advance as the best places here go super quickly and you don’t want to be left with overpriced and underachieving hotels!

Let’s go!

NOTE: Throughout the Spanish speaking world, Cartagena is a popular name for cities/towns etc so make sure you are looking at the right Cartagena when doing your booking. To help minimize confusion, I will be using the word ‘Colombia’ after Cartagena a lot!

If you are in a hurry:

Here are some amazing accommodation options in the historic center sorted by price (all of them have fabulous reviews, too!):

luxury hotel
Hotel Boutique Casona del Colegio Cartagena

Casona del Colegio

Best luxury boutique hotel

mid-range hotel
Hotel Santa Catalina Cartagena

Hotel Santa Catalina

Best value for money

budget hotel
El Barrio Hostal Cartagena

El Barrio Hostal

Best affordable accommodation in the center

Here is a map of all the areas that I will be talking about in this post so you can easily visualize them:

Map of best places to stay Cartagena
Centro (old town)
for first timers
GETSEMANI
for nightlife
SAN DIEGO
for families
BOCAGRANDE & LAQUITO
for luxury

If you’re looking for a visual guide to some of the main areas, I found this video which explains the first few neighborhoods in my guide pretty well:

1. Centro (The Old Town) – for first time visitors

cartagena street, Where to Stay in Cartagena

As I mentioned earlier, the Walled City (the historic center) is probably your best option since all the attractions are located here and it is a safe neighborhood. Here you will fall in love with the charming, vibrant streets and well-preserved colonial architecture of the historical buildings.

This area is very lively and touristy with tons of options of accommodations, which makes it the perfect place where to stay in Cartagena for first-time visitors. However, I do recommend trying to book as much in advance as possible as the area is not so big and the best places tend to book out really fast!

In fact, that happened with me – as everything nice was already booked for our dates, we decided to book something outside of the walls and it was a disaster – the room was the smallest most horrible room I have seen and there were girls downstairs who looked like hm… ladies-of-the-night. Needless to say, we had to urgently find something overpriced that would be in the area we felt safe in.

Just go with any of my suggestions below in this post, and you will be fine! 🙂

Luxury hotel
best hotels in cartagena colombia

One of the top stays in Cartagena, The Charleston oozes luxury. The decor is opulent and matches the colonial architecture of the surroundings. Guests can indulge in facilities such as an outdoor pool, romantic hot tub, on-site restaurant and incredible views across the city of Cartagena. Right in the historic center!

More accommodation options in the Old Town:

mid-range
Hotel Santa Catalina Cartagena

Modern hotel in a great location with a rooftop bar

Budget
El Viajero Hostel

Perfect for backpackers, they even provide salsa classes!

airbnb
studio with Jacuzzi Cartagena

A comfy studio with a rooftop pool and jacuzzi terrace

Things to do in the Old City:

  • Wonder around the colorful Calle de Los Siete Infantes
  • Discover the Colombian cuisine with this delicious food tour!
  • Visit the Palace of the Inquisition and its museum
  • Walk around the vibrant square Plaza de Santo Domingo
  • Learn about Colombia culture at the Naval Del Caribe Museum
  • Enjoy sea views from the fortress of Baluarte de Santo Domingo!
  • See the Totumo Volcano and the famous Pink Sea with the Barranquilla Cultural Tour!

2. Getsemani – where to stay in Cartagena for nightlife

cartagena san pedro, Where to Stay in Cartagena, Getsemani

Getsemani is located South of the Old Town and it is considered to be the best area for backpackers and nightlife lovers. It used to be an unsafe area, but it is changing fast now with lots of hipsters cafes, and alternative bars popping up here and there.

This is also one of the coolest and most bustling neighborhoods, where you will find vibrant street art and graffiti in every corner… maybe that’s why Marbella hosts a community of musicians, artists, and backpackers!

So, if you are from the younger crowd, I would recommend staying somewhere around Plaza de Trinidad as this is a very popular hang-out place where you can meet fellow travelers.

Luxury hotel
Hotel Capellán Cartagena

Beautifully designed, comfortable and functional hotel with an outdoor rooftop pool and amazing complimentary breakfast. The rooms are clean and spacious, and it is only 10 minutes walk from the Old Town!

Other accommodation options in Getsemani

mid-range
Hotel Boutique Casa Isabel Cartagena

Sparkling spacious rooms and an amazing rooftop breakfast

Budget
Hotel Dordo Cartagena

Modern hotel located in between Getsemani and the Old Center

airbnb
Townhouse Getsemani Cartagena

Stylish bright Airbnb with 3 bedrooms, book in advance!

Things to do in the Getsemani:

  • Party and dance at the historic Cafe Havana!
  • Visit the beautiful church Iglesia de la Santísima Trinidad
  • See the area’s street art, like tge Calle de las Tortugas mural
  • Have the best tapas and cocktails at Demente Tapas Bar
  • Do some bar crawling along Calle San Andres
  • Wander around the charming streets of Calle Del Espiritu Santo
  • Hang out at night with your friends or with locals at Plaza Trinidad!

3. San Diego – where to stay in Cartagena for families

cartagena colombia, Where to stay in Cartagena, San diego

San Diego is located inside the walls and it is just a stone throw away from the Old City (its North-East corner). Just like Bocagrande (below), I would recommend this area for families as it is a quiet part of the Old Town yet all the attractions are walkable from there.

You will love this district because it offers as much history (with its old churches and buildings) and vibrant atmosphere as in the most touristic areas, but at a quieter pace of life! And if you’re looking forward to trying the local food, here you need to try the best street food in Cartagena (around the famous San Diego square).

You will also be pleasantly surprised to see some of the city’s best restaurants and the number of great hotels in the area!

Luxury hotel
best hotels in cartagena old city

This hotel in cartagena is called Legend for a reason – it is an old monastery renovated into a stylish hotel. It is a safe place perfect for travelers with kids and those who value high standards service. The rooftop pool is fantastic too!

Other accommodation options in San Diego

mid-range
casa gloria cartagena

Great boutique hotel with a rooftop jacuzzi at an affordable price

Budget
Casa Del Curato Cartagena

Rooms with character and comfort, huge ceilings, walking location to the wall

airbnb
romantic hideout cartagena

A stylish house with a small rooftop terrace that can host up to 5 people

Things to do in San Diego:

  • Relax, eat and drink something in the charming Plaza San Diego
  • Buy some souvenirs from the street artists in Calle del Curato
  • Have a picnic with the family in the green Parque Fernández Madrid!
  • Gaze at the architecture of Iglesia de Santo Toribio, one of the oldest churches in the City!

4. Bocagrande & Laquito – best area for luxury

cartagena buildings

Bocagrande is a peninsula located just outside of the walled city. If you are looking for beachfront accommodation that is also not far from the Centro, this would be a great choice – some even call it “The Miami beach of Cartagena”! There are lots of skyscrapers and international big chain hotels like Hilton and Hyatt if you are looking for well-known names.

Bocagrande is one of the most expensive areas not only in Cartagena but in entire Colombia, hosting gated communities and wealthy families, so you won’t be surprised if prices here are higher and if you’ll mostly find luxurious and modern accommodations.

El Laquito is located on the left of the peninsula and it is called like this because it has a big lake – a super nice and safe area to be in. The whole area is super safe, so if you are traveling with a family or just looking for a nice relaxing vacation in the city, I can definitely recommend this area!

Luxury hotel
Hyatt Regency Cartagena

Hyatt is an absolutely beautiful hotel in cartagena with a breathtaking sea view that you can marvel at sipping your cocktail in their infinity pool. The rooms are equipped with all the needed amenities including the AC and free Wi-Fi. You will feel like you’re staying in a beach resort!

Other options in Bocagrande & Laquito

mid-range
Hotel Capilla del Mar Cartagena

Modern hotel on the beach in Bocagrande, with clean rooms and friendly staff

Budget
Oz Cartagena

Quiet location, a hotel with big rooms and well-maintained facilities.

airbnb
Spectacular 2-bedroom - where to stay in cartagena with a view

A luxurious Airbnb for your stay in Cartegena has a private balcony with unobstructed sea views!

Things to do in Boca Grande:

  • Have a walk around the lovely lake El Laguito
  • Do some crazy shopping or have lunch at the Plaza Bocagrande Mall
  • Have the best latin dishes with a view at Kiosko El Bonny!

5. Marbella – where to stay in Cartagena on a budget

cartagena street, Where to stay in Cartagena, marbella

Marbella (and I would include El Cabrero which adjoins it) is another nice beachfront location that I would recommend for budget travelers.

Since it’s a residential neighborhood there are not so many hotels and restaurants in Marbella (there are some though!), but you can still find plenty of nice apartments for short-term rentals there. This is also a great area if you are a digital nomad looking for an apartment in Cartagena.

You will see that the price for accommodation is a bit lower in Marbella, but keep in mind that it will take about 20 minutes on foot to the Centro area. If that is not a problem, read on, I chose some nice places for you:

Luxury hotel
Ermita Cartagena a Tribute Portfolio Hotel

A popular stylish hotel near Marbella beach that includes an outdoor sun terrace and a swimming pool. They serve a delicious buffet breakfast in the morning and the rooms are equipped with everything you might need!

Other accommodation options in Marbella:

mid-range
casa bustamente cartagena

The host of this small hotel goes above and beyond to ensure you have a comfy stay!

Budget
castillo Inses Maria Cartagena

Old historical building renovated to a stylish boutique hotel.

airbnb
5

Fully furnished apartment within walking distance both from the airport and the beach!

Things to do in Marbella:

  • Relax and take some sun in the beautiful Playa Marbella
  • Buy souvenirs at Las Bóvedas, formerly 18th-century dungeons
  • Skate, cycle, walk or just watch the sunsets at Parque Lineal de Crespo
  • Check out the funny blue crab sculpture at the park Cangrejo Azul
👑 Luxury price:$200
💵 Mid Range:$110
🛏️ Budget:$50
💰 Accommodation prices:Low
📍 Best neighborhood:El Centro
👪 Best area for families:San Diego
🛎️ Best luxury hotel:Bastión Luxury Hotel
💵 Mid-range hotel:Hotel Santa Catalina
👛 Best budget hotel:El Viajero Hostel

BONUS 1: Where to stay in Rosario Islands 

where to stay in cartagena, Rosario Islands

Rosario islands is an archipelago in Colombia located approximately 100 km (~62 miles) away from Cartagena. If you have some extra time, I BEG you to go visit it! You can do it in a day trip, but spending a couple of nights there to get away from the city and enjoy those pristine beaches is, of course, preferred.

NOTE: Most of the hotels offer a full board option and, unless you are staying in a big hotel with a couple of restaurants in the proximity, I would recommend taking it. You will not only enjoy the homemade delicious food, you will also get a feel of real authentic food and support local businesses.

The archipelago consists of many islands – Baru, Grande, and Marina being the most popular, I have selected some cool options for you on those 3, take a look below:

Luxury hotel
Coralina Island Cartagena

This hotel is located on Islas del Rosario in a natural park is so beautiful, it can easily be a highlight of your Colombia trip! The rooms are cozy and comfy and they have ocean an view (of course!), 3 meals per day are included in your stay already and you can arrange some activities around the island such as boat tours or scuba diving.

Other accommodation options in Rosario Islands:

mid-range
Aura hotel Cartagena

This Isla De Barú hotel is a nice quiet retreat perfect for couples and families

Budget
Nuestra Cabanita Ocean view

If you want to stay right on the beach in the famous Playa Blanca area, look no further!

airbnb
B1 4 Unique airbnb in cartegena colombia

Enjoy the turquoise waters and sizzling Caribbean sun from this unique Airbnb.

BONUS 2: Best Hotels Near Cartagena Airport

cartagena colombia

But, where to stay in Cartagena near the airport? Rafael Nuñez International Airport, or CTG, is located only 3 km away from the Old Town so even though it is rather close, some tourists prefer to stay right next to CTG.  For those of you who are jetting into Cartagena for a few quick days of sun and color, or those of you who have late arrival/early departure, schedules might be wanting to choose a hotel close by the airport to ensure a swift departure like James Bond!

Luxury hotel
top hotels in cartagena colombia

Enjoy the big family rooms of this beautiful luxurious hotel, featuring air conditioning and amazing views of the ocean. Immerse yourself in full relaxation on the sun terrace or in the spectacular rooftop pool… what do you need more?

Other accommodation options near the airport:

mid-range
Mucura Cartagena

On-site restaurant and rooftop bar, daily meal and even a hot tub!

Budget
Casa Cano Cartagena

The decor is lively and you will be 2 blocks away from the airport!

airbnb
apartment near the airport cartagena

Spacious rooms with air-conditioning, just a short walk from the airport!


Frequently asked questions about Cartagena

🏨 Which is the best place where to stay in Cartagena?

The best place to stay in Cartagena is el Centro, the historic center, especially if it’s your first time in the city. Stay at Bastión Luxury Hotel for luxury and comfort, or at the more affordable El Viajero Hostel, perfect for backpackers!

🕵️‍♀️ Is it safe to stay in Cartagena?

Cartagena is one of the safest places in Colombia, thanks to low crime rates, a solid standard of living, and plenty of police officers on the streets. However, you always have to use common sense and stay in the tourist areas, such as the historic center.

🍸 Where to stay in Cartagena for nightlife?

The best place to enjoy a night out in Cartagena is Getsemaní, offering lots of places to stay, most of them located in historic buildings. Stay at the Hotel Boutique Casa Isabel for great value for money or at the Hotel Capellán for a luxurious stay.

💰 Where to stay in Cartagena on a budget?

The best place to stay in Cartagena on a budget is Marbella, a residential neighborhood right on the beach. Feel like at home at Casa Bustamante Boutique Hotel or opt for the stylish Castillo Ines Maria, set in a historical building.

🚗 Are there any Cartagena hotels with parking?

Yes! The best hotels in Cartagena with parking are the Hyatt Regency and the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara

🏖️ What are the best all-inclusive hotels in Cartagena?

There aren’t a lot of all-inclusive hotels here however the best two are Estelar Playa Manzanillo and La Gran Via Hotel (which is a bit more affordable)

Conclusion

cartagena colombia

So there you have my complete guide to accommodation in Cartagena – Specifically its Walled City and Bocagrande neighborhood. I’ve covered everything from hostels, apartments and every type of stay in the old city!

The city is truly one of a kind, at least in Colombia, with the mixture of the Caribbean and Latin vibes being at an all-time high and leaving all its visitors with that burning sensation of wanting to return ASAP! I hope you find this content helpful and I have solved all of your doubts regarding where to stay in Cartagena!

Please note that due to the size of the walled old town neighborhood, accommodation does tend to book out rather quickly so try to book your hotel in Cartagena as soon as possible. If you’re still not sure about where to stay, let me give you my absolute top choices:

  • Bastión Luxury Hotel – One of the top luxury hotels in Cartagena, with great central location and colonial architecture
  • Hotel Santa Catalina – Find everything you need in this fabolous modern hotel, in the heart of the old city

If you are returning or coming for the very first time, be sure to check out my article about what to do in Cartagena first, then come right back here to pick one of these great accommodation choices in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, the jewel of the South American Caribbean!

As always, enjoy your trip, and please leave a comment below with any questions you may have or general comments on your trip to Cartagena de Indias!

Happy travels!

Yulia



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2 Comments

  1. Claire 20.12.2020 at 17:20
  2. George Figueroa 09.06.2020 at 08:59

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