Probably one of my favorite places in South America and the fifth largest city in Colombia, Cartagena de Indias owes its name to the Spanish, who named it after the original one located in Murcia, Spain!
It was called “Cartagena de Indias” to clarify that they were talking about the Cartagena located in the colonies.
You will notice when you head to the city of Cartagena that the Colombian Caribbean and its vibrant people have nothing to do with the mainland area or with the Amazon region for instance, and that’s because the beauty of this country is in its diversity! In this article, I will explain the best things to do in Cartagena, Colombia in a way that will make you fall in love with this colorful part of the country!
You will find the majority of the landmarks inside the walled city as that is where most of the colonial architecture is located, however I will also be explaining the best things to do in the surrounding areas and islands as well!
Let’s discover all the treasures and best things to do in Cartagena, vámonos!
- 1. Take a tour of the Old Town
- 2. Explore Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas (San Felipe Castle)
- 3. Marvel at the Zenú Gold Museum
- 4. Enjoy the local life at Mercado de Bazurto
- 5. Learn about Cartagena’s dark past at the Palace of the Inquisition
- 6. Watch the sunset from the City Wall
- 7. Admire the street art in Getsemani
- 8. Check out the views from Convento De La Popa
- 9. Try the best Colombian street food
- 10. Sunbathe at Bocagrande Beach
- 11. Take a dining cruise
- 12. Go Salsa Dancing
- 13. Taste some Colombian coffee
- 14. Explore the Church of San Pedro Claver
- 15. Party on a Chiva Bus
- 16. Learn at a Gabriel García Marquez Tour
- BONUS 1: 4 Exotic islands and beaches from Cartagena
- BONUS 2: 2 Awesome Day Trips from Cartagena
- Practical Information about Cartagena
1. Take a tour of the Old Town
There is no escaping the UNESCO World Heritage – listed Old Town in the city of Cartagena, not that you would want to anyway! When I first arrived I was so impressed by the colorful little houses and all the street life that I immediately fell in love with it! If you have been to Havana, Cuba, then you know what I’m talking about!
The Old Town is all that’s located within the walled city (Ciudad Amurallada) and where you can find colonial buildings and the best landmarks such as Plaza Aduana, Torre del Reloj (the clock tower) and even the always-fun Plaza Santo Domingo (Santo Domingo Square) where you can find a Botero sculpture (remember that amazing painter we talked about in my Things to do in Medellín post?).
In my opinion, the best way to see the city is through a tour, where you are taken through the most important attractions and streets while you learn about the history of this lovely city! I have listed my favorites below:
- Free Walking Tour – Check out this link which will give you all free walking tours available on a given dates, with reviews. The concept it simple – you pay only the tips (you decide how much based on how you like the tour). For that reason, the tours are usually always extremely interesting and that’s what I like about them!
- Group Walking Tour – With this 4-hour tour you’ll get picked up at your hotel and taken to the most hidden gems in the old town plus you’ll visit the Castle of San Felipe, which we’ll talk about below!
- Private Walking Tour – You can also have the guide all to yourself on this 4-hour tour which takes you to admire the great plazas, view the clock tower, explore the castle and check out the most beautiful mansions from more than 100 years ago.
- Free Biking Tour – Something I wished I had tried in this city is this tip-based 2-hour free biking tour, such an easy yet fun way to see this city!
PRICE: USD $38 for the group walking trip
2. Explore Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas (San Felipe Castle)
Probably the most famous landmark and one of the most popular places to visit in the city of Cartagena is the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas. This castle and its fortress were built in the city in 1657 by African slaves for the Spanish government in order to protect the city from pirates and (other) conquerors! One of the highlights of our things to do in Cartagena, Colombia!
Make sure you get lost in the many alleyways inside the fortress as it really takes you back to the times of the conquistas!
FUN FACT: Even though there have been numerous attempts, this fortress has never been breached!
PRICE: COP 25,000 (US $7.25)
3. Marvel at the Zenú Gold Museum
Every city in the country has a Gold Museum and this city is no exception! The Zenú Gold Museum is a museum of gold that displays gold art from the pre-hispanic Zenu civilization that was located in the region.
You can learn how it was mined and used by ancient civilizations. Make sure you check out the pottery and jewelry on display at the museum! One of my favorite things to do in Cartagena!
NOTE: If you’re an accessories type of person you can buy gold replicas all throughout Cartagena,. 😉
4. Enjoy the local life at Mercado de Bazurto
Oh, I do love a great local market! With its colorful fruits, funny smells and foods that you’ve never seen, it’s the best way to explore local life in a new country! The Bazurto Market is a great example of life in Cartagena and also a very affordable place to get that yummy Caribbean fruit!
Just a 10-minute taxi drive from the Old Town, or a 30-minute walk for those that love to walk, the Bazurto Market is the place to go for a cheap meal and a morning adventure!
NOTE: Take just the bare necessities to the market-it’s not dangerous at all but pick pocketing is a thing! Also, make sure you wear closed-toed shoes and bring an open mind 😉
For those whose Spanish is non-existent but still want to get an in depth view of this market, you can check out this 4-hour experience with hotel pick up and lunch included!
5. Learn about Cartagena’s dark past at the Palace of the Inquisition
We Spaniards are very aware of what the Inquisition was. It was set up by “Los Reyes Católicos” (the Catholic Monarchs) from Spain as a way to punish all non-Catholic behavior. It happened all throughout Spain and its colonies and the base for this in Cartagena was the Palace of the Inquisition.
In the Palace of the Inquisition, you can learn about how they sent people to court for “misbehaving” and many times punished them with torture devices until they admitted that they were witches or betrayers of the crown.
PRICE: COP 21,000 (US $6)
6. Watch the sunset from the City Wall
You can easily walk on top of the city walls and admire the views of the Caribbean Sea, in Havana’s malecón style! Check out the canyons and flags and feel like you’re in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
A must in Cartagena is to visit Café Del Mar, an institution that is very well known for providing the best cocktails to enjoy while you watch the sunset right from the edge of the walled city. Make sure you arrive early enough to grab a seat as it is a popular spot! Otherwise, you can always buy a beer at a shop and just check out the sunset from the actual wall while you sip your cold beer-affordable and unforgettable!
PRO TIP: Don’t do like I did and go to the city walls in the middle of the day when it’s extremely hot-the heat is unbearable and there is no shade!
7. Admire the street art in Getsemani
When I went to Cartagena, I stayed in Getsemani. This one time prostitute and crime ridden neighborhood is now one of the most hipster areas of the city, filled with events, nightlife and of course, street art!
If you’ve read my other Colombia articles, you must have realized by now that street art is BIG in this country. And Getsemani is the street art hub in Cartagena, with political and just plain beautiful street art located in areas such as Calle de la Sierpe or Plaza de la Trinidad.
To make the most of this unique side of Cartagena, check out this 3-hour art tour of the city led by an art historian where you’re taken to admire the best street art pieces and creative studios the city has to offer. One of the most interesting things to do in Cartagena!
8. Check out the views from Convento De La Popa
The highest point in the city is located at Convento de la Popa (La Popa Monastery) which was built in 1608 in a strategic place to look over the entire city. It is great for those wanting religious things to do in Cartagena. In the convent you can admire a chapel and a cloister as well, typical from the colonial era.
This makes it a great place to enjoy the views of Cartagena and because the hill is quite steep, I recommend you take a taxi there for COP 4,000 (US $1.15). It is well worth a visit if you enjoy panoramic views!
PRICE: Entrance fee is COP 4,500 (US $1.30)
9. Try the best Colombian street food
When I visited, I fell in love with Colombia. Cartagena and its food was a big reason why! I loved everything from sancocho to arepitas, but something that you will really love is the seafood in Cartagena!
Being right next to the ocean, it’s no surprise that seafood and fish are big in this region, and one of the best places to try it is at La Cevichería, Anthony Bourdain’s favorite seafood place in Cartagena!
Make sure you also try the exotic fruit from the “Palenqueras.” Those ladies with fruit baskets on their heads come from the town of Palenque to fill you up with all the necessary vitamins that we sometimes forget about when travelling. Some of the best fruit I have tried!
NOTE: By the way, if you want to take a picture of them, you will have to give them a tip or buy something from them!
A great way to not miss any of the must-try foods in Cartagena is to take this 2-hour street food tour where you get to sample different types of traditional foods while learning about Cartagenian culture from a knowledgeable local guide!
10. Sunbathe at Bocagrande Beach
The Miami beach of Cartagena has to be Bocagrande Beach! One of the most popular out of all the Cartagena beaches, it is the closest beach that you’ll have access to when staying in Cartagena and even though it is not as good as Playa Blanca, it is good enough and full of restaurants close by!
Surrounded by hotels and apartment complexes, Bocagrande Beach is for those that don’t have enough time to go to Playa Blanca but still want to cool off by the water!
NOTE: Beware of the beach sellers that can get quite pushy!
11. Take a dining cruise
Because of its awesome location, right next to the Caribbean Sea, Cartagena is a hub for vibrant cruises that explore the coast nearby and also the nearby islands (which we will talk about in my bonus section below!)
For instance, you can check out this 2-hour sunset cruise perfect for those couples looking for a nice romantic time for themselves with a drink and an appetizer included. Alternatively, if you and your travel mates are big drinkers, check out this sunset cruise with open bar where you can enjoy the sunset while you sip unlimited rum!
Otherwise, check out this 2-hour luxury dinner cruise in which you can taste a delicious 4-course meal while you navigate the Cartagena shore.
PRICE: US $20 for the sunset cruise
12. Go Salsa Dancing
You might have avoided it in Bogotá, or even in Medellín, but you can’t avoid going salsa dancing in Cartagena!
Dancing is part of the culture in the Colombian Caribbean and a must if you really want to experience what nightlife in Cartagena is like! If you don’t like to dance salsa, why not try your hand (or foot) at merengue or bachata?
Some of the most iconic salsa bars in Cartagena are the following:
- Cafe Havana, great atmosphere, yummy drinks and incredible live music!
- Donde Fidel, charming little place full of locals and foreigners alike dancing the night away.
- Quiebracanto, the first salsa bar in Cartagena and the place where all the best dancers go!
13. Taste some Colombian coffee
If you are just visiting Colombia you just have to try their coffee. Fairly proclaimed as the best coffee in the world, Colombian coffee is the export that makes all Colombians proud!
If you are visiting the coffee region you can wait and try coffee there, however, if you’re just staying in the Caribbean area make sure you don’t miss it!
If you keep reading, you will find the best coffee places down below in the practical information section listing the best restaurants and cafés in Cartagena. 😉
14. Explore the Church of San Pedro Claver
Located within the walled city in the Old Town, The Church of San Pedro Claver is probably the most popular church in Cartagena. Its was built by the Spanish, finished in 1654, and since then has been an important place of worship for all Cartageneros!
San Pedro Claver was the saint of slaves; he fought for their human rights during the colonisation period. You can see his remains buried inside the church and visit the archaeological museum there.
PRICE: COP 13,000 (US $3.80)
15. Party on a Chiva Bus
If you like to dance, you should try getting on a Chiva Bus in Cartagena! These open-air buses take tourists from bar to bar while they get to check out the city nightlife from a different perspective!
You can also drink and dance at the bar and if you’re lucky enough you will also be able to enjoy a live band, on the bus, yes!
You can either stand on the road and wait for one of the many buses to drive past, or you can book your 3-hour chiva tour here and make friends in this drinks-and-appetizers mobile club!
PRICE: US $15
16. Learn at a Gabriel García Marquez Tour
Did you know that Cartagena played a big role in Gabriel García Marquez’s life? He studied for his university degree there and started his career as a journalist in the city!
To get even more excited about this trip, I recommend you read a couple of his novels like “100 Years of Solitude” and of course “Of Love and Other Demons” that was set in this magical city! Afterwards, pass them along to some stranger you come across on the street and start a Gabo movement!
If you want to follow his steps in the city, check out this 2.5-hour literary tour that takes you exploring the most important areas for Gabo in real life and in his novels!
PRICE: US $76 per person (Minimum of 2 people)
BONUS 1: 4 Exotic islands and beaches from Cartagena
Beach hopping is one of the most popular things to do in Cartagena, and that’s no surprise as the beaches are so beautiful! This is why I have decided to dedicate a whole section just for that, so you can get an idea of what beaches and islands are the best to visit 😉
1. Islas del Rosario
Just 100 km off the coast of Cartagena you can find Rosario Islands, an archipelago made of 27 white sand islands and beaches surrounded by the most beautiful coral reef that makes for a vibrant day trip from Cartagena!
This gorgeous national park is a paradise for those that love beaches, snorkelling, scuba diving, spotting marine life or just relaxing on the beach, pretty much everyone, right?
HOW TO GET THERE ON YOUR OWN: You can go on a day trip to Isla Grande, which is the biggest island of them all, and do it all on your own for around COP 70,000 (US $20) return (national park fee included), if you take a boat from La Muralla’s port in Cartagena.
Alternatively, I would recommend you to do an organized boat trip as you will be able to do more island hopping and won’t need to worry about haggling over prices or organizing your trip.
On this full day catamaran trip you will be taken sailing around the Rosario Islands, admiring the best sights and snorkeling in the most beautiful turquoise waters. Otherwise, check out this full day excursion where you will enjoy no less than four different islands and you will get to snorkel and chill at Playa Blanca, the most alluring of all the Rosario white sand beaches.
2. Playa Blanca in Isla Baru
Playa Blanca is probably the most famous beach in Isla Baru, which forms part of the Rosario Islands. Isla Baru used to be a separate island until a canal with a bridge was created for cars to be able to cross to the island.
Playa Blanca is extremely popular among day-trippers so I would recommend you stay the night if you want to experience the beach at night and relax without the crowds!
For instance, check out Nuestra Cabañita, a lovely beachfront accommodation with beautiful romantic cabins to spend a restful night sleeping while listening to the sound of the waves!
HOW TO GET THERE ON YOUR OWN: There is a bus from Cartagena that costs COP 45,000 (US $13) return and takes 1 hour.
Alternatively, you can always head there on an excursion so you don’t have to worry about organizing anything! On this full day tour you will head to Playa Blanca with a knowledgeable guide and will be able to have a delicious Colombian lunch in between swimming and sunbathing sessions!
PRICE: US $55
3. La Boquilla and its mangroves
La Boquilla is a fishing town located on the outskirts of Cartagena where you can enjoy a taste of local life by the seaside.
It is not as paradise-like as the sand is a little dark, but it is a great place to check out the calmer side of beach life in Cartagena and have a great dish of fish in the meantime from one of the local beach restaurants
A very popular thing to do in La Boquilla is to hop on a mangrove tour, where you get to experience how the locals fish and paddle through the mangrove tunnels.
ATTENTION: La Boquilla has a bit of a bad reputation as it is one of the poorest places in Cartagena so to play safe, just use some common sense, bring as few personal belongings as you can, and never stay there after dark.
4. Casa en el Agua – Hostel on the water
You might have seen this awesome place in several photos or youtube videos and that’s because Casa del Agua is probably one of the most famous hostels in all Latin America if not the WHOLE WORLD; after all, there are not many floating hostels in the Caribbean, am I right?
This hostel is located in the San Bernardo and Islands area, an island paradise just 80km away from Cartagena and off the tourist trail, so if relaxing or jumping into crystal clear waters is your thing, do not hesitate to head there!
If you’re still doubtful about whether it is worth it or not to head to this place, check out this video. Warning! You’ll be instantly convinced 😉
HOW TO GET THERE ON YOUR OWN: There’s a boat departing the Cartagena harbor at 9am everyday for Casa del Agua on Tintipán Island. It takes 2 hours and costs COP 200,000 (US $60) for a round trip ticket!
NOTE: Go there with an open mind. It is quite basic as it is literally on top of the ocean and you’ll be sleeping in hammocks!
BONUS 2: 2 Awesome Day Trips from Cartagena
Even though Cartagena mostly caters to tourists interested in beach holidays, there are a couple of other trips that you can take that head to the mainland, ones you’ll enjoy as much if not more than Caragena. Check out my two favorites below:
1. San Basilio de Palenque
One of my favorite things to do in Cartagena, Colombia is to visit San Basilio de Palenque, a tiny village at the foothills of a mountain range just south of Cartagena. This UNESCO world heritage listed village was the first slave village in South America to be declared free. It is where those colorful women vendors selling fruit in Cartagena come from (Palenqueras) and a must visit during your Cartagena trip!
To understand its story, the best thing to do is to take this full day tour in which you’ll explore the town, have a delicious traditional lunch and learn about its unique culture that blends Africa with South America!
PRICE: US $20
2. Visit a Mud Volcano and the Pink Sea
El Totumo Volcano is a dormant mud volcano where people actually take mud baths! If you’re easily disgusted you might want to think twice about this one, but I assure you, once you get used to the grimy texture of the mud, you will have a blast. The most fun activity out of all the things to do near Cartagena, Colombia!
Close by, you will find the Salinas de Galerazamba which is a lake with such a high concentration of salt and minerals, it has turned pink!
To make the most of a day, on this full day tour you can enjoy a mud bath at the volcano, take pictures of the gorgeous pink sea and learn about the indigeous history at the Galerazamba Museum!
PRICE: US $30
|🤩 Range of activities:||Large|
|👪 Family-friendly score:||Medium|
|🏛️ Best museum:||Zenú Gold Museum|
|🎢 Top paid attraction:|
|🚶🏽♂️ Best free activity:||Walled City|
|🏖️ Top outdoor activity:||Bocagrande Beach|
|🔦 Unusual attraction:||Casa del Agua|
|🚗 Best day-trip||Mud Volcano|
|🥟 Must try food:||Arepa de huevo|
|📍 Best area:||Old Town|
|📅 How many days:||3-5|
|✈️ Cost of traveling:||Low|
Practical Information about Cartagena
All the fun would be ruined if you didn’t know the basics of traveling throughout Cartagena. Knowing all the things to do in Cartagena is not enough, you also need to know the practical information! From places to stay to the best methods of transportation and even the best food to eat, I have covered all this below.
Have a look!
How to get from the Cartagena airport to the city
Rafael Núñez Airport (CTG) is just 3 km away from the city center (centro in Spanish) of Cartagena, which is great news for you as it is so easy to get from the airport to the city! Whether you are coming from Medellín, or you’ve even gotten one of those cheap flights from the USA, chances are that you’ll be arriving at this airport! Flights from other cities in Colombia are quite affordable, by the way!
There are no easy buses (worth taking) between the airport and the city so I would recommend you head to the taxi section below!
Taxis from the airport to the city are usually quite affordable and safe but they are not metered so make sure that you don’t get ripped off! Outside of the arrivals section at the Cartagena airport, there is a taxi price generator machine. Just input your address or accommodation name and it will print a receipt with the fixed rate that you’ll have to pay.
PRICE: COP 12,000 to COP 15,000 (US $3.50 to US$4.30)
NOTE: I would not recommend booking an UBER from the airport, as taxis make their life impossible in order to pick you up. Really, the easiest thing is to get a taxi.
Transportation in Cartagena
Cartagena’s old town is where you’re likely to be spending most of your time and it is definitely fairly small! That’s why you’ll find yourself walking a lot while you admire the wonderful pebbled streets and colorful houses!
However, in case you need to take transportation somewhere, the most popular ways to travel are the following:
By Transmilenio bus
The buses in Cartagena are quite new and comfortable. This fleet of buses is called Transcaribe and it was created just a couple of years ago!
In order to use the bus system you need to purchase a Transcaribe card from one of the stations in the city. It costs COP 4,000 (US$1.15) and you can recharge it every time you need it.
PRICE: COP 2,300 (US$0.70) per trip
These types of buses are older and more colorful than the Transmilenio ones, but way less comfortable!
Each one has a board on the windshield that says the names of the neighborhoods it passes through or/and a driver that screams the neighborhood name through the window. You can just hail it and they will stop for you!
PRICE: COP 2,300 (US$0.70) per trip
By taxi/ Uber
Licenced taxis in Cartagena are yellow and have a sticker that says “Servicio Público” which means public service. They’re super reliable but quite expensive by Colombian standards, although still cheap for most tourists traveling from western countries.
As taxis are not metered you need to agree upon a fare before getting in the taxi, otherwise you will get overcharged!
PRICE: Minimum fare is COP 7,500 (US$2.20); you can check all the official fares here.
Where to stay in Cartagena
In Cartagena there are several options for accommodations available, most within the walls of the Old Town. However, because of this, the accommodation variety is limited. That’s why if you want to get a great place, make sure that you book way ahead of time as they get sold out super fast!
I am going to share my favorite accommodation choices below, however, make sure you check my Best Accommodations in Cartagena article where you can read an in-depth look at all of them!
Luxury (US $160 and up):
- Casa San Agustín – This 5-star accommodation is probably my favorite place to stay in Cartagena! Colonial buildings, excellent service and unbelievable outdoor area. What else is needed?
- Hotel Casa Don Sancho by Musique – The ultimate luxurious destination in the city, this lodging features tastefully decorated rooms plus a hot tub area and breathtaking views.
Middle-priced (between US $56 and US $160):
- Posada La Fe – In the colorful Getsemani area, Posada La Fe is the perfect place to stay. Clean, beautiful, minimalistic and joyful. What a win!
- San Pedro Hotel Spa – If you’re looking for a place with beautiful and romantic colonial architecture, this is your place! It features an outdoor swimming pool area and a spa!
Budget (up to US $56):
- Bourbon St Hostal Boutique – This luxury hostel is one of my favorites and it’s just 100m away from Bolivar Plaza. Plus, it’s got a swimming pool to keep you cool during those hot summer months!
- Hotel Manglar 421 – Guests that stay at Manglar 421 love the beach-like decor, amazing staff and superb cleanliness!
Must-try food in Cartagena
My favorite thing about traveling is that you get to know a culture through its food; you can learn about the people, their work and even the nature around a place just by having a bite of some typical delicious dishes!
Check out my favorite dishes that you just have to try during your Cartagena travels:
- Arepa de huevo – typical street food-a corn arepa filled with egg.
- Posta Negra – typical meat stew from the region!
- Mondongo – traditional (and delicious) meat soup.
- Tropical Fruit – watermelon, mangoes, pineapples, bananas…
- Mote de Queso – cheese soup served with avocado and white rice.
- Patacón con Todo – fried plantain filled with all types of meats and deliciousness, literally TODO! Great to share!
- Arroz de Mariscos – A main dish of rice with seafood and a little bit of patacón on the side!
- Ceviche – traditionally Peruvian but they make great ones in Cartagena! Ceviche is a dish made of raw fish spiced and marinated with lime, lemon, and chilli among other spices. If you haven’t tried it, you really should!
Great restaurants and cafés in Cartagena
When I travel I try to only eat traditional dishes from local places! Otherwise, what do you travel for? 😉 In Cartagena, there are plenty of places to try these classic dishes-from street food stalls to high end restaurants, this city has it all.
Have a look at my favorite restaurants in the city that I’ll share with you below:
- Donde Olano – Great place to try out some traditional Colombian main dishes, super cozy atmosphere and overall great service!
- La Cevichería – Probably the most famous restaurant in the whole city, this historic restaurant serves amazing fish and delicious Ceviche! Make sure you don’t miss it!
- La Vitrola – This charming restaurant serves really good local seafood while you enjoy amazing service and even live music! Prices are a little high but worth it nonetheless.
- Tropical Pollo – This chicken chain is a lot more than a KFC look alike. Locals love it and you will too so forget the fine dining experience and try real fried chicken from the Caribbean!
- Krioyo – Here you can find a typical Caribbean lunch main menu! They serve a wide variety of dishes, all traditional, from the local area.
- Ábaco Libros y Café – This bookstore-meets-coffee shop is one of the best spots for coffee that this city has to offer! Get one of their books and relax with a Colombian coffee in hand to unwind from the hustle and bustle of the city!
- Café del Mural – This café’s atmosphere will make you want to stay inside the whole day and never leave! Make sure you order the hot chocolate with cheese, a Colombian delicacy!
Money and Prices in Cartagena
Cartagena, being one of the most touristy places in the country, is also one of the most expensive ones. Like everywhere else, costs depend on where you are staying because places within the city walls will be more expensive while places outside will be generally cheaper. Of course, there are ways to do it on the cheap so don’t freak out if you’re on a budget. However, if you are not, get ready for the trip of a lifetime!
Check out the average prices below:
- A meal in an inexpensive restaurant for 1 person – US $4
- Dinner for 2 in a restaurant – US $25
- A night in a hotel (very approximate) – US $70
- Taxi – US $1.75 per km + US $1.75 initial charge
- A bottle of water – US $0.45
- Domestic beer 0,5L – US $0.72
- Bus ticket – US $0.70
- Average price for a museum – US $2 to US $5
- 1 l of gas (1/4 gallon) – US $0.70
TIPPING CULTURE: Tipping is not expected, however some people do it. Wealthy people tip around US $1 unless they’re in a high class restaurant, where they will tip around 10% of the bill.
Sim cards in Colombia
Buying a Sim card is not really necessary in this city as it is quite small, but it can always come in handy when you want to book an Uber or check out an address.
Claro is the best phone provider to choose from and the one I will be recommending, as their coverage is great and they offer awesome deals.
Their basic SIM Card is called “Prepago fácil” and the welcome package is just US $1 up to US $5. You can also choose the amount of MB you need and for how many days you want it. For instance, you can get 15 days worth of data (1.5 GB) for COP 20,900 (US $6) which is enough if you’re using it to find your way and reserve Ubers
PRO TIP: In order to register, remember to bring your passport when you go to the store and have your accommodation address with you.
When is the best time to visit Cartagena?
It can be visited all year round, however, depending on the time of the year, you might have lots of tourists flocking around you or rain showers and extreme heat.
If you want to avoid extreme weather, the best time to go is from December to March when the weather is mild, beaches are pristine and there are not as many tourists blocking your instagram snaps.
However, beware of going to the city during the Christmas period or during Holy Week; apart from being flooded with tourists, prices skyrocket during those times!
I personally went to Cartagena in November and even though it was quite hot, I loved every minute of it!
You have reached the end of this Cartagena travel guide!
Now, you are a master on what to do in Cartagena, the best places to see and the highlights of Cartagena sightseeing! And if you’d like to know how to rent a car in Colombia and turn your Latin American trip into a road trip, check out my post on renting a car in Bogotá!
Whether you’ve reached this article through my other Colombia posts or you’re just interested in the best Cartagena activities, I hope this guide has been extremely useful to you as you try to steer yourself and your travel mates through this unique experience!
By the way, where are you heading next? To Tayrona National Park for instance? Then check out my post about this gem of the Colombian Caribbean! That way, you can learn all the ins and outs of visiting this natural wonder 😉
Let me know what you think in the comments below. Really, I love reading them!
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I’m so happy I found thus article. Thank you! Super helpful.
The most comprehensive article I’ve seen on Cartagena so far. Thank you. I’m planning a trip with my 18 year old niece and your suggestions will be great for our trip. We don’t speak Spanish beyond the bare minimum, so a bit nervous about that.
Happy to hear that! <3
Cartagena is quite a touristic destination, most of the people in shop/restaurants in the city center will speak decent english, so no worries about that! If you really want to make sure you can speak spanish in all possible situations, I would recommend using Google Translator app (it translates simultaneously - you speak in english it speaks it in spanish aloud and the other way around) - it is free but you will need Internet connection (you can buy a local simcard).
Do not worry, I am sure you will be fine, most people do not speak a word of Spanish and they get around somehow in anyway! 🙂
I’m planning to embark on major road journey Alaska to Argentina thru PanAmerican Highway. I have tried to read as many writing as I can find in preparation for this trip. With current corona-virus, have no idea when this trip is going to happen. Your articles are by far the best I have seen. Keep writing to help dreamers like myself.
Happy to hear it was useful, Telly!
I hope the pandemic will be over soon and the boarders will be open again asap!
Great article with lots of great information! I’d like to see the greatest and traditionally famous restaurants and hotels!
My favourite restaurants are in the article, feel free to check them out! As for hotels, if you want to see more options, you can also take a look at this post on Best places to stay in Cartagena – divided by budget!
An excellent article about a great city
Thank you, I also love this city!
This was so incredibly detailed and helpful! Looking forward to visiting my country again 🙂 The last time I I went I was 8 yrs old, now I’m 24 and going with my boyfriend! Excitement on 1,000. Thanks a ton Arantxa!
Wow, that’s amazing! I hope you’ll have a wonderful time there!