Cartagena Travel Guide

  • Iglesia Pedro Claver dome from port at dusk
    Iglesia Pedro Claver dome from port at...
    by richiecdisc
  • taking a volcano mud bath
    taking a volcano mud bath
    by hanspeter_W.
  • Cartagena
    by rambling_rose

Cartagena Things to Do

  • Jardin Botanico Guillermo Pineres

    In the nearby town of Turbaco is a botanical garden. You can take a bus from Cartagena to get to Turbaco & a moto-taxi to the Garden. I forget, but think admission was 17.000 Was decent if you didn't plan to go into the jungle anywhere else.

  • Naval Museum

    The naval museum is worth the 8.000 entrance fee. Great during the afternoon, since there is air conditioning :) It covers over 400 years of naval history on 2 floors. Don't miss the submarine walk-through in the corner, that was cool. My only complaint was that almost no signs are in English.

  • Rent a Moped

    Rent a moped in Old Town. The shops aren't well marked so you have to find a moped with an ad printed on it and ask the shop owner about it. There are a number of different options. There are also bicycles for rent. We paid 30.000 per hour to rent the moped and putt around Old Town. Was worth doing once.


Cartagena Hotels

See all 20 Hotels in Cartagena

    This is a beautiful hotel but not worth the money to stay here...especially not worth having your...

  • Hotel Casa La Fe

    Calle segunda de Badillo #36-125, Centro, Cartagena 123, Colombia

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Families

  • Capilla Del Mar Hotel

    Bocagrande, Carrera 1ra. No. 8 -12, Cartagena 3939, Colombia

    Satisfaction: Very Good

    Good for: Families

    Hotel Class 3.5 out of 5 stars

Cartagena Restaurants

  • Grecia Cafe Y Suvlaki

    The first time I had Greek food was a couple of years ago in Florida in a town called Tarpon Springs, and I really liked it. Actually, I was in Greece many years ago (but only in transit) and managed to take a few hours quick tour of Athens. Didn't have the chance to try the local food then. Well, on our last evening in Cartagena while we were...

  • Authentic Greek Restaurant

    The first time I had Greek food was a couple of years ago in Florida in a town called Tarpon Springs, and I really liked it. Actually, I was in Greece many years ago (but only in transit) and managed to take a few hours quick tour of Athens. Didn't have the chance to try the local food then. Well, on our last evening in Cartagena while we were...

  • Looks like Bodeguita del Medio in La...

    It has the same name, but in La Habana is much more historic and warm place than here. Just ordered a glass of rum.


Cartagena Nightlife

  • Help for places

    I'm going to Cartagena soon. im an american college student who looks hispanic and i love to party just as hard as we do in college. Can anyone tell me where I can find this in Cartagena? i speak fluent Spanish because most of my friends are Colombian. I dont care much for pricey stuff i just want to party with people my age and have a good time....

  • Caribbean Vibe with Salsa Dancing and...

    Among the city's most authentic and coolest nightspots is Café Havana located outside the walled city, in the Getsemani district, far from fancy new restaurants and bars. One night I went there with my Canadian friend Kathy. It was actually her last night in Cartagena before taking an early morning flight back to Canada, one more reason to...

  • call us wimps if you like

    Saying we're not night owls is a real understatement. Well, when you wake up at dawn, being one would not be the best of moves, would it? Getting out for great shots in the morning means sacrifices but really for me, it's not an option. I'm an early bird by nature so going to bed early comes naturally. Besides, in a place many people are afraid to...


Cartagena Transportation

  • Bus to Santa Marta

    Took the taxi to the bus station. No signage at the station so we didn't know where to go. This is where looking like a tourist comes in handy. A guy came up to us and said "Santa Marta" so we were able to just follow him to his bus. As we were leaving and they were trying to fill the remaining seats, they yelled 'Santa Marta' out the door and...

  • taxi to & from Old Town area

    From the airport the taxi driver was charging $10 USD to Getsemani, but since we had pesos, was 20.000 (much better price), found out at the end of the trip you can easily haggle to 14 or 15.000 COP. (We did on our last taxi trip, we don't speak much Spanish, but just said 15 to the driver and he nodded)

  • Avianca

    I flew with Avianca from Bogota. Though I must say that I had no problems and the aircraft was new, I must say I could not get the ticket from their website. As for aerolinas argentina you get different prices if you are local or a foreigner, but even in the foreigner version of the website I could not purchase the ticket and I had to use an online...


Cartagena Shopping

  • Candies

    When you first walk into Old Town through the Clock tower you are on Dulce Ave (or something like that). What you will notice is a row of identical candy shops. I got a sampler for 8.000 to try them out. Most of the candies are coconut based. Pretty good if you like coconut. 8.000 for the sampler

  • Colombian Emeralds

    This jewelry store contains a small museum, and is also an emerald workshop, where they showed us the process of turning raw emeralds into jewelry. They have beautiful jewelry, but if you aren't in shopping mode (I wasn't) you can tour the workshop and museum. Emeralds It's not cheap!

  • Bags, Sport Clothes and Accessories

    I needed a new small backpack for day trips since my old one was already in a very bad condition. I noticed Totto shops before (you actually find them in all bigger towns around Colombia) and really liked things they were selling. Walking the streets of historical centre of Cartagena, just a few blocks from my hotel, I came across rather big one...


Cartagena Local Customs

  • Photos for a fee

    If you encounter women in special regional costumes, this is how they earn a living. If you take their photo, or pose with them, they expect to be paid. (I consider it worth it--especially when they are as friendly and charming as this lady from the Palenque community.)

  • Chiva Buses

    Chivas are party buses. Groups of people hire the bus and driver, and sometimes a band, and it’s a mobile party. It may drive from place to place, or go to one spot and park. One parked bus had a dressed-up skeleton on the hood, music blaring from a boom box, and so many people dancing in it that it rocked the bus.

  • Most Charming Colonial Architecture

    The downtown area of Cartagena is very attractive with cobbled streets, leafy plazas and ancient churches. It has a wonderful mixture of architecture - colonial houses, old military constructions, and there are also republican and Italian style buildings. Some of the two- or three-storey colonial houses boasts enormous wooden doors. Many have...


Cartagena Warnings and Dangers

  • Ask about all prices before your tour

    I made a rookie mistake. Most tours you take include the cost of admission & transportation in the total cost. Some even include lunch. So when taking one of my tours, I didn't ask what was or wasn't included. Out tour didn't include transportation or admission (or lunch), so it ended up being an additional 100.000 for 2 of us to take what became a...


    The historic area of Cartagena does not have a Post Office. What they have are these robbing bastards. The ***es working there made me pay them $3.50 for every postcard to friends and family. the most expensive in the world. They indicated they were too busy to put the stamps on them and I was in too much of a hurry to get a receipt.Big mistake.The...

  • Touts and more

    An outing to the Castle of San Fernando is a must when visiting Cartagena in order to understand the extent to which the Spaniards went in trying to keep off others and their envious encroaches from their most prized possession in the Caribbean. At the same time it involves some hurdles that will provide you with insights of Colombian society in...


Cartagena Tourist Traps

  • Avoid Cartegena

    If you hate your brother and sister-in-law have them join you in Cartegena for a beach vacation. I have been to Zanzabar, Mykonos,Aruba, Thailand and let me tell you this has been the worst experience of my life. I was not expecting the best beaches but this is a *** hole. The best resort is the worst place I have ever stayed.The other thing you...

  • Hold on

    Plaza Santo Domingo is no different than the other plazas in Cartagena with their churches and other outlets with common space for the pedestrians decided to go on their business or hang out for a while. Yet at the same time there is the notion that the Santo Domingo plaza is definitely for the tourist as opposed to the Plaza Bolivar which seems to...

  • Horse-drawn carriage tours

    Horse-drawn carriage tours are generally a very touristy affairs and in the western world a prohibitively expensive one. Fairy tale towns like Cartagena are perfect places to make this splurge and we saw many people doing just that. There were almost too many of them on all the narrow streets! We were on a long trip with a fairly tight budget and...


Cartagena What to Pack

  • D in the time of Cartagena

    We were traveling with backpacks but this is a town where you'll likely take a cab to and from your chosen gateway, be it bus, boat, or plane so you could easily come here with a simple suitcase. If you are planning on doing any trekking in the surrounding areas of Santa Marta then you'll be glad for the pack just the same. Cartagena tropical...

  • Packing List

    It is mighty hot in Cartagena so dress LIGHT. No worries about propriety here, it's the Caribbean coast! The steamiest it got for us was when we visited the fort (pictured here)--up on a hill, in the blazing sun, it was pretty brutal. Luckily, you can buy cold drinks at the top!

  • Cartagena Hotels

    20 Hotels in Cartagena

    2 Reviews

Cartagena Off The Beaten Path

  • Plaza San Diego

    This small plaza in the north part of the walled city is frequented mostly by locals. It is filled with cafes.

  • Volcán de Lodo El Totumo

    About 50k northeast of Cartagena, a few kilometres off the coast, is Volcán de Lodo El Totumo, a 15m high mud volcano. Instead of lava and ashes, the crater is filled with warm mud as thick as cream. A makeshift wooden banister leads the way to the top of the volcano. We climbed down in the crater and took a mud bath and a mud massage from an...

  • Manzanillo del Mar

    On the return journey from Volcán de Lodo El Totumo we made a stop for lunch in a lovely pueblo Manzanillo del Mar. It's a little fishing village with the population of nearly 1.200, just a short drive from Cartagena. Basic infrastructure is deficient; the community has electricity but no sewage or potable water. Its seaside is vulnerable to sea...


Cartagena Sports & Outdoors

  • The Beach

    One of the main attractions of Cartagena besides the colonial architecture is the beach. The surf is a little high for serious swimming but the beaches are packed with Colombian vacationers getting some sun.

  • Scuba/Snorkelling

    There's a group of islands 1 hour by boat from Cartagena (Islas del Rosario) with good sites. I went snorkelling there and was pretty good, although not as good as San Andres Isla (1.5 hrs flight from Cartagena). I did scuba in San Andres and is an awesome spot.

  • going to the beach...

    Going to the beach in Cartagena is a nightmare... beaches are really not that good and the sea indifferent... but they are crowded... with people and with sellers. Everyone seems to be going to Bocagrande - and sellers there are of the worst kind. they will pester you every second trying to sell you sunglasses, necklaces, t-shirts. drinks, food,...


Cartagena Favorites

  • getting lost through the center

    The historical centre, its colours, its colonial building, its corners. It was really hard to walk around day by day not having the sensation to be seing something new even if you were going on the same street.

  • Gabriel García Márquez's Enchanting Home...

    The city of Cartagena also has an important place in world literature. Although the location is not specifically mentioned in the book (it was replaced by a ‘Caribbean port town’), there is no doubt that Gabriel García Márquez, the famous Colombian author who spent his childhood in Cartagena, set his novel Love in the Time of Cholera in Cartagena....

  • Colombia es Pasión

    The Colombia es Pasión (Colombia is Passion) campaign was launched in 2005 to promote the country and a positive image of Colombia abroad, encourage business investment, tourism and increase cultural relations with nations around the world. The logo of the campaign is a heart, which symbolizes the passion of the Colombian people. The campaign...


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