Cartagena Colombia should not be missing in your planning! Cartagena de Indias is a historic city where you will see many beautiful colonial buildings. The many small streets and beautiful colors ensure that you will immerse yourself in this beautiful city. During your visit you will experience the Caribbean vibe with your own eyes. Read our tips about “Cartagena things to do” to make your visit to Cartagena Colombia unforgettable.
Cartagena things to do?
A two night stay in Cartagena Colombia is enough to explore the city. The historic center is located in the old city walls. In this area you can easily discover everything on foot.
Tip: book an accommodation with a swimming pool, because it can be very hot in Cartagena! This allows you to cool down when it gets hot. This will make your stay in this sweltering city more pleasant. Read our accommodation at the end of this article.
#1 Discover the historic center of Cartagena
The best things to do in Cartagena is without any hasitation discovering the historic center of Cartagena. Cartagena de Indias has a rich history, which is reflected in the many colonial buildings. When you are in the center you feel like you are in an open air museum. Without a guide, you risk seeing a lot of things without knowing its history. It is therefore recommended to do a free biking tour. In a day you visit the important locations with a guide.
Tip: use Free Biking Tour Cartagena, they are really “free” and offer a good service. Make a reservation in advance to secure your spot. If you are not a fan of free tour you can book your tour via this link.
#2 Enjoy the small museum del Oro for free
In Bogota the museum del Oro in Cartagena is a smaller version of this. The second best things to do in Cartagena is to visit The museum “Museo del Oro Zenú” is free and fun to walk through. If you want to visit more museums, the museum “Palacio de la Inquisición” is recommended.
#3 Visit the fort of San Felipe de Barajas
Cartagena things to do are plentiful but one of the top activity is to visit the fort of San Felipe de Barajas which is located just outside the historical city. The fort used to serve as a defense against the pirates. It is the largest fortress built by the Spaniards during the colonial era. Inside the fort there are tunnels that used to be used as a strategic purpose. Some of these tunnels are now open to visitors. The castle is nice to visit if you have a little more time. From the center you can walk to the castle in about 15 minutes. Keep in mind that there is little shade so visit the castle early in the morning.
#4 Do not go to Rosario Islands and Playa Blanca
Normally we never do excursions aimed at mass tourism. We did the excursion of Islas del Rosario and Playa Blanca during one day and we thought it was terrible. This was the bad experience of our trip. The snorkeling in the Caribbean sea was really bobbing in the water with the guide luring the fish with bread. The islands were characterless due to the many hotels and tourism. The white beaches were overcrowded and smelled of gasoline from the jet skis. The only positive thing we got out of it is that it has once again confirmed why we never do excursions aimed at mass tourism.
How to get to Cartagena?
Cartagena is easy to reach because of its popularity. Airplanes fly regularly nationally and internationally. You can also take a direct bus to Cartagena from different places in Colombia. Most people come from Santa Marta, you can use the bus company MarSol. This takes about 4 hours, which can also take longer due to traffic conditions. There are also many people who come from Medellín. For them it is possible to catch an airplane or take a night bus. It is recommended to take a night bus, because you will lose less time and it is cheaper.
Cartagena hotels, where to stay in Cartagena?
In Cartagena there are many choices, from simple accommodation to most luxury hotels. During your stay in Cartagena, we recommend that you select an accommodation that has a swimming pool. It is very hot during the day so you can better discover the city in the morning / evening and relax by the water in the afternoon. We have selected three accommodations that are all great but are still affordable. Because Cartagena is very popular, it is very difficult to find affordable accommodation. It is incredibly important to book on time via booking, because many accommodations in Cartagena are sometimes already full 1 year in advance. We highly recommend República Hostel Cartagena, because you stay in a nice hostel right in the center of Cartagena. OZ Hotel Cartagena and República Hostel Cartagena are also highly recommended.
Tip: once again reserve your spot in Cartagena on time via this link.
Casa BuGo is a very beautiful colonial building in the middle of the old center. It has beautiful rooms. It has an incredibly beautiful courtyard with swimming pool where you can relax from all the hustle and bustle. In addition, it is less than 1 km from the beach, so you are close by here.
Price per night from:
€ 58 double room
República Hostel Cartagena
República Hostel Cartagena is located in the heart of the center, so you can really do everything on foot. The hostel has a beautiful courtyard where you can relax, in addition, it scores very well with an 8.5 on Booking.
Price per night from:
€ 14 dorm | € 71 double room
OZ hotel Cartagena
OZ hotel Cartagena is located outside the city center, close to the beach, restaurants and shops. The advantage of OZ hotel Cartagena is that you are closer to the good beaches compared to the center. For the center you can easily take a taxi for 3 euros.
Price per night from:
€ 49 double room