Everyone is heading to Cartagena and for good reason. This magical city is a place every lover of travel should try to visit at least once in their lifetime. Here you’ll find amazing food, unique culture, friendly locals, beautiful beaches, tons of history, and music to dance the night away. If escaping this bitter cold isn’t a good enough reason to plan a trip to Cartagena, here are seven reasons why you need to visit this romantic and high-energy Caribbean city ASAP!
1. Ciudad Amurallada–
Most of your time should be spent getting lost here, in the Old City. It’s in the heart of Cartagena where every street has beautiful pastel-colored buildings, flowers cascading off wooden balconies, and narrow cobblestone streets. It’s every photographers dream! The clock tower, is one of the many entrances to the city, it’s the symbol of the city. Here you will find bars, open-air cafes, restaurants, and shops. Make sure to check out the Museo de Esmeralda (it’s free) and Museo de Oro, it houses a collection of gold from the indigenous tribes of Colombia from the pre-Spanish conquest. You can explore the city on bike, walking, or by horse drawn carriage (so romantic). My favorite way to explore a city is by bike, you give your feet a break and I feel like a kid again.
2. Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas / Convento de La Popa
Start by taking a taxi to the Convento de La Popa, it was founded in 1607 and it sits at the highest point of the city. The courtyard is decorated with beautiful flowers and you can see the whole city. The Spanish started building the Castillo de San Felipe de Barjas in 1639 but finished 150 years later. It suffered constant attacks on the part of the English and French, being the French commander Baron de Pointis who took the castle in mid 1697. It offers expansive views of the city. It’s open Monday-Sunday (8AM-6PM) and you can purchase tickets online (HERE) for $7 per person.
3. Playa Blanca
It’s located on Isla Baru, which sits just 40 minutes off the city of Cartagena. We went with a private driver who took us, waited with us, and when we were ready brought us back to our hotel. Playa Blanca Colombia is a beautiful long white sand beach with crystal clear, turquoise coloured water. You have the option to rent two chairs and umbrella for the day, they are open to negotiation. They charged us 100,000 COP 0r $32.oo US dollars for two sofas and umbrella. Tip: Don’t take any seafood from vendors, if you do, you will have to pay for it and the price they tell you.
4. Iglesia De San Pedro Clover
It’s one of Cartagena’s most beautiful churches, it’s external facade is made from coral stone. Right outside you’ll find a small plaza where you can sit outside and enjoy a drink, lunch, or drink.
5. Beautiful Sunset
In the evening you make your way up the city walls that surround Old Town and watch the beautiful sunset. The sunset can be seen from a number of places in the city, including from the beach or Cafe Del Mar, on the wall in El Centro. It’s a great place to get drinks or listen to music before heading to dinner or out for a night of dancing. Make sure to get there early to make sure you get good seats.
6. Incredible Food & Coffee
Cartagena is home to some of the best restaurants in Colombia, whether you’re looking for street food or high-end eateries serving the finest seafood. Make sure to try La Cevicheria, one of the best ceviche restaurants and it was visited by Anthony Bourdain in 2008. If you are looking for a romantic, candlelit atmosphere Alma is the place for you. The restaurant is an open air courtyard that offers delicious food, great cocktails, and live music. If you are into sushi or seafood head La Perla, it’s a Peruvian fusion restaurant with great cocktails and food. For all my coffee lovers make sure to check out Abaco Libros & Cafe or Cafe San Alberto, this is an extension of the plantation, and the beans are hand-selected and grown at San Alberto Hacienda.
7. Dancing & Drinks
Cartagena’s has a vibrant nightlife and has something for everyone. Cafe Havana has live music and delicious cocktails, you can head here for a few drinks before heading out to salsa the night away. Another favorite, Alquimico, with two stories and a stunning rooftop, Alquimico offers delightful cocktails and a rang of DJs spinning the hottest hits. Getsemani neighborhood is bursting with bohemian vibes and a must, it’s just about the coolest neighborhood in Colombia. It’s a great place for street art and every night, is full of street performers, locals, and travelers.
Cartagena is one of the best cities in the Americas to enjoy amazing food, music, shopping and dancing. Full of history and culture, it’s easy to see why people fall in love with Cartagena and I will definetly return in the near future!