The Best Things To Do In Cartagena

Written By: Oliver Payne

A port city located on Colombia’s coastline, Cartagena is a Caribbean gem that looks as if its straight out of a movie! When you’re looking for a tropical getaway and want to venture out from the typical island destinations, Cartagena gives you the best of all worlds – beautiful location in South America with all the ambiance and recreation of a Caribbean escape. The port city dates back to the 16th century, which means that there is a good amount of colonial architecture and charm that still permeates the area – perfect for walking around and exploring after spending a day in the water. An inviting tropical climate means that the beaches are very popular all year long and the nearby islands, which are easily reached by boat, are the perfect day trip when you want to venture out beyond Cartagena.

Visitors to Cartagena always say the same thing – the beauty of the location and the old-world charm make the city one of the best hidden gems in the entire region. Everywhere you glance, you’ll find the ornate and historic architecture that dates back centuries and is still filled with so much interest. Stone walls, cobblestone streets and a vast array of color makes Cartagena one photogenic city! Picture yourself walking along an old-world city, with cozy alleyways, gorgeous bougainvillea crawling up walls and balconies, and breathtaking cathedrals cropped up around the city – that’s what you’ll find on any given day as you walk around Cartagena. Some of the top travel destinations in the area are the Rosario Islands, which are crystal clear and feature coral reefs, as well as the Place of Inquisition, which houses a number of historical collections and exhibits.

There’s a lot to see in Cartagena – the best way to experience this city is to keep your itinerary empty and just head out each day looking for an adventure. You’ll come across plenty to see and do during a visit. Whether you like to spend time at the beach or you want to dine on local cuisine and immerse yourself in a local setting, Cartagena is the place to do it.


Plaza Bolivar

As you explore Cartagena, you are likely to come across Plaza Bolivar. Take a break and join the locals for a coffee, and enjoy the beautiful flowers of the gardens as well as the statue of the great, Simon Bolivar. It’s an opportunity to browse the wares of the street vendors, while relaxing in the park, watching the day go by.


Cathedral of San Pedro Claver

Take yourself back to the infamous days of slave trading – and the brave opposition by a single priest – with a visit to the Cathedral of San Pedro Claver. In the late 1500’s this building was partially destroyed by Sir Francis Drake. It then became a focal point for opposing the terrible slave trade that thrived in Cartagena in the early 1600’s. Stroll through the museum and enjoy the largest collection of religious art in the region, and imagine life as it was, so long ago.


Old Town Cartagena

A great way to absorb the culture of Cartagena and appreciate its beauty, is to take a walk around Old Town Cartagena, the inner walled district of the town. As you stroll through the narrow laneways, admire the colourful architecture of the homes, and explore the boutique shops and restaurants. There are also many landmarks scattered throughout the Old Town, such as the Gold Museum and the Palace of the Inquisition!


San Felipe de Barajas Castle

As you stride towards the imposing entrance of San Felipe de Barajas Castle – at the top of San Lazarus Hill – imagine the fear in the hearts of those who sought to storm the castle, so many centuries ago. The fortress is designed to repel attacks from both land and sea; today you can explore its unique design and stand in the very place the defenders would have been positioned themselves. The views are magnificent and the history fascinating – we can safely you won’t regret your visit to this one!


Las Bovedas

Spread between the Old Convent of Santa Clara and the Fortress of Santa Catalina, take a walk through Las Bovedas. Once a series of prison cells built into the sea wall, today they have been converted into chic bars and boutique shops selling local wares and jewellery. The architecture is fascinating and it’s well-worth taking the time for some photos, with terrific views from the sea wall.


Totumo Volcano

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of Cartagena and take a quirky tour to Totumo Volcano. This experience is nothing short of unique; after a one hour drive, you will have the opportunity to bath in the mineral-infused mud of a small volcano! Get a massage, and then head to the nearby lagoon to wash it off. Said to have great healing qualities, it’s definitely a fun day that is full of laughter, and just imagine the photos!


Rosario Islands

Less than an hour southwest of Cartagena’s port is a fragile archipelago of some 30 picture-perfect islands, wrapped in shimmering white-sand beaches, and strung like rosary beads through the deep blue Caribbean Sea. They sit atop the world’s third-largest barrier reef, which has protected as Islas del Rosario National Park since 1977. Though this clearly remains a mixed-use area, the designation has helped conserve 1300 species of flora and fauna present on and around the islands.

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